In a reply given to a question in Rajyasabha on 20.3.2015, the Minister of Communications & IT Sri Ravisankar Prasad informed the following:
“Due to continuous losses for the past twelve years, ITI is not in a position to generate its own resources for timely payment of salaries to its employees and is dependent on Government support for the same. On 3rd March 2015 M/s ITI Limited has made payment of salaries which has become due for more than three months. However, payment of salaries for the months of January& February 2015 is still pending. The Government is aware of the problems faced by the employees of M/s ITI Limited due to nonpayment of salaries and is taking all possible steps to address the situation. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved a revival package for M/s ITI Limited, which comprises of extending financial assistance of Rs 612 crore to meet the establishment cost during implementation of revival plan. During 2014 a soft loan was provided to M/s ITI Limited for making payment of salaries. In February 2015, an additional soft loan of Rs 100 crore has been released to ITI Limited for making payment of salaries to its employees. In addition to these, an amount of Rs 165 crore, which is also a part of the revival plan approved by CCEA, relating to 39 months’ arrears due to 1997 pay revision has also been released to ITI Limited to enable it to pay the amount to its employees. Further, in the union Budget 2015-16, a provision of Rs 150 crore has been made by the Government as support to M/s ITI Limited for payment of salary.”
This is the fate of ITI which has been in losses continuously since 2002-03. Its employees are not getting salaries for months together and getting only after it gets financial help from the Government. Even to pay the wage arrears of 1997 pay revision to its employees, the Government has to allot Rs 165 crore, in the budget 2015-16! They did not get pay revision on 1.1.2007 due to its continuous losses and becoming sick industry by 2004.
ITI Limited has become sick due to the wrong policies of the Government. The liberalization-globalization-privatization policies adopted by the successive Governments at the centre have discouraged indigenous production of telecom equipment and made the country dependent on procuring equipment from foreign countries. Every year, around Rs 50000 crores are paid for importing telecom equipment. ITI was not encouraged to upgrade its technical knowhow to produce advanced technology equipment. Instead, the private telecom operators are allowed to import the equipment from foreign countries. Thus the very policy of the Government is responsible for this fate of ITI.
The wrong policies of the Government in the name of liberalization-privatization-globalization are the reason for the losses to BSNL and MTNL. Government encouraged the private operators and discouraged these PSUs in several ways. As a result, MTNL and BSNL have been in continuous losses since 2009-10 onwards.
On March 10,2015, the Heavy Industries Minister Sri Anant Gite informed the Loksabha that MTNL was declared as a sick industry. As per the rules, a PSU will be declared sick, if its accumulated losses are 50% or more of its average net worth during the four preceding years. The losses of MTNL have equaled or exceeded 50% of its average net worth and hence it was declared as a sick industry.
What about BSNL? Its total losses during the years 2009-10 to 2013-14 are Rs 31961.81 crore. Its average net worth for the 4 years 2009-10 to 2012-13 was Rs 75338.79. 50% of it was Rs 37669.39 crore. Thus if in this year 2014-15 the loss is Rs 6000 crore, the total loss will exceed 50% of its previous 4 year average net worth and it will be declared a sick industry. The loss in the first half of the current financial year 2014-15 (i.e from April to September 2014) is already Rs 3785 crore. Therefore BSNL is on the verge of being declared sick, may be in the year 2016, unless Government and management take necessary steps as demanded by the Forum of BSNL Unions and Associations, for its revival. Otherwise, the fate of BSNL employees is going to be similar to that of ITI employees.
To bring pressure on the Government and management for the revival of BSNL, it is necessary for all BSNL employees, both non-executive and executive, to participate without any exception, in the two day strike on April 21 and 22, as per the call given by the Forum of BSNL Unions and Associations. The strike will help in focusing before the people the necessity for reviving BSNL.