Nirmala Sitharaman on telecom stress: Want no company to shut operations

Updated: Nov 16, 2019, 12:37 IST | ANI | New Delhi

Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) dealing with financial problems faced by telecom firms has not taken any final decision in the matter

Nirmala Sitharaman
Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that the central government does not want any telecom firm to shut down its operations due to financial issues and wanted every company to flourish. "We want no company to shut its operations. We want everyone to flourish," she told reporters here when asked about the stress in the telecommunications sector. The queries were regarding the major telecom firms Vodafone Idea and Airtel which posted a combined quarterly loss of about Rs 75,000 crore as they were hit by statutory dues after a recent Supreme Court ruling.

The minister said that the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) dealing with financial problems faced by telecom firms has not taken any final decision in the matter. Asked if the government was considering the dues coming from telecom firms after the Supreme Court ruling in the case as part of revenue, she said, "I am not hurrying to take any decision on this." After the Supreme Court ordered telecom companies to pay as much as Rs 1.42 lakh crore in past statutory dues, the Centre had set up the CoS under the cabinet secretary to suggest measures to mitigate financial stress in the sector last month.

Meanwhile, Sitharaman said that the Centre has no plans to cut spending on welfare schemes and will encourage all the departments of the government to spend entire funds provided in the Budget. The Finance Minister said that the central government is considering proposals to increase the insurance limit from the current Rs 1 lakh on deposits in banks. She said the finance ministry would move amendments in this regard during the upcoming winter session of Parliament if the Cabinet approves the proposals.

"Finance Ministry is considering proposals to increase the insurance limit from the current Rs 1 lakh on deposits in banks. If cabinet approves, we would like to move amendments in the upcoming winter session," she said. An insurance limit is the maximum amount of money an insurer will pay toward a covered claim.

Sitharaman said that she held discussions with RBI and other agencies on if any of the confiscated properties of the promoters of the crisis-hit Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank could be brought under RBI and pay back to the customers of the bank. In September, the RBI restricted the activities of the PMC Bank for six months and asked it not to grant or renew any loans and advances, make any investment or incur any liability, including borrowing of funds and acceptance of fresh deposits after an alleged fraud of Rs 4,355 crore came to light.

The central bank had initially capped the deposit withdrawal at Rs 10,000 but later raised it to Rs 50,000. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has seized and identified movable and immovable assets worth more than Rs 3,830 crore owned by HDIL in connection with the case. The PMC Bank is a multi-state scheduled urban cooperative bank with operations in Maharashtra, New Delhi, Karnataka, Goa, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. With a network of 137 branches, it ranks among the top 10 cooperative banks in the country.

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