telecom

India Cabinet Said to Not Take Up Proposal for Telecoms Financial Relief Measures

India’s federal cabinet did not take up proposals on Wednesday for providing financial relief to the country’s cash-strapped telecoms sector, a government source said.

The cabinet was widely expected to take a decision on a so-called relief package for the telecoms industry, which would have helped all wireless carriers but especially the embattled Vodafone Idea.

The source did not specify why the proposal was not discussed.

Shares in Vodafone Idea were down 1.2 percent while Bharti Airtel fell 0.2 percent at 0751 GMT (1:21pm IST) on news that the cabinet was holding off on measures to support the industry.

Both stocks had rallied on Tuesday in the hopes of government help.

India’s telecoms sector was upended by tycoon billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s controlled Reliance Jio Infocomm when it entered the market in late 2016 with free voice and cut-price data plans.

Jio also pushed several rivals out of the market, while others – such as the Indian unit of Britain’s Vodafone and local Idea Cellular – were forced to regroup.

The sector was also hit by a Supreme Court ruling last year which forces carriers Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to give in to a government demand for dues which they have long contested.

Vodafone Idea has paid the government Rs. 7,854 crores in telecoms dues, regulatory filings show, but still owes roughly Rs. 50,000 crores.

Bharti Airtel has said it paid dues estimated at Rs. 18,000 crores, but government figures show it owes a further Rs. 25,976 crores.

Vodafone, which has a net debt of Rs. 1,91,000 crores, has previously raised serious concerns about its ability to stay afloat without government help and its billionaire non-executive chairman stepped down last month.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


How will India’s new liberalised drone rules impact the industry? And where are they left wanting? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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