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Govt forms GoM to oversee revival of BSNL and MTNL

The government has formed a seven-member Group of Ministers to oversee the implementation of the Rs 69,000 cr revival plan for BSNL and MTNL
New Delhi: The government has formed a seven-member Group of Ministers (GoM) to oversee the implementation of the Rs 69,000 crore revival plan for state-run telecom service providers — BSNL and MTNL — official sources said. The GoM consists of  Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, IT and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Home Minister Amit Shah, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, the sources added. The group will be tasked with expediting and overlooking the smooth implementation of the revival of the BSNL and MTNL.

Revival of BSNL and MTNL

The Union Cabinet gave a nod to a revival package for BSNL and MTNL on October 23 this year. The plan includes raising of Rs 15,000-crore sovereign bonds to meet the immediate capital requirement of both the companies, 4G spectrum allocation worth Rs 20,140 crores, Rs 29,937 crores for VRS package and Rs 3,674 crores for goods and services tax that will be levied on the allocation of radiowaves. The GoM will be responsible for monitoring elements like workforce, business viability, issuance of bonds, monetisation of assets and 4G spectrum allocation, the sources said.

The backdrop

A total of 78,000 employees at state-run BSNL availed the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) which closed on December 3, BSNL CMD PK Purwar had told PSU Watch. The VRS scheme was offered to employees aged 50 and above as part of a multi-pronged plan to revive BSNL. Commenting on one of the biggest demands made by employees at the time the government was considering disinvestment of BSNL, Purwar said, “We are expecting the government to allocate 4G spectrum to BSNL by the end of this financial year.” He added that the state-run telecom provider is likely to start rolling out 4G services in the next seven-eight months from now.