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Telcos owe around Rs 22,589 crore as licence fees; rest Rs 70k crore is interest, penalty

Telcos' unpaid licence fees amount to Rs 22,589 cr, while interest and penalties took total liability to Rs 92,641 cr.

PTI|
Last Updated: Feb 21, 2020, 06.20 AM IST
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Vodafone Idea is staring at dues worth around Rs 50,000 crore. Similarly, Tata Teleservices owes around Rs 11,600 crore, BSNL Rs 4,989 crore and MTNL Rs 3,122 crore.
Telecom companies' unpaid licence fees amount to Rs 22,589 crore, while interest and penalties took the total liability to Rs 92,641 crore, sources said.

Licence fee is the major component of the total Rs 1.47 lakh crore AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) dues owed by both operational and non-operational telecom companies to the government till July 2019.

Besides licence fees, telecom companies owe Rs 55,054 crore in spectrum usage charges (SUC), as per estimates of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

As telecom operators scramble to comply with Supreme Court order on AGR dues, the sources said actual pending liability regarding licence fees is Rs 22,589 crore.

The balance 74 per cent of the total licence fee dues of Rs 92,641 crore is on account of interest on this amount, penalty and interest on penalty.

Out of the total unpaid basic licence fee, telecom companies that are operational collectively owe around Rs 16,746 crore, according to the estimates prepared by the DoT in July 2019.

The unpaid licence fees of Bharti Airtel was assessed at Rs 5,528.52 crore, Vodafone Idea Rs 6,870.69 crore, Tata Group Rs 2321.31 crore, Telenor (now merged with Airtel) Rs 529.02 crore, BSNL Rs 614 crore and MTNL Rs 876.39 crore.

"These estimates were prepared in July. Fresh calculation is in process," an official source said.

Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel has paid Rs 10,000 crore, Vodafone Idea Rs 3,500 crore and Tata Group Rs 2,197 crore for both licence fee and SUC dues.

Another source told that the DoT has found that circle offices have not followed uniform process and have been "cherry picking" figures submitted by telecom operators in the calculation of AGR dues.

The DoT on February 3 issued a letter with guidelines to all Controller General of Communication Accounts to reconcile AGR dues and asked them to give 15 days time to operators for the submission of appeals and documents related to deductions they make in the final payment, sources said.

"Any delay in payment of licence fee payable, or any other dues payable under the licence beyond the stipulated period attracts interest at rate which will be 2 per cent above the prime lending rate of SBI," the official source said.

The official further added that in the case the total amount paid as quarterly licence fee for the four quarters of the financial year falls short by more than 10 per cent of the payable licence fees, then a penalty of 50 per cent of the entire short payment is levied on the telecom operators.

According to estimates prepared by the DoT for total dues, Airtel owes nearly Rs 35,586 cr, including licence fee, spectrum usage charges with interest on unpaid amount, penalty and interest on penalty.

Vodafone Idea is staring at dues worth around Rs 50,000 crore. Similarly, Tata Teleservices owes around Rs 11,600 crore, BSNL Rs 4,989 crore and MTNL Rs 3,122 crore.
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