Airtel will opt for moratorium to redirect cash flow to build network: Sunil Mittal

“Airtel could take a lead in tariff hikes in some packs.”

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel will opt for payment moratorium, offered in telecom relief package, and redirect the cash flow to aggressively build networks, its Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said on Thursday.

Telecom reforms will spur growth, and have paved the way for all players to come together and work as a team to unleash India’s telecom dream, Mr. Mittal said.

He hoped that regulator Trai will look into the industry’s demands for a reasonable reserve price for 5G spectrum.

Tariffs need to go up, and more needs to be done on GST, licence fee, high levies "but that’s a separate chapter", Mr. Mittal added.

Airtel could take a lead in tariff hikes in some packs, he pointed out.

Airtel will opt for the moratorium to redirect cash flow to build network, he said.

With regard to interest on payment moratorium, Mr. Mittal said that Airtel will weigh when the offer comes from the government on whether to go for equity conversion mechanism or pay cash.

The government on Wednesday approved a blockbuster relief package for the telecom sector that includes a four-year break for companies from paying statutory dues, permission to share scarce airwaves, change in the definition of revenue on which levies are paid and 100 % foreign investment through the automatic route.

The measures, aimed at providing relief to companies such as Vodafone Idea that have to pay thousands of crores in unprovisioned past statutory dues, also include the scrapping of spectrum usage charge (SUC) for airwaves acquired in future spectrum auctions.

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