Government’s support for debilitated telecom sector welcome

IANS, November 17, 2019

Supporting consolidation in the telecom sector, public policy think-tank CUTS International on Sunday lauded Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for saying that she would not like any telecom operator in the country to shut operations.

In a statement here, CUTS Secretary General Pradeep S. Mehta said the functioning of all four incumbent telecom firms is vital to promote competition and protect consumer interest in the country

“We welcome the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman”s statement that she would not like any telephone company to shut operations and want all of them to serve their customers”, Mehta said.

He said the government”s decision to bail out the debt laden firms is more than welcome bu that “this should not become a precedent for other sectors.”

“While the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has practiced forbearance due to a competitive market, it is high time it establishes floor prices for tariffs rather than allow unbridled competition which has lead to an adverse situation for some operators, including the public sector firms”, he said.

“In China, where there are only three telecom firms, though all in the public sector, the price regulator has set a floor price by virtue of which the firms cannot enter into dirty competition”, Mehta added.

Sitharaman on Friday attempted to comfort the telecom sector saying the government doesn”t want any company to shut operations.

A committee of Secretaries is currently looking into the demands of the sector on giving relief to the stressed sector in terms of moratoriums, cut in licence and spectrum fees. It is headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajib Gauba and has already met twice on the issue.

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