Millennium Post

Do not act against telcos on AGR dues: DoT tells officials

New Delhi: In a major shift from its stand, the Telecom Ministry has decided to go soft on telecom service providers who have not yet paid their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues within the stipulated time frame. The last date of AGR dues payment of telecom service providers was Thursday (January 23).

According to an order issued by the Licensing Finance Policy Wing of the Telecom Department, the ministry has directed all departments concerned to not take any coercive action against telecom operators if they fail to clear AGR dues as per the Supreme Court order until further orders.

As per the letter which has been issued by the Director of Licensing Finance Policy Wing Mandar Deshpande, all Chief Controller of Accounts (CCAs) and Controller General of Communication Accounts (CGCA) have been directed not to take any coercive action against the licensees in case they fail to comply with the Supreme Court order until further orders.

However, the department in its letter, which is in possession of Millennium Post, has stated that a detailed status report of compliance or otherwise may be sent to CGCA (TSP wise) on Friday by 5 pm.

The letter also talks about the judgement and order of the Supreme Court in AGR matter dated October 24, 2019 whereby the top court had given the TSPs three months time to make the payments and submit compliance.

The letter has been issued with the approval of Member Finance PK Sinha, who is also Controller General of Communication Accounts –the nodal authority of all CCAs. Notably, Member Finance heads all DoT departments that deal in matters related to revenue.

According to sources, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have told the telecom department that they will not pay AGR dues of Rs 88,624 crore on Thursday and both the players would wait for the top court verdict on modification petition listed for hearing before it next week.

However, Reliance Jio, the largest telco in terms of subscriber base, paid Rs 195 crore to the DoT to clear all adjusted gross revenue dues accounted till January 31, 2020.

Telecom companies owe the government around Rs 1.47 lakh crore in AGR dues that include Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee, and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges.

After the rejection of review petitions by the apex court, telecom companies have moved fresh pleas with regard to working out new schedule of payment of their dues.

The apex court on Tuesday agreed to list next week the fresh pleas of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices.

Tata Communications, in which the government holds 26.12 per stake, has also made no provision for DoT's demand of Rs 6,633 crore for AGR dues as the Supreme Court order did not include appeal of the company which is still pending before the apex court.

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