Telecom Dept looking into AGR payment issues: FM

New Delhi, Feb 26 () The telecom department is looking into issues related to payment of statutory dues by mobile telephony services providers, Finance Minister Nirmala said on Wednesday.

In all, 15 telecom entities owe the government Rs 1.47 lakh crore in unpaid statutory dues -- Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges. Airtel and Vodafone Idea account for about 60 per cent of the estimated dues, which include interest and penalty for late payments.

Following the Supreme Court order on the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) of telecom companies, industry honchos Sunil Bharti Mittal and Kumar Mangalam Birla had met the finance minister.

"Yes meetings have happened. The Department is taking a call so it won't be right on my part to talk about this at the moment. Wait for the Department to come up (with update on this)," she said in a response to the AGR issue.

Top management of telecom companies have also met Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

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 Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) of telecom companies, a share of which is paid as licence and spectrum fee to the exchequer.

The Supreme Court, earlier this month, rejected a plea by mobile carriers such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea for extension in the payment schedule and asked companies to deposit their past dues for spectrum and licences.

Since the February 14 tongue-lashing Supreme Court gave to telecom companies for missing its previous deadline of January 23 to pay past dues as well as the Department of Telecommunication for failing to enforce it, firms and Telecom Ministry are busy doing separate maths on the actual dues.

Vodafone Idea, which is confronted with Rs 53,000 crore in statutory dues as per DoT's calculation, has so far paid only 7 per cent of those dues in two tranches. Airtel has paid Rs 10,000 crore out of its estimated liability of over Rs 35,000 crore. DP NKD DP MRMR
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