Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), fourth largest telecom operator in India, failed to pay salaries to its employees for the month of February. The Chairman and Managing Director clarified that salary dues of all employees for February will be cleared on March 15. BSNL will use part of its internal accruals worth Rs 850 crore to clear salary dues.
The 1.76 lakh employees-strong company had failed to pay salaries for the month of February owing to a financial crisis. The Business Standard reports that the Department of Telecommunications is considering a Rs 13,000 crore bailout plan for the state-owned PSU.
First Instance Of Salary Default
BSNL has been in the midst of a financial crisis for over five years now. However, it is the first instance of the company defaulting on the payment of salary.
To get the situation under control, BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava said the Rs 850 crore worth of internal accrual would be utilised to disburse the salaries. “BSNL will pay the salary of all employees by tomorrow. We are thankful to telecom minister Manoj Sinha for his timely intervention to ensure that salaries of employees are paid at the earliest,” Shrivastava said.
Shrivastava also said that revenue receipt of BSNL is higher in March and they are expecting a total accrual of Rs 2,700 crore of which Rs 850 crore will be used. He also added that apart from Reliance Jio, BSNL is the only player to be adding new subscribers leading to higher revenue accruals.
Additionally, BSNL spokesperson Sanjay Kumar Sinha said that the salaries of employees in Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala and BSNL Corporate office (excluding senior officers and board members) have been released.
Along with BSNL, the Mahanagar Telephone Nagar Limited (MTNL) also failed to pay the salaries of employees in February. A government official of the Department of Telecommunication told PTI that government has released Rs 171 crore for the 22,000 employees of the company.
Reportedly, both BSNL and MTNL have approached the government for relief. They sought permission to monetise the land assets and the support for VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme) for employees.
The Telecom department is considering a Rs 13,000 crore bail-out for BSNL. This package includes a voluntary retirement package of Rs 6,365 crore and an equity infusion of Rs 6,767 crore to allot 4G spectrum.
BSNL: Navratna PSU To ‘Incipient Sick’
In February, more than a lakh BSNL employees and officers held a three-day strike. The strike was held to highlight a number of issues including allocation of 4G spectrum to the telecom entity and non-implementation of long-pending wage revision. The All Unions and Association of BSNL (AUAB) alleged that “corporates like Reliance Jio” are eating-up their market.
Once a Navratna PSU, the position of BSNL has worsened over the years. In March 2018, the state-owned entity was declared “Incipient Sick” by the DoT. An organisation is called incipient sick when there is a continuous decline in gross output for three consecutive years and when there is an erosion in net worth up to 50% as compared to the previous year.
In a written reply by Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha, Lok Sabha was informed, “BSNL and MTNL have been incurring losses for a number of years. Therefore, as per the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) guidelines, both BSNL and MTNL have been declared as ‘Incipient Sick’.”
Also Read: Payment, Pension Woes & Govt’s Alleged Favoritism Towards Reliance Jio Force BSNL Employees To Go On Strike
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