HAL’s Cash in Hand Drops to 15-Year Low, Defence Ministry Owes it Rs 14,000 crore
The company was reportedly forced to borrow Rs 962 crore in December 2018 to pay employees’ salaries.
The cash balance of the govt-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) has gone down to as low as Rs 140 crore as of March 31, 2019 — the lowest since 2004.
Chethan Kumar reporting for Times of India (TOI) wrote that HAL’s financial reports show that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) owed HAL about Rs 14,000 crore for financial year ending March 31, 2019.
Per the report, HAL’s cash-in-hand slipped by a whopping 98% from Rs 6,524 crore as of March 31, 2018 while its receivables had nearly doubled from Rs 7,741 crore. The MoD owes HAL for products and services that the latter has already delivered. The Indian Air Force owes most of the dues.
TOI’s queries to MoD and IAF went unanswered. Data from 2003-04 to 2018-19 reportedly show that HAL’s cash balance has never been this low. The lowest in this period was Rs 4,841 crore in 2003-04.
HAL was reportedly forced to borrow Rs 962 crore in December 2018, for the first time in years to pay employees’ salaries, after its cash-in-hand was in the negative, reports say.
Per the report, as of December 31 last year, the armed forces owe HAL Rs 15,700 crore. HAL Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan had reportedly said that the owed amount could touch Rs 20,000 crore by March 31. The MoD cleared some bills. Even after that, the pending dues of the defence ministry stand at Rs 13,938 crore as on March 31, 2019.
Despite its precarious cash balance, HAL has reportedly paid interim dividend of Rs 662 crore to the Centre in 2018-19. This is in addition to Rs 8,996 crore HAL paid as dividend between 2003-04 and 2017-18, more than 50% of which was paid in the last five years.
Per the report, in a first time move, HAL paid Rs 6,393 crore for two buy-backs in the last four years— in 2015-16 it paid Rs 5,265 and in 2017-18, it paid Rs 1,128 crore.
However, HAL’s order book position has reportedly stayed the same. Per the latest March 31, 2019 numbers, it stood at Rs 58,000 crore.
Out of the total amount, Rs 50,000 crore is for the last 12 Su-30MKIs, which HAL will most likely deliver by March 2020. The other orders are Dhruv and Cheetal copters, the report says.