Govt Wants Airtel, Vodafone Idea to Pay AGR Dues Without Delay

The Indian government wants telcos to pay over Rs 77,000 crore as per the latest Supreme Court orders without delay.

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Free 4G voice and data plans have hit the telcos badly.
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The government has asked Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom companies to pay remaining AGR dues as per the Supreme Court order without further delay, according to sources.

The telecom department wrote to all telcos asking them to pay balance dues "without delay" and submit detailed bifurcation of payments (explanation of self-assessed amounts), which it said are necessary for proper reconciliation of legitimate AGR dues.

The government has so far received about Rs 26,000 crore from AGR payments, including adhoc/ buffer amounts given by telcos to meet any reconciliation differences with the telecom department.

However, the amounts paid by telcos is woefully lower than the DoT's Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) calculations, prompting the telecom department's latest move.

Sources privy to the development said that as the amount paid by telcos is based on their own self-assessment, the department has asked them to explain how they have arrived at the said calculation, and pay the balance amounts.

Bharti Airtel has submitted over Rs 18,000 crore to the DoT declaring that it has made full and final settlement towards its AGR liabilities but the amount is far less than Rs 37,500 crore (including Telenor) that the government estimates the company owes it.

Funding Woes

It is pertinent to mention here that Bharti Airtel on Saturday said it has made payment of Rs 8,004 crore towards AGR dues to the government, an amount over and above Rs 10,000 crore it has already paid earlier

Similarly, Tata Teleservices has paid Rs 2,197 crore in AGR dues, and earlier this week topped that up with additional Rs 2,000 crore to cover reconciliation differences, while DoT estimates its liabilities to be about Rs 14,000 crore.

VIL has so far deposited Rs 3,500 crore in two tranches to the DoT but is still assessing its full AGR dues. According to the government's calculation, VIL owes Rs 53,000 crore in such liabilities.

In all, 15 entities owed the government Rs 1.47 lakh crore in unpaid statutory dues -- Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges. Of the estimated dues that include interest and penalty for late payments, Airtel and VIL account for about 60 per cent.

The Supreme Court last month rejected a plea by mobile carriers such as Bharti Airtel and VIL for extension in the payment schedule and asked companies to deposit their past dues for spectrum and licences.

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