Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha today said the government will not hesitate to take “bold decision” to continue the success story of telecom sector, which currently is going through a financial stress. The minister further said that an inter-ministerial group, which is looking into the financial woes of the telecom industry, is likely to submit its report “within a fortnight”. The government, Sinha told PTI in an interview, “is not scared to take bold decisions”. “The government has information about all facts … It does not take decision based on views of one side … I will wait for the IMG report. In our country, there is a success story of telecom sector and we will make all efforts to continue it,” Sinha said. The minister promised that the government will act swiftly on the recommendations of the inter-ministerial panel, which has been formed to look into the financial stress of the telecom sector and to suggest remedies. Sinha said that the IMG will submit the report very soon. “Shortly. Maybe, a fortnight,” he said when asked about the timeframe for submission of the report.
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Telecom industry’s debt has touched Rs 4.6 lakh crore, and operators, even the large ones, are facing severe pressure on revenue and profitability after the entry of aggressive newcomer Reliance Jio. The IMG has held extensive dialogue with all telecom players as well as large banks to discuss the industry’s financial difficulties and look for measures to ease the situation. Leading players Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular as well as other telcos are making an aggressive pitch for reduction in levies (like licence fee, spectrum usage charge), and are also seeking an extension in the deferred payment liability for spectrum. Reliance Jio, on the other hand, has ascribed the financial stress in the telecom sector to existing operators running businesses on debt and investing heavily in unrelated sectors.