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Sale Of Rs 37,500 Crore Worth Of BSNL, MTNL Assets Hits Ownership Hurdle

The sale of assets by Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) is likely to take longer than expected, as their buildings registered before 1988 are owned by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). The telecom companies have to buy these properties from the Centre before monetising them.

“Even if the sale happens for no amount, the transaction has to be registered with a sale deed,” said a government official aware of the development. BSNL and MTNL own the buildings they bought after 2004, and can sell them directly.

The central government hopes to monetise real estate assets worth Rs 37,500 crore. The proceeds will be used to retire debts of the two companies, upgrade networks, and offer the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to employees.

The assets include land and buildings, some of which have been rented or leased out. MTNL has about 29 retail outlets in Delhi alone.

On October 24, the Cabinet cleared a Rs 70,000-crore package for the two companies grappling with financial woes and struggling to even play employee salaries.

Sources said there was a one-month lag in salary payments of BSNL employees and two months for MTNL staff.

The relief package includes a sovereign bond issue of Rs 15,000 crore, to be serviced by the two telecom companies.

Also, BSNL and MTNL will be allotted 4G spectrum at an administered price, pegged at the 2016 auction value. The two firms would be allotted 4G spectrum worth Rs 20,140 crore, Rs 29,937 crore for the VRS covering half their employees, and Rs 3,674 crore for the goods and services tax that will be levied on the allocation of radio waves.

Retirement age of BSNL employees to be 58 years

The Union government will reduce the retirement age of employees of Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) to 58 years, after completing the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS). Sources said this proposal, a part of the revival package for the two companies, has been approved by the Cabinet. BSNL had 176,000 employees and MTNL’s workforce stands at 22,000. About half the employees at BSNL will retire in the next five-six years.―Business Standard

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