Bharti Airtel Says Its Name Has Been Removed From DGFT Blacklist

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade had put Bharti Airtel under ‘denied entry list’ for non-fulfilment of export obligations.

Pedestrians walk past an advertisement for Bharti Airtel Ltd. in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  
Pedestrians walk past an advertisement for Bharti Airtel Ltd. in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

Bharti Airtel Ltd. has been removed from the DGFT denied entry list for non-fulfilment of export obligation under an export promotion scheme, the telecom firm said Friday.

The development is expected to come as a relief to the telecom operator saddled with billions of dollars in past statutory dues.

"We are actively engaged with the authorities to complete the formalities and provide additional documents for closure of the remaining cases," the firm said in a statement, announcing its exit from Directorate General of Foreign Trade’s so-called blacklist after it highlighted the relevant details and documents submitted to the DGFT.

Airtel had earlier this week said it was working to get its name removed from the list, and had asserted that DGFT's latest action does not limit its ability to undertake future imports or exports.

The DGFT, which is under the commerce ministry, had put the company under the denied entry list for non-fulfilment of export obligation in respect of certain Export Promotion Capital Goods authorisation issued to it.

Under the EPCG, an export promotion scheme, import of capital goods is allowed at zero percent customs duty. Capital goods imported at zero percent duty must fulfil EPCG export obligation equivalent to six times of duty saved, according to the scheme.

The telecom industry is in the midst of a major crisis—15 telcos owe the government Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges.

These liabilities arose after the Supreme Court in October last year held that non-core revenues have to be considered for calculating statutory dues from adjusted gross revenue.

In the case of Bharti Airtel, the liabilities added up to nearly Rs 35,586 crore, of which Rs 21,682 crore is licence fee and another Rs 13,904.01 crore is the spectrum usage charge dues (not including the dues of Telenor and Tata Teleservices).

Vodafone Idea, which is staring at unpaid statutory dues of Rs 53,038 crore, has already warned of shutdown if no relief is given.

Most of the remaining liability is with state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. and some of the shut or bankrupt telecom companies.

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Tata Teleservices have jointly filed a modification application in the Supreme Court seeking more time to pay the statutory dues.