Parliamentary panel grills telcos over ₹12,500-cr revenue loss to Centre

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on January 17, 2018

Members unhappy over govt’s inability to implement revenue sharing policy

The top telecom service providers of the country were grilled by the Public Accounts Committee here on Wednesday over the a Comptroller and Auditor General’s report on Sharing of Revenue during the years 2006-07 to 2009-10.

The panel separately met representatives of Airtel, Tata Teleservices, Reliance Communications, Idea Cellular, Vodafone and Aircel and asked them about their plans to pay back the under-statement of Adjusted Gross Revenues worth ₹46,045.75 crore in the period of four financial years.

“It seems that both the service providers and the Telecom Ministry do not favour an out-of-the-court settlement. Most of the members felt that only a court verdict can bring clarity as the telecom players are questioning even the definition of the term revenue sharing,” a senior member in the panel said.

A note with the PAC said because of the Adjusted Gross Revenues worth ₹46,045.75 crore, the Centre was deprived of ₹12,488.93 crore of which Reliance accounts for ₹3,728.54 crore, Tata ₹3,215.39 crore, Airtel ₹2,651.89 crore, Vodafone ₹1,665.39 crore, Idea ₹964.89 crore and Aircel ₹262.83 crore.

The note also blamed the Telecom Ministry for its failure to ensure “correctness and completeness” of revenue flowing into the Consolidated Fund of India even after 16 years of the introduction of revenue sharing regime.

It cited the CAG report and said despite accepting the terms and conditions of the Telecom Ministry, there were large number of instances of alleged financial impropriety on the part of the private telecom service providers.

Revenue evasion

The evasion of revenue, according to the note, were in the form of commissions to dealers and distributors, promotional schemes, discounts to customers, roaming arrangement with other operators, non-inclusion of foreign exchange gain and exclusion of revenue from sale of bandwidth. “Most of the members agreed with the CAG that there should be a complete audit of the revenues of service providers,” another member said.

A delegation of the Telecom Ministry also appeared before the panel. Members expressed their unhappiness over the Centre not being able to implement the government policy of revenue sharing properly.

“Members identified a large number of procedural deficiencies in the functioning of the Telecom Department.

“The Telecom Secretary defended the Centre. Nevertheless, it is a hard fact that the failure of his department had contributed to the gross revenue loss, at least to the extent of ₹5,212.60 crore, if not to the extent of ₹12,488.93 crore,” a member added.

Published on July 13, 2016

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