Thursday, August 11, 2022

Bharti Airtel Defers Payment of AGR Dues Up to FY19 After DoT’s Moratorium Offer

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Thursday said it has opted to defer the payment of AGR dues up to FY 2018-19, that are not tabulated in the Supreme Court’s order, by up to four years.

It has retained the right to pre-pay installment amounts and would not avail the option of conversion of the interest dues that would accrue into equity.

Sources at the company said the amount of dues add up to about Rs. 3,000 crore for the additional years.

“We wish to inform you that the company has informed to DoT (Department of Telecom) that the company shall avail the option to defer the payment of the AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) dues up to FY 2018-19 which are not tabulated in the Hon’ble Supreme Court order, up to four years (applicable from FY 2021-22 to FY 2024-25) while retaining the right to pre-pay the installment amounts,” Bharti Airtel said in a regulatory filing.

The company also made it clear that it will “not avail the option of conversion of the interest dues that accrue under aforesaid option into equity”.

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Airtel said DoT had offered the option of four-year moratorium (applicable from FY 2021-22 to FY 2024-25) for AGR dues up to FY 2018-19 which are not tabulated in the Supreme Court order pertaining to statutory dues as well as for the conversion of the interest dues that accrue into equity.

The government calculates its share of revenue from telecom operators based on their AGR, which is considered to have been earned by them from the sale of services.

Last week, debt-ridden telecom operator Vodafone Idea (VIL) decided to defer payment of additional AGR dues of Rs. 8,837 crore by a period of four years.

In a filing on June 22, the company said DoT, on June 15, raised AGR demand for additional two financial years beyond 2016-17, which were not covered under the Supreme Court order on the statutory dues.

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VIL had mentioned that its board of directors “has approved the exercise of the option of deferment of the AGR related dues by a period of four years with immediate effect, in accordance with the said DoT letter”.

“The amount of the AGR related dues as stated in the said DoT letter is Rs. 8,837 crore, which is subject to revision on account of disposal of various representations,” it had said.

Telecom service providers had got a shot in the arm with the government last year approving a blockbuster relief package that included a four-year break for companies from paying statutory dues, permission to share scarce airwaves, change in the definition of revenue on which levies are paid and 100 per cent foreign investment through the automatic route.

According to official data, telecom operators owe over Rs. 1.65 lakh crore to the government in adjusted gross revenue up to the financial year 2018-19.

The fresh calculation shows total AGR liability on Bharti Airtel is Rs. 31,280 crore, Vodafone Idea Rs. 59,230 crore, Tata Group Rs. 12,930 crore, Reliance Jio Rs. 630 crore, BSNL Rs. 16,220 crore and MTNL Rs 5,010 crore up to the financial year 2018-19.

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Most of the telecom operators have made part payment of AGR demand raised till fiscal year 2016-17.

Bharti Airtel had an outstanding of Rs. 25,970 crore, VIL Rs. 50,400 crore, Tata Group companies Rs. 12,600 crore, BSNL Rs. 5,840 crore and MTNL Rs. 4,350 crore as on March 31, 2021.

The demand was also raised for some of the telecom companies like Sistema Shyam, Etisalat DB Telecom, S Tel, Reliance Communications that have shut down their telecom services business.


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