The Cabinet has referred to a ministerial panel the Department of Telecom’s proposal to levy one-time fee for spectrum held by existing operators.
“There was one proposal from the Department of Telecom (DoT) that has been referred to the Empowered Group of Ministers with a direction that the panel’s recommendation will come back to the Cabinet for a final decision,” Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters while briefing about the Cabinet meeting.
The proposal was about levying one-time spectrum charge on existing service providers, he added.
When asked if in absence of an EGoM head decision on the issue could be delayed, Mr. Chidambaram said, “No, there will be a head of EGoM... When EGoM meets, I assure you there will be a head.”
Former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was heading the EGoM on Telecom. Following his resignation to contest the Presidential election, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar replaced him but he refused to accept the job.
In reply to another question on the issue of one-time fee on spectrum, Mr. Chidambaram said, “It came as a Cabinet note first. This was not originally in the terms of reference of the EGoM”.
He further said it was a technical issue and so it was referred to the EGoM for detailed discussion.
“These are technical issues, it can’t be discussed in a large Cabinet meeting. Therefore, a smaller group will go in to it in greater detail and then give its recommendations to Cabinet and then the Cabinet will take a decision,” he added.
While the EGoM in normal course is the final decision making authority as in case of auction of spectrum vacated by the Supreme Court cancelling 122 telecom licences, the panel’s decision on the one-time levy would come back to the Cabinet in form of recommendation.