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BSNL Wants Govt To Pay Its Rs 5,000-Crore AGR Dues

Private telecom operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices have already filed a limited review petition in the apex court seeking a waiver of interest, penalty, and interest on penalty.

Loss-making state-owned telecom operator Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) has approached the department of telecommunications suggesting the government pay its adjusted gross revenue dues worth around Rs. 5,000 crore as it has no money to pay on its own. It has suggested the government pay on its behalf and it issue fresh equity in lieu of it.

The ailing PSU, which has recently received a Rs 70,000-crore bailout package from the government, has also stated that ideally it should not be asked to pay any dues relating to AGR since it was not party to the dispute on which the Supreme Court ruled on October 24, as a result of which the telecom industry together needs to pay dues worth Rs 1.47 lakh crore by January 24, 2020.

BSNL’s dues as a result of the SC order is Rs 2,099 crore towards licence fee and another Rs 2,890.46 crore as spectrum usage charges.

Company officials said that BSNL will not be filing any review petition in the SC on the lines of the private telcos.

Private telecom operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices have already filed a limited review petition in the apex court seeking a waiver of interest, penalty, and interest on penalty.

As reported by FE, non-telecom PSUs like Gail, PowerGrid, Oil India, Delhi Metro, etc, who together need to pay a total of over Rs 2 lakh crore as AGR dues, are shortly going to file a review petition in the SC. They are going to point out that they do not owe any dues to the government hence the apex court should direct DoT to withdraw its notices to them.

The core operations of these PSUs is not telecom but they have telecom licence of some nature or use spectrum for some part of their operations and hence are covered under the SC order.

If the government pays up the AGR dues on behalf of BSNL, it would be in addition to the Rs 70,000-crore bailout package it approved for it recently. The biggest chunk of the package, Rs 29,937 crore, is for voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for employees above 50 years of age.

Apart from the VRS, the government is providing Rs 23,814 crore towards administrative allocation of 4G spectrum to the firm. BSNL, along with MTNL, will also raise long-term bonds of Rs 15,000 crore for which sovereign guarantee will be provided by the government. With this amount the two firms will restructure their existing debt and also partly meet their capex, opex, and other requirements.

BSNL registered a net loss of Rs 13,804 crore on a revenue of Rs 18,865 crore in FY19. – Financial Express

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