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Vodafone Idea pays ₹1,000 crore instalment to DoT for AGR dues

Vodafone Idea Ltd on Friday paid the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) another ₹1,000 crore as part of its dues related to adjusted gross revenue, taking the beleaguered telecom operator’s total payments to ₹7,854 crore.

“In line with the above, the Company has yesterday (i.e. 17 July 2020) paid a further sum of ₹1,000 crore to the DoT towards the AGR dues. The Company had earlier deposited ₹6,854 crores in 3 tranches,” Vodafone Idea said in an exchange filing on Saturday.

The payment relates to a Supreme Court judgement on 24 October last year, when the apex court upheld the government’s broader definition of AGR, on which it calculates various levies like spectrum usage charges and license fees.

The DoT’s estimate for Vodafone Idea was ₹58,254 crore, of which around ₹50,000 crore is still outstanding despite the latest payment.

In total, the apex court’s order had led to a demand of around ₹1.69 trilion on the telecom industry, including Vodafone Idea Ltd, Bharti Airtel and the Tata group.

Initially after the self-assessment, the government had allowed telecom firms to self-assess their dues, which led to a sharply lower estimate. Vodafone Idea, for example, estimated ₹21,533 crore as its dues while Bharti Airtel’s self-assessment pegged its dues at ₹13,004 crore against the DoT’s estimate of ₹43,980 crore, including the dues of Telenor India.

However, dealing a further blow to India’s struggling telcos, the Supreme Court in March shot down the telecom ministry’s self-assessment directive and asked the government to stick to its original demand for ₹1.69 trillion.

The apex court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, though, is hearing arguments on the government’s petition to allow companies to make staggered payments over a 20-year period at its next hearing, likely after two weeks.

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd is the only firm which has paid more than the DoT estimate. While the government estimate pegged dues of the company, launched in September 2016, at ₹70.5 crore, the Reliance Industries Ltd subsidiary paid ₹195 crore.

The Tata group paid about ₹4,197 crore, much lower than the ₹16,798 crore estimated by the DoT for the group’s telecom firms which have been shuttered.


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