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Sunil Mittal Asserts Airtel Has Paid Full AGR Dues At About Rs 13,000 Crore

A week before Supreme Court-mandated deadline for payment of past dues ends, Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal on Wednesday said that the company has paid Rs 13,000 crore to the government to clear all its dues as per its self-assessment.

The comment by Mittal, who also met Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash on Wednesday, assumes significance as the government, on March 4, had asked Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom companies to pay the remaining adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues as per the Supreme Court order without further delay.

The telecom department had, at that time, written to all telcos asking them to pay balance dues “without delay” and submit detailed bifurcation of payments (explanation of self-assessed amounts), which it said were necessary for proper reconciliation of legitimate AGR dues.

Emerging from the meeting with Telecom Secretary, Mittal, to a specific question, said, “They had said pay full … we have paid full dues.”

He was responding to a question on Telecom Department”s recent notice to companies to pay their remaining AGR dues.

“We have paid our full dues. It is in our letter … which is about Rs 13,000 crore, and Rs 5,000 crore which is extra,” Mittal said.

On Airtel”s payment being lesser than the government-calculated dues of Rs 35,000 crore, Mittal said, “There is no versus…They asked us to self-assess, we have self-assessed and paid.”

The company has made payment in compliance with Telecom Department”s instructions for self assessment, he said adding that the Supreme Court had not mentioned specific amounts.

It is pertinent to mention here that Bharti Airtel has paid Rs 13,004 crore to the government in two installments. It had also deposited an additional Rs 5,000 crore “as an ad-hoc payment (subject to subsequent refund/adjustment) to cover differences, if any, arising from the reconciliation exercise with the DoT.

The total payout by Bharti Airtel, however, is half of Rs 35,586.01 crore liability estimated by the DoT.

Beleaguered Vodafone Idea has pegged its total dues to the government following a Supreme Court order at Rs 21,533 crore — less than half of what the Telecom Department has estimated, even as the Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read last week indicated keenness to make a “new, good beginning” in India. Vodafone Idea has so far paid Rs 3,500 crore out of the “self-assessed” liability of Rs 21,533 crore.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Communications Sanjay Dhotre, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Wednesday said that the government has received part payment of about Rs 25,900 crore from various telecom operators towards statutory dues and has again directed telcos to make full payments.

“The Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) have made some payments in compliance with the Supreme Court order dated October 24, 2019,” he said. The minister said the government has ”again” directed the operators to make full payments in a letter dated March 4, 2020.

“The government has directed all TSPs to make the payments in accordance with the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 24.10.2019 vide letters dated 13.11.2019, 20.01.2020 and 14.02.2020,” Dhotre said.

Dhotre informed the House that so far, Bharti Airtel has paid Rs 18,004 crore and Vodafone Idea has shelled out Rs 3,500 crore. Tata Teleservices has paid about Rs 4,197 crore, while Rs 3.9 crore has been received from Reliance Communications. Reliance Jio has paid about Rs 195 crore.

―Outlook India

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