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Vodafone Idea pays Rs 1,000 cr AGR dues to telecom department

02:04 PM Feb 20, 2020 |

Vodafone Idea on Thursday paid Rs 1,000 crore more to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) towards its statutory dues, a senior official said.

The company had paid Rs 2,500 crore to the government towards adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues on Monday. In all, it owes Rs 53,000 crore to the telecom department.

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The DoT source said that notices will also be sent to Tata Teleservices for recovery of full dues in a day or two. The company had paid Rs 2,197 crore to the government on Monday, while DoT's calculations peg the outstanding amount at over Rs 14,000 crore.

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With the telecom sector reeling under severe financial stress and Vodafone Idea staring at bankruptcy in case it is made to pay its adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues, the government is considering the setting up of a fund to facilitate operations of telcos post the payment of their AGR dues.

According to sources in the know, the dues which have to be paid to the Department of Telecom (DoT) would have to be put in the telecom fund, and can then be lent to the companies with lower interest.

This will allow companies to maintain their going concern status and continue operations without running to banks to raise funds.

With the sector in trouble, none of the banks would also be ready to lend to telcos so the fund would act as critical funding support. The telecom fund is likely to help telcos manage their cash flows and would be fiscally neutral for the government.

The sources also said that two other options are being looked at -- waiver of penalties or staggered payments with interest. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the Law and Finance Ministries would take the final call.

The government is concerned that a complete stop of operations of any of telcos may be a big negative for sector and is, thus, looking for a way out. It is, however, not looking at changing its AGR demand that could attract adverse observations from courts.

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