Vodafone Idea, Airtel and Tata Tele Refrain from Paying AGR Dues to DoT

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The never-ending adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues drama continue with telcos and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) standing at odds with each other.

The telcos have argued that they have already paid the 10% advance on the dues while DoT says they haven’t.

According to an ET Telecom report, DoT has to inform the Supreme Court (SC) about the status of the AGR dues paid by the telcos as of March 31, 2021.

For the unaware, on September 1, 2020, the SC had ordered the telcos to pay a 10% advance on their total AGR dues before March 31, 2021. The telcos believe that they have already paid the 10% advance, but the DoT argues it is not the case.

Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices, and Vodafone Idea (Vi) have refrained from paying anything beyond the Rs 30,055 crores they have already paid for the AGR dues.

The telcos have said that according to the SC order, the amount they have already paid is sufficient to cover the 10% advance they need to pay.

However, DoT believes that the SC had ordered the telcos to pay a 10% advance on the remaining total dues and not on the overall dues they had to pay.

Bharti Airtel has said that it doesn’t need to pay anything related to the remaining AGR dues for the next four instalments, and Vi believes that the next instalment is only due for the company in 2022.

DoT Made ‘Arithmetical Errors’ While Calculating AGR Dues

It is worth noting that telcos have already submitted a petition in the SC against DoT's AGR dues calculations. The numbers suggested by the telcos and the DoT are entirely different.

The apex court is yet to hear on the case. The industry will get a big respite if the SC accepts the case made by the telcos.

During the beginning of the year, Airtel had self-assessed its AGR dues to be Rs 13,004 crores in total against the DoT’s calculation of Rs 43,980 crores.

At the same time, Vi had self-assessed its dues to be Rs 21,533 crores against DoT’s calculation of Rs 58,400 crores.

Both the telcos have cited that DoT made ‘arithmetical errors’ while calculating the dues and have sought a recalculation.

It will be interesting to see which way the SC’s decision goes towards. Looking at the past, the SC has mostly sided with the government on the AGR dues case and had said that no ‘recalculation’ requests would be entertained.

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