Telecom companies’ unpaid licence fees reportedly amount to Rs 225.89 billion, while interest and penalties took the total liability to Rs 926.41 billion.
The licence fee is the major component of the total Rs 1.47 trillion adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues which is owed by both operational and non-operational telecom companies to the government till July 2019.
As per estimates prepared by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), besides licence fees, telecom companies owe Rs 550.54 billion in spectrum usage charges (SUC).
Telecom companies that are operational collectively owe around Rs 167.46 billion out of the total unpaid basic licence fee. The unpaid licence fees of Bharti Airtel was assessed at Rs 55.28 billion, Vodafone Idea Rs 68.71 billion, Tata Group Rs 23.21 billion, Telenor (now merged with Airtel) Rs 5.29 billion, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) Rs 6.14 billion and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) Rs 8.76 billion. As per industry sources, these estimates were prepared in July 2019 and fresh calculation is in process.
Any delay in payment of licence fee payable, or any other dues payable under the licence beyond the stipulated period attracts interest at rate which will be 2 per cent above the prime lending rate of State bank of India (SBI).
In case the total amount paid as quarterly licence fee for the four quarters of the financial year falls short by more than 10 per cent of the payable licence fees, then a penalty of 50 per cent of the entire short payment is levied on the telecom operators.
According to the estimates for total dues, Airtel owes nearly Rs 355.86 billion, including licence fee, spectrum usage charges with interest on unpaid amount, penalty and interest on penalty. Further, Vodafone Idea owes dues worth around Rs 500 billion, Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) owes around Rs 116 billion, BSNL Rs 49.89 billion and MTNL Rs 31.22 billion.