Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday attempted to comfort the telecom sector saying the government doesn't want any company to shut operations.
FM's words will do a lot of confidence boosting as the the two top telcos --Airtel and Vodafone Idea -- have posted a combined loss of Rs 74,000 crore in Q2 by provisioning for the AGR pending dues. Vodafone has hinted at not being able to remain as a going concern if relief does not come for the sector.
"We Don't want any telecom company to shut operations and we want companies to flourish in their business. We want all companies of all sectors to flourish in their business," she told the media during an interaction.
"The Finance Ministry has been actively participating in all the meetings on the telecom sector along with other government departments. All factors have been subsumed in the discussions within the government on the telecom sector. Post-AGR, the Finance Ministry is trying to understand the impact of the order on the telecom sector", Sitharaman said.
There is a committee of secretaries looking into the demands of the sector on giving relief to the stressed sector in terms of moratoriums, cut in licence and spectrum fees. It is headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajib Gauba and has already met twice on the issue.
The draft minutes of the CoS are ready but not final yet, she said, adding post-SC verdict on AGR, the Finance Ministry is trying to understand the impact of the verdict. As the companies have to pay the AGR amount in three months, the minister said time is a serious factor on giving relief to the sector.
"We are not sitting over the problem of the telecom sector. Time is a serious factor", FM said. The DoT has to take call, a collective call while understanding the sector's issues and finances of the government, Sitharaman said. On Thursday, Airtel posted Rs 23,900-crore net loss and Vodafone Idea had a loss of Rs 51,000 crore approximately due to the Rs 92,000-crore AGR hit following a Supreme Court order.
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