MTNL pays March salary, looks at resolving debt

NEW DELHI: State-owned telecom firm MTNL has cleared all pending salaries till March and is now looking to resolve debt issues through asset monetisation, a top company official said on Monday.
Meanwhile, BSNL has cleared salary of employees due till February and is yet to make payment for the month of March, another official told PTI.
MTNL has seen reduction of over 60 per cent wage load post voluntary retirement of 14,378 employees that left it with the workforce of around 4,000 in Delhi and Mumbai.
“We have paid salary up to March and even all dues related to leave encashment have also been paid. Revenue collection in March was around Rs 190 crore out of which we paid Rs 30 crore for salaries,” MTNL chairman and managing director Sunil Kumar said.
He said the first tranche of ex-gratia payment to all VRS (voluntary retirement scheme) employees of around Rs 804 crore has been paid and the company expects to clear the rest of the 50 per cent as per the timeline.
“Now, we have a major issue of debt. In addition to the debt, finance cost is very high at around Rs 2,000 crore. We are now working on resolving it through asset monetisation and business expansion,” Kumar said.
According to official data, MTNL has a debt of around Rs 20,000 crore.
The company has started leasing premises in Mumbai and Delhi.
“We have a total space of around 10 lakh square feet at posh locations in Delhi and Mumbai. We have just rented our premises at Janpath in Delhi to the ministry of statistics and pogramme iplementation, which is fetching us a substantial amount as monthly rent. We have also started discussion with large corporates for renting out premises,” Kumar said.
When asked about 4G spectrum allocation, Kumar said that right now priority is safety of employees and managing networks to support work from home.
“Things will start moving once the Covid-19 threat is resolved,” Kumar said.
Government made provision of allocating Rs 37,640 crore for the state-owned telecom firms BSNL and MTNL crore mainly for 4G spectrum and implementation of voluntary retirement scheme in the budget for the financial year 2020-21.
The government will infuse Rs 14,115 crore in BSNL and Rs 6,295 crore in MTNL for 4G spectrum. Besides, Rs 2,541 crore and Rs 1,133 crore will be provided to BSNL and MTNL, respectively, as grants in aid for payment of GST.

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