Telecom operators associations -- COAI and AUSPI -- today met senior Finance Ministry officials to seek ''infrastructure' status for the sector, a tag which will make access to credit easier for them.
"Infrastructure status would provide us beneficial treatment (with regard to) infrastructure bonds and make financing easier," Rajan Mathew, who heads the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said after a pre-Budget consultation meeting with the Finance Ministry.
Besides income tax exemptions, an industry counted in the infrastructure sector, is allowed to borrow funds from overseas. They are even provided easy credit in the domestic banks.
The associations also discussed tax-related issues concerning the sector.
"At present, no offset is being given to us for our investment in tower construction," Mathew said, adding that issues related to witholding taxes were also taken up.
He said the officials assured the associations that the Finance Ministry would look into their demands.
The telecom industry has been demanding lowering of taxes on the sector, saying that the levies in India are among the highest in the world and with tariffs as low as 0.5 paise per second, the revenues are falling, affecting investments in the sector.
Telecom companies are paying up to 10 per cent annual licence fee, besides 8 per cent spectrum charges and contribution towards the Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund as a percentage of Adjusted Gross Revenue.