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Innocent Admission

Telcos have spoken of stress, won’t comment on speculations: VIL

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New Delhi, July 4, 2021 (Agency) As non-profit body Telecom Watchdog claimed financial mismanagement in Vodafone Idea and called for a forensic audit, a spokesperson with the telco said the company would not respond to “speculations” and “ill-informed conclusions”, adding that the telecom industry has already spoken of the “tremendous stress” it is in.

The spokesperson also noted that industry body COAI has, over the past two years, insisted on the need to support the sector and the requirement of a floor price.

“Industry players have pointed out the tremendous stress in the telecom sector. COAI, the industry body representing all three private operators, has, over the last two years, pointed out the need for support to the sector and unanimously asked for floor pricing to be set for restoring health of the sector. We would not comment on speculative commentary and ill-informed conclusions,” the spokesperson said.

Urging the government not to agree to Vodafone Idea’s plea to defer the April 2022 deadline for payment of Rs 8,292 crore spectrum installment, the NGO ‘Telecom Watchdog’ has said that such requests are “unjustified” and “illegal”.

In a letter to the Minister of Communications, the organisation has demanded a forensic audit into the affairs of the telecom operator.

“We are astonished with the request of VIL to defer payment of Government dues, due to its inability to raise funds which clearly establish its mismanagement of affairs in terms of operation and financial management. It has miserably failed to raise funds by dilution of equity and upgrade its networks with latest technology to reduce cost etc,” said the letter by Telecom Watchdog Secretary Vikram Mittal.

It suggested that no government support or intervention in the matter of tariffs should be considered as such steps will cause losses to the government and harassment to the consumers and would not help this company to survive.

Last month, VIL, in a letter to the Telecom Secretary, had said it will be unable to pay the installment of Rs 8,292 crore due on April 9, 2022 due to cash being used for payment of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues and the inability of the operations to generate the required cash in a predatory pricing situation.

It has sought another year of moratorium, so as to pay the installment in April 2023.

For the January-March quarter, Vodafone Idea reported a net loss of Rs 6,985.1 crore. Auditors of the company have raised concerns over its survival as a ‘going concern’.

In his comments regarding the financial results, Vodafone Idea Ltd MD & CEO Ravinder Takkar said: “We are in active discussion with potential investors for fund raising, to achieve our strategic intent.”

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