This is less than half of DoT's estimated demand of Rs 53,039 crore.
Vodafone Idea, which has the highest adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues but so far has paid the least, on Friday self-assessed its dues at Rs 21,533 crore – less than half of what the department of telecommunications (DoT) has estimated (Rs 53,039 crore).
Of the Rs 21,533 crore liability disclosed by the company, the principal amount is Rs 6,854 crore for the period from FY 2006-07 to FY 2018-19 and interest up to February 2020.
It has paid only Rs 3,500 crore so far.
On Friday, Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read met top ministers, including finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Though Read did not comment on his discussion with the ministers and whether he was given any kind of assurance by them, sources in the government said that he told the telecom minister that he is looking forward to a new beginning in India. The government on its part told him that it wanted the company to remain invested in the country. Government sources also said that Read told them that the company would make further payments. Sources said that Read accepted that the AGR issue should have been addressed by the company long back.
Vodafone holds 45.2% stake in Vodafone Idea.
On a similar self-assessment basis, Bharti Airtel has paid Rs 13,004 crore to the government in two installments. It has also deposited an additional Rs 5,000 crore “as an ad-hoc payment (subject to subsequent refund/adjustment) to cover differences, if any, arising from the reconciliation exercise with the DoT”.
The total payout by Bharti Airtel was half of Rs 35,586 crore liability estimated by the DoT.
Vodafone Idea has been the most categorical and vocal in seeking a bailout package on the AGR issue, saying its survival depends on it.
The company has made a strong plea for setting off its Rs 8,000 crore of GST credits against part of the liability. For the remaining dues, it wants payment to be staggered over 15 years at a simple interest rate of 6% after a three-year moratorium. It also wants drastic cuts in licence fee and fixing of a minimum price for calls and data.
Vodafone Idea chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla has held multiple rounds of discussions at the telecom and finance ministries over the last few weeks to look for a solution to keep the company’s operations on track.
In December, Birla had said Vodafone Idea may have to shut shop if there is no relief on the statutory dues. “If we are not getting anything, then I think it is the end of the story for Vodafone Idea,” Birla had said. “It does not make sense to put good money after bad… We will shut shop.”
Even Read had recently stated that the situation in India is critical, following the Supreme Court’s AGR ruling.