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Kumar meets PMO officials seeking relief In Spectrum Dues

PW Bureau

Any company-specific relief would be difficult, government officials said, mentioning that the telecom industry is split over the requirement for any financial relief New Delhi: In order to discuss a deferral of payment of Rs 9,500 crore to the government by way of spectrum charges this year, Vodafone Idea Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla met representatives in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), government officials told Economic Times. The officials, however, said that any company-specific relief would be difficult, mentioning that the telecom industry is split over the requirement for any financial relief. Reliance Jio is not on the same wavelength with Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel in their call for relief. Birla explored the possibility of respite “Birla met with senior officials at the PMO to discuss the possibility of some sort of respite for the company,” a senior government official told ET. “Vodafone Idea has to pay about Rs 3,500 crore in March and another Rs 6,000 later as spectrum payments.”

“Vodafone Idea has to pay about Rs 3,500 crore in March and another Rs 6,000 later as spectrum payments.”

To look for relief in spectrum payments, Nick Read, CEO of Britain’s Vodafone Group, which co-owns Vodafone Idea, recently met Aruna Sundararajan, telecom department (DoT) secretary. Rules can’t be changed just for Vodafone Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) wrote to telecom minister Manoj Sinha on Monday, saying the Rs 35,000 crore input tax credit outstanding to telcos from the government should be adjusted against spectrum payments. “We can certainly consider taking some steps if the entire sector is in distress, but if other players do not agree with Vodafone’s plea, then we can't just change rules for one company,” said the government official. Vodafone Idea, which recorded a consolidated loss of Rs 4,973 crore for the quarter ending September, is likely to report a loss of close to Rs 4,500 crore in the October-December quarter. The company’s December quarter results will be announced on Wednesday.