Don’t want to call it quits: Vodafone to government

NEW DELHI: British telecom major Vodafone on Friday assured the government that it wants to stay invested in India and does not want to call it quits as it faces massive dues over the Supreme Court’s AGR (adjusted gross revenue) judgement.
Vodafone global CEO Nick Read met finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who assured the business leader that they are against creating monopolies in the sector and thus are working out relief measures to bail out the financially-strained companies, sources said.
Read, who is a partner in Vodafone Idea along with Kumar Mangalam Birla, conceded that the telecom company should’ve tackled the AGR issue better in order to avoid the present crisis. He said the company should have cared about the implications of the AGR judgement long time back as the present massive dues are a result of inaction on that matter.
Vodafone Idea has been asked to pay over Rs 53,000 crore by the telecom department, but has managed to pay only Rs 3,500 crore so far. The company has said that it does not have the financial muscle to pay the dues, and thus needs a government bailout.
Read sought the government’s support on the present crisis, something that has also been demanded by Birla, who is the chairman of Vodafone Idea. He said that the company is ready to pay more in order to show its willingness to comply with the top court’s order. However, he emphasised that the company needs time and a staggered payment schedule — apart from other relaxations — to pay the full dues.
The government said it wants the company to stay invested, and even introduce new technologies to support the growth of Digital India programme.

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