Union Minister for Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that the government has decided to revive BSNL and MTNL, and that it is also giving packages to employees who sought voluntary retirement. The VRS was introduced as a part of the revival efforts of the two telecom firms.
Speaking in the house, Prasad said, “We strongly believe that the existence of a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) like BSNL is important both for public service and also for fairness in the entire system of communication. BSNL had suffered bad times. In 2014-15, 2015-16 it became a bit positive."
“Our government has taken a conscious decision to revive both BSNL and MTNL because they do public service in floods, earthquakes, etc. BSNL’s revenue cost for the employee is 74 per cent, MTNL is 87 per cent, Airtel is three per cent, Vodafone six per cent and Jio four per cent,” Prasad added.
Lastly, Prasad said, “Therefore, we had to go for a fresh approach to this. Nearly 1 lakh employees have sought the voluntary retirement scheme and we are giving them packages. Regarding 4G, the Cabinet decision stands committed to providing them 4G. It will be given to them shortly.”
Earlier in February, the government had assured Rajya Sabha that public sector telecom companies BSNL and MTNL will not be shut down and efforts are being made to revive them soon. Replying to supplementary queries during Question Hour, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said as part of a revival plan for BSNL and MTNL, there will be optimal utilisation of land and other assets of these companies.
"We consider BSNL and MTNL as strategic assets, as they have come to the aid of the people during natural calamities. There were problems with these companies, but we will revive them soon. Don't be under this impression that BSNL and MTNL will be shut down. We have infused a revival package in them and I assure you that these companies will not shut down," he told the house.
In his written reply, Prasad said that pursuant to policy formulated by the government to permit sharing of infrastructure by Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) are also monetising their tower assets by permitting sharing of their towers with other TSPs.
(With agencies input)