AGR issue: Airtel, Vodafone Idea jointly file modification application in SC

telecom

NEW DELHI : Telecom operators Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel jointly filed a modification application in the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking more time to pay adjusted gross revenue (AGR) related dues.

“The matter is likely to be heard on Tuesday,” said Shally Bhasin, partner Agarwal Law Associates, representing Vodafone Idea.

This is a final attempt by struggling telcos to get an extension on the 23 January deadline to pay dues to the department of telecommunications (DoT).

The development follows the Supreme Court last week dismissing pleas of these operators to review its earlier judgement that had asked telecom operators to pay more than ?1 trillion in AGR dues.

Bharti Airtel, which has to pay ?35,586 crore to the government by 24 January, and Vodafone Idea, which owes the government ?50,000 crore, had on Thursday also said they were evaluating filing curative petitions.

The apex court’s refusal to review its order was the latest setback for the telecom operators, which reported record losses in the September quarter and are struggling under mountains of debt. Without any relief from the court, the operators will now have to ensure that they pay the dues in about a week or seek urgent help from the government.

Bharti Airtel and other telecom operators had challenged the way the department of telecommunications (DoT) calculated AGR, based on which they pay licence fees and spectrum charges. Licence and spectrum charges are calculated at 8% and 3-5% of AGR respectively.

The 24 October Supreme court order upheld the government’s definition of revenue, which defined AGR as all revenues of a licence holder including those from non-core telecom operations such as rent, dividend and interest income.

Bharti Airtel has raised $3 billion and plans to use a portion of these proceeds to meet its AGR liabilities.

However, the future of Vodafone Idea is at stake. Last month, Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla said the group’s telecom unit, Vodafone Idea, would have to “shut shop” if there was no relief from the government following the AGR verdict.

Tata Teleservices, which sold its mobile services business to Airtel, faces dues of ?14,000 crore.

The tussle over the definition of AGR had started when operators migrated to a new revenue-sharing system offered by the government in 1999 under which they agreed to share a certain percentage of revenue with the government.

News Source:- livemint

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