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Telecom Department To Approach FinMin, Seek Relief For Sector

The Department of Telecommunications will soon approach the Finance Ministry with the wish-list of the debt-ridden telecom industry, a senior Ministry source said.

“We are going to have formal consultations with the industry in the first week of January. We will see what their wish-list and their suggestions are. Then by January 10-11, we will formally write to Ministry of Finance,” the official, who did not want to be named, said.

The Ministry will call individual telecom service providers, equipment makers and industry associations such as the cellular operators association of India and Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association.

This will be the second time in nearly six months that the DoT will approach the Finance Ministry seeking relief for the telecom industry, which is reeling under a debt of about Rs. 7 lakh crore.

In a letter to the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in August 2019, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had sought reduction in licence fees, while also pitching that the Rs. 36,000 crore that has accumulated as input tax credit due to the telecom sector be adjusted against statutory levies.

While the telecom operators have already raised tariffs by up to 50% to help push revenues, the industry has been calling for reduction in levies and a further increase in tariffs to sustain the sector.

The DoT also held a meeting chaired by Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash, on Tuesday with service providers and equipment vendors, including Huawei, to discuss the way forward for the upcoming 5G trials.

The 5G trials are expected to start in the first quarter of 2020 (January-March). The government had received a total of seven applications for the 5G trials.―The Hindu

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