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Secretaries Panel may seek TRAI opinion on Relief Package

TRAI

New Delhi: The Secretaries Panel which is looking for a solution to reduce stress in telecom companies in the wake of the Supreme Court order on revenue computation and also gives relief to the sector, in general, may seek inputs from Trai on a possible bail-out.

The panel is also mulling meeting industry body COAI, and the telcos – Jio, Bharti and Vodafone Idea as well, while seeking written inputs on the current situations and suggestions from DoT and Trai.

Once the direction of the proposals is made, the DoT will be asked to seek Law Ministries’ view on their feasibility (only on the aspects of Supreme Court order).

Official sources said the discussions are on within the Secretary panel that Trai should be consulted is the sector regulator for any relief to the telcos.

Trai chairman RS Sharma did not respond to calls.

The possible decision on the package will come before the three months expire after the Supreme Court order. The apex court order came on October 24.

The Prime Minister’s Office and the Finance Ministry have already held separate meetings with the Department of Telecom over working out a solution on the AGR decisions of the Supreme Court where the telecom operators have been asked to pay a hefty amount of Rs 1.3 lakh crore overall to the government as dues.

AGR or Adjusted Gross Revenues includes all licensed revenues of a telecom firm not necessarily originating only from mobile or landline services. It now includes all incomes like towers, ISP licenses, rentals as per the apex court order which has supported the DoT computation and this is now a 14-year-old-due amount which has jacked up the payout by telcos like Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

Highly placed sources said the PMO and Finance Ministry meetings held with DoT did not cough up any possible way or solution that could bring relief to the telcos.

The newly appointed panel-led by Cabinet Secretary also met for the first time to look at sectoral levies relief and they too discussed the AGR issue though its terms of reference are not on the AGR issue discussion. (IANS)

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