Airtel expresses disappointment after SC rejects plea by telcos to review AGR ruling
Airtel said it was considering filing a curative petition after the Supreme Court rejected the plea by telecom operators to review the AGR ruling.
Bharti Airtel has expressed disappointment after the Supreme Court rejected the plea by telecom companies seeking a review of the order on interpretation of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR). The telecom company said it is considering filing a curative petition.
"While respecting the Hon'ble Supreme Court's decision, we would like to express our disappointment as we believe the long standing disputes raised regarding the AGR definition were bonafide and genuine," said an Airtel spokesperson in a statement.
"The industry continues to face severe financial stress and the outcome could further erode the viability of the sector as a whole. The industry needs to continue to invest in expanding networks, acquiring spectrum and introducing New Technologies like 5G. The money now required to pay punitive interest, penalty and interest on penalty which forms nearly 75% of AGR dues would have better served the digital mission of the country," the spokesperson added.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said it was "deeply disappointed" by the court verdict.
"While we respect the Hon'ble Supreme Court's order dismissing the industry's review petition of AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) matter, the telecom sector is again deeply disappointed. The sector, which is currently reeling under a debt of INR 4 lakh crore, is a key contributor to the Indian economy in terms of consumer benefit, employment, revenue generation and contributes 6.5% to the GDP, " said COAI Rajan S Mathews, DG, COAI in a statement.
"The sector is already facing heavy taxes & levies in the range of 29% to 32%, which are globally the highest. The Supreme Court's dismissal of the review petition is the last straw in contributing to financial distress and it remains to be seen whether the industry will be able to recover from this setback. This added financial pressure on the sector will also adversely impact Hon'ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi's vision of Digital India," he added.
The Supreme Court in October last year had allowed the Centre's petition to recover AGR about ₹92,000 crore from the telecom companies. The apex court had directed the companies to make the payments within three months of the verdict.
The verdict was considered as a big setback to the telecom companies which said tax and levies were already high for the telecom sector in India.
" The sector has the lowest tariffs in the world backed by the investment of over INR 10 lakh crores in setting up world class mobile networks over the last 20 years but is going through one of its most disruptive phases. The sector is already reeling under a daunting debt of approx. INR 4 Lakh crores and is in dire financial straits as operators are making negative returns on their investments. The telecom EBITDA continues to contract, while the interest expense of the Industry continues to increase," the industry body had said.