Telcos get two-year relief for payments

The move to defer payments will give a relief of Rs 42,000 crore to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio.

In a bid to provide relief to debt-hit telecom companies, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a moratorium of two years for spectrum payments.

In view of financial stress faced by telcos, the Cabinet approved deferring receipt of spectrum auction instalments for two years, 2020-21 and 2021-22, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

The move to defer payments will give a relief of Rs 42,000 crore to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio.

The Cabinet took the decision following the recommendation of the Committee of Secretaries headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba.

However, the telecom companies will have to pay the applicable interest on deferred spectrum payments. The deferred spectrum payment will be spread equally over the remaining instalments without any increase in the existing time period, the Minister said.

Earlier Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the Parliament that total debt of the telecom companies over Rs 7 lakh crores. The telecom companies have been demanding the government for relief, including moratorium in spectrum payments, reduction in adjusted gross revenue, GST, spectrum usage charges.

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