The direction was issued following approval of Member, (Finance), who heads all departments within the DoT that deal in matters related to revenue.
The telecom department has decided to not take any coercive action against the telecom operators who did not pay AGR dues by the deadline that ended on Thursday, official sources said. Leading telcos Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have informed the Department of Telecom that they would not pay their total AGR dues of Rs 88,624 crore by January 23 and would comply with the outcome of modification petition filed before the Supreme Court which is listed for hearing next week, an official source told PTI.
Reliance Jio, the largest telco in terms of subscriber base, however, paid Rs 195 crore to the DoT to clear all adjusted gross revenue dues accounted till January 31, 2020. Official sources said that the Director of Licensing Finance Policy (LFP) Wing has issued directions that concerned departments should not take any coercive action against the licensees in case they fail to comply with the Supreme Court order, until further orders.
The direction was issued following approval of Member, (Finance), who heads all departments within the DoT that deal in matters related to revenue. The apex court had given three months to telecom companies from the date of October 24 when it pronounced judgement on statutory dues. The Supreme Court has held that non-telecom revenues have to be considered for calculating statutory dues.
Telecom companies owe the government around Rs 1.47 lakh crore in AGR dues that include Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee, and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges. After the rejection of review petitions by the apex court, telecom companies have moved fresh pleas with regard to working out new schedule of payment of their dues.
The apex court on Tuesday agreed to list next week the fresh pleas of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices. Tata Communications, in which the government holds 26.12 per stake, has also made no provision for DoT’s demand of Rs 6,633 crore for AGR dues as the Supreme Court order did not include appeal of the company which is still pending before the apex court.
In the case of Bharti Airtel, the liabilities added up to nearly Rs 35,586 crore, of which Rs 21,682 crore is licence fee and another Rs 13,904.01 crore are the SUC dues (not including the dues of Telenor and Tata Teleservices).
In the case of Vodafone Idea, this number stands at a cumulative Rs 53,038 crore, including Rs 24,729 crore of SUC dues and Rs 28,309 crore in licence fee. The DoT has also raised demand of around Rs 3.5 lakh crore from non-telecom service operators based on interpretation of the apex court order.
The DoT has demanded Rs 1,72,655 crore in dues on IP-1 and IP-2 licences from GAIL, Rs 1.25 lakh crore from PowerGrid which had both a national long-distance as well as an internet licence and Rs 48,000 crore from Oil India.
Meanwhile, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the DoT seeking nearly Rs 3 lakh crore in dues from non-telecom PSUs, such as GAIL, Oil India Ltd and PowerGrid, was a result of “communication gap” as these firms do not owe any such amount.