Airtel and Vodafone
Airtel and Vodafone

New Delhi: Jolted by the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on statutory dues calculation, telecom companies have sent an SOS to the government seeking a waiver of interest and penalties on the unpaid amount, as well as staggering payment of principal licence fee over 10 years, sources said.

Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal and his brother Rajan Mittal had on Monday met Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash in the aftermath of the October 24 Supreme Court order that accepted government's way of calculating revenues of the companies, based on which statutory dues to exchequer are calculated.

While an Airtel spokesperson stated that the company has "not submitted any request (in the aftermath of the court ruling) to the DoT. We shall be making a formal representation soon through the COAI," sources said an unsigned representation by one of the telcos has sought an array of reliefs including lowering of licence fee and spectrum usage charges.

Bharti Airtel early on Tuesday said its second-quarter earnings report has been deferred till November 14 as it sought clarity and "support" from the government on Rs 42,000-crore statutory dues it owes to the exchequer following the SC judgment. Sources said the unsigned note seeks urgent relief measures from the government saying auditors will qualify accounts in the next 1-2 weeks in absence of relief. Meanwhile, according to company statement, Airtel's India mobile services revenue is at about Rs 10,981 crore.

In the worst-case scenario, it has requested the government to levy only the principal amount (without any interest or penalty) pertaining to only license fee (not spectrum usage charges) that should be allowed to be paid over period of 10 years without interest.

It also said that AGR for other telecom services that are fixed-line, national and international long distance attracts no SUC as AGR, since "no spectrum is used". It questioned how SUC as AGR can, therefore, be charged for service which is not even telecom, and just where is the use of spectrum in the sale of an asset or receipt of interest or dividend. It has also sought 2 years moratorium on spectrum payments beyond April 2020 till March 2022, to ease the cash flow pressures on the industry without compromising the net present value of spectrum dues.

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