AGR Dues Issue: Nobody Wants To Kill The Telecom Sector, SBI’s Rajnish Kumar Says
State Bank of India is yet to hear from the government on the AGR dues issue, Chairman Rajnish Kumar said Monday, adding that "nobody wants to kill the sector".
India’s telecom operators have overshot a Supreme Court-set deadline to pay Rs 1.47 lakh in annual gross revenue dues to Department of Telecommunications, attracting the apex court’s ire. While Bharti Airtel Ltd. has paid Rs 10,000 crore so far, payments by Vodafone Idea Ltd. have, at best, been a trickle.
"Nobody wants to kill the sector, let me be very clear," Kumar said, when asked about the problems being faced by the telecom industry.
He had earlier in February said that SBI has a loan outstanding of Rs 29,000 crore to the telecom sector and another Rs 14,000 crore in bank guarantees, which can get invoked in case of a non-payment of dues by the operators.
There has been a flurry of meetings between senior officials of telecom firms and the government over the past week, after the Supreme Court on Feb. 14 threatened them of contempt proceedings if they fail to pay AGR dues before Mar. 17, 2020—the next date of hearing in the matter in the apex court.
The payment of the dues is being seen as an existential threat for some players, especially Vodafone Idea, which has to pay RS 53,000 crore.