AGR payout: Vodafone Idea seeks host of concessions

Kiran Rathee
vodafone, vodafone idea

As the government struggles to resolve the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) crisis, Vodafone Idea, the most badly hit company by the Supreme Court order on the matter, has written to the department of telecommunications (DoT) enumerating a list of sops it would need to stay afloat.

According to sources, the company has sought a moratorium of three years for the balance AGR-related dues, after which it can make payments spread over a 15-year period. The company has so far paid `3,500 crore against dues of Rs 53,039 crore as calculated by DoT. Vodafone Idea's own calculation of the dues stands at around Rs 23,000 crore.

Since the apex court has refused any concession to the telecom operators in terms of staggered payment of the dues, it remains to be seen how the DoT handles Vodafone Idea's demand. Further, any such concession cannot be given only to Vodafone Idea but needs to be extended to all the operators.

The company has also sought adjustment of its GST refund of Rs 7,000 crore against its AGR dues. So far, the finance ministry has rejected any GST refund demands of the telcos.

Sources said the company has also sought reduction in licence fee to 3% from the current 8% while demanding that spectrum usage charges should be brought down to 1% from the current 3%.

These demands have been made by the telecom industry time and again, and it is likely that the government may come out with some form of concessions here. However, unless some moratorium or staggered payment options are not provided on these payments, it is unlikely that it would help Vodafone Idea much.

"We can't do much when it comes to AGR dues as it's a Supreme Court order. But still, we are trying to find a solution that will help sustainability of the telecom sector," DoT officials said.

The DoT is holding inter-ministerial consultations to explore the kind of concessions it can offer to the operators to tide over the AGR crisis.

Bharti Airtel's chairman Sunil Mittal and Vodafone Idea's chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla have earlier met finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman to talk about the health of the telecom industry.