Cabinet takes no decision on telecom relief package
The Union cabinet on Wednesday did not take up for discussion the much awaited relief package for the beleaguered telecom sector, sources said.
The cabinet was widely expected to take a decision on the relief package, which would have thrown a lifeline at the embattled Vodafone Idea.
The source did not specify why the proposal was not discussed.
Information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur said there was no call taken on anything related to telecom relief. “There was nothing like that,” he told reporters at the cabinet briefing.
The telecom sector was disrupted by Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Jio Infocomm when it entered the market in late 2016 with free voice and cut-price data plans. Jio is set to launch its affordable smartphone in collaboration with Google on Friday on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi, which is expected to foment another churn in the market.
The telecom sector has been keenly watching out for the relief package, which sources said could include the redefinition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) to exclude non-telecom items, cut in levies such as spectrum usage charges and easier terms and conditions for surrendering radiowaves to the government.
Sources said the telecom department has been actively pushing for the relief measures for the sector, and is hopeful that the proposals will be taken up for consideration in the coming 1-2 weeks.
It could not be immediately ascertained why the relief package was not taken up on Wednesday, or whether any fresh clarifications will be sought from the telecom department before the same are taken up for detailed discussion in coming days.
In anticipation of a package, the Bharti Airtel share price rose 2 per cent to hit a new high of Rs 684 in intraday trades. The Vodafone Idea shares also surged 7.5 per cent to Rs 8.90 apiece ahead of the meet. As the news of the cabinet not taking up the issue trickled down to the bourses, VIL’s shares slipped and closed at Rs 8.07, down 2.54 per cent from the previous close on the BSE. Airtel’s shares were also down 0.43 per cent at Rs 667.80 apiece.