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BSNL being armed to compete with private telcos by Centre

To help it compete with its private peers, the Centre is taking several measures that may improve the operational efficiency of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). These measures include network upgradation, employee cost rationalisation and a proposal to provide more value-added services, said on Tuesday, citing officials aware of the plans.

BSNL has high manpower costs, and it needs to be rationalised to reduce the losses. The report highlighted that around 78,323 people have opted for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) in the company since it was offered in 2019, yet in 2022-23, its staff cost stood at 38.4 per cent of the total revenue.

“This is sharply higher when compared to private telecom operators,” an official was quoted as saying in the report.

In Bharti Airtel, the employee cost is around 2.3 per cent of its total revenue. In Reliance Jio, it is lower at 1.8 per cent. Even at Vodafone Idea, which is under financial stress, it is around 4 per cent.

Before the VRS scheme was introduced in 2019, BSNL’s employee cost was nearly 70 per cent, the report said. Currently, it employs around 59,000 people.

In 2022-23, the state-run telco posted a loss (before exceptional items) of Rs 6,662 crore. In the year, it lost nearly 10 million users. It is yet to start 4G services in India at a time when most of its other peers have already rolled out 5G services across the country.

Earlier, BSNL and the Department of Telecom signed an agreement to improve the working culture at the company. It introduced a key performance indicator-based management system to measure the productivity of its employees.

The officials in the report said that the performance of BSNL employees is improving, but more needs to be done. Business Standard

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