'Six telcos understated revenues by over Rs61k cr'
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and three other private telecom firms understated revenues by more than Rs 61,000 crore over five years, resulting in short payment of nearly Rs 7,700 crore in statutory dues to the government, the CAG said on Friday.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said another Rs 4,531.62 crore was due from the six operators as interest on the short paid revenue share.
Airtel, India's largest telecom operator, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications, Aircel understated revenues during 2010-11 to 2014-15 period (for Sistema Shyam the period begins from 2006-07).
This was done through accounting adjustments for commission or discount paid to their distributors, promotional schemes like free talk time and discounts to post-paid subscribers and on roaming services.
The revenue was understated also by the netting of revenue from infrastructure sharing and non-inclusion of forex gains, interest income and sale of investment, the CAG said in a report tabled in Parliament.
CAG calculated that Airtel owes to the government Rs 2,602.24 crore in licence fee and spectrum usage charge (SUC) for 2010-11 to 2014-15. It owes another Rs 1,245.91 crore in interest.
Dues from Vodafone totalled Rs 3,331.79 crore including Rs 1,178.84 crore in interest. For Idea, the statutory dues stood at Rs 1,136.29 crore plus Rs 657.88 crore in interest.
Anil Ambani-led RComm owed a total of Rs 1,911.17 crore (including Rs 839.09 crore interest), Aircel Rs 1,226.65 crore and SSTL Rs 116.71 crore.
As per the New Telecom Policy, telecom licensees are required to share a percentage of their Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) with the government as annual License Fee (LF). In addition, mobile telephone operators were also required to pay Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) for the use of radio frequency spectrum allotted to them.
CAG said the Gross Revenue (GR) of the licensee operator, as per the licence agreement with Department of Telecom, prohibits any set-offs of related expenditure from revenue and norms for the preparation of the accounts for payment of revenue share are built into the licence agreement.
"We observed non-conformities with conditions of licence agreement in the accounts prepared by all the six operators covered in the audit due to which their GR computed for sharing revenue with the government was understated," it said. Mpost