New Delhi: The chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the state-owned Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) that finds itself in the eye of the Rafale storm, is likely to meet Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday, reported ANI. In the meeting, HAL Chairman R Madhavan is likely to discuss HAL’s financial issues. (Also read: Ravi Shankar Prasad Asks if Rahul Lobbying For Eurofighter Jets Instead)

“The HAL Chairman is likely to meet the Defence Minister along with other Director (Finance) Ananth Krishnan on Wednesday and brief her about the financial issues his organisation is facing,” a Defence Ministry official was quoted as saying by the agency.

Financial issues plaguing HAL, which borrowed about Rs 962 crore for paying staff salaries, were also discussed in Tuesday’s board meeting in Bengaluru. The board meeting was held at a time Congress President Rahul Gandhi was accusing Sitharaman of “lying” in Parliament about orders of Rs 1 lakh crore to the PSU. Media reports had then gone on to show how most of these projects were in the initial stages and no firm orders had been placed.

As the slugfest picked up, the PSU had clarified that it had taken an overdraft of Rs 962 crore but with orders for 83 light combat aircraft, 15 light combat helicopters and other products, its finances were expected to improve. As per a report in a leading daily, HAL spends about between Rs 1,300 crore and Rs 1,400 crore of which Rs 358 crore goes for
salaries and the rest for procurement.

The clarification came in the wake of media reports quoting Madhavan suggested that the firm was forced to borrow to pay its staff their salaries. Last week, Madhavan was quoted by a leading daily as saying, “Our cash in hand is in the negative, we’ve had to borrow close to Rs 1,000 crore as an overdraft (OD). By March 31, we’ll have minus of Rs 6,000 crore, which becomes unsustainable. We can borrow for day-to-day work, but not for project purchases.”