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Government 'unlikely' to tinker with Supreme Court order on AGR

Government 'unlikely' to tinker with Supreme Court order on AGR

Government 'unlikely' to tinker with Supreme Court order on AGR
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By IANS  Oct 31, 2019 6:43:07 AM IST (Updated)

The government formed a panel to look into financial woes of telcos after the apex court's AGR blow.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has apprised the Cabinet Secretary and Prime Minister's Office of the Supreme Court order on the AGR and its impact while making it clear that it was "unlikely to tinker with any aspect of the order", although it has conveyed the industry's demand for a bailout.

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Such briefing is done in all major cases affecting the sector and the industry is seeking some relief following the SC order, a source said.
Although relief is expected on other issues but unlikely in the SC order case. Telecom Minister, who also is the Law Minister, is learnt to be against any intervention in the court order.
On Tuesday, days after the SC order that put a Rs 1.33 lakh crore due on telcos that was especially hard on Airtel and Vodafone — the only two surviving telcos — the government formed a panel to look into financial woes of telcos after the apex court's AGR blow.
Headed by Cabinet Secretary, the panel will not risk government intervention, and at best look at giving more time for spectrum dues payment, reduction of USO — these were long-standing industry demands also and not related to the SC order.
Vodafone-Idea chief K. Birla had sought an extension of time period in dues payment. The COAI had sought a reduction in Spectrum charges and USO fund fees
The panel may soon meet to announce a financial bailout package for the ailing sector by lowering spectrum charges and ending the era of free mobile phone calls and dirt cheap data.
The panel, headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, will suggest ways to make a favourable environment for investment in the sector struggling to keep up revenue.
Panel has been asked to examine "all aspects" of "financial stress" faced by service providers such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea and suggest measures to mitigate them.
The CoS, which will comprise Secretaries to the Ministry of Finance, Law, and Telecom, will also look into other issues such as delay in spectrum auction payment dues for FY21 and FY22 and telcos' long-pending demands of a reduction in spectrum usage charges and universal service obligation fund levy.
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