Senior govt officials meet to discuss relief measures for AGR-hit telecom industry

NEW DELHI: Senior officers of the telecom division and different key ministries met on Sunday to debate pressing reduction measures that may be prolonged to the telecom industry, which is battling an unprecedented disaster on account of large statutory dues it owes the federal government.

The assembly, held on the Department of Telecom, lasted for over an hour and is alleged to have deliberated on choices earlier than the federal government to supply much-needed lifeline to the
AGR-hit business.

Telecom czar and Chairman of Bharti Airtel Sunil Mittal had final week made an enchantment to the federal government for minimize in levies and taxes to drag the sector out of what he had described as an “unprecedented crisis”.

Telecom division officers remained tightlipped after high-level authorities assembly on Sunday, the place officers from NITI Aayog and Finance Ministry are stated to have been current.

DoT Secretary Anshu Prakash remained unavailable for feedback.

The essential assembly comes at a time when the telecom corporations are gazing Rs 1.47 lakh crore in unpaid dues — Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence price and one other Rs 55,054 crore in excellent spectrum utilization costs.

Of the estimated dues that embrace curiosity and penalty for late funds, Airtel and Vodafone Idea owe about 60 per cent.

While Airtel has raised USD Three billion in previous couple of months and is predicted to have adequate funds to tide over the
AGR disaster, Vodafone Idea – that has solely paid simply seven per cent of its whole Rs 53,000 crore statutory dues – stays deeply susceptible.

The authorities, in the meantime, is trying to strike a stability between complying with the Supreme Court order on
AGR dues, making certain well being of the sector and safeguarding shopper curiosity.

Both Mittal and VIL Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla continued to fulfill prime authorities functionaries all through final week to hunt immediate measures that will supply a breather to the sector.

A prime authorities official had stated just lately that makes an attempt are being made to stability the necessity for well being of the sector, shopper curiosity whereas complying with the Supreme Court order on statutory dues.

Although the official had not elaborated, sector watchers had stated the assertion alludes to the federal government eager on making certain ample competitors by retaining the current three-plus-one mannequin of competitors (three non-public gamers and one public sector firm).

The statutory dues arose after the Supreme Court, in October final yr, upheld the federal government’s place on together with income from non-core companies in calculating the annual Adjusted Gross Revenue (
AGR) of telecom corporations, a share of which is paid as licence and spectrum price to the exchequer.

The Supreme Court earlier this month rejected a plea by mobile carriers akin to Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd for extension within the fee schedule and requested all of them to deposit an estimated Rs 1.47 lakh crore in previous dues for spectrum and licences.

It threatened to provoke contempt proceedings in opposition to prime executives of those companies for non-payment.

Some telecom companies are already battling mounting losses and debt and the extra legal responsibility has raised issues of them defaulting on current loans.

Vodafone Idea has thus far paid solely Rs 3,500 crore in two tranches. Airtel has paid Rs 10,000 crore out of its estimated legal responsibility of over Rs 35,000 crore. Tata Teleservices has paid Rs 2,197 crore, the whole excellent it believes to have arisen after the October ruling of the apex court docket for calculating dues.

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