January 18, 2021

Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad held a meeting with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to discuss the upcoming spectrum auction and using the revenue generated to meet government’s fiscal deficit target for current fiscal.

The auction of the airwaves is scheduled for March 4.

Prasad met Jaitley on Monday and the ministers discussed the upcoming spectrum auction in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands, a source said.

ravi shankar prasad

They also discussed how the revenue generated from the auction can help in meeting the fiscal deficit target in the current financial year, the source added.

The two ministers also deliberated how the government should work on the next auction so that more revenue can be generated from the process, helping in meeting the fiscal deficit target for 2015-16 as well, the source said.

The government is committed to restricting the fiscal deficit at 4.1 percent of the GDP during the current fiscal, the lowest level in seven years, and has taken several steps towards it.

It had put in place a fiscal consolidation roadmap as per which the fiscal deficit has to be brought down to 3 percent of the GDP by 2016-17. To reduce the fiscal deficit to seven-year low, it has also announced a slew of austerity measures aimed at cutting non-plan spending by 10 percent.

The government expects to realise a minimum of Rs. 21,793 crores in this fiscal ending March from spectrum sale. In total, the government expects to realise at least Rs. 82,395 crores from the auction.

Besides, the expected auction of the remaining airwaves in the 2100MHz band can help the government meet the fiscal deficit target for 2015-16 fiscal.

According to sources, the combined proceeds from auction of all the four bands are estimated by the government at over Rs. 1,00,000 crore – making it the biggest ever spectrum sale.

Government has approved swapping of 15MHz of 3G spectrum between Defence and the Telecom Ministry. However, it will be able to provide it after completion of the harmonisation process.

The Telecom Ministry has proposed to exchange 15MHz spectrum it holds in 1900MHz band with same quantum of radiowaves held by Defence in 2100MHz. The Cabinet has asked ministries involved in the process to complete harmonisation within a year.

Last week, the government also held the biggest-ever disinvestment offer with 10 percent stake sale in Coal India, which fetched Rs. 22,557.3 crores.