The telecom sector has been going through a bit of rough patch lately and we have kept you updated right since the start of all of this.
Last year, the court had upheld the government’s idea of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR), on which it calculates levies on telecom operators. The order led to a sick blow to the telecom industry, as the operators will now have to pay dues for the past 14 years, along with interest and fines.
Vodafone-Idea has been hit the worst by this and is under pressure to pay an estimated amount of Rs. 53,000 crore, of which it has managed to pay only Rs. 3,500 crore to the government yet.
Vodafone-Idea’s Demands to the Govt
Telecom companies have been left scrambling to pay dues after the Supreme Court on 14 February pulled them up for failing to comply with its October verdict. However, it is Vodafone-Idea that has been hit the worst.
Thus, in order to enable it to pay statutory dues and make it’s business sustainable, Vodafone-Idea has demanded fixing minimum tariffs for mobile data at Rs. 35 per GB, which amounts to 7-8 times of current prices, along with calls at 6 paise per minute, starting from April 1.
The company has sought 18 years’ time to clear the dues, including a three-year moratorium on payment of interest and penalty, to clear its AGR dues of more than Rs. 50,000.
To give you a reference, the current mobile internet prices are in the range of Rs. 4-5 per GB. The demand to raise call and internet rates from Vodafone Idea comes within three months of the company raising prices by up to 50%.
According to the company, an increase in mobile call and data rates will help it generate revenue to the same level as Vodafone and Idea individually generated in 2015-16. It says that it will take 3 years to get to that level after tariff hike, thus asking for a three-year moratorium for successful payment of AGR dues.
The company says that it would be in a position to meet its liabilities only if the government initiates steps including allowing set-offs for GST credit accumulated so far, and permitting staggered mechanism for payment of balance amount of interest, penalty, and interest on the penalty.
COAI Asks for a Minimum Floor Price
The Cellular Operators Association of India has urged the government to ensure that consumers pay a minimum floor price for using mobile services from April.
The government levies a license fee and spectrum usage charge based on revenue earned by telecom companies. Telecom companies and government had entered into a dispute over ascertaining revenue calculation.
However, the SC upheld the government method of calculating the revenues and ordered telecom operators to clear all dues by January 23, 2020.
The cumulative liability on telecom operators was estimated at around Rs. 1.47 lakh crore by the Department of Telecom in July 2019. For this, the COAI said that floor pricing is imperative to ensure the sector’s sustainability. The industry body represents Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio.
The industry body has sought that the GST credits lying with the government be adjusted against the dues payable by telcos. It has also sought that after this adjustment, the payment of balance amount of interest, penalty, and interest on penalty be allowed in a staggered manner.
The government may consider granting loans equal to the AGR amount at a 6% rate of interest so that the AGR liability may be discharged immediately.
A man in New Zealand finds insects in his Domino’s pizza
A man in West Auckland, New Zealand says he was left feeling sick after allegedly discovering maggots (insects larva) on his takeaway pizza order from Domino’s. However, the Domino’s Pizza outlet where Reginald Thalari says he bought the pizza denied the claim.
On Tuesday afternoon, Thalari purchased four pizzas from Domino’s Pizza outlet in Avondale for his employees. But it was after they had eaten a few slices that Thalari alleges they made a stomach-churning discovery.
“It was disgusting. We ordered four pizzas but when we opened the box with pepperoni we saw maggots on the ham. I felt like spewing, to be honest. If someone says would you like some pizza I think I’ll turn them down next time.”
However, a Domino’s spokesperson said that it is extremely unlikely maggots would have been in store pre-purchase and said it would be “impossible” for eggs to survive the temperature of their ovens.
“Domino’s takes food health and safety extremely seriously, and ensures these standards are upheld through regular audits and inspections of stores throughout the year,” the spokesperson said.
The Domino’s Pizza spokeswoman further said that “Upon learning of this customer’s experience, we contacted the customer directly and have organised a deep clean of the store, as well as for our pest control company to further inspect,”
Singer Shobhit Sahay won hearts with his song ‘Mehrbaan Alvida’
Music can evoke many emotions in you. Songs help you express feelings for which you can’t find words. Singers play a key role in giving that effect to a song with their beautiful voices. In a country like India, many young singers are leaving people impressed with their impeccable talent. Shobhit Sahay from Muzaffarpur is one such talented singer/vocalist who is here to rule hearts.
Currently, Shobhit Sahay is grabbing headlines and making people fall in love with his song ‘Mehrbaan Alvida’. His melodious voice has elevated the song’s mood along with the catchy music. The song is trending on the internet and has crossed more than 100K views recently. Shobhit is over the moon with such a positive response to his latest release.
Along with being a good singer, Shobhit Sahay is also popular among the netizens as a social media influencer. Shobhit has thousands of followers on his Instagram account, where he shares videos covering various tracks. A few months ago, legendary singer Stebin Ben praised Shobhit for his amazing vocal skills. Shobhit also runs a YouTube channel where people can’t get enough of his talent and music skills.
Shobhit shares about his journey and love for music, “I have been into music since childhood. I used to listen to singers like Arijit Singh, Stebin Ben, Jubin Nautiyal and others. They captivate your mind with their soulful voice. They made me believe in my dreams and I am happy that people enjoy my work, especially my latest songs. I hope I keep making more original songs and people keep showering me with such good love.”
Thanks to the success of Mehrbaan Alvida, singer Shobhit Sahay has got the attention of many top Bollywood composers. Currently, various music composers have approached his to sing either for a movie or web show. Shobhit is excited about the way his singing career is shaping. Soon, he will announce his new project on social media.
About the enormous love and appreciation she receives on social media, the singer expresses, “I am incredibly amazed by the support and fondness of my Instagram followers. Their constant comments, appreciation, likes, and sharing of my content is what made me so strong in the world of social media. Deeply overwhelmed with the response. I hope I keep giving my best and make my followers and music lovers happy.”
Top military officer of India, CDS General Bipin Rawat passed away in chopper crash
General (retd) Bipin Rawat, India’s first Chief of Defence Staff General, passed away on Wednesday when an Indian Air Force helicopter ferrying him and 13 others crashed near Coonoor in Tamil Nadu, the Indian Air Force said.
The crash took place as Rawat was on his way to the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington. It is being speculated that the crash took place due to low visibility in foggy conditions.
“With deep regret, it has now been ascertained that Gen Bipin Rawat, Mrs Madhulika Rawat and 11 other persons on board have died in the unfortunate accident,” the Indian Air Force (IAF) said in a Twitter post late Wednesday.
“Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) was on a visit to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington (Nilgiri Hills) to address the faculty and student officers of the Staff Course today,” the IAF said in a second post.
Rawat, a former Indian army chief, took office as the first CDS on 1 January 2020 at the start of a three-year term. He was the one point defence advisor to the Defence Minister. He was also entrusted with carrying out some of the country’s key defence reforms – creating synergy among the three services by merging their 17 different commands into four or five joint commands. The new commands were to focus on specific borders.