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DoT’s test checks on AGR dues are routine audit process: COAI

Terming ‘test checks’ proposed by the government on telcos’ AGR arithmetic as standard audit procedure, Industry body COAI has said the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) needs to ensure consistency among its different circles on calculation of dues to minimise any differences.

DoT’s test checks on AGR dues are routine audit process: COAI

New Delhi

Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) also cautioned that any decision to encash bank guarantees will be “disastrous” for the telecom industry, which only has three private players.

“Any move to encash bank guarantees will precipitate an already precarious situation,” COAI Director General, Rajan Mathews said.

Mathews termed the ‘test checks’ being proposed by the telecom department to examine deviation in calculation of dues by companies as a “standard audit procedure”.

He pointed out that while amounts need to be finalised as soon as possible, operators too should be given a fair opportunity to explain the deviations in calculation.

“There should be consistency amongst all LSAs (Licensed Service Areas) of the DoT on how the amounts are calculated, so the differences are minimised,” Mathews added.

The government has made it clear that it will verify the companies’ claims on AGR math and examine any deviations from its own calculation, through random ‘test checks’ before March 17.

The Centre will conduct ‘test check’ for any one year (of telcos’ dues) to examine variances between telecom companies’ assessment and the government’s own calculation of AGR liabilities.

The test check will happen for all telecom firms, but could start with those, which have already claimed they have made full and final settlement towards their statutory liabilities, like Tata Teleservices.

In all, as many as 15 entities owe the government Rs 1.47 lakh crore – Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges.

Meanwhile, senior officials of the telecom department and other key ministries (Niti Aayog, Finance) met on Sunday to discuss urgent relief measures that can be extended to the telecom industry, which is battling an unprecedented crisis on account of massive statutory dues it owes thegovernment.

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