As per the Ministry of Communication, the reasons for losses of the BSNL and the MTNL are high employee cost over the years, debt burden, stiff competition in the market, and lack of 4G services (except on a limited basis in certain areas).
On October 23, 2019, the government approved the revival plan for BSNL and MTNL. It inter-alia approved the reduction in employee costs through Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), debt restructuring by raising of sovereign guarantee bonds, administrative allotment of spectrum for 4G services through capital infusion, monetisation of core and non-core assets, and in-principle approval of merger of BSNL and MTNL, the Rajya Sabha was told in a written reply.
As a result of these, BSNL and MTNL have become EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and amortization) positive since the financial year 2020-21.
Further, to transform BSNL into a viable public sector undertaking, the government approved a revival package for BSNL amounting to Rs 1.64 lakhs crore on July 27, 2022. The revival measures focus on infusing fresh capital for upgrading BSNL services, allocating spectrum, de-stressing its balance sheet and augmenting its fibre network by merging Bharat Broadband Nigam Ltd (BBNL) with BSNL. With the implementation of these measures, BSNL is expected to turn-around and become a profit earning entity, said the Ministry.
The Ministry informed that BSNL and MTNL have been playing a crucial role along with private telecom players in the development of the telecom infrastructure and expansion of telecom services. BSNL and MTNL are important for implementing citizen centric schemes of the Government of India especially in the rural and remote un-covered areas. BSNL has provided 24,58,827 FTTH connections as on September 30, 2022. Further, in line with the Atma-nirbhar initiative of the Government, BSNL was directed to deploy the Indian 4G stack. BSNL has floated the tender in October 2022 for its requirement of 1 lakh 4G sites, it added. (INAS)