Vodafone India MD and CEO, Marten Pieters has stated that telecom service providers face “financial burdens” and other charges like USO Fund fee and spectrum usage charge (SUC) in Indian market. According to him, all these charges are limiting their investment capacity in domestic market.
He said that the government should “get rid” of charges like the USO Fund, which he felt holds no relevance in today’s times. He also said that penalties imposed for minor violations, including procedural lapses, are very high and should be softened.
The private operators have been penetrating rural and other areas at their own initiative and there is no need for the government to charge a separate fee for the same.
“We are by far connecting one of the most rural customers within our network. Of the 174-million customer base of Vodafone, we have 92 million in rural areas. In this scenario, why should we contribute to the fund that was originally meant to connect rural customers. We should get rid of this, he said.
He said that taxes, levies and charges, which are imposed on telcos, are limiting their capabilities to invest in network expansion. For example, while Vodafone has invested Rs 60,000 crore on capital expansion and spectrum acquisition over the last five years, its contribution to the exchequer in terms of taxes and other charges amounts to Rs 70,000 crore.
“The financial burden does limit the investment capability. Remember, you can invest a rupee only once. If you pay it to the government on various charges and levies, the network rollout investments may suffer,” said Pieters