AGR woes: Airtel files review petition in Supreme Court

Airtel on Friday filed a review petition in the Supreme Court for the waiver of interest and penalty in the AGR amount.

Sources said, they have filed for the interest and penalty waiver and not on seeking extension.

Review petitions are to be filed within a month of original decision which came on October 24. As per original order, they are to pay the dues by January 24. Both have made Rs 74,000 crore losses on account of Rs 53,000 crore provisioning for these dues payments.

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom companies owe the government as much as Rs 1.47 lakh crore in past statutory dues, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said in Parliament on Wednesday adding that there is no proposal at present to waive interest and penalties on such dues.

Also Read: Bharti Airtel shares hit 52-week high, Vodafone Idea up by 25% after announcement of tariff hike plans

In replies to questions in the Lok Sabha, Prasad had said telecom companies owe the government Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee, and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charge. In the case of Bharti Airtel, the liabilities added up to nearly Rs 35,586 crore, of which Rs 21,682 crore is licence fee and another Rs 13,904 crore is the SUC dues (not including the dues of Telenor and Tata Teleservices).

Airtel's colossal net loss of Rs 23,900 crore for just-ended September quarter was on account of exceptional charge pertaining to provisioning of Rs 28,450 crore towards the AGR dues, that included principle of Rs 6,164 crore, interest of Rs 12,219 crore, penalty of Rs 3,760 crore, and interest on penalty of Rs 6,307 crore.

In the case of Vodafone Idea, this number stands at a cumulative Rs 53,038 crore, including Rs 24,729 crore of spectrum usage charge (SUC) dues and Rs 28,309 crore in licence fee.

Also Read: AGR woes: Bharti Airtel Q2 loss at Rs 23,045 crore

The government made it clear that it is not considering any proposal on waiver of penalties and interest on outstanding licence fee based on adjusted gross revenue (AGR), or on extending the timelines for telecom companies to pay up their statutory dues.

"No such proposal is under consideration of the government as on date," Prasad said while responding to specific questions on whether the government proposes to provide a waiver for penalties and interest on the non-payment of license fee on AGRs by telecom operators and also on whether it is consider ing extending the time limit for the payment of license fee, penalty, interest and other dues.