According to industry sources, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is planning to incorporate provisions allowing it to waive statutory dues and penalties in the upcoming telecom bill.
The move is likely to benefit small internet or telecom companies that owe modest sums to DoT. Meanwhile, such an enabling provision could also potentially enable DoT to waive off some dues of bigger telcos as well. However, if the amount involved is large and statutory in nature, cabinet’s approval would be required.
Besides, DoT has some major claims in the form of one-time spectrum charges (OTSC), adjusted gross revenue (AGR) and the Rs 30.50 billion penalty on Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi) and Bharti Airtel. Currently, many small internet service providers (ISPs) and national and international long distance (NLD and ILD) licencees hold small dues and have defaulted on making statutory payments. To this end, a waiver provision would allow DoT to provide a closure to such cases as it would not lead to losses for the exchequer because the amounts are very low with no chance of recovery.