Congress: Govt extorting money from prepaid cell phone users

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Chandigarh, Feb 15: The Congress on Saturday queried the Centre whether the increase in tariff of cell phone users by 40% a step to recover Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) in the backdrop of the Supreme Court verdict. The party alleged the NDA government is fleecing Rs 1,60,000 crore belonging to the people in the garb of AGR.

The Supreme Court on Friday came down heavily on the telecom companies for not paying dues to the tune of Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the government and summoned their top executives to explain why the top court order was not followed to clear the dues.

The Congress cited the chronology of the AGR case. In October 24, 2019 the Supreme Court directed the telecom companies to pay Rs 92,000 crore to the government towards AGR under the Telecom Policy, 1999. The Congress said the amount of about Rs 1,02,000 crore is owed to the government of India by Vodafone-Idea, Airtel Bharti, Tata Tele Services (now owned by Airtel) and Reliance Jio.

“On November, 20, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a Cabinet meeting approved deferring Rs 42,000 crore of ‘Spectrum Auction Installments’ of telecom companies for the years 2020-21 and 2021-22. The three private telecom companies i.e. Vodafone-Idea, Airtel Bharti and Reliance Jio, thus, got a deferment of Rs 42,000 crore”, said Randeep Surjewala, in-charge, Communications, All India Congress Committee, in a statement.

The party said in December 2019, Vodafone-Idea, Airtel and Reliance Jio proceeded to raise cell phone tariff and data usage charges for prepaid customers by 40% to 50%.

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