Govt responds to telco SOS, okays 4-year moratorium on AGR dues payment

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fairly difficult
The government has always maintained the telecom sector should not become a duopoly and at the same time the relief measures should not be given to one company
In a shot in the arm for the industry, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved measures including a four-year moratorium on spectrum-related payments.

The relief package is expected to give a boost to the current players, besides attracting international investment. To encourage investment, 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) under the automatic route has been permitted in the sector, with all safeguards.

Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said these structural reforms would change the framework of the industry.

The measures, which would be applicable for the telecom service providers, would provide relief by easing liquidity and cash flows and help banks having substantial exposures to the sector, he said.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman, Bharti Airtel, said: "The latest reforms ensure the industry is able to invest fearlessly and support India's digital ambitions. These bold initiatives are reminiscent of the decisions taken by the National Democratic Alliance government in 1999, when the telecom sector was at a crossroads, which resulted in an era of affordable mobile services for all Indians."

Nick Read, chief executive officer of Vodafone Group, said: "The initiative will be the beginning of Vodafone's contribution to building a digital society."

"The reforms will go a long way in unshackling the telcom sector. The will bring alive the digital aspirations of 1.3 billion people," said Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman, Aditya Birla Group, and former chairman of Vodafone Idea.

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Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani on Wednesday said these would enable the sector to achieve goals set under the Digital India mission.

"The telecom sector is one of the prime movers of the economy and the key enabler for making India a digital society. I welcome the Government of India's announcement of reforms and relief measures that will enable the industry to achieve the goals of Digital India. I thank Prime Minister (Narendra…
Megha Manchanda
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