Deferred payments for spectrum may get govt minimal revenue

The government's net revenue from the just concluded 2G spectrum auction may be only a few hundred crores of rupees after adjusting the entry fee already paid by operators in 2008 for licences that were later cancelled.

Three out of the five successful bidders of the auction that concluded yesterday were among the firms whose 122 permits were cancelled by the Supreme Court in February this year.

"The decision of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EgoM) was clear. Adjustment will be allowed on the gross amount of the payments made by the companies and that is the credit (amount) that has been allowed in the bid process. It is by adjustment only," Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar told reporters here.

Telenor, Videocon and Idea Cellular were among the winners of spectrum in the auction that ended on Wednesday.

The apex court cancelled 22 telecom permits of Telenor's Indian joint venture (Uninor), 21 permits of Videocon and 13 permits of Idea Cellular.

As per provisional auction outcome, Telenor-promoted Telewings Communications and Videocon won spectrum in six telecom circles each for Rs 4,018 crore and Rs 2,221 crore respectively. Idea Cellular won spectrum in eight circles for Rs 2,031 crore.

Uninor paid Rs 1,658 crore for licences in 2008, Videocon (then Datacom) gave around Rs 1,600 crore and 13 licences of Idea Cellular cost the company Rs 1,168 crore.

In case the telecom companies exercise their option to make deferred payments, then the government will get around Rs 1,660-2,000 crore this fiscal compared to the minimum Rs 28,000 crore that had been expected.

This will include Rs 1,281 crore from companies whose licences were quashed and Rs 379 crore jointly from Vodafone and Airtel in this fiscal year on account of their auction wins. The total bid received amounted to Rs 9407.64 crore across 18 circles in the two-day auction.

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