The government of India has said that it has no plans to privatise state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL). The development was shared by Sanjay Dhotre, minister of state for communications, electronics and information technology in a reply to a question raised by Sridhar Kotagiri in Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Kotagiri asked the government whether it “proposes to lay down any plan to privatise BSNL and MTNL.” Dhotre said that the “government has no plan to privatise BSNL and MTNL.” It has to be noted that the Indian government in the recent weeks announced that it is working on completing the process of selling stakes in over 20 public sector companies.
BSNL Incurred Losses in the Past Three Years
Further, Dhotre in a separate statement said that the BSNL had incurred losses consistently in the last three years. Dhotre in his response to a query in Lok Sabha highlighted that BSNL incurred Rs 7993 crores loss during the 2017-2018 financial year. The state-run operator is said to have registered Rs 14,904 crores in the 2019 financial year and Rs 15,500 crores loss in the 2020 financial year.
Dhotre also highlighted the government’s revival plan for BSNL announced in October, 2019. The Indian government’s revival plan included the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) for the employees aged 50 and above along with allotment of 4G spectrum, raising of sovereign guarantee bonds and monetisation of assets. Dhotre said that the “turnaround of BSNL will ensure the welfare and future prospects of its employees.”
While the government has implemented the VRS scheme, the launch of BSNL 4G services has hit multiple hurdles in the past year. The BSNL employees have been vocal about the delay in the launch of BSNL 4G services. In mid September, it emerged that the BSNL unions will observe Black Day on October 1, 2020 over the denial of 4G technology to BSNL.
BSNL Has No Plans for 5G Services
Meanwhile, Dhotre in his response to Kotagiri, highlighted that the operator has “informed that it has not yet planned for introducing 5G services in its network.”
While the government initially planned on holding 5G spectrum auction during the current fiscal year, it has now been said that the 5G auction will be pushed to 2021.