SC order on AGR dues: Das says will discuss internally if issues arise

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das on Saturday (February 15) said the central bank will have internal discussions in case there are any issues arising out of the Supreme Court order regarding Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) dues to be paid by telecom companies.

On Friday, the Supreme Court threatened contempt proceedings against top executives of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom firms for failing to comply with its directive to pay an estimated ₹1.47 lakh crore in past dues.

Das did not offer any specific comments about the order, which might have ramifications on banks in terms of their exposure to the financially-stressed telecom companies. When asked about the order, Das said it would be internally deliberated upon, if at all there are issues arising out of it.

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“Its a Supreme Court order and I would not like to comment on an order issued by the apex court and its consequences this way or that way. This is an order of the apex court. Whatever implication etc, it is internal matter of the RBI to examine. It will be internally deliberated, if at all there’s an issue which arises out of that (order),” he said.

Addressing the media after the RBI’s board meeting, Das also said credit growth is expected to pick up in the coming months.

On Friday, State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Rajnish Kumar had said it was incumbent on telecom companies to find money and that it would be safe to presume that they would have made some arrangements for it by now.

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There are apprehensions that the AGR order will lead to uncertainty for the telecom sector which is already reeling under heavy financial stress. Soon after the order on Friday, Bharti Airtel offered the Department of Telecom to pay ₹10,000 crore by February 20 and the rest of its dues before the next date of hearing in the Supreme Court.

Airtel owes nearly ₹35,586 crore, including licence fee and spectrum usage charge, to the government.

Vodafone Idea is staring at dues worth ₹53,000 crore that includes up to ₹24,729 crore of spectrum dues and another ₹28,309 crore in licence fee. The company had earlier warned of shutdown if no relief was given on the AGR matter.

(With inputs from agencies)

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