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Ministers Panel Set Up To Speed Up, Implement BSNL-MTNL Revival Plan

A seven-member group of ministers has been constituted to fast-track and oversee the implementation of the Rs 69,000 crore revival plan for state-owned telecom corporations Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd., sources said on Saturday.

The high-level group will expedite smooth implementation of recent decisions taken for the BSNL-MTNL revival plan, including crucial elements like allocation of 4G spectrum and asset monetisation, official sources told Press Trust of India.

The GoM includes Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, they added.

“There are crucial elements like business viability, workforce, issue of bonds, asset monetisation and 4G spectrum allotment in the revival package. The Group of Ministers will expedite and oversee the plans,” the sources said.

The government had in October this year approved a Rs 69,000 crore revival package for BSNL and MTNL that includes merger of the two loss-making firms, monetising their assets and a Voluntary Retirement Scheme for employees.

The revival package is aimed at making the combined entity profitable in two years.

Over the last few weeks, both the companies launched their VRS plans. Nearly 92,700 employees of BSNL and MTNL have opted for voluntary retirement, which is expected to save about Rs 8,800 crore annually in salary bills for the telecom companies.

The two firms will also monetise assets worth Rs 37,500 crore in the next three years. MTNL has reported losses in nine of the past 10 years. BSNL too has been in losses since 2010.―Bloomberg Quint

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