However, the government is readying a relief package and it could include a cut in the licence fee to 5 per cent, two years’ moratorium on paying spectrum charges with interest, and referring the GST tax refund issue to the Council.
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has started the initial process of claiming its dues from telcos, directing them to pay up in accordance with the Supreme Court’s October 24 order, under which they have been given three months to fulfil their obligations.
The letter to the telcos points out that it is the responsibility of the licensees to pay after carrying out their own assessment as prescribed in the licence agreement.
A senior official of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said in accordance with the licence agreement, the companies had to file the amount of licence fees they had to pay on their assessment of adjusted gross revenue and the DoT did not make the calculation or send any demand notice.
The department, however, reviews the calculation and can comment on its accuracy.
Rajan Matthew, director general of the COAI, said the DoT was following the same process by asking the telcos to file their dues.
The telcos together have to fork out over Rs 1.33 trillion, which, apart from the dues on the basis of AGR, will include spectrum user charges.
COAI sources on Wednesday said Bharti and Vodafone Idea were planning to go for a review petition soon.
This comes after discussions with the committee of secretaries, which is of the view that while no relief on the amount can be given, a staggered payment can be offered, for which the telcos have to approach the court.
However, it is discussing a relief package outside the order and it could include a cut in the licence fee to 5 per cent, two years’ moratorium on paying spectrum charges with interest, and referring the goods and services tax refund issue to the GST Council.
Photograph: Arko Datta/Reuters