AGR issue: Relief, if any, will be for the entire telecom sector

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

Government relief, if any, will be for the entire telecom sector and not just for one company, top sources in the government said on Thursday. It also has to be cleared by the Cabinet.

Moreover, a decision on this will be taken only after March 17, after the final hearing of the Supreme Court on the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) issues, the sources said.

“These (relief) are issues which are under consideration. And whatever we do, it will be for all operators and not for just a single or particular company,” a top government official told BusinessLine.

“We cannot give any indication of a relief measure unless and until the Cabinet approves it. Any relief measure may require the court’s approval and will be based on legal advice as well as Cabinet approval,” the official explained.

These statements come a day after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) sent notices to the telecom operators including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices (TTSL) for payment of the balance amount of AGR dues.

On Wednesday, DoT wrote to them asking for details/documents that are required for proper reconciliation of the legitimate dues because amount paid by them are 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,” it said in the notice.

On Tuesday, telcos including Airtel, TTSL and VIL paid around ₹8,000 crore, 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 Supreme Court came down heavily on these telcos and directed them to pay the AGR liabilities at the earliest, after which Airtel paid ₹10,000 crore, VIL ₹3,500 crore and Tata Tele ₹2,197 crore.

But put together, the companies owe the government around ₹1.50-lakh crore. Airtel has a liability of ₹35,000 crore, VIL ₹53,000 crore and TTSL ₹14,819 crore.

Meanwhile, Vodafone Group Chief Executive Officer Nick Read will be meeting Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday to discuss the company’s contingent plan for its operations in India which has a partnership with Idea Cellular, owned by the Aditya Birla Group. He is also likely to meet Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Published on March 05, 2020

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