Crucial meeting on BSNL revival ends inconclusively

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on September 27, 2019 Published on September 27, 2019

PK Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister   -  V_Sudershan

The crucial meeting convened on Thursday by PK Mishra, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, to decide on the fate of ailing Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), ended inconclusively.

“The meeting, which ran late into the evening, could not come to a conclusive decision, mainly on whether it’s possible to revive BSNL. This was a crucial meeting, but now the fate of the firm is still unclear,” a source close to the development told BusinessLine.

The Group of Secretaries was asked to study the matter in the next 4-5 days and reach a consensus. In case they agree that the Public Sector Unit (PSU) can be revived, then further decisions regarding the modes of funding and setting up Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) among others will be finalised, a source said.

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Apart from Mishra, BSNL Chairman and Managing Director PK Purwar, top officials from BSNL and MTNL, officials from PMO, Telecom and Finance Ministries, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Government think-tank NITI Aayog attended the meeting.

Certain recommendations and proposals, which were approved by DoT and GoM, were later rejected by the PMO.

The revival plan had proposed a ₹14,155-crore capital infusion into BSNL by the Government to acquire 4G spectrum and a Voluntary Retirement Scheme (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.

This plan was earlier approved by DoT, Telecom Ministry and PMO.

The company’s unions had earlier blamed stiff competition and entry of new operator with “competitive prices” for the stress in the sector.

Published on September 27, 2019
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