Pradhan blames ‘communication gap’for DoT’s AGR call to ‘non-core’ telcos

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2020

Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel Dharmendra Pradhan at the national Conclave on ‘Emerging opportunities in natural gas sector’ in New Delhi, on Thursday   -  -

Oil Minister says government is in talks with telecom department to sort out issue

The Department of Telecom’s demand seeking adjusted gross revenues (AGR) as licence fee from ‘non-core’ telecom PSUs could be due to a “communication gap” Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan, said here today.

Speaking at the sidelines of the national Conclave on ‘Emerging opportunities in natural gas sector’, Pradhan said that the Supreme Court order allowing the levy of this charge on telecom companies may not negatively impact oil public sector undertakings.

“We are in talks with the Department of Telecom and we have given our view on the same. It seems there was some communication gap because of which one arm of the government has raised such demands on other arms of the government,” Pradhan said.

“GAIL, Oil India and PowerGrid are not in the core telecom business. These issues are being considered and parallely, we have also placed our views before the Supreme Court. We don’t think these companies will be adversely impacted by the AGR rulings,” he added. In response to a query on whether individual companies are contesting the claims or the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas — which is the nodal ministry of some of the PSUs facing the AGR claims — has sought remedy, Pradhan said that work is afoot on both fronts.

₹48,000-cr demand on OIL

In a clarification issued on Wednesday, Oil India Ltd responded to the claims raised by the DoT and said: “As per the licence terms, licence fee is to be paid on gross total revenue from services provided under the National Long Distance (NLD) Service Licence. Since the award of NLD licence, the cumulative revenue of ₹1.47 crore is earned by OIL from leasing of spare bandwidth capacity on which all applicable licence fee and other statutory dues as per the licence terms have been paid regularly."

After a Supreme Court order in its favour, the DoT has served demand notices on OIL seeking payment of licence fee on total reported revenue including revenue from sale of crude oil, natural gas among others, which neither relate to the NLD licence nor can be treated as supplementary/value-added services related to the NLD licence. Till date, OIL has received demand notices for the FY 2007-08 to FY 2018-19 period, amounting to over ₹48,000 crore, including licence fee, penalties and interest.

Published on January 23, 2020

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