The Indian telecom industry, which is locked in an intense tariff war, owes a staggering Rs 6.10 lakh crore to various financial institutions and banks, Parliament was informed today. Telecom minister Manoj Sinha told the Rajya Sabha that telecom players and tower companies have debt liabilities to the tune of Rs 5.87 lakh crore and Rs 22,812 crore respectively.”As per information from State Bank of India, telecom industry owes about Rs 6.10475 lakh crore to various financial institutions and banks,” Sinha said in a written reply.
In comparison, the revenue of the sector has declined consistently over the last few quarters during FY2017. The revenue reduced to Rs 35,926.6 crore in the fourth quarter of 2016-17, from Rs 60,862.2 crore in the second quarter, and Rs 53,998.4 crore in the third quarter. The country’s largest operator Bharti Airtel had liabilities worth Rs 1.6 lakh crore as of December 31, 2016. This includes its operations in Africa and other Asian countries as well. Newcomer Reliance Jio, which stormed into the Indian market with its rock-bottom data tariffs and free voice call offering, had liabilities of Rs 87,425 crore as on February 28, 2017.
Vodafone owes Rs 70,136 crore, while Reliance Communications and Idea Cellular have liabilities to the tune of Rs 73,224 crore and Rs 68,211 crore, respectively, according to the data presented by the minister. State-run telecom operators BSNL and MTNL owe Rs 43,450 crore to various financial institutions and banks as of March 31, 2016. Indus Towers, which is a consortium of leading telecom operators, had liabilities worth Rs 4,232 crore, the data showed.