DoT moves SC to offer telecom firms 20-year window

S Ronendra Singh New Delhi | Updated on March 18, 2020 Published on March 16, 2020

Proposes to charge firms 8% interest for staggered payment


The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Monday moved the Supreme Court (SC) seeking to offer telecom service providers (TSPs) a 20-year staggered payment facility for their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues.

The telcos would be charged 8 per cent interest on the staggered payments. The development comes a day before the final hearing on the AGR issue in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

DoT has requested SC to “suitably modify its judgment and order dated October 24, 2019, and order dated February 14, 2020”. The SC, at its hearing on February 14, had come down heavily on DoT for not being able to abide by its order of collecting the AGR dues by January 23. DoT said all licencees (operators) impacted by the judgment of the SC “be allowed to pay the unpaid or remaining to be paid amount of past DoT assessed/calculated dues in annual instalments over 20 years (or less if they so opt), duly protecting the net present value of the said dues using a discount rate of 8 per cent (based on one year marginal cost of lending rate of SBI, which is currently 7.75 per cent).”

A big relief

It said the interest towards unpaid amount, penalty and interest on penalty in relation to the past dues as on the date of the SC judgment will not be levied beyond the date of the said judgment and the net present value (NPV) will be protected using the discount rate.

“However, the TSPs shall continue to be liable for interest, penalty and interest on penalty for unpaid dues of licence fee and spectrum usage charge (SUC), which arise prospectively after the date of judgment of the SC (October),” it added in the request.

The request, if granted by the SC, can come as a relief to the telcos, although the total payout as per DoT’s calculations is higher than the operators’ self-assessed amount. The staggered payment over a 20-year period is the best thing they could have asked for in the current circumstances.

Out of the total demand of ₹1.47 lakh crore of AGR dues as per DoT’s estimates, the TSPs, till Monday, have paid only around ₹29,200 crore so far. This includes Bharti Airtel’s ₹18,000 crore, Vodafone-Idea’s ₹6,854 crore, Tata Teleservices’ ₹4,197 crore and Reliance Jio’s ₹195 crore. Bharti Airtel’s total dues are around ₹35,000 crore, Voda-Idea’s around ₹53,000 crore and TTSL’s about ₹13,800 crore, as per DoT’s assessment.

Published on March 16, 2020
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