BSNL’s revival plans to be delayed further

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on September 19, 2019 Published on September 19, 2019

Ailing PSU pays August salary 18 days late

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s (BSNL) revival plans may be delayed further, with the Cabinet unlikely to consider the debt-laden company’s turnaround proposals this week.

Meanwhile, the PSU has disbursed the salary for August on Wednesday, after a delay of 18 days.

“The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is yet to submit the final proposal before the Cabinet, incorporating the changes sought by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Telecom Ministry. Now, it would have to be moved to another date, unless DoT submits the proposal in the next two days, which seems highly unlikely,” a source, privy to the development, told BusinessLine.

“On its part, DoT is waiting for the Finance Ministry’s response on the draft cabinet memo. The Ministry’s response on BSNL revival proposal is not positive,” another source said.

According to the sources, once Finance Ministry gives its response, DoT will add its views and submit the proposal to the Cabinet.

A revival plan approved earlier recommended a ₹14,155-crore capital infusion into BSNL by the government to acquire 4G spectrum and a VRS for employees aged over 50, following which the age of retirement would be reduced to 58. Monetisation of land and funds for optical fibre cable and telecom towers roll out were also approved.

Read | Centre plans financial package to BSNL: Meghwal

The Cabinet, in all probability, was to consider the revival plan in the third week of this month (September 16-20).

However, the PMO had rejected a proposals to merge BSNL and MTNL and a move to float a special purpose vehicle for land monetisation.

BSNL, which normally credits salary on the last working day of the month, footed the bill only on Wednesday (September 18). The fund was raised from internal accruals and the outstanding from certain customers, another source said. The company employs a total of 1,63,902 personnel, of which 46,597 are executives and remaining 1,17,305 non-executives.

The network of BSNL continues to run, with some of the employees (especially executives) maintaining it by spending from their pockets. “Some of the executives maintaining transmission network spent more than ₹1-2 lakh,” another source said.

Earlier, BSNL employees union Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association (SNEA) had written to BSNL Chairman and MD PK Purwar stating that the revival plans lack vision. The revival plan only mentions about 4G spectrum allotment, permission for land monetisation and guarantees for BSNL’s bonds (to be issued to raise fundsfor its VRS), it alleged.

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Published on September 19, 2019
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