Sector representatives challenge bailout plans

30 Jan 2013

Industry bodies the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) and the Association of Unified Service Providers of India (AUSPI), which represent the nation’s GSM and CDMA operators respectively, have issued a joint statement opposing proposals from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to bailout state backed providers Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL). The DoT has sought cabinet approval for the government to bear the cost of the one-off spectrum fees levied on the duo, as well as refunding spectrum fees for returned 4G airwaves. The Economic Times quotes the statement from the COAI and AUSPI as saying: ‘It is submitted that if BSNL /MTNL are given any refunds or financial aid, this will give a huge pricing advantage to public sector companies over private operators and create a price distortion which will be both discriminatory and anti-competitive. [The] DoT decision to waive this one-time charge for PSUs [Public Sector Undertakings] would clearly establish that the government agrees that imposition of this charge is legally not valid and this charge cannot be levied on existing private licensees also.’