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Spectrum EGoM to deliver verdict today

india Updated: Oct 07, 2012 21:11 IST
Manoj Gairola
P Chidambaram

The empowered group of ministers (EGoM) under finance minister P Chidambaram will meet on Monday to take a decision on charging incumbent telecom service providers for excess spectrum beyond contractual obligations.

On Friday, the attorney general (AG) submitted its opinion to the EGoM stating that operators should not be charged for excess spectrum retrospectively from the date of allocation of spectrum. This is contrary to a decision by the Telecom Commission that operators should be charged for excess spectrum retrospectively.

The Telecom Commission had decided to charge for spectrum beyond 4.4 Mhz, while the AG has opined that they should be charged beyond 6.2 MHz.

The government would have earned R36,933 crore by charging for excess spectrum, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had said in a report.

Under the old licensing regime, telecom licences were issued along with a start-up spectrum of 4.4 MHz. Incumbent operators were issued spectrum beyond this limit without charging any one-time fee.

The government has been making efforts in containing high fiscal deficit and the finance ministry wants to meet its target of raising Rs. 40,000 crore through spectrum auction and charges by March, 2013. However, if the AG's opinion is accepted it will be difficult for the government to meet this target.

The auction for 2G spectrum will be held in November. The national exchequer may not get more than R15,000 crore through this sale in this fiscal as only 25% of the final bid amount has to be paid upfront.