2G pricing was high: Montek

Centre will re-auction the spectrum after EGoM decision

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Wednesday argued that the government has to relook the current base price before another round of 2G spectrum auction.

Speaking to reporters here, Ahluwalia admitted that the high base price was a mistake which received lukewarm response from the telecom companies.

The Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission was part of an Empowered Group of Ministers that set the base price.  The government, which had set a “high” reserve price of Rs 14,000 crore for pan-India spectrum broadly drawing from the basis used by CAG in calculating the loss in the previous sale in 2008, managed a meagre Rs 9,407.64 crore in the auction that lasted barely two days.

“But that doesn't matter, we are going to re-auction and you will discover the price,” he told reporters on the sidelines of Indo-Japan symposium here.

Asked whether the government would reduce the spectrum prices for auction in Mumbai, Delhi, Rajasthan and Karnataka telecom circles, which went unsold, Ahluwalia said it will be decided by the Empowered Group of Ministers, which is scheduled to meet soon.

Ahluwalia said several discussions were held to set the reserve price for auctioning the spectrum and the EGoM had “actually lowered the reserve price” from Rs 18,000 crore suggested by sector regulator TRAI to Rs 14,000 crore.

“I want to mention here that one or two newspapers criticised that as if by lowering the reserve price we are going to reduce the outcome. I had argued very strongly that a healthy auction process will discover the prices whether you fix it at one or two or seven hundred,” he said.

Radia likely to appear in court on Dec 5

Former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, a key prosecution witness in the 2G scam, is likely to appear on December 5 before a Delhi court to depose in the case, reports PTI. The CBI has submitted a list of prosecution witnesses to be called for recording of their statements before the court and Radia's evidence is slated for December 5 and 6.

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