Info-tech

BSNL-MTNL revival plan: DoT expects Cabinet nod by month-end

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on August 02, 2019 Published on August 02, 2019

The revival plan envisages a>capital infusion of ₹14,155-crore into BSNL for acquiring 4G spectru   -  REUTERS

Gives BSNL ₹500 cr to pay July salaries

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is expecting Cabinet’s approval for the plan to revive ailing State-owned telecom carriers — Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) — by end of this month.

Separately, the country’s telecom licensor has also provided ₹500 crore to BSNL, which will be used to foot the PSU’s July employee wages.

“Since the revised Cabinet memo was prepared incorporating the suggestions of the Group of Ministers (GoM), a separate approval from the GoM is not necessary. DoT is expecting to receive Cabinet approval by August 31,” a source close to the development told BusinessLine. The government is working on a “war-footing” to get the approvals, while the implementation of the recommendations are expected to take more time.

Merger plans

As part of the revised revival plan, which was approved by Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad last week, a merger of the two loss-making PSUs — BSNL and MTNL — is on the anvil. MTNL, a listed entity, will be converted into a subsidiary of BSNL following the merger.

The merger would be conducted after sorting out issues such as human resources. A joint committee will be put in place to oversee the entire process over the next 18 months, according to a memo approved by the Minister.

The approved plan has been circulated to other ministries for comments, while the final approval has to be given by the Cabinet. The revival plan includes a capital infusion of ₹14,155-crore into BSNL to acquire 4G spectrum, land monetisation to meet its expansion plans, setting up a special-purpose vehicle to which ₹23,000 crore of BSNL’s debt and an equivalent land parcel would be transferred, and financial support for BSNL’s rural exchanges.

A Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) for employees above 50 years and reduction of the retirement age to 58 also figure in the plan.

Salaries due

On Thursday, DoT released ₹500 crore to BSNL, which the PSU will utilise to pay its July salary. “This amount was due from DoT. Salaries for the coming months would be an issue as BSNL’s management and the government are deliberately delaying the payment,” said a union leader.

He added: “This to create panic, which they expect would lead to an increased number of employees opting for the VRS when the revival plans are announced.”

Published on August 02, 2019
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