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Timely Resolution Of AGR Issue Important For Clarity On Decision-Making: COAI

Industry body Cellular Operators’ Association of India on Monday said timely resolution of adjusted gross revenue payment timeline is critical for telecom companies as it will offer them clarity on decision-making, future investment path and year-end audits.

The COAI further said it will continue to engage with the Telecom Department on outstanding issues despite the disappointment on Budget not outlining any big-bang relief for the sector, but added that discussions will happen once there is a clarity on outcome of modification petition on payment timelines for statutory dues.

“Quick resolution of the matter is important for telecom companies as it would provide certainty in decision-making. Also, since we are approaching the end of the financial year, that clarity is required for annual audit and financial tabulations for the full year,” COAI Director General Rajan Mathews told PTI.

Bharti Airtel Ltd., Vodafone Idea Ltd., and Tata Teleservices have jointly filed a modification application in the Supreme Court seeking more time to pay statutory dues. The plea came after supreme court dismissed review petition of telecom companies on AGR dues.

As many as 15 entities owe the government about Rs 1.47 lakh crore in past dues — Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges. The Supreme Court, in October last year, had upheld the government’s position on including revenue from non-core businesses in calculating the annual AGR of telecom companies, a share of which is paid as licence and spectrum fee to the exchequer.

Old telecom operators Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea are expected to take major hit on payment of statutory dues to the government. In the case of Bharti Airtel, the liabilities add up to nearly Rs 35,586 crore, of which Rs 21,682 crore is licence fee and another Rs 13,904.01 crore is spectrum usage charge dues (not including the dues of Telenor and Tata Teleservices).

Airtel, which recently raised $3 billion through qualified institutional placement and convertible bonds route, is scheduled to announce its third quarter results on Tuesday. Vodafone Idea, which is staring at unpaid statutory dues of Rs 53,038 crore , including Rs 24,729 crore of spectrum dues and Rs 28,309 crore in licence fee, has already warned of shutdown if no relief is given. Most of the remaining liability is with state-owned BSNL/Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. and some of the shut/bankrupt telecom companies.―Bloomberg Quint

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