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Vodafone Idea pegs its AGR dues at 21,533 crore

(From left) Vodafone Idea MD and CEO Ravinder Takkar, Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and telecom secretary Anshu Prakash (Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint)Premium
(From left) Vodafone Idea MD and CEO Ravinder Takkar, Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and telecom secretary Anshu Prakash (Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

  • The company has so far paid 3,500 crore in licence fee and spectrum usage dues to the telecom department
  • Vodafone Group Plc’s CEO Nick Read met FM Sitharaman and later telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday to discuss ways to save the cash-strapped firm

New Delhi: Vodafone Idea Ltd has assessed its telecom dues arising from an October Supreme Court order at 21,533 crore, less than half the over 50,000 crore that the government had estimated.

“The company has today filed its self-assessment of the AGR liabilities with the department of telecommunications (DoT)," Vodafone Idea told exchanges on Friday. The company’s liabilities included a principal amount of 6,854 crore for the 13-year period ended 31 March 2019 and interest up to February 2020, it said.

Meanwhile, Vodafone Group Plc’s chief executive Nick Read met finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and later telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday to discuss ways to save the cash-strapped firm. The company has so far paid 3,500 crore in licence fee and spectrum usage dues to the telecom department.

To a question on what relief the government may offer telecom firms grappling with the liability to pay the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues, Sitharaman said, “The government will announce the decision. The concerned department will do it."

During Read’s meeting at DoT, Prasad made it clear that the government wants Vodafone Idea to survive and remain invested in India, a person familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity.

Vodafone Group wants to make a new and good beginning in India, and continue to “stay invested in the country", the person said, citing Read.

The Vodafone Group CEO declined to comment on the meeting. The meeting at DoT was also attended by Vodafone Idea managing director and chief executive officer Ravinder Takkar and telecom secretary Anshu Prakash.

Despite a call for urgent relief for the sector, the Digital Communications Commission, the highest decision-making authority at DoT, is yet to take a decision on whether telecom operators should be provided relief measures for payment of dues related to AGR as more details are required to reconcile these dues.

Vodafone Idea —formed by merging Vodafone India Ltd with Idea Cellular Ltd of the Aditya Birla group—has been on the brink of collapse after the unfavourable court verdict.

In October, the Supreme Court upheld the government’s broader definition of AGR, on which it calculates levies on telecom operators. The order dealt a blow to the telecom industry.

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