Union Minister Sanjay Dhotre has stated in the Lok Sabha that the government has no plans as of now to close the public sector telcos such as BSNL and MTNL. This is a sigh of relief for users of these services since they have been part of the loss-makers and some were predicting an exit for Bharti Sanchar Nigam Limited. The minister shared that the losses incurred by BSNL had increased from Rs 14,904 crore to Rs 15,500 crore, with MTNL NSE having increased its loss by 2.7%, from Rs 3,398 to Rs 3,811 crore. This data is in relation to the periods 2018-19 and 2019-2020.
As per the written reply by the minister, he said that the government has no plans to close down BSNL and MTNL. To help with its issues, the government had announced a revival package of around Rs 69,000 crore back in October 2019.
What Does the Revival Package Do?
The revival plan that is meant to aid the loss-making telcos includes a reduction in costs related to employees using a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for the employees of age 50 years and above, with other steps including administrative allotment of various spectrum for 4G services with funding, via budgetary allocation as well as debt restructuring by raising of sovereign guarantee bonds.
This package also includes the monetisation of certain assets so as to generate resources for retiring debt, expenditure along with other requirements, and aid in the approval for the merger of BSNL and MTNL.
Talking about the results of this during a separate question, Dhotre said that around 78,569 employees ad 14,387 employees of MTNL had opted for VRS. which all in all helped cut salary expenditure by 50% and 75% for BSNL and MTNL, respectively. Furthermore, the government has allotted Rs 16.206 crore to meet the final funds requirement for the ex-gratia on VRS. In addition, the government has incurred an expenditure of around Rs 1,952 crore for incremental pension till December 21, 2020.
Under the said revival package, the government had approved asset monetisation plans for both BSNL and MTNL in 2020. Additionally, BSNL had informed the government that it would be able to generate approximately Rs 241 crore from monetisation of assets/land since the revival package was announced.