As the deadline — January 24 — for making the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) payments nears, the department of telecommunications has swung into action and started sending demand notices to non-telecom public sector undertakings regarding their dues. These notices are different from the ones sent to all sets of licensees in November-December in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s October 24 order last year.
The earlier notices did not specify the amount and asked the licensees to pay the dues on the basis of self-assessment. However, sources said that the DoT has now computed the demand and started sending notices to non-telecom PSUs to avoid any ambiguity and confusion which might lead to legal trouble.
However, notices with computation of demand have still not been sent to the telecom operators and they are expected to pay up on self-assessment basis only if they fail to get any relief from the SC before the due date. Telecom operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Tata Teleservices have filed a limited review petition in the SC seeking waiver of interest, penalty and interest on penalty, which comprises 75% of their due amount.
Sources said the department has served GAIL with a demand notice of Rs 1.72 lakh crore for its infrastructure and internet service provider (ISP) licence while another PSU, PowerGrid, has been served with a demand worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore for its national long distance and ISP licence. Another PSU, Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilisers & Chemicals (GNFC) has been served a demand notice to pay dues worth Rs 15,019 crore.
Asked why demand notices have not been issued to telecom operators, sources said in their case the accounts were up to date as they were served with frequent demand notices which they used to dispute. Subsequently, they challenged the notices in the SC on which the order was pronounced in government’s favour on October 24.
”Demand notices with the amount mentioned are now being issued only to those firms, which were not approached by DoT earlier as the matter was in Supreme Court,” said an official. The non-telecom firms together need to pay around Rs 3 lakh crore, which is twice that of Rs 1.47 lakh crore owed by telecom operators.
As is known, the PSUs which have come under the AGR net do not have telecom services as their core operations but have telecom licence of some nature or use spectrum for some part of their operations. Most of them had taken the concerned telecom licence in the name of the flagship firm instead of the subsidiary which runs telecom-related operations. Since the SC order states that for calculating AGR entire revenues of the licensee firm needs to be taken into account, these firms have to pay their telecom licence on the basis of their entire revenues instead of only telecom-related revenues.―Financial Express