Regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Sunil Mittal rues high telecom levy

Mobile telephony being taxed like tobacco industry, Bharti Airtel boss says

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 25.10.18, 09:52 PM
Sunil Bharti Mittal in New Delhi on Thursday.

Sunil Bharti Mittal in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

Telecom czar Sunil Bharti Mittal on Thursday pitched for lower taxes complaining that mobile telephony was being taxed “like tobacco industry” at the highest rate.

Speaking at the inaugural session of India Mobile Congress 2018, Mittal who is the chairman of telecom major Bharti Airtel, said, “Telecom levies are as high as 37 per cent. Spectrum fee, licence fee are very high coupled with GST at 18 per cent”.


Taking a dig at the government, Mittal said if revenue maximisation is not the government’s aim as claimed by the national telecom policy, then “why is there so much entanglement in litigation”.

He listed high spectrum charges, GST and licence charges as the main roadblocks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India mission.

High telecom auction reserve fees had seen the government garnering about Rs 3.5 lakh crore in promised spectrum charges. However, the high charges have also meant huge financial burden for telecom companies.

The high fees had also led to around 38 per cent of all spectrum remaining unsold during the 2010 auction.

Telecom operators are also protesting the 18 per cent GST as it makes it difficult for them to price data delivery at reasonable costs.

This needs to be resolved, Mittal said and added that he is happy that the National Digital Communications Policy captures the outstanding issues — dual taxation, accelerating the merger and acquisition process, and reducing litigation in the sector.

According to Mittal, the industry has now reached the “right structure”. However, he felt that the consolidation of the Indian telecom market did not take place in an orderly manner except in case of Vodafone-Idea merger.

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