FinMin eyeing spectrum money to bridge revenue shortfall

S Ronendra Singh Surabhi New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2018



Pushes Telecom Ministry for auctions before March

In need of revenues to meet its budgetary requirements, the Finance Ministry is mounting pressure on the Telecom Ministry to carry out the next round of spectrum auctions on time.

Due to an expected shortfall in disinvestment proceeds from the targeted ₹69,500 crore, the spectrum auction money will be crucial to meet the fiscal deficit target of 3.9 per cent of GDP in 2015-16. The next round of auctions are expected early next year (February-March) for frequencies in the 2G, 3G, and 4G bands. Also, spectrum in the 700 MHz band for 4G is likely to be on offer in the upcoming auctions.

In talks with DoT

The Finance Ministry has been in talks with the Department of Telecom to ensure that the spectrum auctions take place by March 31, 2016, a senior government official told BusinessLine.

Though the Telecom Ministry expects to start discussions on it shortly, the official said that it may not be a feasible idea to go ahead with the auctions looking at the conditions prevailing in the telecom industry. “The issue has been discussed during the ongoing pre-Budget consultations and even before,” said a person familiar with the development at the Finance Ministry.

Budget 2015-16 has targeted raising ₹42,865.62 crore as non-tax revenue from one-time spectrum charges and auction of 2G airwaves in the 1800 MHz, 900 MHz and 800 MHz bands.

However, according to sources in the Telecom Ministry, many changes have happened, such as trading and sharing of airwaves and harmonisation, since the last auction in March, when 5 MHz each was auctioned in the 17 circles (totalling 85 MHz) which helped garner ₹1.10 lakh crore.

Published on November 18, 2015

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