Telecom eyes sops for fast 5G rollout
The telecom industry is expecting tax reliefs to enable the operators to quickly rollout 5G across the country and increase mobile use in rural India.
Players expect finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman to reduce their licence fees and exempt them from basic customs duty, which will help them to import essential equipment for 5G expansion.
Officials said the government would provide enabling policies for the growth of the telecom and the allied infrastructure sector.
S.P. Kochhar, who heads the telecom grouping COAI, said the operators may get special benefits such as exemptions from GST on payments to the government such as the licence fee and the spectrum usage charge.
“Telcos are constantly upgrading infrastructure to keep up with the new-age technologies. However, the required facility to manufacture the equipment has not yet been set up in India. Therefore, telcos are dependent on imports,” Kochhar said.
“Considering the financial health of the industry and the huge investments underway to fulfil our goal of a digitally connected India in line with the National Broadband Mission, relaxation of import duties will go a long way in helping us to realise our dream of an Atmanirbhar Bharat,” he added.
The COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) has requested a special tax regime for the operators under Section 72 of the Income Tax Act, 1961, wherein the business losses can be carried forward and set-off till 16 assessment years from the existing eight years.
Higher customs duty on equipment is disrupting cost effectiveness of the operators. Around 85 per cent of the telecom equipment in India is imported.
The industry body suggested exempting the levy of BCD charges as it will be beneficial towards importing essential equipment, which will further help in the deployment of 5G in India.