BSNL's losses narrow to Rs 4,890 crore in April-Dec
State-owned BSNL's losses have narrowed to Rs 4,890 crore for the nine months ended December 31, 2016, from Rs 6,121 crore in the year-ago period. The state-run telecom company posted a 5.8 per cent increase in income from services at Rs 19,379.6 crore during the period under review. The figure stood at Rs 18,314.9 crore in the same period of the previous year. The telecom company expects losses to come down for the full financial year as the fourth quarter is a seasonally strong quarter. "Our revenue from services have risen by 5.8 per cent and the total income is up 7 per cent. It is a good sign," BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava told PTI. Noting that the losses are down substantially on a year-on-year basis, he said, "the overall loss for the full year is likely to be further lower, as most of the revenue comes in during the fourth quarter." The same was the case in 2015-16, when loss for full year tapered down due to fourth quarter performance, he added. With other income coming in at 42 per cent higher, the total income was pegged at Rs 20,290.5 crore for nine months ending December 2016 against Rs 18,954.4 crore in the same period of the previous year. The telecom PSU reported a loss of Rs 7,019 crore in 2013-14 and Rs 8,234 crore in 2014-15. Its losses have less than halved to Rs 3,880 crore in 2015-16.
On the other hand, the total revenue (which includes revenue from operations and other income) rose from Rs 27,996 crore in 2013-14, to Rs 28,645 crore in 2014-15, and further to Rs 32,919 crore in 2015-16. Communications Minister Manoj Sinha had informed Rajya Sabha in a written reply on December 9, 2016, that BSNL's losses in the April-June quarter of FY17 stood at Rs 1,721 crore while total income was at Rs 7,331 crore. Revenue from operations stood at Rs 7,183 crore during April-June quarter of 2016-17. BSNL's revenue from operation has increased from Rs 26,153 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 27,242 crore in 2014-15, and to Rs 28,449 crore in 2015-16.
BSNL-MTNL merger plan to be placed before Cabinet by June
The Department of Telecom is planning to place merger proposal of loss making public sector firms BSNL and MTNL before the Cabinet by June, as per a parliamentary panel report. "On the plan for merger of BSNL and MTNL, the same would taken to Cabinet before June," the Standing Committee on Information Technology chaired by BJP MP Anurag Thakur said in its report. The previous telecom secretary JS Deepak has informed the panel that the Department of Telecom is working on a plan but "would not say that we have a plan of integrating these two companies in phases". Deepak said that merger of PSU like Air India and Indian Airlines has not been a happy experience. "...but we realised that there would be some synergy in merger. We may have to do it in stages and we are working to develop a plan. I would want to take it to Cabinet before the end of June," he said. Deepak was last month shifted with "immediate effect" from the telecom ministry and made officer on special duty in the commerce department. The panel was informed that both the state-run telecom firms are dogged by various issues like poor quality service, lack of investment, continuous loss and MTNL is even borrowing money to meet its day to day expenses. Deepak informed the panel that there are 3 lakh employees without required skill in BSNL and MTNL that incur liability of Rs 1,000 crore per month wage bills. The panel recommended to the DoT that it should look in to possibility of skilling the unskilled employees and should come out with a revised VRS proposal for those who cannot be skilled. "With regard to merger of BSNL and MTNL , the Committee recommends that the case of merger of Air India and Indian Airlines should be carefully examined while developing a merger plan and the same should be implemented with the objective to make them strong," the panel said.
Parliamentary panel suggests BSNL-MTNL merger
A Parliamentary panel has suggested merger of state-run telecom firms BSNL and MTNL for their long-term survival. The Committee on Petitions, chaired by BJP MP Bhagat Singh Koshyari, in its report tabled in Lok Sabha today, said that it is of the "considered opinion that for the long-term survival and success, merger of MTNL and BSNL would be a good proposition..."MTNL and BSNL would be a good proposition..." Their merger would give both the entities a chance for competing against private sector players, it added. The committee was formed to look into representation received by BJP MP Arvind Sawant regarding improvement in services provided by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL). The Department of Telecom (DoT) informed the panel that both the public sector firms are in financial losses and are facing declining revenues from loss of market share and increasing expenditure. The DoT submitted that the PSUs have not been able to invest adequately in the expansion and modernisation of their network, leading to coverage issues. It said these firms are now taking steps to modernise their wireline and wireless networks.
The DoT informed the panel about Phase 7 and 8 network expansion plan of BSNL. On MTNL, the DoT said it has been unable to upgrade its GSM and landline network for the last three-four years due to constraint of funds but is exploring Managed Service Model with BSNL for its mobile services. The panel said the synergies and advantages inherent in an integrated national telecom infrastructure would pave the way for lower cost of investment and greater combined ability to face competition. "The Committee, therefore, urges the government to embark upon the prospects of merger of MTNL and BSNL for which, initially, an Expert Committee could be constituted," it said.