BSNL Loss Swell 2.5-Times To Rs 39,000 Crore; Retired Employees Demand Higher Pension
We have been flooding our stocks fervently with stories of intensified unrest going on in the public sector telecom company, Bharat Sanchar Nagar Limited (BSNL). There were constant reports of BSNL not paying its employees on time.
It has now been noted that the telecom regulator has recorded a loss of about Rs 39,089 crore in the April-December 2019 period, as informed by the Minister of State for Telecommunications.
BSNL’s Loss Increases by 2.5 Times
The public sector telecom recorded a loss of Rs 14,904 crore in the last financial year, 2018-19. However, in the current one, BSNL’s total accumulated loss have risen upto Rs 39,089 crore, the numbers recorded only upto December 31, 2019 though.
The government on October 23 last year approved a Rs 68,751-crore revival package for loss-making BSNL and MTNL, including 4G spectrum allocation and voluntary retirement scheme. This merger was approved by the Union Cabinet too, along with the fact that until the completion of all the processes, MTNL shall operate as a subsidiary of BSNL.
The revival package spoken of about here, includes:
- raising Rs15,000 crore sovereign bonds to meet the immediate capital requirement of both the companies,
- allocation of 4G spectrum worth Rs 20,140 crore,
- VRS of Rs 29,937 crore, making up 50% employees and
- GST worth Rs 3,674 crore, which would be levied on allocation of radiowaves.
DoT and BSNL Employees Plan a Parliament March on March 12
The former telecom minister Manoj Sinha had assured the All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB) on December 3, 2018, that an action will be initiated to revise the pension of BSNL absorbed retirees de-linking wage revision.
However, the government now has disowned the assurance given by the former minister and has taken a different stand on the issue of pension revision.
The current Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said pension revision is possible only after wage revision in BSNL and also new pay scales are required for the pension revision.
So now, the retired employees of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and BSNL are planning to organise a march to Parliament on March 12, 2020. Their demands include the pension revision of BSNL absorbed retirees from January 1, 2017, with 15% fitment based on new pay scales, delinking wage revision.
BSNL Writes to Govt for Release of VRS Funds
We had previously informed you very elaborately of BSNL’s Voluntary Retirement Scheme, in order to to save about ?7,000 crore annually. As per data provided by the company, about 78,560 employees have opted for early retirement, which is over 50% of its total staff count.
The government believes that by reducing the huge workforce of BSNL, which eats up 77% of its revenues, the company can become competitive and profitable over a period of time. BSNL registered a net loss of Rs 13,804 crore on revenue of Rs 18,865 crore in FY19.
So now, BSNL has written to the government regarding the release of Rs 14,000 crore of the Rs 29,937 crore approved by the Union Cabinet for funding its VRS. In Oct 2019, the government had approved a Rs 70,000-crore revival package for BSNL and MTNL, of which direct cash outgo was only for the VRS component.
The company has written a letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) regarding its requirement for the VRS fund.
It has estimated that its outgo towards VRS payment will be Rs 7,000 crore in the current financial year, while another Rs 7,000 crore will be in the beginning of next fiscal year. From what we know, a seven-member group of ministers (GoM) has been formulated to fast-track the implementation of the revival plan for BSNL and MTNL.