Cellcos to pay AGR based on self-assessment for now

13 Mar 2020

India’s cellcos have been instructed to pay Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR)-related dues based on their own assessments, with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to issue revised notices at a later date, the Economic Times writes, citing Minister of State for Communications Sanjay Dhotre. Operators would be required to submit documentation with their self-assessments, and the DoT would base its revised demands notices on those documents, the official explained. The minister made the statement in response to questions in parliament regarding the DoT’s progress in finalising AGR dues after the gulf between the DoT’s estimates and providers’ self-assessments became apparent. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Bharti Airtel submitted INR130 billion (USD1.75 billion) in AGR dues plus a further INR50 billion to cover potential discrepancies between its calculations and those of the regulator. Airtel noted the payment represented the ‘full and final amount’ due to the government form AGR issues, but the figure was around half of the DoT’s estimate of roughly INR354 billion. Similarly, Tata Teleservices (TTSL) has paid its full amount of INR22 billion, whereas the DoT had estimated dues of around INR148 billion from the cellco.

The AGR dues relate to a decision by the Supreme Court in October 2019, which ruled that revenue from non-telecom sources should be included in the calculation for AGR, upon which providers’ licence fees are based. The court’s decision was initially expected to cost the industry INR1.47 trillion, with payment due by late January – a deadline which was missed by all but Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) – and the Supreme Court has dismissed appeals by providers for extensions or further clarity on the matter.