Bharti Airtel on Sunday welcomed the findings of the government-appointed special auditor and said the audit showed that the licence fees and spectrum charges paid by the company conform to the licence conditions and rulings of the regulator.
However, the audit report appears to have given the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) the option of claiming Rs 98 crore — which is the likely licence fee impact on distributor margin — from the company as additional licence fee and spectrum charges.
The 306-page audit report, which was submitted last week to the government does not specify whether Bharti is liable to pay this amount and has left it to DoT to take a final view on the issue.
Bharti, however, is categorical that it will not need to make any additional payment. “Based on specific request from DoT, the auditors have done their own estimates of the likely licence fee impact on distributor margin. This is an industry issue applicable to all operators.
There is no liability whatsoever on this account as the company has paid licence fees on actual realised revenues,” said the company spokesman in a response to a questionnaire sent by ET.
The spokesman added that a TDSAT ruling makes it clear that licence fee is payable only on actual realised revenues and not on notional revenues. Bharti Airtel pays licence fee only on actual realised revenues and not on the end-retail price collected by the retail outlets.
“The findings of the special auditors appointed by the Department of Telecommunications have validated this belief of our company and has reconfirmed that all payments of licence fee and spectrum charges are as per the licence conditions as well as applicable rulings of the Hon’ble TDSAT. The audit has been conducted in a fair and transparent manner,” said Manoj Kohli, CEO & joint MD of Bharti Airtel.
In April 2009, the government ordered a special audit of the account books of top private cellphone companies such as Reliance Communications, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Tata Teleservices and Idea Cellular to make sure that they have correctly reported and shared revenue with it.