Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel, has called upon the government to review the high taxes levied upon the telecom sector. The industry leader has asked the government to ensure that the sector aids in growth and development but not at its own cost.
“It is also time for the government to now ensure that this industry which has had its ups and down is now given due attention in the area of levies and taxes. Taxes have generally been very high on this industry,” said Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel.
“It is important that this is reviewed thoroughly and telecommunication resources like spectrum and levies should not become a source for the exchequer but should become a force multiplier in ensuring that the economic momentum becomes faster and gets accelerated. So the government can earn its dues from other Industries who are going to be riding on the back of this wonderful industry,” Mittal added in an industry event
Mittal’s comments come on the back of adjusted gross revenue dues (AGR) that has plagued the sector and been a battlefield between the government and private telcos. Airtel, the second most hit by blow of AGR dues has to pay the government a balance of Rs 25,976 crore. Now awaiting Supreme Court’s directions , the AGR provisions were the main reason for Airtel to post a loss of Rs 15,933 crore for April-June quarter .
Mittal in an industry event to celebrate 25 years of the sector highlighted how the number of operators have moved from “2 to 12 over this period of time and today we have back to three plus one operator serving the vast land of India”.
The telecom industry under a debt of more than Rs seven lakh crore has seen exit of players, mergers of Vodafone India with Idea Cellular and bankruptcies of Reliance Communications and Aircel.
Mittal along with other industry leaders have backed the goal of creating more home grown products across sectors.
“I also feel the time has come for India to take a lead in the area of local manufacturing, Prime Minister’s vision of Atma Nirbhar is giving us all a clarion call to ensure that more and more value added is done in India for the Telecom networks for mobile devices and of course accelerate even more our software abilities and the country,” said the chairman.
He pointed out the next generation of growth will come from 5G and IoT and wil impact services across.
” What we really are looking forward in the next 25 years is IoT connectivity, low-latency connectivity, a full 5G enable network across the country ensuring that digital payments online activities, e- commerce, health services, agriculture services, the government subsidies going into mobile accounts are all effectively done through a robust mobile network,” he added.
Interestingly, rival Reliance Jio had in mid -July announced that it has developed a 5G ecosystem and once spectrum is allocated, the telco can become a global 5G network provider to other operators . 5G spectrum is expected to be auctioned next year but Airtel has said the prices are too steep.
“Telecommunications will play a very vital role in ensuring that this digital dream of a prime minister is met and met with a first-rate telecommunication network, which is leading edge on technology, which will ensure that when 5G comes to India. The Telecom operators will take a front end role in connecting all that is required to be connected in the country,” Mittal added.
India’s affordable tariff rates which provide access to a lot of services and data was also noted by Mittal. “We believe that the tariffs that we now apply in India
are perhaps the most affordable anywhere in the world. Customers are enjoying over 15 GB of data usage per month at the most affordable rates anywhere in the globe for less than Rs 200 people are accessing their applications, music, entertainment, vital government services, DVD Access, financial inclusion,” he said