Govt approves two-year breather for cellcos

21 Nov 2019

The Indian government has approved a two-year moratorium on spectrum payments, providing relief of around INR420 billion (USD5.9 billion) to the beleaguered industry, the Economic Times writes. The cabinet greenlit the measure to defer collection of spectrum auction fees due from service providers in the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 fiscal years. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was quoted as saying that the deferred amounts would need to be equally spread across the remaining instalments, without an increase in the time period for making the payments. Whilst the decision was welcomed by the nation’s cellcos, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad poured water on hopes that the government might soften its stance on the recent supreme court ruling on adjusted gross revenue (AGR), with the official stating that the ministry was not considering waiving the penalties or interest on the dues related to the ruling.