16 telcos owe Rs 1.30 lakh crores, more revelations in Lok Sabha reply

Source :Sify
Author :Finance Desk
Last Updated: Thu, Mar 5th, 2020, 13:52:28hrs

New Delhi: A written reply to a question posed in Lok Sabha reveals the volume of dues owed by Telecom players.  

16 players together paid Rs 15,896.51 crores while dues are estimated at Rs 130,440.47 crores.  

The data was shared in a written reply by MoS (Minister for State) for Communications, HRD and Electronics & Information Technology, Sanjay Dhotre to a question raised by Advocate Adoor Prakash. The question was whether telecom companies cleared the dues of DoT (Department of Telecom), the balance amount and details on measures taken by the government to clear dues.  

Responding to the measures taken by the government, the answer reads, "The Government has directed the Licensees to make the payments in accordance with the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 24.10.2019."

The only one telecom player that has paid more than its dues is Reliance Jio.  

Reliance Jio paid Rs 134.66 crores more than the dues on Spectrum Usage Charge and License Fee Dues.  

Here's the data and the revelations:

The data shared could be provisional estimates considering it does not reflect recent media-reports on pay-outs from Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea Limited, Bharti Airtel on spectrum fees. It also does not include the amount paid by Tata TeleServices of Rs 2,000 crores. The recent reports are here. Also, there is a disclaimer that due amounts could be revised once AGR figures are finalized and assessments are accordingly done and also subject to C&AG Audit / Special Audit.

Source: MoS Sanjay Dhotre's written reply in Lok Sabha. The PDF link of the reply is available on the official site of the Lok Sabha (opens a PDF page). 

The data reveals:

1. Dues of Vodafone Group of Companies highest at Rs 34,308.23 crores

2. Second highest is Rs 26086.01 crores of Bharti Airtel Group of companies.  

3. Reliance Communication / Reliance Telecommunication, paid Rs 3.96 crores against total dues of Rs 21,135.64 crores. On Thursday, RCom's Committee of creditors approved a resolution plan to recover Rs 23,000 crores of Rs 33,000 crores. 

4. 9 telecom players are yet to pay: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, Aircel Group of companies, Etisalat DB telecom, Quadrant Televentures Ltd, S Tel Pvt Ltd, Videocon Telecommunications Ltd, Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd, and Loop Telecom Ltd.  

Status of 9 Companies: The 9 companies that have paid nothing so far reportedly owe Rs 20,534.61 crores to the government. Of this, BSNL and MTNL owe Rs 8,112.34 crores. The two PSUs may seek relief from an appropriate forum. That still leaves Rs 12,422.27 crores from 7 companies who are yet to pay a single penny. Here's the status of those 7 companies.

1. S Tel Pvt Ltd: Its CEO wrote a letter in 2012 to then Prime Minister demanding Rs 1700 crores after licensees were surrendered.  

2. Aircel: Filed bankruptcy in Feb'18.  

3. Etisalat DB: In 2012, post cancellation of licensees, the company began winding up operations.  

4. Quadrant Televentures: Formerly HFCL Infotel, this is a subsidiary of Videocon Group.  

5. Videocon Telecommunications: Bankruptcy case ongoing in Videocon Group in Mumbai NCLT.  

6. Sistema Shyam Teleserviecs: Reliance Communications claimed it acquired Sistema Shyam in all-stock deal in 2016.

7. Loop Telecom: India's early telecom network operator shutdown post 2012, a move that impacted at least 6,000 subscribers.

Responding to a seperate question posed by Pratima Mondal - if the government intends to propose a plan for future development in the telecom sector in view of the huge Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) fees required to be paid by telcos, Dhotre's reply to the Lok Sabha read there is "no such plan at present".

To reports regarding shutting down of Vodafone Idea, he said that there is no such information with the government.

On whether the government proposes to initiate any action over non-compliance of order on payment of dues by telcos, Dhotre pointed out that the Centre had directed the licensees to make the payments in accordance with October 24 order of the Supreme Court. "As per license agreement, the Government takes action against licensees including Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) over non-compliance of Supreme Court order dated October 24, 2019 on payment of dues of Department of Telecommunication," he said.

Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) such as GAIL, Oil India and others represented to Department of Telecom that the AGR judgment is not applicable on them and therefore they do not owe any dues to the department. The Supreme Court has detached Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) from the AGR judgement of October, 2019 and directed them to seek relief from appropriate forum, Dhotre added.  

He said that the government abides by the Supreme Court order dated February 14.