While he sought a relief on AGR dues front that are now demanded by the government, Mittal also said the government should adjust – or offset – the near Rs 37,000 crore GST input refunds that the industry is yet to get back.
Mittal, who met telecom secretary Anshu Prakash for close to an hour, said India needs a 3-plus-1 telecom set-up, which basically means services offered by three private players (Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio) and one state-owned BSNL-MTNL combine.
“We have gone through several crises before, but this probably is the most difficult time for the industry. We have seen brutal competition, an unprecedented competition, for the last two or three years. The result has broken balance sheets, eight companies have collapsed or folded up, gone bankrupt or were sold for nothing. What we have now must be protected. And for that, the government must do whatever they can to support in whichever form they can, including the reduction in levies charged on us. They must have a sympathetic view towards the industry,” he stated.
While the telecom companies recently raised tariffs by 10-45% in view of the financial difficulties and mounting debt and losses, Mittal said the revisions are not enough, and there is a need to revise them further very soon. They have made a demand to this effect in a petition filed with regulator Trai.