Govt. planning another 2G auction by March 2013: Sibal
After a poor 2G auction, the Central Government has once again defended itself by questioning the 2G scam loss figure quoted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), and said that it plans to have another auction of telecom spectrum before March 2013.
"The intent is to try and have another auction before March 31. We will discuss how to move forward and take a call on it," Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said.
"Of course, there will be an auction. There is no doubt about that. What procedure we follow for that auction is something we will decide in another few weeks," he added.
Referring to the lukewarm response to the Supreme Court mandated auction of 2G spectrum, Sibal: "The government did exactly what the courts wanted it to do -- that is sell the airwaves, or radio frequency spectrum, that was vacated after 122 licences and accompanying spectrum issued in 2008 were cancelled by virtue of a apex court order.
"We are not here to score points. Our point always was that market dynamics should be allowed to play out. The moment you start dealing with market directly or indirectly it will be bad. The government's wisdom should only intervene when required," he added.
Stressing that "policy is best left to government", Sibal said that February's Supreme Court order, which cancelled 122 licenses sold in 2008 and asked for spectrum to be auctioned meant that the "government was limited in its policy prescriptions, had to move forward in a certain way. Which is why you saw what happened a few days ago."
As against Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), estimation of over Rs 34,000-crore, the telecom department got bids of just Rs 9,407-crore. The government had fixed the reserve price for the spectrum at Rs 14,000 crore.
The auction was a far cry from the 35-day bidding for the 3G spectrum in 2010 that got Rs 67,719 crore.