Bharti Airtel founder and chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said on Thursday that the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) issue is an unprecedented crisis for the telecom industry. Mr Mittal’s remarks came when he met Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad for a holistic view of the industry.
Mittal told reporters that Bharti Airtel was committed to abiding by the Supreme Court order on Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR). He said the company would pay the balance soon.
Mittal said further that the telecom industry was heavily taxed. He wanted a reduction in taxes and levies for the sector.
Mittal said that the telecom sector had been in crisis for the past three and a half years. This industry is of great importance to the digital agenda of the government and the country, he said. The government, he said, needed to see how this area can be strengthened. Sunil Mittal said this yesterday after meeting the top officials in the Ministry of Finance in New Delhi’s North Block.
On Wednesday, Mittal had met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Last week, the apex court had ordered telecom service providers, including Vodafone-Idea, to immediately pay thousands of crores of rupees by the midnight of the very day of passing the order! The Supreme Court threatened companies and officials with contempt proceedings for failing to implement the preceding verdict.
Earlier this week, Bharti Airtel paid Rs 10,000 crore to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) towards the statutory arrears. Bharti Airtel, Bharti Hexacom and Telenor have paid a total of Rs 10,000 crore, Bharti Airtel said on Monday.
Vodafone-Idea has so far paid Rs 3,500 crore to DoT as part of its AGR dues.
In October, the Supreme Court had dismissed DoT’s demand that the telecom service providers pay Rs 92,000 crore in overdue levy and interest. The court gave telecom operators three months to clear their dues with the DoT.
As per previous available estimates, Airtel owes the government about Rs 35,586 crore including license fee and spectrum usage fee.
Vodafone-Idea is staring at dues’ clearance worth Rs 53,000 crore, including spectrum dues of Rs 24,729 crore and Rs 28,309 crore in the licence fee.
Tata Teleservices owes about Rs 13,800 crore. BSNL owes Rs 4,989 crore and MTNL owes Rs 3,122 crore.