A top executive of debt-ridden Vodafone Idea (VIL) said the government has given telecom companies an option to pay the dues through equity. The government has also stated that it is not interested in acquiring any company. The company's Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ravinder Takkar said in an interview that it is clear that the government wants the company to compete in the market and have at least three private service providers in the telecom sector.
"Till this announcement (telecom reforms) I have had several talks in different parts of the government. It is very clear in all my conversations that the government is not interested in being owned or acquired or operated by any other telecom company.
The government is already managing loss-making telcos BSNL and MTNL. They were given a relief package of about Rs 69,000 crore in October 2019.
Some experts argued that the government could acquire a larger stake in VIL if it opted to pay the cumulative interest or annual installments through telecom equity. Takkar said, the government wants us to work in a competitive manner.
The total debt of VIL as on June 30, 2021 was Rs 1.91 lakh crore. This includes spectrum payment liability of Rs 1.06 lakh crore and adjusted gross revenue (AGR) liability of Rs 62,180 crore. Apart from this, the company has to repay loans of Rs 23,400 crore to banks and financial institutions.