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MTNL Raises Rs 800 Crore Claims From Department Of Telecom

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. where a massive cash crunch has stalled salary payments for two months now – has approached the government with about Rs 800 crore worth of claims, including rent-related dues and reimbursement for a bond issue dating back several years, according to multiple sources.

The Department of Telecom is examining the claims that have been made by the state-owned corporation, sources said.

The matter assumes significance as the company is reeling under a massive cash shortage and has been unable to pay staff wages for July and August.

MTNL, last week, admitted that salary payment for two months is pending and that sincere effort is being made to release at least a portion of the dues at the earliest.

DoT sources said that MTNL has approached the Telecom Department with outstanding dues, including over Rs 400 crore reimbursements pertaining to bonds that MTNL claims it had raised on behalf of the government many years ago. Sources added that the Telecom Department is yet to ascertain the veracity of the claims made by MTNL.

The telecom corporation has also sought clearance of rent-related dues for DoT offices located at MTNL premises.

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. Chairman and Managing Director did not respond to calls and text message seeking comments on the issue.

Distressed telecom PSUs MTNL and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. have been incurring losses and have been facing problems in clearing staff salaries on time in the recent past.

The loss-making telecom firms have approached the Telecom Department for immediate help to tide over their financial stress, which was aggravated due to sustained competitive heat in the market following entry of Reliance Jio.

A revival plan for the state owned telecom firms is under active consideration.

The employee cost of BSNL is 75.06 percent and that of MTNL is 87.15 percent of their total income, while the same for private telecom companies varies between 2.9 percent to 5 percent.

According to data shared in the Lok Sabha in June this year, the market share of MTNL in the two circles where it operates (Mumbai and Delhi) has declined to 6.95 percent at the end of 2018-19 from 7.37 percent in 2016-17.―Bloomberg Quint

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