Pay AGR dues in full or explain calculations, DoT tells telecom companies

According to sources, notices were issued even to those firms which are undergoing insolvency proceedings.

airtel. vodafone idea, reliance jio, bsnl, mtnl
Airtel said the arrangement will be particularly relevant where a site is shut or where the telecom operator is not able to manage the up-time. (File Photo)

The department of telecommunications (DoT) on Wednesday issued notices to all the telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices, asking them to pay the remaining adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues as per the Supreme Court order or submit documents explaining their self-assessment calculations.

According to sources, notices were issued even to those firms which are undergoing insolvency proceedings. Bharti Airtel has deposited a total of Rs 18,004 crore towards AGR dues while Tata Teleservices has paid Rs 4,197 crore. Vodafone Idea has paid Rs 3,500 crore so far as the company has not completed its self-assessment exercise.

The need for issuance of notices arose because the amount deposited by Airtel and Tata Teleservices is way lower than calculations done by DoT.

As per government, telecom firms owe Rs 1.47 lakh crore in AGR dues and till now nearly Rs 25,900 crore has been received by DoT. For instance, as per DoT estimates, Bharti Airtel owes Rs 35,586 crore towards the AGR dues including licence fee, spectrum usage charges with interest on unpaid amount, penalty and interest on penalty till July 2019, while the company has estimated the dues to be Rs 13,004 crore. The calculations done by Airtel also include dues of Telenor. But as per DoT, Telenor owes Rs 2,154 crore, which are over and above Airtel’s Rs 35,586 crore.

Airtel though has 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. Similarly, Tata Teleservices has paid Rs 2,197 crore as AGR dues and an additional Rs 2,000 crore ad-hoc payment. However, these companies have not shared any supporting documents to explain their calculations.

“We don’t want to make unnecessary hassles for the companies but they need to explain how they arrived at the AGR amounts. If they fail to submit the documents, they have to deposit the entire amount as calculated by DoT as it is public money,” sources in DoT said.

It must be mentioned that companies have to pay the AGR dues in compliance with the October 24 order of Supreme Court. The apex court is scheduled to hear the matter on March 17. The MDs of the companies have to appear to show compliance or face contempt proceedings.

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