Home / Industry / Telecom /  In relief for telcos, DoT wants dues to be repaid over 20 years

In relief for telcos, DoT wants dues to be repaid over 20 years

The dues stood at  ₹1.69 trillion as of October, the telecom department had said in an affidavit to the court (Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint)Premium
The dues stood at 1.69 trillion as of October, the telecom department had said in an affidavit to the court (Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

  • DoT has also proposed to the Supreme Court that telcos be allowed to pay dues at a reduced annual interest rate of 8%
  • The proposal, if approved by the top court, will offer a lifeline to struggling telcos such as Vodafone Idea

New Delhi/Mumbai: The government on Monday sought the Supreme Court’s permission to allow telecom operators to pay their licence and spectrum usage fee dues over an extended 20-year period, offering a flicker of hope to struggling telcos such as Vodafone Idea Ltd.

The department of telecommunications (DoT) has proposed that telecom operators be allowed to stagger their payments to the government and pay a reduced annual interest rate of 8%. The dues stood at 1.69 trillion as of October, the telecom department had said in an affidavit to the court.

“The applicant (DoT) is conscious of the fact that any immediate adverse impact on the functioning of the telecom service providers would not only have an adverse impact on the overall economy of the nation but would also harm the interest of the consumers across the country," DoT said in its plea to the Supreme Court. A copy of the plea was reviewed by Mint.

The proposal, if approved by the court, will offer a lifeline to Vodafone Idea, which has been ordered by the court to pay dues of 58,254 crore, based on the telecom department’s estimate. The company has assessed its dues to the department at 21,533 crore. The apex court is scheduled to hear telecom operators’ plea for relief on Tuesday.

Vodafone Idea paid a second instalment of 3,384 crore to the government on Monday, taking its total payments to 6,854 crore, which is the entire principal amount it had self-assessed as dues related to the court’s order on adjusted gross revenue.

If the DoT’s proposal is accepted, it would also provide relief for Bharti Airtel Ltd. The operator had pegged its dues at 13,004 crore after self-assessment, less than a third of the 43,980 crore that was estimated by DoT. The amounts include Telenor India’s dues as well, which Bharti Airtel had acquired in 2018.

Bharti Airtel is in a much less precarious position, with the Sunil Mittal-led operator paying 18,004 crore to the government. The additional 5,000 crore that it has paid to the government over the amount it arrived at after self-assessment is to cover any differences that may arise between the DoT and the company.

Prathma Sharma contributed to this story.

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