New Delhi: Bringing the first word of reprieve for the telecom industry struggling to pay AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) dues, the government said on Wednesday that telcos would be given the option to defer future spectrum auction payments to FY2020-21 or FY2021-22.
"Considering the stress in the sector, the government has given an option to the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to defer payment of the spectrum auction instalments dues for 2020-21 and 2021-22, either for one or both years," Minister of State for Communications Sanjay Dhotre told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
As the news comes, the DoT (Department of Telecommunications) is preparing to issue fresh notices to telecom companies, asking them how they had calculated their dues linked to AGR. The notices, which are likely to be issued this week, have been prompted by the wide gap between the AGR dues as reported by telecom companies and the one computed by the DoT.
"We have so far received Rs 24,000 crore from the companies, which is way less than the amount that we had derived. They (telecom companies) will have to explain as to how they arrived at their numbers," a senior DoT official said.
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Airtel has paid the DoT Rs 18,004 crore as AGR dues. The latest tranche of payment which came on February 29 was split into Rs 3,004 crore as full and final towards AGR dues, based on Airtel's self-assessment and an additional Rs 5,000 crore as "ad-hoc payment," which is subject to refund after the DoT reconciles its own estimates with the telco's.
Reliance Jio is the only telecom company which has paid its complete AGR dues of Rs 195 crore. It also owed the lowest amount of dues to the government since it started pan-India operations only in 2015. Vodafone Idea, which has received the hardest blow by the Supreme Court's AGR verdict, has so far paid Rs 3,500 crore. The telco has been handed a bill of Rs 57,000 crore by the DoT. Vodafone Idea's estimate of its own dues is Rs 23,000 crore, including Rs 7,000 crore principle.
Tata Teleservices has paid Rs 2,197 crore as per its self-assessment and has submitted details of its own AGR calculations to the government.