A high-powered ministerial panel headed by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram today “tentatively resolved” all issues concerning a proposal to levy one-time fee on existing telecom operators, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal said today.
A final decision based on the recommendations of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) would be taken by the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later this month, he said without elaborating.
“We had a two-hour meeting today. We have tentatively resolved all the issues. We are now moving to the Cabinet and will try and get it to the Cabinet on October 16, if possible, so that the matter can be finalised,” he told reporters in New Delhi.
The EGoM, in its previous meeting on October 3, could not take a decision on levy of the one-time charge in the absence of a legal opinion from the Attorney General on the issue.
Refusing to comment on the decisions taken by the EGoM today, Mr Sibal said, “Till the matter goes to the Cabinet, I couldn’t possibly tell you the details of the decision but all the issues that were placed before the EGoM have been resolved.”
The DoT had earlier made four proposals to the Cabinet on one-time fee — no charge; levy a one-time fee on all airwaves held by existing telecom companies; impose a fee on airwaves held beyond the start-up spectrum of 4.4 MHz; or levy a fee on airwaves held beyond the contracted spectrum of 6.2 MHz.
Existing players were allocated pan-India permits with 4.4 Mhz of airwaves frequencies at price of Rs. 1,658 crore but new telecom operators will have to pay a minimum of Rs. 14,000 crore for similar set of airwaves for pan-India business in auction that are scheduled to start in November.
Mr Sibal said the timing of the Cabinet meeting depends on the Prime Minister’s Office. “If the Cabinet meets on October 16, we will try that the Cabinet takes a decision on all issues... We are trying to resolve all these issues before October 19.”
Last date for submitting application for participating in spectrum auction is October 19.