According to media reports, the government has been exploring encashing bank guarantees given by operators when they received telecom licences.
State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Rajnish Kumar on Monday said the government has not yet communicated anything to the country’s largest lender regarding invoking bank guarantees against telecom companies.
According to media reports, the government has been exploring encashing bank guarantees given by operators when they received telecom licences. The reports followed the Supreme Court order pulling up operators for not paying their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues.
Kumar said SBI has received no direction and is “just waiting” in response to queries on the government invoking bank guarantees of operators. “Nobody wants to kill the sector,” Kumar said in a rushed exchange with reporters on the sidelines of the launch of SBI Foundation and Microsoft’s joint initiative to create job opportunities for youth with disabilities in Mumbai.
Government officials on Sunday met to discuss relief measures for the stressed telecom industry regarding the payment of AGR dues. Around 15 telecom operators have dues aggregating to about Rs 1.47 lakh crore.
Following the SC’s order, the government has made it clear to telecom operators that they would have to pay up, however, it may defer or waive dues like licence fees and spectrum usage charges.
Around 15 telecom operators have dues aggregating about Rs 1.47 lakh crore. Of this, dues by currently operational telcos — Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices — stand at around Rs 1.02 lakh crore. So far, Bharti Airtel has paid Rs 10,000 crore, Vodafone Idea Rs 3,500 crore and Tata Teleservices Rs 2,197 crore.