Telecom minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday said much should not be read into the Telecom Commission’s decision seeking clarity from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on the rationale and methodology for suggesting up to 60% reduction in reserve price for the next round of spectrum auctions, reports fe Bureau in New Delhi. He also exuded confidence that the government will be able to hold a successful auction within the current fiscal.
Speaking at the Idea Exchange programme of the Express Group, Sibal said the move was procedural. “If there's disagreement between the Department of Telecommunications and the Trai, rules demand that the matter be referred back to the Trai for clarifications. Once the Trai report is received the matter will be expedited,” Sibal said.
On September 9, when the Trai had come out with the recommendations, Sibal had welcomed it. “We are very happy by and large with the positive nature of the recommendations. They are industry-friendly and recognise the ground reality of the market. Not only will government get its revenue but market will also be able to purchase spectrum at reasonable prices,” he had said that day.
The Telecom Commission at its meeting last week went along the report of the technical panel constituted by the DoT, which had opined against the lower reserve price and suggested that the regulator be asked to provide clarifications as to how it arrived at the figures.
This had led to disappointment in the industry, which had welcomed the recommendations. The apprehension was that the well-thought-out suggestions may not be accepted and the government may increase the reserve price which may lead to unsuccessful auctions as happened twice before.
The Telecom Commission is scheduled to meet on October 29 to take a final decision on the revised Trai report. Once the Commission takes the decision, it will be vetted by an empowered group of ministers headed by finance minister P Chidambaram before going to the Union Cabinet for approval. Tentatively, the Commission has fixed the date of auctions from January 8, 2014.
As per procedure, the Trai has 15 days to respond. It has the prerogative of sticking to its earlier recommendations while the government has the right to go ahead with its views if it finally disagrees with the regulator's views.