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Govt To Hold Another 2G Auction By March 31

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"The telecom story is no longer a story that we can talk about to the rest of the world. People ask me the question, what happened? And quite frankly, I have no answers," says telecom minister Kapil Sibal.

"All I can say that certain events took place and there was a level of sensationalism that took over and the government was, in a sense, limited in its policy prescriptions and had to move forward in a certain way which ultimately has resulted in what we have seen couple of days ago," he said.
 
Attributing "sensationalism" over the CAG's presumptive loss figure of Rs 1.76 lakh crore for the "killing" of the telecom sector, government on 16 November said it plans to auction by March-end the circles that were not taken in the flopped sale of mobile phone spectrum this week.
 
It also rejected Opposition allegations that government was celebrating the failure of the auction and said notwithstanding the poor response, it will garner the estimated Rs 40,000 crore from spectrum sales.
 
Ever since the 2G spectrum auction failed spectacularly, the ruling UPA government has been castigating CAG on the presumptive loss figures which had led to such a scandal and the jailing of politicians as well as former bureaucrats and corporate honchos.

An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram will meet soon to decide on price and date for auction of spectrum in circles like Delhi and Mumbai, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told a news conference in New Delhi
 

The government, which had set a reserve price of Rs 14,000 crore for pan-India spectrum on the basis of CAG's assumption of Rs 1.76 lakh crore loss caused to the exchequer in the previous sale in 2008, managed a meagre Rs 9,407.64 crore in the auction that lasted barely two days.
 
Sibal said the government got more than Rs 1 lakh crore from the auction of 3G spectrum, which was used by CAG to base its presumptive loss. "But the customer got nothing" as there was no roll-out of 3G services.
 
"Where are those Rs 1.76 lakh crore?" he asked in an apparent reference to the CAG estimate and the money garnered in the auction that concluded on Wednesday.
 
Finance Minister P Chidambaram, responding to questions on the net gains made by government, said, "I think you are all jumping to numbers. I thought we started by saying let's stop myth making first. I think you are making or building more myths now." .
 
The auction, which lasted just two days, got total bids worth Rs 9,407.64 crore, just one-third of the minimum Rs 28,000 crore the government was expecting. The auction was a far cry from the 35-day bidding for the 3G spectrum in 2010 that got Rs 67,719 crore.
 
Sibal said besides Rs 9,407.64 crore from the auction, the government will also get Rs 7,936 crore by way of one-time fee to be levied on existing telecom operators holding spectrum more than a prescribed limit.
 
"There will be substantial net gain," Chidambaram said.
 
Four telecom zones, including the expensive Delhi and Mumbai circles, saw no demand in an auction that ended on Wednesday, raising less than a quarter of the government's Rs 40,0000 crore target.
 
The government was also left with no bidders in the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) part of the auction after Tata Teleservices and Videocon Telecommunications dropped their interest.
 
The decision on the fresh auction will be taken by a panel of ministers, Sibal told reporters.