After Vodafone Idea, telecom major Bharti Airtel has also deferred the payment of spectrum auction instalments due up to four years. The company has also deferred the AGR-related dues by four years.
"With reference to the notification dated October 14, 2021 issued by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to the Company, we wish to inform you that the Company has confirmed to avail the following options: a) deferment of the payment of spectrum auction instalments due upto four years; and b) deferment of AGR related dues by a period of four years with immediate effect," Airtel said in a stock exchange filing today.
Airtel also said the other option offered in the aforesaid notification by DoT will be considered within the stipulated timelines. Last week, Vodafone Idea Board of Directors approved the deferment of its spectrum auction instalments for four years (October 2021 to September 2025).
The DoT had recently written to telcos, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio, asking them to convey by October 29 if they would be opting for a four-year dues moratorium. It also gave 90 days' time to the operators to indicate if they want to opt for converting the interest amount pertaining to the moratorium period into equity.
Recently, the government approved a blockbuster relief package for the telecom sector that includes a four-year break for companies from paying statutory dues, permission to share scarce airwaves, change in the definition of revenue on which levies are paid and 100 per cent foreign investment through the automatic route.
The measures, aimed at providing relief to companies such as Vodafone Idea that have to pay thousands of crores in unprovisioned past statutory dues, also include the scrapping of Spectrum Usage Charge (SUC) for airwaves acquired in future spectrum auctions.
For the past dues, the government has allowed a moratorium or deferment of up to four years in annual payments. But the telecom companies will have to pay interest during the moratorium period. Also, the government will have an option to convert the due amount pertaining to the deferred payment into equity at the end of the moratorium/deferment period.
With inputs from PTI
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