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AGR issue: DoT issues notice to telcos on full payment of dues

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on March 05, 2020 Published on March 05, 2020

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The department said partial payment is not allowed as per SC order

With final Supreme Court hearing on the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) issue scheduled for March 17, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is leaving no page unturned for SC to raise any questions against the department.

Thus, in order to get all the dues left as per its calculations, the DoT on Wednesday sent notices to telecom operators including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea (VIL) and Tata Teleservices (TTSL) to pay all the balance dues 'without any further delay'.

The DoT has also not agreed to the payment made by the telcos and said the payments were based on self-assessment, which the Department do not agree.

"The said details/ documents are urgently required for proper reconciliation of the legitimate dues because amount paid by you is based on self assessment. Further, Hon'ble SC order dated February 14 has reiterated its order dated October 24 which requires that entire licence fee (LF) and spectrum usage charge (SUC) dues along with interest, penalty and interest on penalty is paid upfront," the DoT notice sent to telcos said. BusinessLine has access to the letter.

The DoT’s notice also said that partial payment cannot be 'construed as compliance' to the SC orders dated October 24 and February 14.

The notice comes a day after the telcos paid some more dues to the DoT.

Payments and dues

On Tuesday, telcos including Airtel, TTSL and VIL had paid a total of around ₹8,000 crore combined, towards the AGR liabilities. While Airtel paid ₹1,950 crore, VIL paid ₹3,043, TTSL ₹2,000 crore and Reliance Jio gave ₹1,053 crore.

On February 14, the SC came heavily on these telcos and directed them to pay the AGR liabilities at the earliest, to which Airtel paid ₹10,000 crore immediately, VIL ₹3,500 crore and Tata Tele paid ₹2,197 crore.

But with all dues put together, the companies have a liability of around ₹1.50 lakh crore to be paid to the government. Airtel has a liability of ₹35,000 crore, VIL has ₹53,000 crore and TTSL has around ₹14,819 crore.

According to experts, the latest step by the DoT had to come because it needs to adhere to the SC rulings and instances in the recent past have not given good precedents.

For instance, the SC in its order dated October 24 had directed the telcos cough up the dues to the government (DoT) within three months (January 23). However, on January 23, the DoT asked its officers not to take any coercive action against the defaulting telcos, which evoked the displeasure of the apex court on February 14, and came heavily on the telcos (for not paying the dues), and also the DoT for not able to collect the dues.

Published on March 05, 2020
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