New Delhi, April 1: The department of telecom (DoT) today ordered a special audit of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices to examine whether they were declaring lower revenues and paying less licence fees to the government.
Anil Ambanis Reliance Communications, the No. 1 player in the CDMA segment, is already being subjected to such an audit.
Telecom rules specify differential licence fees: in domestic long-distance, the governments share is 6 per cent of revenues, while it is 10 per cent in mobile services.
Firms are allegedly taking advantage of this by showing greater revenue under heads that attract a lower licence fee.
The DoT has formed a six-member committee to frame the final terms of reference.
According to the draft terms of reference, auditors will inquire whether revenues were shown in the books of telecom subsidiaries, which do not pay fees.
Outside auditors will be appointed for special audits of various operators for 2006-07 and 2007-08 to ensure that the revenues were being declared correctly for the purpose of licence fee, the DoT officials said.
Such special audits would be undertaken once every three to five years to prevent any loss to the exchequer.
The DoT is also studying a proposal by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) to make integrated players submit a break-up of income from stand-alone subsidiaries.
Operators are now not required to reconcile consolidated revenues with the standalone income in a particular segment.
Earlier, telecom regulator Trai had asked the DoT to examine the revenues of Airtel in the long-distance segment.
The regulator had noted that Bharti was shifting its revenue from mobile services to long-distance.
A Bharti Airtel spokesperson had earlier said, As a responsible entity following the highest standards of corporate governance, Bharti Airtel has always strictly adhered to the regulatory requirements and processes.
In our communication to the regulator, we have already clarified the queries raised by them, which are in complete compliance and within regulatory framework, the spokesperson had said.