Amid reports of BSNL employees going on a day-long hunger strike on Friday, a senior company has expressed hope that the beleagured state-run telecom would be able to pay September salaries to its 1.76 lakh employees before Diwali. "We will give salaries to the employees before Diwali from our own resources on accruals. We generate Rs 1,600 crore a month revenues from services," BSNL chairman and MD P.K. Purwar told IANS.
The PSU has been facing issues in paying its employees on time for the past few months due to mounting debts. Though the per month salary bill amounts to only Rs 850 crore, a major portion of the Rs 1,600-crore revenue generated goes in for operational expenses and statutory payments.
BSNL has been trying to raise funds from bank through government guarantees, which it is yet to get. In addition, the PSU also has to clear vendors dues from the internal accruals. Condequently, salary payment dates were missed repeatedly over the past several months.
The finance ministry and the Department of Telecom are looking to infuse fresh life into bleeding BSNL and its sister firm MTNL. While there were reports that the finance ministry wanted BSNL and MTNL to be shut down, DoT Secretary Anshu Prakash had recently trashed the rumours.
Meanwhile, the crisis-ridden company asserted that a plan for revival of the state-owned company is under active consideration of the government. The plan entails giving suitable package comprising components like voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) and 4G spectrum and allowing monetisation of assets available with BSNL, the company said. "...it is clarified that there is a plan under active consideration for revival of BSNL by Government of India by giving suitable package in terms of VRS/4G spectrum and allowing monetisation of assets available with BSNL," it said in a statement.
BSNL said it has served the nation especially during difficult times of natural calamities, and provides affordable services throughout India even at remote corners. "We shall continue to do so in future," it added.
BSNL's loss is estimated to be around Rs 14,000 crore with a decline in revenue to Rs 19,308 crore during 2018-19.
The public sector firm's provisional loss was Rs 4,859 crore in 2015-16, Rs 4,793 crore in 2016-17, Rs 7,993 crore in 2017-18 and is estimated to swell to Rs 14,202 crore in 2018-19, according to information presented in Parliament. The number of employees in BSNL stood at about 1,65,179.