The telecom industry on Wednesday reiterated the demand for a refund of Rs 35,000 crore GST credit and pending payment of around Rs 20,000 crore dues owed by public sector firms to various operators, saying that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has assured to clear outstanding amounts of MSMEs in 45 days under the new stimulus measures.
“The Finance Minister’s announcement is in line with the government’s aim to provide the necessary impetus to economic growth and build a ‘self-reliant’ India. We welcome the announcement of all pending payments within 45 days from PSEs to the MSME sector.
“The telecom industry has unutilized GST input tax credit over Rs 35,000 crore for which the sector has repeatedly demanded a refund,” COAI Director General Rajan S Mathews said in a statement.
A task force constituted under the finance ministry last month acknowledged stress in the telecom sector and said the Supreme Court judgement mandating companies to pay around Rs 1.35 lakh crore has placed some operators in a “precarious position” due to the short period of time in which they have to meet their liabilities.
The Cellular Operators Industry Association, which represents companies like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, etc, reiterated the demand for clearing pending payment by the state-run telecom firms, mainly BSNL.
“Moreover, the total outstanding from PSUs is approximately Rs 20,000 crore since long. We hope the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, in the course of next few announcements would give similar relief to the sector that has immensely contributed to keeping the country connected during the last 25 years and has kept 1 billion people connected during the current lockdown situation,” Mathews said.
The task force said the telecom sector is already reeling under the financial stress of Rs 7.7 lakh crore and the AGR liability is further going to add to uncertainty for some of the companies.
Telecom companies are jointly required to shelve out Rs 1.35 lakh crore as adjusted gross revenue dues to comply with an apex court order of 24 October, 2019.
Sitharaman on Tuesday announced the first set of relief for businesses as part of the relief package focussed on micro, small and medium businesses and will continue to issue guidelines for other sectors gradually.
Taiwan-based electronic chipset provider for telecom products Mediatek’s Indian arm said that the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiatives and the emphasis on self-reliance is commendable and the relief packages will help India’s economy to overcome the negative effects of the lockdown.
“Technology-driven systems are one of the five key pillars of growth and will bolster the tech sector in its efforts to scale-up and support the economy. MediaTek is hopeful that these initiatives will further India’s growth towards becoming a digital economy,” Mediatek India managing director Anku Jain said.