Tel­cos to get longer pe­riod to pay spec­trum fee, in­ter­est low­ered

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - NATION - Am­rit Raj am­rit.r@livemint.com

NEWDELHI: In a move that comes as a re­lief for the In­dian tele­com com­pa­nies, the apex tele­com pol­i­cy­mak­ing body on Fri­day ap­proved tel­cos de­mand to ex­tend du­ra­tion for spec­trum pay­ments. The Tele­com Com­mis­sion also en­abled lower in­ter­est rates on un­paid dues by at least two per­cent­age points.

This is be­ing done by re­plac­ing prime lend­ing rate (PLR) with mar­ginal cost of fund-based lend­ing rate (MCLR) for cal­cu­lat­ing the in­ter­est paid by op­er­a­tors on de­layed pay­ment of li­cence fee and spec­trum us­age charge (SUC), said a per­son in the di­rect know of the mat­ter.

The re­place­ment of PLR into MCLR was part of the fi­nal re­port of the in­ter-min­is­te­rial group (IMG) on fi­nan­cial stress in the tele­com sec­tor. The group was set up in May to study the fi­nan­cial stress of the sec­tor and sug­gest so­lu­tions. The IMG had ear­lier rec­om­mended that the de­ferred pay­ment sched­ule for spec­trum should be in­creased to 16 years from 10 years and re­place­ment of the PLR with MCLR.

“The move cer­tainly helps the in­dus­try as it will im­prove the cash flow... We are hop­ing the com­mis­sion to ad­dress a lot of is­sues that are af­fect­ing sec­tor such as spec­trum us­age charge and AGR,” Ra­jan Mathews, di­rec­tor gen­eral, Cel­lu­lar Op­er­a­tors As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia, said.

Mint on Fri­day re­ported that Tele­com Com­mis­sion was ex­pected to of­fer in­terim, piece­meal sops to debt-laden tele­com firms, pend­ing a re­lief pack­age that’s still some dis­tance away. On some mat­ters such as cal­cu­la­tion of ad­justed gross rev­enue in spec­trum trad­ing, the com­mis­sion is ex­pected to seek le­gal opin­ion from the law min­istry, which will ex­tend the process of a com­pre­hen­sive pack­age, Mint re­ported on Fri­day.

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