Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a relief package for the telecom sector that includes a four-year moratorium on payment of statutory dues by telecom companies as well as allowing 100% foreign investment through the automatic route.
Briefing reporters on the decisions taken by the Cabinet, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said nine structural reforms for the telecom sector were approved.
The definition of AGR, which had been a major reason for the stress in the sector, has been rationalised by excluding non-telecom revenue of telecom companies.
“PM Modi took a bold decision over AGR (adjusted gross revenue) today. A decision has been taken to rationalise the definition of AGR. All non-telecom revenue will be taken out of AGR. There was a regime of heavy interest, penalty & interest on penalty on payment of license fees, spectrum user charges and all kinds of charges. It has been rationalised today. Annual compounding (of interest) will be done instead of monthly compounding. A reasonable interest rate of MCLR + 2% interest rate has been offered and the penalty has been completely scrapped. This will pave way for large-scale investments in the telecom sector. Investment means employment – more the investment, more the employment,” said Vaishnaw at a press briefing in New Delhi.
“For future auctions, duration of spectrum will be 30 years instead of 20 years. Also if someone takes spectrum & business conditions/technology changes then after a lock-in period of 10 years it can be surrendered by paying spectrum charge. Spectrum sharing is also being completely allowed, it has been made completely free,” added Vaishnaw.
The minister said that 100 per cent FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in telecom via the automatic route was approved by the Cabinet.