‘Private telecom operators declared losses to avoid paying dues’
The Bharatiya Telecom Employees Union(BSNL), affiliated to the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh(BMS), has found fault with the recent decision of the Union Cabinet on approving a moratorium to telecom operators on Aggregated Gross Revenue (AGR) dues for a period of four years.
The Cabinet has announced 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in the telecom sector as part of its comprehensive package for the telecom sector.
In a statement on Sunday, union president V.V.S. Satyanarayana wondered how the private telecom operators, who were doing business in urban areas in major cities and to a small extent in semi-urban areas, without caring for the rural population, would make a loss at all. He alleged that they had declared losses to avoid paying AGR charges to the tune of ₹1.40 lakh crore to the Central government. The Supreme Court had also refused to buy their arguments and directed them to pay all the dues, he said.
The Centre went for a rethink on AGR dues and granted temporary relief, on the plea of the Vodafone CEO. Mr. Satyanarayana said that the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited(BSNL), a 100% government-owned telecom company, was the best bet to take over the huge customer base of Vodafone and Idea, as no other operator was having the required infrastructure as of now.
The BSNL has been providing communication facilities like voice and internet as well as 3G services for the past several decades in tribal, hilly and rural areas apart from difficult terrain areas. Transparency and standard tariffs have retained the customer base of BSNL, and they are awaiting 4G service from the BSNL for a long time, he said.
He attributed the losses of the BSNL to the policy decisions of the government and appealed to the government to rethink on the issue and stop privatisation of the public sector telecom giant, which has a lot of assets. The union leader also demanded that the government pay the pending dues of ₹30,000 crore to the BSNL on various accounts like licence for 4 G services and the third pay revision of employees.
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