Telcos agree to comply with SC order, pay AGR dues in a few days

Private telecom service providers, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices, have all agreed to pay the Department of Telecom dues related to adjusted gross revenue (AGR) in a few days, after the Supreme Court came down heavily against the telcos and the DoT for not complying with its order.

The telecom operators are collectively liable to pay Rs1,47,000 crore in AGR dues to DoT as per the Supreme Court order dated 24 October 2019.
Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL), which owes DoT the highest amount of AGR dues of Rs53,038 crore, on Saturday said it is currently assessing the amount that it needs to pay and will make the payment in next few days.
“The company is currently assessing the amount that it will be able to pay to DoT towards the dues calculated based on AGR, as interpreted by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in its order dated October 24, 2019. The company proposes to pay the amount so assessed in the next few days,” VIL said in a filing with the BSE on Saturday.
However, the company said the future course of action or its continuation of business will depend on the outcome of its application for modification of the supplementary order.
VIL’s total AGR liability of around Rs53,038 crore includes Rs24,729 crore in spectrum dues and Rs28,309 crore by way of licence fee. Combined with a heavy debt burden and continued operational losses could force the company to shut down.
“As disclosed in the company's financial statements for quarter ending December 31, 2019, the company's ability to continue as a going concern is essentially dependent on a positive outcome of the application for modification of the Supplementary Order,” the company added in the statement.
On Friday, Bharti Airtel also came out with a statement saying it would pay Rs10,000 crore by 20 February to the DoT. According to last available estimates, Airtel owes nearly Rs35,586 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charges, to the government.
Tata Teleservices owes around Rs13,800 crore, BSNL Rs4,989 crore and MTNL Rs3,122 crore.
State-owned BSNL and MTNL also did not pay the dues.
The deadline to pay the amount ended on 23 January, but none of the telecom operators except Reliance Jio paid the amount.
Meanwhile, the apex court has also asked top officials of the telecom firms to explain why contempt action should not be taken against them for “non-compliance of its order” to pay AGR of Rs1,47,000 crore to the DoT.
The apex court will continue hearings in the case today.