Telecom operators, including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, have to pay 10 per cent of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues demanded by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) by March 31, 2021, as directed by the Supreme Court, Parliament was informed on Tuesday.
Minister of State for Communications Sanjay Dhotre, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, said the Supreme Court in its judgement on September 1, 2020 has determined the dues owed by the telecom companies and the methodology of payment.
The apex court had asked telcos to make 10 per cent of the upfront payment of their dues by March 31, 2021 to the DoT, while the remaining to be paid over 10 year period starting April 1, 2021.
However there is some ambiguity over the court order as telcos maintain that they have already paid more than the 10 per cent of their AGR dues, while the DoT opined that the operators will have to pay 10 per cent of the total dues by March 31, 2021, irrespective of what they have already paid. The ambiguity over this has befuddled the industry calculation with many of the telcos reaching out to their legal counsels to make sense of the Supreme Court's order in this regard.
As per government calculations, total AGR liability of Bharti Airtel is Rs 43,980 crore, Vodafone Idea (VIL) Rs 58,254 crore, Tata group Rs 16,798 crore, BSNL Rs 5,835.85 crore and MTNL Rs 4,352.09 crore.
Operational telecom operators are expected to pay Rs 12,921 crore by March 31, of which close to 80 per cent has to be paid by Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel. According to a DoT official, Vodafone Idea will have to pay around Rs 5,825 crore and Bharti Airtel Rs 4,398 crore, respectively.
As of now, Bharti Airtel has paid the government Rs 18,004 crore, VIL Rs 7,854 crore, Tatas Rs 4,197 crore and Reliance Jio has cleared its entire dues with payment of Rs 194.79 crore.
Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Communications owes Rs 25,194.58 crore, Aircel Rs 12,389 crore and Videocon Telecommunications Rs 1,376 crore but these companies are under liquidation process. Companies like Loop Telecom, Etisalat DBand S Tel, which jointly owe the government Rs 604 crore, have shut down their India operations.
With PTI inputs