Indian telecoms get two-year moratorium on spectrum payment

India’s Cabinet on Wednesday approved two years’ moratorium on spectrum payment dues from telecom operators.
Smartphone customers on 4G network
The Cabinet decision means deferral of spectrum dues payment for the next two financial years — 2021 and 2022 — and extension of the number of payment instalments to 18 from 16 currently, PTI reported.

The two-year payment holiday will give a Rs 42,000 crore relief to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio.

The benefit to Airtel will be Rs 11,746 crore. The benefit to Vodafone Idea will be Rs 23,920 crore. The benefit will be Rs 6,670 crore for Reliance Jio.

“We will not let monopoly prevail in the sector. This is to relieve the distress in the telecom sector,” the official said.

The telecoms have been seeking some relief from the India government, especially after the Supreme Court order on the definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) last month. DoT has recently sent notice to all telecom operators to clear their dues.

This comes as a major step by the India government to ease the burden of the sector that has a debt of over Rs 7 lakh crore.

The government earlier said there will be no relief in the AGR dues. Airtel will have to pay Rs 43,318 crore within the next three months towards AGR dues. Vodafone Idea will have to pay Rs 49,155 crore towards AGR dues.

Bharti Airtel has debt of Rs 116,000 crore. Vodafone Idea’s debt reached Rs 120,000 crore. Reliance Jio’s debt is Rs 67,018 crore.

Meanwhile, Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting did not take any decision on cutting the 11-13 percent license/SUC fees.