The much-awaited relief package for financially stressed telecom sector was not taken up by the Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday, sources said. The telecom sector has been keenly watching out for the relief package, which sources said could include redefinition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) to exclude non-telecom items, cut in levies such as Spectrum Usage Charges and easier terms and conditions for surrendering radiowaves to the government.
Sources said the telecom department has been actively pushing for the relief measures for the sector, and is hopeful that the proposals will be taken up for consideration in coming 1-2 weeks.
It could not be immediately ascertained why the relief package was not taken up on Wednesday, or whether any fresh clarifications will be sought from the telecom department before the same are taken up for detailed discussion in coming days.
There have been rising expectations for a policy pill for intensely-competitive telecom sector, amid Vodafone Idea's struggles to stay afloat.
Billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla recently stepped down as chairman of Vodafone Idea Ltd, within two months of offering to hand over Aditya Birla Group's stake in the telco to the government, in a bid to avert a crisis for the telecom company.
In fact, industry analysts have sounded an alarm over the risks of the Indian telecom market turning into a duopoly. Industry association COAI recently made a strong pitch for cut in levies, doubling tenure of auctioned radiowave holdings, alongwith 7-10 year moratorium for spectrum payments, to address viability concerns of the sector.
Last month, Sunil Mittal, Chairman of India's second largest telecom company Bharti Airtel, had made a passionate pitch for hike in tariffs and a cut in government levies to save the industry. Mittal had said while 35 per cent of industry's revenue goes to the government in taxes and levies, telcos are loaded with an extraordinary debt of AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) dues and spectrum payments.
Levies are far too high in the telecom sector, Mittal had said adding that "levies and load on industry needs to be brought down" for India to truly realise its digital vision.
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