Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder and chairman of Bharti Airtel, on Thursday said that adjusted gross revenue (AGR) issue is an unprecedented crisis for the telecom industry. Mr Mittal's comments came after he met telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to give an overall view of the industry.
"Committed to complying with the Supreme Court order on adjusted gross revenue (AGR), and Bharti Airtel will make the balance payment expeditiously," Mr Mittal told reporters.
Mr Mittal also said that the telecom industry is heavily taxed and suggested cut in taxes and levies for the sector.
Last week, the government ordered mobile carriers including Vodafone Idea to immediately pay thousands of crores of rupees in dues after the Supreme Court threatened the companies and officials with contempt proceedings for failing to implement an earlier ruling.
Earlier this week, Bharti Airtel paid Rs 10,000 crore to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) towards statutory dues. "Total amount of Rs 10,000 crore has been paid on behalf of Bharti Airtel, Bharti Hexacom, and Telenor," Bharti Airtel said on Monday.
Vodafone Idea has so far paid Rs 3,500 crore as part of AGR dues to the DoT.
In October, the Supreme Court had upheld the telecom department's demand that wireless carriers pay Rs 92,000 crore in overdue levies and interest, and had given the telecom operators three months' time to clear their dues with the telecom department.
According to last available estimates, Airtel owes nearly Rs 35,586 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charges, to the government.
Vodafone Idea is staring at dues worth Rs 53,000 crore, which includes up to Rs 24,729 crore of spectrum dues and another Rs 28,309 crore in licence fee. Tata Teleservices owes around Rs 13,800 crore, BSNL Rs 4,989 crore and MTNL Rs 3,122 crore.