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Oct 19, 2012, 09.13 AM IST
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on telecom, headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, today decided to impose a one-time fee on mobile operators holding spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz, a step which is expected to fetch over Rs 10,000 crore to the exchequer.
This will be in excess of Rs 27,000 crore surcharge that the EGoM had last week decided to impose on GSM carriers having spectrum in excess of 4.4 MHz and CDMA operators with 2.5 MHz airwaves. The EGoM recommended to the Cabinet that firms like Airtel and Vodafone holding airwaves in excess of 6.2 Mega hertz, should be asked to pay a one-time fee for four years beginning 2008, sources privy to the EGoM decision said.
Sources said the surcharge on operators with more than 6.2 MHz would have to be paid as per 2001-indexed price (Rs 1,658 crore) for four years beginning 2008 which is likely to fetch Rs 10,000 crore. The auction-determined fee on spectrum beyond 4.4 MHz and 2.5 MHz is to be imposed from the day the Cabinet approves of the levy.
The final decision on the matter will be taken by the Cabinet. Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, who did not comment on the one-time fee, however, said the EGoM deferred a decision on the spectrum refarming issue as "there wasn't enough time". The 2G spectrum was allotted in January 2008 at the entry fee of Rs 1,658 crore and total revenue generated was about Rs 9,000 crore. The twin moves are aimed at providing level playing field to the firms, who would be bidding in the auction of spectrum starting next month. The government has fixed a start price of Rs 14,000 crore for 5 MHz of pan-India spectrum.
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