BSNL, MTNL Staff Meet Telecom Minister, Pledge Support To Government’s Relief Plan
Customers use public phone booths. (Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg News)

BSNL, MTNL Staff Meet Telecom Minister, Pledge Support To Government’s Relief Plan

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Representatives of some employee unions and officer associations of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. met Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and offered their full support to the relief package, voluntary retirement scheme and asset monetisation plans announced by the government recently, sources said.

It may be recalled that the government last month had approved a plum Rs 69,000 crore revival package for BSNL and MTNL that includes merging the two loss-making firms, monetising their assets and giving VRS to employees so that the combined entity turns profitable in two years.

The minister had on Nov. 1 directed BSNL and MTNL to implement VRS guidelines quickly, and initiate proactive measures to monetise assets in a time-bound manner, while making it clear that they must become more aggressive in telecom market.

Sources privy to the development said that the minister also met the employee unions and officer associations on Monday and that they assured of their support to implementation of the relief package.

The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, on Oct. 23, approved a plan to combine Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. - which provides services in Mumbai and New Delhi - with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. that services the rest of the nation.

The rescue package approved includes infusion of Rs 20,140 crore capital for purchase of 4G spectrum, Rs 3,674 crore for GST to be paid on spectrum allocation, companies raising Rs 15,000 crore in debt on the sovereign guarantee and government funding Rs 17,160 crore voluntary retirement scheme and another Rs 12,768 crore towards retirement liability.

The two firms will monetise assets worth Rs 37,500 crore in the next three years.

MTNL has reported losses in nine of the past 10 years and BSNL too has been ringing in loss since 2010. The total debt on both the companies stood at Rs 40,000 crore, of which half of the liability is on MTNL alone.

Also read: Cabinet Gives In-Principle Approval To Merge BSNL, MTNL

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