MUMBAI: State-run telecom companies BSNL and MTNL have become an albatross around the neck of the government as it still has no clue about what should be done with these loss-making public sector undertakings.
The government might infuse funds to take care of employees’ salaries and pay the vendor’s bill during the upcoming festive season, according to sources in the Finance Ministry as well as the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
“There is divided opinion over what should be the fate of these firms. While the Finance Ministry has proposed closure, the PMO is of the view to revive them by shedding off extra manpower. However, this cannot be done immediately. Till the final decision, the firms need money to clear outstanding dues of vendors and settle salaries,” a senior official from the DoT told this publication.
Telecom Equipment Manufacturers Association (TEMA) has written to Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to help them get Rs 3,000 crore from BSNL after multiple reminders sent to the firm remained unanswered.
“The domestic hi-tech telecom industry, which invested heavily under the ‘Design and Make in India’ mission, is already under tremendous stress because of the liquidity crunch due to non-release of payments from BSNL and on some manufacturers, there is a legal threat from their vendors,” TEMA chairman NK Goyal said in a letter, also marked to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash, and Expenditure Secretary G C Murmu. Despite several meetings there had been no clarity about their fate.