The government has approved fund raising worth Rs 60,950 crore by companies through external commercial borrowing (ECB) or foreign currency convertible bonds (FCCB) for infrastructure projects in the last two financial years.
Companies in the telecom sector raised the most funds at about Rs 37,700 crore, which constitutes for 61 per cent of the total money approved, followed by the power sector at Rs 17,100 crore in the last two financial years, according to government data.
The data, based on details from the Reserve Bank of India, was given by minister of state for finance, Namo Narain Meena, on Tuesday in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. The minister said on the basis of the extant ECB guidelines, the primary responsibility is of the borrower to ensure these are raised and utilised in conformity with the guidelines and other related regulations and directions of RBI.
Among the top telecom companies, Vodafone Essar and its subsidiaries raised the highest, Rs 6,795 crore. Reliance Communications raised Rs 5,985 crore and Infotel Broadband (bought over by Reliance Industries), Rs 4,500 crore. The three had taken foreign loans primarily to pay out their rupee expenditure (for Vodafone) and refinancing short-term loans taken for auction of 3G (for RCom) and broadband wireless access spectrum (for Infotel).
In the power sector, the top companies include Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) at Rs 4,050 crore, Sasan Power Ltd at Rs 2,187 crore and NTPC Ltd at Rs 1,350 crore.
The minister, in the written reply, said the contravention of the ECB guidelines could invite penal action under the foreign exchange management act, 1999.