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QBiz: SC Pulls Up DoT in AGR Case, DoT Orders Telcos To Clear Dues

1. AGR Case: Vodafone Idea Runs out of Talk Time

The Supreme Court on Friday, 14 February pulled up mobile service operators and the department of telecommunications (DoT) for failing to comply with its verdict, which mandated telecom companies to pay the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues of over Rs 1 trillion to the DoT by 23 January.

The development comes as a fresh blow for Vodafone Idea—once India’s largest telco by subscriber base. The company is in a parlous state after an over-three-year battle in the hyper-competitive telecom sector, which has shrunk its revenue streams and saddled it with debt.

“This case projects a very disturbing scenario. The companies have violated the order passed by this court in pith and substance. In spite of the dismissal of the review application, they have not deposited any amount so far. It appears the way in which things are happening that they have scant respect to the directions issued by this court," the Supreme Court order said.

(Source: Livemint)

2. DoT Asks Telecom Operators to Pay up as SC Breathes Fire

In a blow to Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, the Supreme Court on Friday rejected their plea seeking a staggered option for paying dues linked to adjusted gross revenue (AGR). The apex court has directed the companies to make the payments in accordance with its order issued on 24 October last year.

With the court refusing to grant any relief, Bharti will have to shell out around Rs 35,500 crore and Vodafone Idea Rs 54,000 crore immediately, out of the total telecom industry AGR dues estimated at Rs 1.47 trillion.

Coming down heavily on both the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the telcos, a three-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Abdul Nazeer, and MR Shah said “it appears the way in which things are happening, they have scant respect to the directions issued by this court”. On the telcos not depositing any amount so far, the bench observed that the companies had violated the order “in pith and substance’’. The court has drawn up contempt proceedings against a desk officer in the DoT for issuing a circular last month that no coercive action would be taken against the telcos for missing the payment deadline of 23 January 2020, set by the court.

(Source: Business Standard)

Also Read: DoT Orders Telcos to Clear Dues by Midnight After SC Lashes Out

3. GVK Power and Infra Reports Rs 96.13 Crore Loss in December Quarter

GVK Power and Infrastructure (GVKPIL) has registered a loss of Rs 96.13 crore in December quarter against a loss of Rs 101.04 crore for the corresponding quarter of last fiscal on a consolidated basis. The company registered a total income of Rs 1,156.15 crore against Rs 1,109.28 crore for the corresponding quarter last year. For the nine months ended December 2019, the company posted a loss of Rs 387.92 crore and income of Rs3,257.43 crore against a loss of Rs 265.89 crore and income of Rs 3,275.64 crore for the corresponding nine months of previous financial year.

“As of 31 December 2019, the group had accumulated losses during the current period and has also incurred losses during the preceding years. The group has delayed payment of loans and interest and certain loan accounts have been classified as non-performing by banks,”’ the company disclosed in a filing to BSE.

(Source: Financial Express)

4. Open to Bringing Tweaks to Budget and Take Steps Beyond It, Says FM Nirmala Sitharaman

The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday, 14 February said that she was open to bringing tweaks to the Union Budget, and is even willing to take steps beyond it, as and when the need arises, based on the feedback given by economists and experts.

In an interactive session on ‘Budget & Beyond’, organised by the NITI Aayog, the Finance Minister said that the immediate feedback has been motivating, as it has had a “positive impact” on the currency, bond and equity markets. “It is one Budget where the impact on equity, currency and bond market has been positive. Currency market remains stable, bond market has cooled off and equity markets is positive,” Sitharaman said. “If more has to be done beyond the Budget, we are willing to do that.”

(Source: BusinessLine)

Also Read: Budget 2020: Despite ‘Fixing’, ESOP Remains A Much-Abused Acronym

5. PAN to Become Inoperative After 31 March If Not Linked With Aadhaar: Income Tax Department

Permanent Account Number (PAN) will become inoperative if it is not linked with Aadhaar by 31 March 2020, the Income Tax department has said.

The deadline for linking of PAN and Aadhaar has been extended several times and the current deadline ends on 31 March 2020.

Till 27 January 2020, over 30.75 crore PANs have already been linked to Aadhaar. However, 17.58 crore PANs are yet to be linked with the 12-digit biometric ID.

6. Donald Trump India Visit: Room Tariffs in Gujarat Rise 30-50% on US President’s Visit

Room tariffs of star category hotels in twin cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar have jacked up by 30-50% following announcement of the date for the mega event involving US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Ahmedabad.

Luxury hotels in the twin cities are already witnessing higher occupancy due to peak NRI season, said Narendra Somani, president of Hotel & Restaurant Association of Gujarat (HRAG). As the date has been fixed (24 February) for the Trump-Modi event, most of the star category hotels are flooded with plethora of personal as well as online inquiries.

“Tariffs would shoot up in coming days for 23 and 24 February as there is unprecedented rush for booking on the dates. Prices of suit rooms would go even higher as there are limited number of such rooms. Such rooms are being booked for celebrities, industrialists and top leaders,” said Somani.

(Source: Financial Express)

Also Read: Another ‘Trump Wall’ Goes Up, To Hide Slums During His India Visit

7. Air India Sale Expected in First Half of Next Fiscal: DIPAM Secretary

The Government expects to complete sale of national carrier Air India in the first half of the next fiscal, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) Secretary Tuhin Kanta Pandey said on Friday, 14 February.

During an interaction with financial sector experts to discuss the Union Budget, Pandey also said disinvestment strategy has shifted from minority stake sale in public sector units to strategic sale, and a lot of privatisation would happen in the next fiscal.

In November, he said the government decided on big ticket disinvestments while referring to sale of stakes in BPCL, CONCOR, and Shipping Corporation of India.

(Source: BusinessLine)

8. Tamil Nadu Presents Revenue-Deficit Budget, Sees Fiscal Constraints

The Tamil Nadu government on Friday, 14 February presented a revenue-deficit, zero-tax Budget for financial year 2020-21. Due to the rising level of salary, pension, interest payments, debt/losses of TANGEDCO, the revenue deficit for the fiscal 2021 has been pegged at Rs 21,617.64 crore.

The net outstanding debt as at the end of 31 March 2021 is expected at Rs 4,56,660.99 crore and debt to GSDP ratio will be 21.83%, which is well within the norm of 25%, said state deputy chief minister and finance minister O Panneerselvam.

Presenting his 10th Budget, the full-fledged one before the state elections in 2021, Panneerselvam said, “Tamil Nadu continues to see sustained increase of its revenue deficit. The burden imposed on the state finances by the takeover of debt and losses of TANGEDCO under the UDAY scheme, the lag effect of the implementation of the 7th Central Pay Commission, the slower growth in tax revenue, both at the Centre and state levels, have all caused the increased revenue deficit."

(Source: Financial Express)

Also Read: Laid Foundation for $5 Trillion Economy in Budget: Sitharaman

9. Exports Decline 1.7% in January, Trade Deficit Widens to $15 Billion

India’s merchandise exports fell for the sixth consecutive month in January while the trade deficit rose to a seven-month high amid rising fears that the novel coronavirus contagion may further dent India’s trade and economy.

The country’s exports fell by 1.7% in January, while imports fell by 0.75%, leading to a trade deficit of $15 billion, according to commerce ministry figures released on Friday. Imports fell for eight months in a row.

According to experts, the prolonged coronavirus contagion in China could hit India’s trade and economy, which has become highly dependent on its northern neighbour with exponential expansion of trade linkages since 2002-03.

Trade with China has grown from $4.8 billion in 2002-03 to $87 billion in 2018-19.

(Source: Livemint)

Also Read: India’s Trade Deficit Widens to $15.2 Bn, Exports Dip 1.66% in Jan

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