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DoT actively engaging with telecom companies after apex court's AGR order: Nirmala Sitharaman

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks during a press conference after an interactive session with industrialists on union budget 2020, in Bengaluru. (PTI)Premium
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks during a press conference after an interactive session with industrialists on union budget 2020, in Bengaluru. (PTI)

  • Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Monday deposited 10,000 crore as part of its AGR dues to the government
  • The DoT had issued fifth and final notice to telecom operators on February 14 for making payment immediately

BENGALURU : Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is actively engaging with telecom companies after the Supreme Court's order regarding Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) which has necessitated the telecom majors Airtel and Vodafone-Idea to cough up thousands of crore rupees.

Asked if the government will provide relief to telecom companies on AGR, Sitharaman said here, "The Department of Telecommunications is actively engaging with telecom companies after the Supreme Court's order. I will hear from the department what position it wants to take on the matter."

Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Monday deposited 10,000 crore as part of its AGR dues to the government.

The DoT had issued fifth and final notice to telecom operators on February 14 for making payment immediately. The move came after the apex court pulled up Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea for not paying their AGR dues to the government by January 23.

Bharti Airtel's total AGR dues as assessed by DoT reportedly amount to 35,586 crore. The company said that it will make the rest of the payment before March 17 as it needs time to complete the exercise of calculating dues across 22 circles.

"We are in the process of completing the self-assessment exercise expeditiously and will duly make the balance payment upon completion of the same, before the next date of hearing in the Supreme Court," said Bharti Airtel.

Vodafone Idea's total AGR dues are estimated at 53,038 crore which includes 24,729 crore of spectrum dues and 28,309 crore as the licence fee.

The Supreme Court earlier today refused to pass an order on Vodafone-Idea's plea to direct the central government not to encash its bank guarantee in view of the AGR judgment.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Vodafone-India, mentioned the matter before a bench of Justice Arun Mishra and said that it will deposit 2,500 crore with the DoT today and 1,000 crore by Friday, and it needs more time to deposit the entire amount arising out of the AGR judgment.

Rohatgi requested to not take any "coercive measures" against the company, including encashment of its bank guarantees with the government.

After hearing Rohatgi, Justice Mishra declined to pass any instruction to the government.

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