By Anjana Das
New Delhi– Bharti Group Chairman Sunil Mittal here on Wednesday met Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and raised a host of issues, including faster clearances, goods and services tax (GST) refund, bottlenecks in mergers & acquisitions, and the groups’ investment plans for the next five years that currently stands at Rs 18,000 crore a year.
“We discussed infrastructure sector — telecom, tower, solar, real estate — and our investment plans for the next 5 years. We spend Rs 20,000 crore a year on telecom. We told the Minister about our investment plans and apprised him of the bottlenecks where his intervention would be required,” Mittal said after meeting Goyal.
He said the group needed help in facilitating clearances from aviation authorities, real estate side, and issues around larger grids for solar parks. “We plan to make a lot of investment and just need little bit of encouragement from the government in terms of getting faster clearances,” he said.
Mittal also pointed to M&A issues and said merger of Tata’s consumer mobile business with Airtel was yet to be cleared.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has moved the Supreme Court against the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal’s (TDSAT) decision that mandated it to clear the merger deal between Bharti Airtel and the consumer mobility business of Tata Teleservices, demanding Rs 8,000 crore dues on account of one-time spectrum charges (OTSC).
The Bharti chief said he didn’t raise the AGR dues relaxation with the Minister.
Mittal also made a case for few industry sore points. “We made a request for GST refund, which stands at Rs 37,000 crore, for the industry, income tax post-merger, and that the tower industries be declared part of infrastructure”, he said.
He said the Trai consultation paper on voice and data floor price would bring the much-required sanity in the sector.
Trai on Tuesday launched a consultation process to determine if regulatory intervention was required in setting tariffs and the need for a floor price for mobile services.
Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel have reported record losses for the September quarter after a Supreme Court verdict that upheld the government’s broader definition of telecom revenues, based on which the licence fee of operators is calculated. (IANS)