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Centre Working On Fresh Bailout Plan For Cash-Strapped BSNL

New Delhi: The Centre is working on a fresh bailout package for cash-strapped Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). The move comes almost 10 days after the Prime Minister’s Office dashed hopes of a quick revival for the ailing PSU by rejecting a merger plan with its sister firm Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL).

According to a report by Business Standard, BSNL has been asked to prepare an asset monetisation plan. For this, the operations could be split into distinct subsidiary bodies. For instance, the operations could be separated for optical fibre assets, fixed line services and broadband services, besides real estate assets.

The report added that government was yet to do a valuation of BSNL’s assets, but has assured that this would be at private market rates.

Meanwhile, the department of telecom is negotiating with the departments of revenue and economic affairs and NITI Aayog for loan guarantees to banks for enough money to keep both BSNL and MTNL afloat. The money will be utilised for salary payments. BSNL had raised money in the past, too, to pay salaries. The loans are for the time being for BSNL to survive until it gets a bailout package. In addition, a voluntary retirement package for its employees is also being considered at Rs 6,365 crore.

Distressed telecom PSUs MTNL and BSNL have been incurring losses and have been facing problems in clearing staff salaries in the recent past.

BSNL’s loss is estimated to be around Rs 14,000 crore with a decline in revenue to Rs 19,308 crore during 2018-19. BSNL’s downward spiral has been attributed to the market capture by Reliance Jio, which has taken the telecom business by a storm.

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