Telecom companies to submit self-assessment documents on AGR maths

Topics Telecom | telecom sector | Telcos

The Centre on Monday asked telecom companies to submit documents supporting their self-assessment claims of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues. The department of telecommunications (DoT) issued letters to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices for submitting supporting documents for their statutory dues calculation. 

However, no deadline has been given to companies to submit the supporting documents.

Once substantiating documents are filed by the companies, the telecom department will initiate random ‘test checks’ on the AGR calculation in a time-bound manner. 

The ‘test checks’ will be done for any one year (of telcos’ dues) to examine the deviation between telecom companies’ assessment and the government calculation of AGR liabilities.

Asked what prompted the department to seek supporting documents to verify the AGR math done through self-assessment, a source equated the exercise to filing of income tax returns where the assessing authority examines the calculations or claims made.

Moreover, the DoT wants to ensure that the court-mandated criteria is followed by companies in computing their AGR dues, the source added.

While the three operators are first off the block, the DoT will also follow the same procedure for all other AGR-hit companies, including internet service providers.

“For those who are saying we are giving dues by self-assessment, we will seek supporting documents. If some companies say they are going by DoT’s calculation, then we don't need to do it,” the source added.

In all, 15 entities owe the government Rs 1.47 trillion in unpaid statutory dues – Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges. 

Of the estimated dues, which include interest and penalty for late payments, Airtel and Vodafone Idea account for about 60 per cent.

These dues arose after the Supreme Court, in October last year, upheld the government’s position on including revenue from non-core businesses in calculating the annual AGR of telecom companies.

The Supreme Court, earlier this month, rejected a plea by mobile companies such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea for extension of the payment schedule.

Vodafone Idea, which is confronted with Rs 53,000 crore in statutory dues as per DoT’s calculation, has so far paid only seven per cent of dues in two tranches. Airtel paid Rs 10,000 crore of its DoT estimated liability of over Rs 35,000 crore.

Airtel, on February 17, had said that the company “is in the process of completing the self-assessment exercise expeditiously and will make the balance payment upon completion, before the next date of hearing in the Supreme Court.”

Tata Teleservices has paid Rs 2,197 crore, the entire outstanding it believes to have arisen after the October ruling of the apex court for calculating dues.

DOT secretary Anshu Prakash on Monday met Ajit Pai, chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to discuss a slew of issues.

When asked about Huawei’s participation for 5G in the US, Pai said, “I would refer you to the comments I made previously that the US government embraces risk-based framework domestically and that is part of the reason why FCC has prohibited the use of funding that we oversee from being used by telecom carriages in the US on equipment and services that have been deemed insecure.”

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