NEW DELHI :
Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd on Thursday urged telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad not to grant any relief sought by rival telecom operators, a day after it said the telecom lobby’s call for relief does not reflect the industry view.
Without specifically naming Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd, Jio alleged that the operators have enough funds to pay their dues to the government, after a court order went against them.
“We request the government to reject the COAI demand for a financial relief on the Supreme Court judgement and their other outstanding liabilities including the spectrum payments etc and all operators should be mandated to deposit applicable amounts within the three-month time period, as mandated by the Supreme Court," Jio said in a 31 October letter to Prasad. Mint has seen a copy of the letter.
The government should not be obliged to bail out telecom operators for their own commercial failure and financial mismanagement, said Jio, which has clashed with other members of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) over relief for the sector.
“It will not be out of context to mention that any such package which prima facie appears to mitigate perceived financial strains, if granted, is likely to raise similar demands from other sectors such as aviation," Jio added.
Jio had written to COAI on Wednesday alleging the industry body was acting as “a mouthpiece of two service providers".
Jio, the only profitable telecom operator in India, said it does not agree with a single contention in the COAI’s letter, which it said was submitted under the influence of two of its members in pursuance of their vested interests.
The other two members of COAI are Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
Last week, the Supreme Court upheld the government’s broader definition of revenue on which it calculates levies on telecom operators, dealing a blow to telecom operators that are already burdened with losses and mounting debt.
Telcos will now have to pay the government ₹92,000 crore in spectrum and licence fee dues, plus interest that has accrued over these years. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have been the worst-hit by the order. Jio said “the so-called affected service providers" have sufficient financial capacity to pay the government dues by monetizing their existing assets and by issuing fresh equity in their companies.