Kapil Sibal checkmates officers for fining telcos

Kapil Sibal checkmates officers for fining telcos

Responding to telecom companies’ complaints of being slapped with hefty fines, Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal on Wednesday urged officials of his ministry to apply their mind while imposing penalties on operators, failing which their powers would be clipped.

Chairing a meeting attended by senior executives of telecom companies, the Minister advised officials to penalise telcos in proportion to the mistake they commit. If the officials fail to address this lapse, penal powers would be vested in the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), he warned.

Many executives complained that the Department of Telecom levied the maximum penalty of Rs 50 crore for even minor mistakes.

Promising to resolve the grievance, the minister asked officials not to impose Rs 50 crore fine for any and every lapse. “Hefty penalty has hurt the industry and the government gets no revenue because such penalties are stayed by court," Sibal told reporters after the interaction.

The meeting was attended by Bharti Airtel Chief Executive Officer Gopal Vittal, Reliance Communications CEO Gurdeep Singh, Idea Cellular Managing Director Himanshu Kapania, Videocon Telecommunications CEO Arvind Bali and Tata Teleservices MD Srinath Narasimhan, among others.Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) Secretary General Ashok Sud said the industry faces combined penalty of about Rs 6,850 crore, which is burdening balance sheets and should be resolved soon.

Sibal also said that the government is keen to auction spectrum at the earliest to mop up funds.

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