BSNL's VRS bears fruit: State-run telco likely to save up to Rs 600 cr per month on wage bills; may monetise land assets

In a major relief to the BSNL employees, the company is set to pay November salary before 31 December and the amount will be raised from internal accruals and bank loans.

FP Staff December 30, 2019 11:48:11 IST
BSNL's VRS bears fruit: State-run telco likely to save up to Rs 600 cr per month on wage bills; may monetise land assets
  • BSNL is set to pay November salary to its employees before 31 December and the amount will be raised from internal accruals and bank loans

  • A seven-member GoM had been constituted to fast-track and oversee the implementation of the Rs 69,000 crore revival plan for BSNL and MTNL

  • The amount of ex-gratia for any eligible employee will be equal to 35 days salary for each completed year of service and 25 days salary for every year of service left until superannuation.

After rolling out the voluntary retire scheme (VRS) for employees of the debt-laden Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) in November this year, the state-run telco calculates that it can save up to Rs 600 crore per month on the salary front, said a news report.

The crisis-hit BSNL is expected to save about Rs 600 crore per month on the wage bills of its employees after as many as 78,569 staff opted for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), according to a report in The Economic Times.

Apart from this, BSNL is also planning to monetise the company's land assets which are estimated to be worth about Rs 73,000 crore to turn the loss-making telco profitable, the report said.

In a major relief to BSNL employees, the company is set to pay the November salary, which is about Rs 750-850 crore a month, before 31 December and the amount will be raised from internal accruals and bank loans, said a report in The Hindu Business Line.

BSNLs VRS bears fruit Staterun telco likely to save up to Rs 600 cr per month on wage bills may monetise land assets

Representational image. Reuters

The state-run telco expects that it may get some payment from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the report said quoting sources in the know of the matter.

“The intention is to pay salaries before 31 December, which would be mostly funded from cash inflows. The company is also in talks with a couple of banks for loans to meet operating and other expenses,” the report said quoting a source.

GoM to oversee implementation of a revival plan

Two days ago, a seven-member Group of Ministers (GoM) had been constituted to fast-track and oversee the implementation of the Rs 69,000 crore revival plan for state-owned telecom corporations BSNL and MTNL, reported PTI quoting sources.

The high-level group will expedite the smooth implementation of recent decisions taken on the revival of BSNL and MTNL that includes crucial elements like allocation of 4G spectrum and asset monetisation.

The GoM includes Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

About 79,000 employees opt for VRS

Early this month, BSNL had said that after about 79,000 employees opted for VRS. The company was expecting to save Rs 1,300 crore in wage bills this fiscal after the scheme becomes effective in January next year.

"On the VRS (voluntary retirement scheme), on 31 January 2020, it will be effective. Our goal is that people who have applied for VRS, their application should be considered and approved..." BSNL Chairman and Managing Director PK Purwar had said.

Last month, it was reported that over 92,000 employees of the state-run BSNL and Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL) had opted for the VRS.

Nearly one lakh BSNL employees are eligible for the VRS programme out of its total staff strength of about 1.50 lakh.

The amount of ex-gratia for any eligible employee will be equal to 35 days salary for each completed year of service and 25 days salary for every year of service left until superannuation.

The rescue package approved by the government includes infusion of Rs 20,140 crore for purchase of 4G spectrum, Rs 3,674 crore for GST to be paid on spectrum allocation, companies raising Rs 15,000 crore in debt on the sovereign guarantee and government funding Rs 17,160 crore VRS and another Rs 12,768 crore towards retirement liability.

Revival package for BSNL, MTNL

In October this year, the government had approved a Rs 68,751-crore revival package for loss-making BSNL and MTNL, including 4G spectrum allocation and voluntary retirement scheme, as well as their merger.

The Union Cabinet had also approved the merger of the state-owned telecom firms and till the completion of the process, MTNL would operate as a subsidiary of BSNL, Ravi Shankar Prasad had said.

The package includes raising of Rs 15,000 crore sovereign bonds to meet the immediate capital requirement of both the companies, 4G spectrum allocation worth Rs 20,140 crore, Rs 29,937 crore for VRS covering 50 percent of their employees, and Rs 3,674 crore for goods and services tax that will be levied on the allocation of radio waves.

With PTI inputs

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