Cong sees govt hand in 1.60 lakh cr loot from prepaid mobile users

UMAKANT LAKHERA. Dated: 2/16/2020 1:55:49 AM

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Saturday accused the Modi government of collusion with India's top telecom operators to allow them to fleece Rs 1.60 lakh crore from an estimated 112 crore prepaid mobile phone users by raising tariff by 40% to 50% instead of paying the "adjusted gross revenue" (AGR) dues to the government from own pocket.
Its spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said the telecom companies have piled up the AGR dues by not paying to the government for the past 20 years on account of 3% spectrum charges and another 8% on licence fee and the government has allowed them to recover these dues from the prepaid customers.
He said the government sought to defer recovery of the ADR dues while an intervention by the Supreme Court made it permit the telecom companies to raise their cell phone tariff and data usage charges that amount to Rs 35,561 crore per annum. In the remaining four-and-a-half years of the Modi government's tenure, it amount to the prepaid customers pay an extra amount of Rs 1,60,028 crore.
Surjewala said the government's leniency towards the telecom operator could be seen from the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Modi on November 20 deferring recovery of Rs 42,000 crore of the "spectrum auction instalments" for the year 2020-21 and 2021-22. The beneficiaries are Airtel Bharti, Vodafone-Idea and Reliance Jio.
He pointed out that only after the Supreme Court on Friday pulled up both the government and the telecom operators with threat of contempt for defying its earlier order for recovery of Rs 1.02 lakh crore ADR that the Department of Telecom (DoT) issued an order to the operators to pay the dues by Friday midnight. Surjewala said the prepaid cell phone users are the ordinary hardworking Indians who are being fleeced at the instance of the Modi government after it could not help the telecom operators in not paying the huge dues they had piled up over the past 20 years.
He posed three questions, including what is the quid pro quo of Modi government to defer recovery of Rs 1.02 lakh crore ADR due from the telecom companies as per an order issued by a junior functionary of the DoT on January 23 over which the Supreme Court has now issued contempt.
Surjewala also asked why deferment of the spectrum auction installments of Rs 42,000 crore for the two years by the Union cabinet and why the government allowed 40% hike by the telecom companies to pay the ADR dues instead of paying from own pocket.



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