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AGR: Self-assessed dues by telcos `82,300 crore short of DoT's math

AGR: Self-assessed dues by telcos `82,300 crore short of DoTs math
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New Delhi: Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Group's self-assessment of dues to the government are a whopping Rs 82,300 crore short of what the telecom department calculated after the Supreme Court's ruling on AGR.

The apex court on Wednesday lashed out at the telcos for trying to reopen the dues they owed to the government through the self-assessment exercise.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), according to its own submission to the apex court seeking relief in payment tenure, has put dues of the three companies at Rs 1.19 lakh crore.

The dues estimated by DoT for Bharti Airtel and Telnor was pegged at Rs 43,980 crore, while that of Vodafone Idea was Rs 58,254 crore, and Tata Group of companies at Rs 16,798 crore outlined under 'total demand of DoT incorporating CAG and special audit as on October 2019'.

Against this, Bharti Group has calculated its dues at Rs 13,004 crore, Vodafone Idea at Rs 21,533 crore and Tata Group of companies at Rs 2,197 crore.

In all, AGR dues calculated by the government for 16 entities add up to Rs 1.69 lakh crore, while telcos' self-assessment place their dues at a mere Rs 37,176 crore.

These dues arose after the Supreme Court, in October last year, upheld the government's position on including revenue from non-core businesses in calculating the annual AGR of telecom companies, a share of which is paid as licence and spectrum fee to the exchequer.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Centre and telecom companies for doing self-assessment or reassessment of the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues fixed by the apex court in its verdict given on October 24 last year.

A bench of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice S A Nazeer and Justice M R Shah refused to take up the Centre's plea for allowing telecom companies to pay AGR dues in 20 years, saying the application will be taken up after two weeks.

"The time frame of 20 years is unreasonable. The telecom companies have to clear all dues mentioned in the judgement," the bench said, adding it had settled all AGR dues after hearing telecom companies and the government then had fought tooth and nail for interests and penalties.

The bench said it will summon the secretary and desk officer of DoT who permitted telecom companies to do self-assessment of AGR dues.

"Exercise of self-assessment of AGR dues by telecom companies cannot be permitted even in wildest dreams," it said.

The court said serious fraud was being committed by telecom companies by asserting to do self-assessment of AGR dues and that its judgment was final and to be followed in letter and spirit.

Beleaguered Vodafone Idea has pegged its total dues to the government following a Supreme Court order at Rs 21,533 crore. Earlier this week, Vodafone Idea paid another tranche of Rs 3,354 crore to the government, thereby taking its total payments to Rs 6,854 crore. The company said this was equivalent to full principal amount as per its self-assessment.

Bharti Airtel has paid Rs 13,004 crore to the government in two installments. It had also deposited an additional Rs 5,000 crore "as an ad-hoc payment (subject to subsequent refund/adjustment) to cover differences, if any, arising from the reconciliation exercise with the DoT.

Tata Teleservices has paid Rs 2,197 crore in AGR dues, and thereafter an additional Rs 2,000 crore to cover reconciliation differences.

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