No decision yet on relief for telcos as more details sought

Livemint | ByNavadha Pandey
Feb 29, 2020 05:48 AM IST

The SC had last year upheld the government’s definition of adjusted gross revenue.Digital Communications Commission met on Friday, following a series of meetings between Birla and top government officials.

At a meeting on Friday, the government-appointed telecom committee did not take a decision on relief measures for telecom operators to help them pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues, saying it needs more details to reconcile the dues.

Mobile telephony dominates Indian telecom market with 98% market share.(Photo: Mint)
Mobile telephony dominates Indian telecom market with 98% market share.(Photo: Mint)

“We have not yet decided anything (on relief measures for telcos) on AGR today. There are other factors...we need certain data (from telcos)...there has to be reconciliation (of dues),” one person with direct knowledge of the matter said after the meeting of the Digital Communications Commission (DCC).

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“The panel will have to meet again soon,” he said requesting anonymity. An email query to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) did not elicit any response till press time.

Any relief measure, once agreed by the commission, will also need to be approved by the Cabinet.

The development comes as a setback to Vodafone Idea, which has repeatedly told the government that its survival depends on urgent relief measures.

Earlier this week, the DoT asked all operators to speed up their self-assessment of AGR dues and submit documents backing their calculations, even after Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices and Vodafone Idea made partial payments.

The government is exploring the possibility of roping in third-party audit firms to reconcile dues payable by telecom operators after differences emerged in individual calculations made by the government and telcos, Mint reported on February 21.

The commission, which has representatives from the DoT, ministry of finance, ministry of electronics, and information technology and NITI Aayog, met on Friday following a series of meetings between Vodafone Idea chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and top government officials.

Birla met telecom secretary on February 18 and met finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman the following day.

Vodafone Idea was the worst hit by a recent Supreme Court ruling which asked telcos to pay up their AGR dues by January 23.

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