Telecom woes: BSNL expects normalcy in liquidity position by September quarter; predatory tariff hits revenue

BSNL has been able to sustain its customer base, despite the persistent pressure of competition on its revenue.

Press Trust of India May 17, 2019 18:58:37 IST
Telecom woes: BSNL expects normalcy in liquidity position by September quarter; predatory tariff hits revenue
  • BSNL director — finance, S K Gupta has shot off a letter to all chief general managers of telecom circles

  • Telecom PSUs MTNL and BSNL are saddled with massive debt and faced problems in clearing staff salaries

  • The government is in the process of working out a rescue plan for MTNL and BSNL

New Delhi: The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) management is making all efforts to ease liquidity pressure being faced by the company, and expects normalcy in liquidity position to be restored by the September quarter, according to a senior official of the crisis-ridden public sector undertaking (PSU).

BSNL director — finance, S K Gupta has shot off a letter to all chief general managers of telecom circles, flagging the "fiercest ever competition" being faced by the telecom sector and said "predatory tariff offerings by the competitors" has triggered a sharp decline in revenue from services.

"The BSNL management is making all-out efforts to ease the pressure on liquidity. It is expected that in the near future, the liquidity position of the company will start improving," Gupta said in the letter dated 16 May.

Telecom woes BSNL expects normalcy in liquidity position by September quarter predatory tariff hits revenue

Representational image. Reuters

He asserted that normalcy in liquidity position is expected to be restored by the next quarter.

BSNL has been able to sustain its customer base, despite the persistent pressure of competition on its revenue.

"The telecom sector being capital intensive, wherein even to remain in business 'or' to ensure business sustainability, the service providers are required to invest in newer technologies at frequent intervals, as technologies evolve at a very fast pace," the letter said.

The cumulative effect of these factors has resulted in the liquidity crunch, Gupta added.

The letter assumes significance as distressed telecom PSUs Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and BSNL are saddled with massive debt and have faced problems in clearing staff salaries in the recent past.

The government is in the process of working out a rescue plan for MTNL and BSNL in the form of a revival package that entails components like voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), asset monetisation, and allocation of 4G spectrum.

Overall, the telecom sector has been battered by falling tariffs, eroding profitability, and towering debt, in the face of stiff competition triggered by disruptive offerings of Reliance Jio, owned by richest Indian Mukesh Ambani.
The relentless tariff war that ensued after Jio's entry into the telecom sector with free voice calls and SMS, bundled with cheap data has led to pressure on margins of even private operators that have scrambled to match the competition.

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