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Sunil Mittal Seeks Centre’s Help To Raise Telecom Tariffs

Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal on Friday met Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad seeking measures to help the telecom sector reeling under financial stress.

During the meeting, Mr. Mittal sought government intervention to help increase telecom tariffs in the country, which have nosedived in recent years due to intense competition following the entry of Reliance Jio, a senior government official told The Hindu, on condition of anonymity.

This comes close on the heels of a similar request by Vodafone-Idea. While Mr. Prasad confirmed his meeting with Mr. Mittal, he did not elaborate on what was discussed.

The official, however, added that the Minister had refused any sort of government intervention to increase prices in the telecom sector, stating that tariffs will continue to be market-driven and that the companies need to work out how to deal with competition.

Additionally, it is the sectoral regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) that is empowered to fix tariff for telecom services. As per the existing regulatory framework, these tariff are under forbearance, which means that the regulator has not notified a tariff and service providers are free to fix tariff for such services.

Recently, Vodafone Idea Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and CEO Ravinder Takkar had too met Mr. Prasad with similar request. Last week, Vodafone Group Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee and CEO Nick Read were supposed to meet the Telecom Minister on their visit to India. However, the meeting had to be cancelled at the last minute, as the Minister had to rush to Patna to survey flood-affected areas.

“The Minister agreed that the sector is facing stress and informed Mr. Mittal that he has already written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman seeking some measures to help the sector. However, the DoT cannot help increase the tariffs,” the official said.―The Hindu

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