The department of telecommunications (DoT) is likely to wait for the outcome of review petitions filed by private telcos such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea in the Supreme Court on the AGR issue before finalising its stance on non-telecom PSUs such as Gail and PowerGrid, and others. The non-telecom PSUs together need to pay over Rs 2 lakh crore as adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues as a result of the October 24 SC order and have not filed any review plea yet.
However, they have pointed out to the DoT that they do not owe any dues to the government. The last date for making the payments for all set of licensees is January 24, 2020. The telecom operators need to pay Rs 1.47 lakh crore as dues and have filed review petitions seeking waiver from paying interest, penalty, and interest on penalty.
The core operations of the PSUs are not telecom but they have telecom licence of some nature or use spectrum for some part of their operations, and hence, are covered under the SC order.
A non-telecom PSU, Gail for instance, now needs to pay around Rs 1.83 lakh crore as AGR dues, and has written to the DoT that the department has miscalculated its telecom-related dues. According to sources, in a series of letter to the DoT, Gail has explained that DoT has taken into account the company’s entire revenues while calculating its AGR dues instead of taking only the optical fibre-related revenues. Though the DoT has agreed to look into its representations, going by the SC order, it can do little. The problem is that the telecom-related licences are held by Gail and not by any of its telecom subsidiaries, and therefore, going by the SC order, the entire revenues of the company holding the licence needs to be taken into account to calculate the AGR dues. The dues of Gail, according to DoT, is Rs 1.83 lakh crore.
Similarly, another PSU, PowerGrid, which has both a national long distance as well as an ISP licence, has said it has paid whatever is due as per its licence condition and owes nothing more to the government. “When PowerGrid signed the licence agreement with DoT, it was clear that only telecom revenue would be considered for the purpose of calculation of licence fees…telecom services contribute about 2% to the company’s revenue and the company made Rs 742 crore in 2018-19 from its telecom business which puts the licence fee at Rs 59 crore… PowerGrid would not make any further payment to the DoT and as it had already paid Rs 59 crore as licence fee, which is up to date,” an official said.
DoT has estimated dues to be paid by PowerGrid at Rs 22,168 crore. Sources said DoT has been meeting the top officials of the PSU firms concerned but no headway has been made so far. Officials have indicated that if the SC accepts the review petitions of the telecom operators, clarity would emerge on the issues involved.
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Source: Financial Express