No case for differential treatment to PSUs on AGR dues matter, says COAI

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Industry body COAI said on Wednesday that AGR formula being applied on mobile operators should be applicable on all other categories of telecom licences and there can be no differential treatment for relevant PSUs in this regard.

"The question is are you a telecom licencee and if you are then the terms of the licence apply. The court has looked at the terms of the licence, so that same principle then should be applied on every licensed agreement, including for relevant PSUs," Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) Director General, Rajan Mathews told PTI.

Fifteen telecom companies owe the government Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges. These liabilities arose after the Supreme Court in October last year held that non-core revenues have to be considered for calculating statutory dues from Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR).

In the case of Bharti Airtel, the liabilities added up to nearly Rs 35,586 crore, of which Rs 21,682 crore is licence fee and another Rs 13,904.01 crore is the spectrum usage charge dues (not including the dues of Telenor and Tata Teleservices). Vodafone Idea -- which is staring at unpaid statutory dues of Rs 53,038 crore, including Rs 24,729 crore of spectrum dues and Rs 28,309 crore in licence fee -- has already warned of shut down if no relief is given.

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea Ltd, and Tata Teleservices have, meanwhile, jointly filed a modification application in the Supreme Court seeking more time to pay the statutory dues. The plea for relief on the payment schedule came after a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, earlier this month, dismissed the review petitions filed by telecom companies against the apex court's October 24, 2019 verdict.

The telecom department has also estimated another Rs 2.4 lakh crore in liability for non-telecom companies such as state-owned gas utility GAIL India Ltd and power transmission firm PowerGrid, which had taken licences to trade broadband on optic fibre running along their pipelines and transmission lines.

The DoT has sought additional license fee of Rs 1.72 lakh crore from gas utility GAIL India Ltd, Rs 48,000 crore from OIL, around Rs 22,000 crore from Power Grid Corporation (PowerGrid), and has raised similar demands from RailTel and other public sector undertakings (PSUs).

PSUs including Oil India Ltd (OIL) and Power Grid Corporation have filed a clarificatory/modificatory petition in the Supreme Court against demands raised by the telecom department.



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