BSNL and MTNL, the two state-owned telecom operators, turned EBITDA-positive and made some operating profit in the first half of the financial year ending March 2021, the government said in a press release on Tuesday. “Total 92,956 employees of both PSUs (BSNL — 78569 and MTNL— 14387) who opted for VRS have retired on 31.01.2020. The salary expenditure in BSNL and MTNL has reduced by around 50% (approx. RS. 600 crores per month) and 75% (approx, Rs. 140 crores per month) respectively,” the government said.
The offloading of manpower through voluntary retirements has removed one of the biggest expenses from the state-owned telecom operators, who are due to merge soon. “The comprehensive revival plan [for both telcos] consists of several measures including reduction of staff cost through Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), allotment of spectrum for 4G services, monetization of land/building, tower and Fiber assets of BSNL/MTNL, debt restructuring through sovereign guarantee bond and in-principle approval of merger of BSNL and MTNL,” the government said.
4G spectrum in Delhi and Mumbai is being allotted, the company added. It is unclear whether the telcos even had significant operating expenditure in 2020 on account of the pandemic; even as demand for broadband surged, BSNL haemorrhaged fixed line subscribers to Reliance Jio.