Vodafone Idea has paid an additional Rs 3,354 crore to the Telecom Department as part of its statutory dues, a day before the Supreme Court is expected to hear the modification plea filed by the telco and other operators. With today's payments, Vodafone Idea has paid about Rs 6,854 crore to the Department of Telecommunications till date.
"The company has today paid a further amount of Rs 3,354 crores to the DoT, being the balance part of the principal amount towards AGR liability," Vodafone Idea said in a statement.
The government may request the Supreme Court to allow telcos to stagger their AGR dues payment over up to 20 years at a reduced interest rate to tide over their financial woes, as per reports. There have also been reports that the government is considering the establishment of a fund to facilitate operations of telcos post the payment of their AGR dues.
"As disclosed in the company's financial statements for quarter ending December 31, 2019, the company's ability to continue as a going concern is essentially dependent on a positive outcome of the application for modification of the supplementary order," the company had said in the filing in February.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by the company against the levy of one-time spectrum charges by the government. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had sought to levy a one-time spectrum charge over 6.2 MHz held by the telecom service provider.
Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Vodafone, told a bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice MR Shah that the charges are related to the adjusted gross revenue (AGR). "Don''t pay anything... not this, not AGR. You will still not be touched," Justice Mishra said while dismissing the plea.
Analysts covering the country's telecom sector say Vodafone Idea is the most fragile among the major wireless carriers and if it shuts shop, the market would shape up as a duopoly of rivals Bharti Airtel and Reliance Industries' Jio.
The government had, last month, 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.
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.
Telecom providers in the country pay the telecom department 3-5 per cent of their AGR in spectrum usage charges and 8 per cent as licence fees.
The shares of Vodafone Idea jumped 4.4 per cent at Rs 5.8 on the BSE in early noon trades, despite a 5 per cent fall in the benchmark indices.