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Rising Dues

Manu Kaushik     August 6, 2019

In a recent affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has pegged dues from telcos at Rs 92,642 crore on account of licence fee and spectrum usage charges (SUC). Airtel owes the most, followed by Vodafone and bankrupt Reliance Communications. For nearly 16 years, DoT and telcos were at loggerheads as they differed on the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) calculations. Telcos pay licence fee and SUC to DoT as a percentage of their AGR.

DoT says this includes a wider range of components such as interest income, dividend, profits on sale of assets, insurance claim, and forex gain. Telcos say these are non-telecom revenues and should be excluded. In a 2006 judgement, telecom tribunal TDSAT termed inclusion of non-telecom revenues by DoT as illegal. The final order on the issue is expected in two-three months. Since telcos, already facing heightened competition, are not provisioning for this dispute, they might be in for a rude shock if the DoT has its way.

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