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Vodafone Idea misses AGR payment deadline

Vodafone Idea reportedly sought an extension to pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues to the government for the period between January to March 2020, as the effects of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic took its toll on operations.

The Economic Times of India reported the operator, which has been embroiled in a long-running row with authorities over AGR liabilities, missed a deadline of 25 March to pay its dues for the quarter, and has asked the government for more time.

The AGR payments are split by a self-assessment undertaken by the operator, with dues paid as part licence fees and part spectrum usage charges.

The company paid a reported INR9.5 billion ($118.6 million) for the October to December 2019 quarter. In total, it is estimated the operator could end up paying fees of more than INR400 billion in AGR dues.

Lenient approach expected

The Indian government has rejected requests from Vodafone Idea and other operators to ease AGR terms in their bids to bring down the amounts owed.

The government did however agree to give operators more time to pay, with terms extended to 20 years.

A source told ET that the government is likely to be more lenient in relation to this quarter’s payment, with the focus currently on maintaining networks, in light of the Covid-19 crisis.

Rajan Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India, added that regulator Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had “indicated a willingness” to cooperate.

Despite Vodafone Idea’s money worries, a bail out by parent Vodafone Group is unlikely. Last week, the company denied media reports that it was set to pump funds to the tune of up to $225 million into its Indian joint venture to cover its rising expense bill.

―Mobile World Live

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