New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) The Budget 2020 on Saturday increased the revenue estimate from the ailing telecom sector by over twofold to Rs 1.33 lakh crore for 2020-21, mainly on account of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues.
“There are proceedings in the court. We have watched the developments in the telecom sector going through the court. So it won’t be right for me to say anything,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a post-Budget briefing.
She did not respond to queries on break-up of the Rs 1.33 lakh crore factors the AGR amount or not directly.
The government has pegged a revenue collection of Rs 1,33,027.2 crore for financial year 2020-21. It expects a revenue of Rs 58,686.64 crore under communications head in the current fiscal year against budgeted amount of Rs 50,519.8 in 2019-20. “Receipts under ‘Other Communication Services’ mainly relate to the license fees from telecom operators and receipts on account of spectrum usage charges,” the budget document stated.
The telecom industry has a debt of Rs 1.47 lakh crore in additional statutory dues in the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling on AGR. Telecom companies owe the government Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee, and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges.
The liabilities in the case of Bharti Airtel add up to nearly Rs 35,586 crore, of which Rs 21,682 crore is licence fee and another Rs 13,904.01 crore is the SUC dues (excluding the dues of Telenor and Tata Teleservices).
In the case of Vodafone Idea, this number stands at a cumulative Rs 53,038 crore, including Rs 24,729 crore of SUC dues and Rs 28,309 crore in licence fee.
The remaining liability is with state-owned BSNL/MTNL and some of the shut/bankrupt telecom companies.
The Supreme Court had allowed three months to the affected telecom operators to cough up the amounts due to the government – that deadline expired on January 23 – although the Telecom Department did not take any coercive action against defaulters as their appeals seeking relaxation in payment timelines are pending in the apex court.
Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea Ltd, and Tata Teleservices have jointly filed a modification application in the Supreme Court seeking more time to pay the statutory dues.
The fresh plea for relief on the payment schedule came after Supreme Court last month, dismissed the review petitions filed by telecom companies against its October 24, 2019 verdict.
The Department of Telecom is also working on spectrum auction which is likely to be held in April-May 2020.