In a relief to telcos weighed under the AGR dues, the government may soon finalise a bailout package, ET Now reported citing unidentified sources.
In a relief to telcos, the government may soon finalise a bailout package to help them pay the AGR dues, ET Now reported citing unidentified sources. A high-level Digital Communication Commission (DCC) which includes DoT Secretary, DEA Secretary, and Niti Aayog CEO, among others is expected to discuss the relief package on Thursday, the report added. Providing for soft loans to the telecom firms to save them from AGR hit by the government is one of the options with the government, the report also said. Another idea is to tap into the Rs 45,000 crore Universal Services Obligation (USO) Fund established in 2002. The government may even mull over subscribing to the bonds issued by the telecom companies, ET Now report also said.
In unpaid statutory dues, the 15 entities owe the government Rs 1.47 lakh crore. The total amount includes Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and remaining Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges. Airtel and Vodafone Idea account for about 60 per cent of the estimated dues that include interest and penalty for late payments. The Supreme Court on January 16, 2020, dismissed pleas by telecom firms including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to review its earlier judgment which directed the firms to pay over Rs 1 lakh crore of dues to the government. On February 16, 2020, the Surpeme Court slammed the telecom firms on non-payment of AGR dues by the then stipulated deadline.
Earlier on October 24, 2019, the apex court had upheld the government’s definition of revenue, which defined AGR as all revenues of a license holder including those from non-core telecom operations such as rent, dividend, and interest income.