BSNL Will Not Be Privatized, Confirms Minister In Lok Sabha

The government was in favour of reviving it.

The Minister of State (MoS) for Communications Devusinh Chauhan told the Parliament that there is no plan to disinvest or privatise BSNL.

No Privatisation Planned

He said that there is no delay or deficiency in services provided by the telco due to implementation of VRS.

The company has a sufficient number of employees to remain operational.

Chauhan was replying to a question related to immovable assets of BSNL when he said that it will not be disinvested.

The value of immovable assets, including buildings, lands, towers, telecom equipment and non-telecom equipment as of March 31, 2021, adds to Rs 89,878 crore (total netblock).

Revival Measures

As of December 31, 2021 BSNL’s market share stood at 9.90% for mobile subscribers, and 15.40% for wired broadband subscribers.

The government had approved a revival plan for the loss making telco in October 2019 including measures to reduce staff costs through VRS for those 50 years of age and above.

Other measures were included such as: 

  • 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
  • Meet capital expenditure and other requirement 
  • Debt restructuring by raising of sovereign guarantee bonds

These measures led to BSNL becoming EBITDA positive (operating profit) in 2020-21.

BSNL Officers Request Government

Last year, an officers group of BSNL had requested the government to remove BSNL from the divestment list since it can be revived.

They said that the company operates in a strategic sector and therefore the focus should be on “faster revival” by entering the commercial 4G space.

Secretary-general of the Sanchar Nigam Executives’ Association (SNEA) K Sebastin said that Niti Aayog should not think about BSNL’s disinvestment.

The government was in favour of reviving it and with the 4G launch it has the potential to grow and turn a corner.

Merger With BBNL

The government will complete the merger of BBNL with the loss-making BSNL before March 31.

With this merger, BSNL will get 5.67 lakh kilometres of optical fibre laid across 1.85 lakh village panchayats using Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

It already has an existing network of 6.8 lakh kilometre of optical fibre cable (OFC).

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