DoT Calculates Telcos Dues For Each Circle

In perhaps the first step towards invoking bank guarantees of defaulting mobile companies over the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) matter, the department of telecom (DoT) has started circlewise calculation of dues of operators towards various statutory payments.

The bank guarantees — estimated to be over Rs 10,000 crore — are secured for two quarters and are primarily given in lieu of the spectrum usage charge and the licence fee that companies need to pay.

Also, the government is understood to have sent a fresh recovery notice to companies, asking them to pay the amount according to the AGR order. Apart from Vodafone Idea and Airtel, those getting the notice also include the Tata Group, which has been asked to pay Rs 14,000 crore.

The bank guarantees are being assessed mainly for the two active operators, Vodafone Idea and Airtel, who also face the biggest challenge in payment of AGR dues. “Assessment of circle-wise calculations of the guarantees requires time and is being conducted now,” a top source told TOI. Another source said value of bank guarantees deposited by the two companies is way below the near Rs 88,000 crore that they have been ordered to pay to the government by the SC. Airtel has already paid Rs 10,000 crore and Vodafone Idea Rs 3,500 crore.

The sources, however, added that start of calculation of circle-wise dues “in no way” means that bank guarantees will be invoked immediately. “We need to factor in that companies have started paying, and have even promised to pay up fully before the next date of hearing in the SC on March 17. So, we are walking a tightrope. While adhering to instructions of the top court on recovery of dues is our top priority, we are also carefully trying to see how we can enable them to pay back the money, and stay active. The government does not want a monopoly to be created in the telecom sector,” sources said.

As they work out ways to raise funds to make payments, the telecom companies are also carrying self-assessment of AGR dues after they were allowed by the government. While DoT stands by its numbers, executives at telecom companies claim their initial estimates suggest the outstanding can be much lower.

Meanwhile, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad held a series of meetings with the top stakeholders on the matter. Sources say the companies are assuring the government they want to pay AGR dues.―Times of India

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