On the back of prepayment of deferred spectrum liabilities by Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, the government’s revenue from the telecom sector jumped 89% in FY22 to Rs 85,640 crore. The revenue receipts in FY21 stood at Rs 45,401 crore.
Due to the prepayments, the DoT managed to collect 56% more revenue for the current fiscal against the target of Rs 54,886 crore. In most years when no auctions are held, the government slips on telecom receipt targets. There were no auctions held in FY22.
Reliance Jio has cleared its past spectrum auction liabilities by paying Rs 30,791 crore to the government, while Bharti Airtel has paid Rs 24,334 crore to clear part prepayment of deferred liabilities of earlier auctions. Besides, the government received around Rs 30,515 crore towards licence fee and spectrum usage charges (SUC).
The government’s receipts from licence fee and SUC have been increasing due to rising adjusted gross revenue (AGR) of all telecom operators. Telcos pay 8% as licence fee on their AGR, while SUC varies from 3% to 5% for different operators.
Over the past many years, the government has been failing to meet its revenue target from telecommunication services. For instance, for FY21, it had pegged an overambitious target of Rs 1.33 trillion, which was later revised to Rs 33,737 crore. The initial FY21 revenue target may have been set in anticipation of full payment related to AGR dues of telecom operators, which they were required to pay as per the Supreme Court order in October 2019.
For FY20, the government managed to exceed the revenue target because of part-payment of AGR dues of about Rs 30,000 crore by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices. In the absence of this one-time gain, the government would have failed to achieve its target.
In the last seven-eight years, the government has been able to achieve the budget estimate from telecom receipts only twice. Financial Express