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BW Businessworld

FinMin Pulls Up DoT For Delay

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Finance Ministry is miffed with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for delay in auction of one block of 20 megahertz of broadband wireless access spectrum, that could have fetched Rs 13,000 crore to the government.

R. Gopalan, Secretary Economic Affairs, has shot a missive to R. Chandrashekar, Secretary DoT, asking him to expedite the auction process. The reason, the Budget Estimates 2011-12 had factored in Rs 13,000 crore in the non tax revenue estimates.

Gopalan has reminded DoT, that it has failed to act, despite the office memo sent on May 2, 2011 to all the ministries and departments including DoT, to closely monitor the non-tax revenue receipts projected in BE 2011-12 to avoid any shortfall.

"I hope that DoT would have initiated the process…for auction of BWA spectrum to achieve the target in the current financial year," states a letter from Goplan to secretary DoT.

Officials in DoT claimed that Defence Ministry clearance were not available for the auction of that one block of 20 MHz of BWA spectrum. However, industry observers point that this was cleared about three months ago by the Defence Ministry.

However, following the missive, the babus in DoT have started the process. But, sources say that a section of the officials feel that it would not fetch a higher price as the last round of BWA auction that concluded on June 11, 2010.  The government collected Rs 38,543.31 crore from the auction of BWA spectrum, that was grabbed by five operators—Infotel in all 22 circles, Aircel in eight circles, Qualcomm and Bharti Airtel in four each and Augere in one circle.

A DoT official pointed that they are planning to initiate action against those companies that are yet to start the BWA services.Infotel, which was taken over by Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Industries Ltd, has been tightlipped about its project. So are the other winners of BWA spectrum bids held last year.

(BW Team)