As DoT deadline hits, no AGR dues deposited by telcos

As DoT deadline hits, no AGR dues deposited by telcos; Airtel responds seeking more time

Bharti Airtel said it will deposit Rs 10,000 crore as part payment for adjusted gross revenue related dues to the department of telecommunications by 20 February

With the Department of Telecom asking the 15 telecom firms to clear their dues by midnight on Friday, only Airtel has responded to the government notice assuring to pay part money by February 20, while other firms are yet to respond.

Bharti Airtel said it will deposit Rs 10,000 crore as part payment for adjusted gross revenue related dues to the department of telecommunications by 20 February and the balance amount will be deposited before 17 March.

Though the Department of Telecom sent the demand notice to all 15 firms, which have AGR dues, so far only Airtel responded to the government. The DoT officials said they were waiting for the response from other firms as well.

"Despite the DoT asking the telecom firms to deposit the money, none deposited so far. However we expect, firms will respond to our notice in a day or two", said an official from the DoT.

"Since the SC asked the telecom firms to pay their due before next hearing which is 17 March, we expect all companies will pay their dues before the deadline", said the official.

After facing Supreme Court ire, The DoT has issued circle wise demand notice to telecom firms asking them to pay payment of outstanding dues of licence fee and spectrum usage charges by 11:59 PM on February 14, 2020.

Total 15 entities owe the government Rs 1.47 lakh crore -- Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges.

The demand notice was also issued to all the telecom firms, who have AGR dues including state-owned BSNL/MTNL.

The development followed after the telecom department earlier on Friday withdrew its order that asked for no coercive action against telecom companies defaulting on statutory dues payment.

The DoT was forced to withdraw the circular after the Apex Court took a strong view of non-compliance in payment of dues by telecom companies.

Separately, Bharti Airtel on Friday offered the DoT to pay Rs 10,000 crore by February 20 and the rest of the dues before the next date of hearing on the adjusted gross revenue case in the Supreme Court.

“Nevertheless, in compliance with the judgement of the Hon'ble Supreme Court and their direction today, we shall deposit a sum of Rs 10,000 crore (on account) by 20th February, 2020, on behalf of the Bharti Group companies," Airtel said in a letter to Member (Finance) at the DoT.

Airtel owes nearly Rs 35,586 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charge, to the government.

The company also said that it is in the process of completing the self assessment exercises.

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