CAG pulls up DoT on unspent Rs 20kcr meant for rural telephony

The Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund was set up in April 2002 for achieving the objective, stated in the National Telecom Policy, 1999.

A total levy of Rs 31,109.36 crore was collected between 2002-03 and 2009-10 by DoT, but a disbursement of only Rs 10,371.44 crore was made from the Fund in this period, CAG report tabled in Parliament said today.

CAG said the closing balance of the fund on March 31 should be Rs 20,737.92 crore, as against nil balance shown.

There is, therefore, understatement of closing balance of USO Fund by Rs 20,737.92 crore, it added.

"DoT may ensure viable schemes for implementation of universal service obligations for rural and remote areas so that the USO objectives are met and the fund balances are utilised for the purpose which these are collected," it said.

The resources for meeting the USO are raised through a 'universal access levy', which is percentage of the revenue earned by all telecom operators.

The implementation of the USO for rural and remote areas is undertaken by telecom service providers, who are reimbursed net cost from the fund that is administered by DoT.

It recommended that DoT should obtain necessary approvals and transfer all the receipts on account of universal access levy to the USO Fund in the same year so that the balances are correctly reflected in the accounts.

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