The Department of Telecom has approached the Finance Ministry to help resolve issues that are impacting investments in the telecom sector despite being given infrastructure status. Government has already notified ‘Telecommunications and Telecommunications Services’ as a sub-sector in April 2013 under Harmonised Master List (HML) of infrastructure to facilitate a coordinated approach among various agencies providing support to infrastructure.
“Pursuant to the notification, a large number of issues have been raised by the TAIPA on steps required to realize the impact of inclusion in HML for this capital intensive sector,” Telecom Secretary MF Farooqui is learnt to have said in a letter to Department of Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram. Industry plans to implement renewable energy technology at around 2 lakh towers by 2015 as per DoT’s direction and that alone will require an investment of Rs 40,000 crore and the industry has sought lower import duty on equipment besides facilitating short term loans. Although DoT has rejected the industry’s demand to lower import duty, it has agreed that the facility of low interest loans available for other sectors should be made available for telecom sector as well. Also Read - Vodafone CEO Nick Read to visit India this week; will seek bailout: Report
Tower and infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) has asked DoT that telecom infrastructure should be allowed tax holidays under section 80 IA which DoT had also recommended for the Budget. DoT forwarded various other issues to the Finance Ministry for its consideration including viability gap funding, CENVAT credit on certain telecom infrastructure items, external commercial borrowing and so on. “I believe a suitable resolution to these rules would enable investments in deeper penetration of telecommunication services to unreached areas and improvement of service quality,” Farooqui said. He has also requested Mayaram to call a meeting of the industry representative to address their concerns. Also Read - BSNL agrees to lay off 54,000 employees, but waiting for elections to be over: ReportAlso Read - WhatsApp users can now file a complaint with DoT against offensive messages