Govt committed to revival of BSNL: Telecom Minister Prasad

New Delhi, Mar 18 () Telecom Minister Ravi ShankarPrasad on Wednesday said the Centre is committed towardsrevival of the beleaguered BSNL but it was not possible toretain all its employees.

Prasad also said in Lok Sabha that nearly one lakhemployees of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) haveopted for the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS).

"The government of India is committed for the revival ofthe BSNL. Our intention is to keep the BSNL alive and that itperforms. But it is not possible to retain all employees,"he said during the Question Hour.

The minister said the central government wanted therevival of the BSNL for public service and fairness.
He said 74 per cent of the BSNL revenue goes towardssalaries of employees while in case of the private sectortelecom operators, the salary outgo is less than 10 per cent.

Asked about possibility of the BSNL adopting the 4Gtechnology, Prasad said the Union Cabinet has taken a decisionin this regard and the BSNL will roll out 4G services soon.

Dismissing the suggestion that the VRS was not attractiveand it was a replication of the 'Gujarat model', the ministersaid, "The Gujarat model is good. Everything about Gujarat isnot bad".

When former Telecom Minister and DMK member claimed thatthe minister was giving "half truth" about the salary outgo ofthe private sector telecom operators, Prasad said he wasgiving the correct information.

"I don't want to go into legacy issues (of the BSNL). IfI dig, many things will come out," he said.Prasad said contract employees connected with the BSNLwere employees of contractors, not of the BSNL.

"We are making payments to contractors so that they canstand on their own feet," he said.

In his written reply, Prasad said the BSNL has beenincurring losses since 2009-10. On the basis of its financialperformance and as per the guidelines issued by Department ofPublic Enterprises (DPE), BSNL was classified as "Incipientsick CPSE" in 2017.

BSNL had a workforce of 1,55,296 employees as on October1, 2019. The employee cost was 74 per cent of the totalrevenue for the 2018-19 of BSNL, he said.

The minister said the government has approved the revivalplan for BSNL on October 23, 2019 which inter-alia, includesreduction in staff cost through VRS for employees of ageof 50 years and above.

The VRS was offered by BSNL to its employees on October4, 2019. The scheme was closed on December 3, 2019. 78,569employees of BSNL have opted for the VRS, he said.

Prasad said the BSNL has informed that as per provisionof the VRS, the posts falling vacant due to VRS are abolishedand there is no recruitment against the vacancies. ACBDV DV

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