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Bharti Airtel seeks infra-status for telecom sector

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Pitching for grant of 'infrastructure sector' status for telecom business in this year's union budget, Bharti Airtel has said it would make it easier for the entities in this business to get the funds.

"...One of our key expectations from the Union Budget 2012 would be to formally recognise the telecom sector as an 'infrastructure sector,'" the top private sector telecom player Bharti Airtel's CEO (India and South Asia) Sanjay Kapoor said.

"This is critical for achieving the objective of inclusive GDP growth by generating employment opportunities directly and indirectly, across the length and breadth of the country," he added.

The Budget, to be presented in the Parliament on January 16, is widely expected to take measures to promote the growth in the sector.

Besides income tax exemptions, belonging to infrastructure sector get benefits in overseas fund borrowings and also get easier credit from the domestic banks.

The telecom players are also demanding lowering of taxes on the sector, saying that the levies in India are among the highest in the world, which is affecting investments and and revenues of the sector.

Besides, government can play a vital role by re-considering the taxation module on mobile devices. This would help in the penetration of smartphones and make it affordable reaching out to larger section of the audience.

Kapoor also suggested tax rebates for broadband services, which would lower cost to the end-consumer and would help achieve government’s objective to increase broadband penetration manifold.

The budget must lay down a transparent road map for allocation (sale/auction) of natural resources to attract investments in the economy with specific reference to spectrum.

"We recommend that more spectrum be made available to the industry and the allocation to be done in a fair and transparent manner. Artificial scarcity should not be created by holding back spectrum to inflate the prices of this already scarce natural resource," Kapoor added.

The telecom Industry has been at the forefront of the growth of the Indian economy. It contributes nearly 2% to the entire GDP and provides employment to nearly 10 million people, directly or indirectly.

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First Published: Mon, March 12 2012. 19:55 IST