Telecom companies including Vodafone Idea and Airtel are set to face another major blow as Department of Telecom is in the process of calculating AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) dues for FY18 and FY19. Notably, the DoT has so far demanded AGR dues, including licence fees, interest and penalties, till 2016-17 only, while spectrum charges worth Rs 55,100 crore have been calculated till FY19.
The department is now in the process of calculating the pending AGR dues since FY17. The process is quite "long and takes time", The Economic Times quoted a DoT official as saying. The jacked-up AGR numbers could also start another round of litigation between the DoT and telcos, which are already bearing the brunt of SC's October 24 ruling.
As per the latest government data, telecom companies owe Rs 1.47 lakh crore to the DoT, including Rs 92,600 crore as licence fee and Rs 55,100 crore as spectrum usage charges. Bharti Airtel owes Rs 35,600 crore, while Vodafone Idea has to pay Rs 53,000 crore. Reliance Communication has pending dues worth Rs 21,200 crore and Tata Group have to pay Rs 13,800 crore. Of the total pending amount, Vodafone Idea and Airtel have to pay Rs 88,600 crore.
The Supreme Court on February 14 had asked the telecom companies to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for non-compliance of its October 23 order on the payment of pending AGR dues.
In a strong reaction to non-compliance of its order, the SC bench bemoaned the order passed by the DoT's (Department of Telecom) desk officer, staying the effect of its verdict in the AGR matter. The bench noted there's "no stay" on the coercive action against the telcos failing to comply with the SC order, following which telcos are scrambling to make payment.
The SC's order has hastened the crisis for telcos facing revenue losses every quarter. Vodafone Idea has warned it'll have no option but to shut operations if it pays all its pending dues. The telecom operator this week paid Rs 2,500 crore. Bharti Airtel and Tata Group also made payments of Rs 10,000 crore and around Rs 2,197 crore, respectively.
Edited by Manoj Sharma