Disinvestment and spectrum: govt’s money spinners
The government is banking heavily on disinvestment proceeds and additional revenue of telecommunications licence and spectrum fee to bolster its balance sheet with nearly 40% of its non-tax revenues expected to come in from these two sources.
The government has estimated to earn Rs 1,80,455 crore from non-tax sources, of which R69,648 crore is expected to come from telecom revenues and stake sale in public sector undertakings.
“I intend to maintain the momentum on disinvestment in 2011-12 by raising Rs 40,000 crore. Let me reiterate here that the government is committed to retain at least 51% ownership and management control of the central public sector undertakings,” finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said.
As against a target of Rs 40,000 crore, the government will raise about Rs 22,144 crore from disinvestment in 2010-11.
“A higher than anticipated realisation in non-tax revenues has led us to reschedule some of the divestment issues planned for the current year,” he said.
The government has also budgeted for Rs 29,648 crore as additional revenue as “licence fees from telecom operators, receipts on account of spectrum usage charges and auction of broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum.”
In a major shift in policy last month, the government has said henceforth all operators would have to pay market price for initial as well additional spectrum. As of now the telecom operators were getting spectrum bundled with the telecom licences which had paved the way for low tariff regime and intense price war among the service providers. But now, the new operators, if their licences are held valid, would have to pay a market price for the additional 1.8 Mhz of 2G spectrum.
For the old operators like Bharti, Vodafone and Idea, who are holding spectrum beyond 6.2 Mhz, they would have to pay market driven price for the extra airwaves.
In 2010-11, proceeds from auction of telecommunications spectrum could help the government take care of about 15% of its fiscal deficit aiding an earlier-than-expected return to fiscal consolidation.