BSNL, the public sector telecom company that is struggling to survive with government support has been forced to look at all options to improve its liquidity, including recovering amounts due to the company. One such area is outstanding payments from enterprise clients for services rendered in the past and BSNL is hoping to recover Rs 3,000 crore from that, which would constitute a large portion of such outstanding payments. The chairman of the company says it is finding success on this front and in the next 2-3 months the mission may stand accomplished.
BSNL has been besieged with problems leading to it not being able to even pay its employees their salaries. Every month for the past 4-5 months, it has been delayed. This month too, the July salaries could be paid only on August 5.
The government has stepped in and has agreed to help the company regain its feet, provided the public sector enterprise cleaned up its act and took certain major decisions. One of them relates to downsizing the workforce through voluntary retirement schemes. The 1,65,000-odd employees of BSNL end up drawing as salaries almost 75% of the total revenue. This compares extremely poorly with the less than 5% that the private telecom operators spend on the salaries to their employees.
The other fiat to the struggling PSU is to augment its revenues through whichever way possible. One area being contemplated is to rent out buildings the company owns in different cities around the country. There are also plans to sell some properties where feasible.
Recovery of dues as mentioned above is another way to reduce the burden on the government.
Among the other plans being considered, the BSNL and MTNL —the other PSU that offers telecom services, towers and other infrastructure assets could be palmed off as a separate entity and options explored in monetising these assets.
The losses incurred by BSNL in the past 3 years have risen exponentially; from Rs 4,793 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 14,200 crore (approx.) in 2018-19. The revenue itself is only Rs 19, 308 crore.