India / Airtel pays DoT ₹10,000 crore as part of AGR dues after SC warning

Livemint : Feb 17, 2020, 03:38 PM

NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel Limited on Monday paid ₹10,000 crore to department of telecommunications (DoT) as part payment of its adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues. The company is currently in the process of determining the total quantum of the money it needs to pay DoT for the dues.

The development comes after Supreme Court on Friday castigated Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea as well as officials of DoT for delaying the payment of dues, in contravention of its 24 October verdict that upheld the DoT’s definition of AGR and found the telecom operators guilty of under-reporting their revenues.

As per DoT calculations, Bharti Airtel has to pay ₹35,586 crore to the government and Vodafone Idea ₹50,000 crore.

The government had decided not to take coercive action against mobile service providers that failed to meet the court-directed 24 January deadline to pay dues after Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel sought more time. This did not go down well with the SC.

Vodafone on Saturday said it would make some payments even as it hoped for a favourable SC view of its plea to modify the 24 October judgement and give it more time to pay.

The apex court had ended a 14-year legal battle between telecom companies and the DoT over what constituted AGR. The companies had contested DoT’s claim that items like dividend, rent and interest were part of AGR, and hence, the companies needed to include them while calculating their taxes. India levies licence fees of 8% of AGR on every telecom licence holder.

Jio is the only company that paid its dues. It was a small amount -- ₹60 crore -- as the company started operations only in 2016.

While the Supreme Court verdict had hit telcos, it had also made non-telecom firms holding licences for internal communications and signalling liable to pay licence fees on their entire revenue, even if they did not offer telecom services.

DoT has sought ₹1.72 trillion from GAIL (India) Ltd, ₹48,000 crore from Oil India Ltd, ₹22,168 crore from Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd, ₹15,019 crore from Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd and ₹5,841 crore plus interest from Delhi Metro Rail Corp Ltd (DMRC), among others.

At 1041 am, shares of Bharti Airtel were flat at ₹565 on the BSE, while those of Vodafone were up 8.5% at ₹3.73.

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