3G auction possible by March 31 – Minister

Giving a hope for an early start of third generation (3G) telecom services in the country, telecom minister A Raja on Tuesday said that it was possible to hold spectrum auctions by March 31. However, the finance ministry in its interim budget has only talked of 3G auctions in only the next fiscal. Finance Ministry has made revenue projections from 3G Auction for FY09-10 and the amount has been now halved due to the current economic scenario.

The minister, however, believes that there was time till March 31 and during that a window of opportunity can still be found. The auction was delayed after the pricing difference between finance and telecom ministries came to fore front. Currently, the matter is pending with a Group of Ministers which will finalize the modalities.

However, it looks that despite the enthusiasm of telecom minister, the issue is not on government’s priority which is heading into general elections in May and would like to avoid any issue that may give opposition an opportunity of criticism.

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