New Delhi– Bharti Airtel on Wednesday expressed hope that the government will opt for a “balanced approach” on the AGR issue to protect the long-term interests of the struggling telecom industry.

The senior management of Airtel, in an investor call on Wednesday, said the company is hopeful that the government will fairly resolve the AGR (Adjusted Gross Revenue) issue for the viability of the industry.

“It is indeed in the best interest of all parties to formulate a constructive mechanism to ensure large levies, including this one at hand, can be resolved in a fair manner,” Airtel’s Chief Financial Officer Badal Bagri said in the investor call.

“We also evaluating the judgement in detail and its implications,” he said adding since the matter was under litigation for a long period, there is a scope for fair amount of consideration in the aspects of penalty and interests.

Bagri said it is difficult say who is going to take a final call on this but it is DoT (Department of Telecommunications) which will compute the amount.

This comes a day after a Panel of Secretaries was formed to suggest ways to mitigate the financial stress in the telecom sector. Airtel said the Supreme Court’s decision comes at a time when the sector is facing severe financial problems.

The company had on Tuesday released its operating highlights for the three months ended September 2019 but deferred the earnings due to the SC’s AGR order.

“We are evaluating the judgement in detail and its overall implication and accordingly request that we won’t be able to comment on it much,” Bagri said.

Marketshare is a strong parameter of performance. But the underlying drivers are more important which is reducing the churn and network upgradation where spectrum refarming and investment, and shutting down 3G networks have taken place.

Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal and his brother Rajan Mittal had on Monday met Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in this regard. Bharti Airtel faces a liability of around Rs 42,000 crore after including licence fees and spectrum usage charges, while Vodafone-Idea may have to pay about Rs 40,000 crore. But the official latest figures on which demand will be raised are awaited.

A Committee of Secretaries has been set up to work out a financial bailout package that may include lowering of spectrum charges and to set a floor price for voice and data.

The panel, headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, has been asked to examine “all aspects” of “financial stress” faced by service providers suggest measures to mitigate them. (IANS)

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