There is suspense over whether the finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, the UPA presidential candidate will preside over the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on Thursday which is expected to take call on the controversial reserve price on spectrum to be auctioned.
The Prime Minister manmohan Singh is believed to have asked Pranab to ensure that all the issues or decisions related are settled before he exits, and the one reason why he is expected to chair the meeting is that in the past he advised the UPA government at many crucial junctures and emerged as a trouble shooter.
Apart from the decision on base or reserve price, the EGoM is expected to deliberate if telecom companies can mortgage spectrum or airwaves for seeking loans from the banks and financial institutions, official sources said.
According to the agenda note, the panel of ministers will decide on the base or reserve price of airwaves in the 1800 MHz band in the upcoming auctions apart from taking a call on the revised set of rollout obligations proposed by the telecom department.
Trai had recommended that the reserve price for each unit of airwaves in the 1800 MHz band be set at 3,622 crore in the upcoming sale. The telecom department has proposed a 17% hike in the price proposed by Trai.
According to sources, Trai is likely to make a presentation on the impact of spectrum costs on tariffs to the members of the EGoM during Thursday's meet.
Last month, the telecom ministry had asked the regulator to study the impact of high spectrum costs on consumers, mobile phone companies and government revenues, and submit its findings to the EGoM.