First time, HAL takes Rs 962-crore overdraft

India’s public sector undertaking, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), which is in the middle of storm created over Rafale deal controversy, is now facing severe financial problems. It may be recalled that the opposition is accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi benefitted his `friend’ Anil Ambani by getting him some space in Rafale deal, at the cost of HAL.

For the first time in its history, the HAL, that produces several sensitive defence materials, was forced to avail Rs 962 crore for payment of salaries to its employees. “With anticipated collection up to March, the cash position is expected to improve. Orders for LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) Mark 1A 83 and LCH (Light Combat Helicopter) 15 are in advanced stages,” said the Bengaluru-based defence behemoth in a tweet from its official Twitter account.

The company also said its belated tweet on last night was in response to “the various media reports on HAL”. The defence aerospace major, however, did not mention from whom or which bank the overdraft was taken and for what purpose.

The company’s clarification on its cash crunch is the wake of a media report that it had borrowed nearly Rs 1,000 crore “to pay salaries to its 29,000 employees”. Earlier in the day, Congress President Rahul Gandhi dared Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to place documents in Parliament to prove that the Government had placed orders worth Rupees one lakh Crore with the PSU.

HAL Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) R Madhavan had told the media in Bengaluru that while HAL was always a cash rich company, its cash in hand had gone into negative. The CMD also revealed that the Indian Air Force, Indian Army and Indian Coast Guard owed the company ₹15,700 Crore. The company’s monthly spend on paying salary to its 29 thousand employees is ₹358 Crore.  The Indian Air Force, HAL’s biggest buyer, has not paid the company since September, 2017 and already owes HAL ₹14,500 Crore, the CMD added.

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