AGR dues: High-level talks held to discuss relief measures for telcos

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Published: February 24, 2020 6:15:07 AM

The government is trying to balance between complying with the Supreme Court’s order by which the companies are required to pay up their dues by March 17, and offering financial sops to the operators.

AGR dues, department of telecommunications, NITI Aayog, Vodafone Idea, digital communications commissionThe government is trying to balance between complying with the Supreme Court’s order by which the companies are required to pay up their dues by March 17, and offering financial sops to the operators.

The department of telecommunications (DoT) on Sunday held a high-level meeting, which was attended by officials of the finance ministry and government think tank NITI Aayog to explore solutions for the crisis emanating from the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues.

Though government officials refused to comment, sources said the meeting was the first in a series and was held to apprise officials across ministries of the crisis at hand and possible solutions which the government can look at.

Though nothing emerged from the meeting, sources said the DoT has been asked to prepare a proposal which would then be vetted by the finance ministry and subsequently be put up before the digital communications commission.

The government is trying to balance between complying with the Supreme Court’s order by which the companies are required to pay up their dues by March 17, and offering financial sops to the operators.
The government has made it clear to the operators that they would have to pay up as it is the SC’s order, but it would try to defer or waive off dues like licence fees and spectrum usage charge. How much and for what period are issues that need to be decided after deliberations, sources said.

The total dues of around 15 operators is to the tune of Rs 1.47 lakh crore but since many have shut down or are undergoing insolvency, the dues owed by the three functional companies — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Tatas — is of Rs 1.02 lakh crore. Of this around Rs 16,000 crore has been paid till date — Rs 10,000 crore by Bharti, Rs 3,500 crore by Vodafone Idea, and Rs 2,197 crore by Tata Teleservices.

While Bharti Airtel has raised funds and has said it will pay the balance before March 17 after completing its self-assessment exercise, Vodafone Idea has expressed its inability to pay any more and is desperately looking for some relief from the government. Tatas have said as per their calculation they have paid their full dues, which the government will cross-check through its flash check and in case of any discrepancy will send notices.

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