New Delhi: Amid talks of the government mulling cashing of bank guarantee over default in payment of dues, Vodafone Idea chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla met Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash here Tuesday as he looked for options to keep the company afloat. After the meeting which lasted more than an hour, Birla said he ‘cannot say anything at the moment’. Birla was accompanied by Ravinder Takkar, MD & CEO of Vodafone Idea.
Birla refused to respond to queries on whether or not Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) would default on payment of AGR dues or if the company could head towards insolvency. The company paid Rs 2,500 crore to Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and promised to pay another Rs 1,000 crore before the end of the week.
But the amount paid for now is less than five per cent of the dues that the DoT estimates the company owes to the government following a Supreme Court ruling that asked for including non-telecom revenues of telcos in computing statutory payments such as licence fee and spectrum charges.
The Supreme Court refused Monday to stop DoT from taking any coercive steps for recovery of dues from Vodafone Idea.
Earlier in December last year, Birla said Vodafone Idea may have to shut if there is no relief on statutory dues. “If we are not getting anything, then I think it is the end of the story for Vodafone Idea,” Birla had said.
DoT – which last week drew flak for ordering no coercive action even after telcos missed the January 23 payment deadline set by the Supreme Court – is mulling the option of encashing bank guarantees given by firms when they got telecom licences, as none of the telcos have paid the full amount.
Encashing of the bank guarantees may sound the death knell for companies such as Vodafone Idea which has been struggling to garner the dues.