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Govt panel to study telecom sector’s financial stress

A Committee of Secretaries (CoS) , headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, would examine the financial stress of the telecom sector and recommend measures to mitigate it, an official source said on Tuesday.

The measure would be recommended “keeping in view the larger public interest and improving telecom services for subscribers,” the source said.

The committee would look into the service providers’ demands, including a deferment of the spectrum auction payment for two years, as well as a review of the Universal Obligation Fund levy and the Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC).

Additionally, the TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) was likely to examine “the aspect of minimum charge for voice and data services to ensure that the financial health of the telecom sector remains robust and viability is sustained”.

The decision comes close to the heels of the Supreme Court order on the calculation of Aggregate Gross Revenue in favour of the government, as a result of which the telcos now owe the government about ₹92,000 crore. This came as a huge blow for the industry that is already reeling under a debt of about ₹4 lakh crore.

“Representations have been received from major telecom service providers regarding the financial stress being faced by them… these will be looked into…The government will certainly facilitate an environment which continues to herald growth of the sector…” the source said, adding that the CoS was expected to meet shortly and submit its recommendations in a time-bound manner.

Source: thehindu.com

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