Full Evaluation Of Telecom Firms’ AGR Math May Take Six Months: DoT Source
A full evaluation of the self-assessment done by telecom firms for their adjusted gross revenue dues could take at least six months, according to a source in the Department of Telecommunications.
The government had last week asked Bharti Airtel Ltd., Vodafone Idea Ltd. and other telecom companies to pay the remaining AGR dues as per the Supreme Court order without further delay.
The directive had come after Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea self-assessed their AGR dues at far lower than estimated by the telecom department.
According to the source cited above, a senior official in the telecom department, a complete evaluation of the self-assessment could take six months as it will require checking scores of documents spread over multiple years.
"Comptroller and Auditor General of India has done a detailed audit for the years 2006-07 to 2014-15... Overall, DoT's complete evaluation of the self-assessment by telecom companies will take six months," the official said.
In all, 16 entities had owed the government Rs 1.47 lakh crore in AGR liabilities—Rs 92,642 crore in licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea account for about 60 percent of this.
The Supreme Court had in its Oct. 24, 2019, order upheld the government's position on including revenue from non-core businesses in calculating AGR of telecom firms. On Feb. 14, the apex court rejected a plea by operators for extension in the payment schedule and asked them to deposit the dues before next hearing on Mar. 17.
Since then, the telecom firms have conducted self-assessments of their AGR dues.
Vodafone Idea has pegged its liabilities at Rs 21,533 crore—less than half of Rs 53,000 crore estimated by the telecom department—even as Vodafone Group Plc’s CEO Nick Read indicated keenness to make a "new, good beginning" in India.
The company has so far paid Rs 3,500 crore out of the "self-assessed" liability.
Bharti Airtel, after conducting its own self-assessment, paid Rs 13,004 crore to the government in two installments. It had deposited an additional Rs 5,000 crore as an ad-hoc payment to cover any reconciliation differences. Still, its payment is far less than over Rs 35,000 crore estimated by the government.
Similarly, Tata Teleservices has paid Rs 2,197 crore in AGR dues, and additional Rs 2,000 crore to cover reconciliation differences. The DoT estimates its liabilities at Rs 14,000 crore.