Duty Relief, Tax Rebate on Telecom Wishlist

India’s top mobile carriers are seeking a customs duty waiver on 4G and 5G network gear in the upcoming Union Budget to lower high network rollout costs and accelerate expansion of telecom connectivity across the country.

The operators will also push for suspension of 5% of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) contribution towards the universal service obligation fund (USOF) till the latter’s ₹79,638.31 crore corpus is fully utilised, according to a pre-budget wish list that will be sent to the finance ministry shortly.

They are also likely to seek a cut in licence fee to 1% of AGR from 3% currently along with tax rebates to get financial relief by allowing them to carry forward and set off business losses for 16 assessment years instead of eight currently.

“Over the past five to six years, the government has increased customs duty on telecom equipment to 20%, which has put an additional financial burden on telcos, impacting 5G rollouts. Till we have a local telecom gear manufacturing eco system that ensures availability of good quality equipment in India at affordable prices, customs duty on 4G/5G network products should be reduced to nil in the upcoming budget,” a senior executive with one of the top three telcos told ET.

He added that the government must prioritise telecom infrastructure development in the Budget by reducing high regulatory levies.

Top private carriers Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, and industry lobby body COAI didn’t respond to ET’s queries.

S-ET Image Source: Google

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