In a meeting between the DoT secretary Anshu Prakash, senior members of the DoT and Rajan Mathews, director general, COAI, on Monday, all the issues were discussed.
The department of telecommunications (DoT) has assured the telecom industry that it will soon review and decide on the issues concerning the sector like SIM activations, movement of essential goods additional backhaul spectrum, additional relaxation in filing compliance requirements due to the extension of the quarantine period, etc. In a meeting between the DoT secretary Anshu Prakash, senior members of the DoT and Rajan Mathews, director general, COAI, on Monday, all the issues were discussed.
Mathews said the COAI raised the need for the government to address the distressed financial plight of the industry on an expedited basis. It has asked for a reduction in the licence fee (LF) and spectrum usage charges (SUC) as well as modifications in the GST where spectrum debt payments, LF and SUC payments would not be classified as “services”, and hence not attract GST. The DoT secretary referred the matter to member finance for his follow-up.
The COAI had recently approached ministry of finance with key asks, including providing soft loan against GST input credit to address the immediate liquidity crunch, reducing the SUC to 3% and reducing LF (USOF contribution) from 8% to 3%. The industry has also urged to exempt the levy of GST on LF, SUC and payment of spectrum acquired in auctions.
The industry has written several letters to DoT recently to address issues of telcos in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has sought DoT’s help in relaxing norms regarding activation of SIM cards, compliance approvals, etc.
As a result of the close working between the DoT and industry, the number of “faulty” BTSs were brought down from approximately 800 from before the quarantine to nearly 290. This was out of a total number of approximately 22 lakh BTSs, nationwide. Similarly, the number of optical fibre cuts were reduced from approximately 100 per day from before the quarantine to approximately 19 fibre cuts during the past 15 days of the quarantine. Instructions were also provided to all power companies to ensure stable and continuous power to cell towers to minimise logistical movements.