Millennium Post

Telecom AGR crisis: RBI closely monitoring developments

New Delhi: With massive Rs 1.47 lakh crore of AGR dues pushing telecom firms to the brink, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das on Monday said the central bank is "very closely monitoring" the fallout of the crisis on lenders by way of a default, if any, by telecom players.

In an interview with PTI, Das said so far no red flags have been raised but the central bank continues to monitor the situation closely.

The Supreme Court last week rejected a plea by mobile carriers such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Ltd for extension in the payment schedule and asked them to deposit an estimated Rs 1.47 lakh crore in past dues for spectrum and licences by March 17.

Some telecom firms are already struggling with mounting losses and debt and the additional liability has raised concerns of them defaulting on existing loans.

Das said he cannot comment on the Supreme Court ruling.

"With regard to the impact on the banking sector, we are very closely monitoring it. It all depends on how the companies concerned are able to make the payments and when they are able to make the payments. We are monitoring it," he said. Das said no red flags on default by any telecom company has so far been raised with the central bank. "We are monitoring the situation. We are monitoring it very closely."

The telecom sector, he said, has been one of the pillars of the economic growth of India in the last two decades.

It created demand as well as jobs just like other pillars of massive infrastructure push given by the construction of the Golden Quadrilateral highway project and information technology or IT sector.

"In the telecom sector, there was a huge expansion. India was able to capitalize on that," he said.

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