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3G spectrum auction put off

Move likely to affect the government's finances and the fiscal deficit

PTI | January 29, 2010



In a surprise move, the government has postponed to the next fiscal auction of spectrum for 3G telephony which was expected to bring in Rs.35,000 crore to the exchequer.

According to senior officials in the Department of Telecom, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, who is a member of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), is of the view that the auction should be held when the spectrum is available.

Telecom Minister A. Raja could not be contacted immediately for his comments. The officials however, said the auction is expected to take place in August-September this year. The Ministry of Defence had agreed to vacate the spectrum only during middle of this year.

The EGoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had decided to allow four private telecom firms for the next-generation mobile telephone services (3G) and had made a provision for garnering up to Rs.35,000 crore from the sale of airwaves in the current fiscal.

The postponement of the 3G spectrum auction to 2010-11 is likely to have some adverse impact on the government's finances and the fiscal deficit which is pegged at 6.8 per cent of the GDP.

 

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