The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Wednesday sent notices to the telcos, asking them to pay the Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues on a self-assessment basis within the next three months. The licensor did not raise the demand quantum itself and left it to the assessment of the telcos in their individual cases to compute it and then make the payment accordingly. Once telcos submit their dues, the DoT will match it with it's own AGR account.
"It's the responsibility of the licensee to pay the licence fees and other dues after carrying out their own assessment as prescribed in the licence agreements. You are therefore directed to make the payment in accordance with the order of the Supreme Court of October 24 and submit the requisite documents to ensure compliance within the stipulated timeframe," said the letter issued to telcos by the DoT.
The DoT further said that the Supreme Court in its final judgement of October 24 had disposed off the AGR matter with the order that the appeals of the licensees were dismissed.
On October 24, the Supreme Court directed telecom operators to pay at least Rs 92,000 crores in past dues to the government within three months.
The two main recipients of the notice, Airtel and Vodafone Idea (VIL), have their Q2 results scheduled to be announced on Thursday. Now the two will have to self-assess their AGR dues for the last 14 years and submit the amount by January 24. If the DoT finds any difference in figures, it will ask them to reverify with their figures.
If both the telcos go to the Supreme Court again for review petition before November 24, then only the top court will decide if their petitions are maintainable, depending on the grounds they present on review.
Airtel's dues are roughly Rs. 21,680 crores, while Vodafone Idea will need to cough up at least Rs. 28,300 crores. Jio's dues are just Rs. 13 crores since it is a late entrant in this field.
Both Airtel and VIL were seeking relief from the DoT and the Secretary's panel on waiver of penalties and interest on AGR.
The problem started when telecom operators migrated to a new system offered by the government in 1999 under which they agreed to share a certain percentage of revenue with the government.
Operators had argued that AGR should comprise only revenue from telecom services, but the DoT insisted that it should include all revenue earned by an operator.
Currently, telcos pay 3-6 percent and 8 percent of their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) as spectrum usage charges and licence fee (including Usof), respectively.