DoT nudges TRAI to set base price for 2G & 3G auctions soon

With an eye on auctioning the spectrum in February 2015, DoT and TRAI are hoping to finalise the consultative process for deciding base prices by 22 December


The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) under the Government of India (GoI) is planning on going ahead with auctions of 2G and 3G airwaves together in February. The auctions will be conducted after taking into account the base price recommendations given by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).


The DoT had asked TRAI to expedite the decision on base price. TRAI released the Consultation Paper on “Valuation and Reserve Price of Spectrum: 2100 Mhz,” today. TRAI has invited comments and inputs on the Consultation Paper by 15 December. After counter-comments on 19 December, an Open House will be held on 22 December.

The Consultation Paper noted that the 2100 Mhz band which is used by 3G services is currently being used by the Defence services. Unless the Defence services agree to vacate this spectrum, this frequency will be unavailable for the auction.


When spectrum was auctioned in 2010, the Defence Services had vacated 20 Mhz out of the 25 Mhz spectrum that was being used by them. The agreement at the time was that the remaining 5 Mhz of spectrum would be vacated only if alternate infrastructure was made available for the Defence Services to migrate to.


If the Defence Services release only the 5 Mhz held by them in the 17 circles, then licenses to these circles will be auctioned. Another possibility is that the Defence Services would migrate to the 1,900 Mhz spectrum, so that not only it frees up the 5 Mhz held by them in various circles, but also an additional 15 Mhz on a pan-India basis.


Telecom companies, as well as the regulator, have been of the view that the auction should take place only when adequate spectrum is made available, and the bidding should be held simultaneously for both the services - 2G and 3G.


Mallya’s UB Holding too identified as wilful defaulter by United Bank

After declaring Kingfisher Airlines and its four directors, including Vijay Mallya as defaulter, the United Bank has identified United Breweries Holdings, the guarantor to this loan, as wilful defaulter


United Bank of India has identified Vijay Mallya-led United Breweries Holdings, the guarantor of grounded Kingfisher Airlines, as wilful defaulter.


The bank has already declared Kingfisher Airlines and its four directors, including Mallya, as wilful defaulters.


"We have identified United Breweries (UB) Holdings as wilful defaulter because company had the resources to repay the loan as guarantor of Kingfisher Airlines," United Bank's executive director Deepak Narang has said.


UB Holdings had additional resources available as per the balance sheet of 2013-14, he said, adding, these funds could have been used for paying loans given to Kingfisher.


The bank issued notice to the UB Holdings and got a reply, which was not satisfactory.


"We would take further action after due deliberations on the issue," he added.


In September this year, UBI became the first lender to declare debt-ridden Kingfisher Airlines, its promoter Vijay Mallya and other directors wilful defaulters as the company allegedly indulged in diversion of funds by opening multiple accounts.


The other directors declared as wilful defaulters by the Grievance Redressal Committee (GRC) of the bank are Ravi Nedungadi, Anil Kumar Ganguly and Subash Gupte.


Kingfisher Airlines and directors declared as wilful defaulters now will not be able to borrow from banks in the future. They would also lose director-level positions in companies and criminal proceeding could be initiated against them, if warranted, to recover the money.


The bank had first given notice to declare Kingfisher Airlines as wilful defaulter on 28th May. However, the company approached Calcutta High Court against the notice.


A single bench dismissed the company's plea. Subsequently, it approached double bench, which upheld the single bench order on 28th August.


UBI's exposure to Kingfisher Airlines was around Rs350 crore as part of consortium led by State Bank of India.


The consortium of 17 banks has an outstanding debt of about Rs6,521 crore from the now-grounded carrier. Outside the consortium, UBI gave about Rs60 crore loan for pre-delivery payment.


E-commerce covered under Consumer Protection Act, says Danve

Replying to a query on number complaints of cheating and other malpractices by e-commerce companies, the minister said such companies are covered under the consumer law


E-commerce will be covered under the Consumer Protection Act and the central government will not face any loss in indirect tax revenue due to expansion of online retail business, the Indian Parliament was informed on Tuesday.


In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs Raosaheb Patil Danve said, "E-commerce operations are already covered under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986".


He was replying to a query whether there is any proposal to bring e-commerce operations under the Consumer Protection Law in view of complaints of cheating and other malpractices by such companies.


Danve said trading of goods by e-commerce does not attract levy of service tax.


"Goods which are imported, manufactured are cleared on payment of duty of customs, central excise, as the case may be, at the time of import, clearance from the factory.


"Therefore, as far as the Central Government is concerned, there is no loss to indirect tax revenue due to expansion of e-commerce," Danve said.


The Consumer Protection Act provides for better protection of consumers interest. Under the law, consumer forums have been set up for the settlement of disputes.


To further strengthen this law, the government is planning to introduce amendments to the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 1986 in the ongoing Winter session of Parliament.


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