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EGoM defers decision on one-time spectrum fee

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - 23:17

New Delhi: The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on telecom, headed by Home Minister P Chidambaram, on Tuesday deferred a decision on one-time spectrum fee on existing telecom operators till the outcome of Presidential Reference.

"All the issues were placed before the EGoM and the EGoM decided that we will wait for the outcome of Presidential Reference and then decide on these issues," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here.

In April, the government had filed a Presidential Reference in the Supreme Court to understand the impact of apex court's judgement that cancelled 122 telecom licences.

Sibal added that EGoM will now move a comprehensive note to the Cabinet with rest of the decisions that they have taken in earlier meetings.

"We are now moving to Cabinet with a comprehensive note with reference to all the decisions that we have taken so far," Sibal said.

According to sources, EGoM is learnt to have suggested setting a 20 percent lower base or bid start price compared to over Rs 18,000 crore recommended by sector regulator TRAI at around Rs 14,111- Rs 15,111 crore for the proposed spectrum auction.

On July 3, the Cabinet referred the one-time spectrum fee issue to the EGoM to get its view on the matter and the same was discussed at the meeting today.

In order to create a level-playing field between old and new operators, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has proposed a one-time charge on existing operators, whose licences were not cancelled by the Supreme Court, for spectrum held by them.

According to the proposal, operators have to match the price that is arrived at the upcoming spectrum auction.

However, the proposal to levy a one-time fee has earned criticism from some fractions of industry who have said the proposal, if approved, would be challenged by them.

On the Presidential Reference, the apex court has earlier said that it will hear all the issues raised in it on the 2G spectrum verdict and its decision on objections on maintainability and the merits of the case will be pronounced together.

The reference covers various issues arising out of the Supreme Court's 2G spectrum case verdict including, whether auctioning of natural resources across all sectors is mandatory and whether the verdict in the 2G case can be given with retrospective effect for radio waves granted since 1994.

In its last meeting on July 20, EGoM decided to recommend a minimum price of airwaves, spectrum usage charge (an annual fee) and staggered payment option to the Cabinet for a final decision.


First Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 - 23:17
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