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Don’t think SC ruling on AGR dues issue applies to PSUs: Pradhan

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that he believes that the Supreme Court ruling on AGR dues issue does not apply to non-telecom PSUs

New Delhi: Weighing in on the AGR (adjusted gross revenue) dues issue, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday that he believes that the Supreme Court ruling on the matter does not apply to non-telecom PSUs. The SC ruling had prompted the DoT (Department of Telecommunications) to seek astronomical amounts from these PSUs as statutory dues, which PSUs have alleged to be unfair. The bills sent to these PSUs by the DoT is, in some cases, bigger than the net worth of the company.

AGR dues issue: Pradhan says there’s communication gap between DoT, PSUs

“The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has served notice to government oil companies due to some communication gap. We have placed our side after doing all legal consultations,” Pradhan said while speaking to reporters. He added that neither of the PSUs, which have been handed over bills by the DoT, have any core work in the telecom business. “Telecom is not the core business of either GAIL or OIL or PowerGrid,” he said and added that they came into the telecom business thinking of multi-utility for internal consumption. “The overall comment by the Supreme Court, I believe, these two-three PSUs should not come under its ambit... We are holding talks with DoT,” he said.

The backdrop

The news comes on a day when Bharti Airtel paid up Rs 10,000 crore to the DoT and Vodafone Idea made a request for more time, while promising to pay Rs 2,500 crore on Monday, which was rejected by the SC. A ruling by the Supreme Court had said that non-telecom revenues should also be included for considering payments of government dues. Thereafter, DoT had handed over bills to not just telecom companies, but also PSUs like GAIL, PowerGrid and OIL. From GAIL, DoT had sought Rs 1,83,076 crore and Rs 22,168 crore from PowerGrid. It had sought Rs 48,000 crore from OIL, Rs 15,019 crore from Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd and Rs 5,841 crore, plus interest, from Delhi Metro Rail Corp Ltd (DMRC).