BSNL
BSNL

A Group of Ministers, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, is learnt to have deferred merger of public sector telecom firms BSNL and MTNL due to financial reasons, according to government sources.

The group of ministers (GoM) has also approved the sale of 6,000 square metres of BSNL land in Noida to Central Board of Secondary Education at the rate of over Rs 1 lakh per square metre.

The Cabinet had approved Rs 69,000 crore revival package for loss-making telecom firms BSNL and MTNL, which included approval to merge both the companies.

"GoM had deferred merger of MTNL and BSNL, mainly due to high debt on MTNL," according to an official source.

As per the audited financial results for the year ending March 31, 2020, the total liabilities of BSNL and MTNL were Rs 87,618 crore and Rs 30,242 crore, respectively.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has given licence to BSNL to operate in Mumbai and Delhi telecom circle where MTNL is already operating.

Besides debt, there are issues around salary structure between BSNL and MTNL employees and bringing them on par with each other is a challenge.

While the GoM has deferred the merger of telecom PSUs, it has approved the allocation of 4G spectrum to BSNL in Delhi and Mumbai in place of MTNL.

In the case of asset monetisation of BSNL and MTNL, the GoM will take a call on asset sale with a value of more than Rs 10 crore but less than Rs 100 crore.

"Dipam mechanism will be used for the sale of any asset above Rs 100 crore.

"The GoM has approved a proposal for sale of BSNL property in Noida Sector 33 measuring around 6,000 square metres to CBSE at the circle rate of Rs 1,07,500 per square metre," the official source said.

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