Govt has no plans for divestment of BSNL

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“There is no plan under consideration for disinvestment of BSNL,” he told the Lok Sabha in a written reply….reports Asian Lite News

The Centre has no plans for disinvestment of state-owned telecom player BSNL, Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan informed the Parliament on Wednesday.

“There is no plan under consideration for disinvestment of BSNL,” he told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

In 2019, the Centre had approved a revival plan for BSNL which included measures to reduce the staff cost through a ‘Voluntary Retirement Scheme’ (VRS) for employees of age 50 years and above.

The plan also included administrative allotment of spectrum for providing 4G services with funding through budgetary allocation, monetisation of non-core and core assets to generate resources to retire debt and meeting capex and other requirements along with debt restructuring by raising of Sovereign Guarantee Bonds.

Chauhan, in his response to another question, said: “As a result of these measures, BSNL has become EBITDA positive (operating profit) in 2020-21.”

To a question regarding the impact of the VRS scheme on services provided by BSNL, he said: “There is no delay or deficiency in services provided by BSNL due to implementation of VRS.

“Current strength of employees is sufficient for operation of BSNL.”

The telecom player had a domestic market share of 9.90 per cent for mobile subscribers and 15.40 per cent for wired broadband subscribers as on December 31, 2021.

Earlier, BSNL Employees Union had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “drop proposal to merge MTNL with BSNL”.

The employees union of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) also suggested the government to take over Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited’s (MTNL) Rs 26,000 crore debt and provide financial assistance to BSNL.

“We wish to express our serious concern regarding the merger of BSNL and MTNL. The BSNL employees are genuinely concerned that, the merger of MTNL with BSNL will certainly ruin the financial condition of the latter. Due to this reason, right from the beginning, the employees of BSNL have been firmly opposing the merger of BSNL and MTNL,” the union said in a letter to the Prime Minister.

The union quoted a senior BSNL official as saying that “MTNL is in the ICU and any day it can be declared dead” and “a catastrophe is waiting to happen in MTNL”.

“We fervently appeal to you to kindly drop the proposal to merge MTNL with BSNL. Alternatively, the government should take over MTNL’s debt of Rs 26,000 crore. In addition to this, the government should also provide sufficient financial assistance to BSNL, for the rehabilitation of the networks of MTNL. This demand is being raised because, both the mobile as well as landline networks of MTNL are in a dilapidated condition. Hence, we earnestly urge upon you to kindly look into this issue and to kindly take appropriate action to safeguard the interests of BSNL,” the union said.

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