Sunday, March 22, 2015

Non-Payment of salaries to the employees of ITI- Make the strike on 21st and 22nd April a grand success to avert similar fate for BSNL employees

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.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

BSNL mobile market share declining - but increase in AP, Kerala, Haryana circles

MoC Sri Ravisankar Prasad informed Rajyasabha on 13.3.2015 that BSNL's mobile services market share declined overall from 10.72% in March 2012 to 8.62% in March 2014. But it's market share increased in AP-Telangana circle from 13.5 to 14.08%, in Haryana circle from 13.29 to 14.11% and in Kerala circle from 20.91 to 21.67% during this period. The reasons given by him are heavy competition, aggressive marketing by private operators and inadequate investment in expansion/ modernisation of its network over the period 2008-12 leading to network coverage issues. He further told that now phase-VII expansion of BSNL's mobile network is taking place at a cost of Rs 4804.77 crores adding 14421 2G sites and 10605 2G sites across the country. 
Thus the poor performance is not due to the employees, but due to the failure of the Government and management in procuring the required equipment for expanding mobile network.

That is why the Forum of BSNL Unions/Associations is demanding immediate procurement of equipment required for expanding/ modernising mobile network and for providing the required capital as loan with nominal interest. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Private operators conspiring to take away the NOFN work from BSNL, Power Grid Corporation and Railtel-Modi Government bending to oblige them

National Optic Fiber Network (NOFN) is to be installed by the Government Company BBNL (Bharat Broadband Network Limited). BBNL was established on 25.2.2012 with 99.99% owned by Government of India and the remaining 0.01% held by the PSUs BSNL, PGCIL (Power Grid Corporation of India Limited) and Rail Tel (Rail Tel Corporation of India owned by Railway Department). It is established for extending the optic fiber cable from block level to all the 2, 50, 000 village Panchayats. The target fixed is to provide OFC for 50,000 village Panchayats by March 2015, and 1, 00,000 by March 2016 and remaining 1, 00,000 by December 2016.
The work of laying the OFC from block level to village Panchayats was given on contract by BBNL to the 3 PSUs BSNL, PGCIL and Rail Tel. 70% of this work is handed over to BSNL. The cost of this project is estimated as Rs 30,000 crores and the funds will be provided from USO Fund (Universal Services obligation Fund). In AP Circle, the work is given to PGCIL.
The aim of providing optic fiber cable to all village Panchayats is to provide high speed broadband services to villages so that the villagers can get all their required certificates/documents from the internet without going to Government offices and also to have online education, health, marketing and other facilities. BBNL will provide the bandwidth on non-discrimination basis to any operator, for providing broadband connections and serving the villagers.
After Modi becoming PM, the private operators like Vodafone, Aircel etc started pressurizing the Government to handover a part of the NOFN work to them, in the name of quick implementation of the project. Modi Government has appointed  an expert panel to recommend fast tracking the NOFN project by roping in private operators. The panel is likely to submit its report in March 2015.
Thus Modi Government is tilting towards handing over the OF cable laying work to private operators by taking away some work allotted to BSNL, Railtel and PGCIL. While the BSNL Unions Forum is demanding for merger of BBNL with BSNL, the Modi Government is doing the opposite and going forward to involve the private operators in laying the OF cable for BBNL.  This is how Modi Government is more pro-corporate and anti people than earlier UPA Government.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Modi Budget is against Workers, Employees, People, Public Sector, and weaker sections like SC, ST, Women and Children It is against BSNL, MTNL and ITI It is for the Indian and Foreign big capitalists and Rich persons

Modi Government’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the budget in the Parliament for the eyaqr 2015-16. It is totally against the workers, employees, people, public sector and weaker sections like SC/ST/Women/children etc. It has shown no sympathy at all for reviving the telecom PSUs BSNL, MTNL and ITI. It is totally in favor of the Indian and foreign big corporate and rich people and private sector.

Modi Government gave Rs 5,89,285.50 crores  unwarranted and unjustified concessions in the year 2014-15 to the Corporates and to the rich persons. This was higher than the fiscal deficit of Rs 5,55,649 in the budget of 2014-15. Therefore if these concessions were not given to the Corporates and to the rich, there would not have been any deficit in the budget of 2014-15. Now, in the present budget of the year 2015-16 also the Corporates and the rich are given more than Rs 5 lakh crores unjustified concessions . In addition, the rich were given a concession of Rs 8315 crores in direct taxes.  Wealth tax is totally abolished. Corporate tax is proposed to be reduced from the present 30% to 25% in 4 years. Several concessions are showered on FDI and FIIs. Exemption is given from Capital Gains Tax.(Tax on profits gained in selling shares in the companies).

These unjustified concessions to the corporates and the rich are leading to deficit in the budget and to reduce this deficit, the Modi Government proposed to receive revenue to the extent of Rs 70,000 crores by disinvesting Public Sector Undertakings, and to impose indirect taxes amounting Rs 23,383 crore on the commodities used by the people. To reduce the budget deficit further, it reduced Government expenditure, including subsidies to the people. In 2014-15 itself, Government expenditure was reduced by 7% in the allocated amount. This reduced amount was equal to Rs 1,14,000 crores. Whereas the amount allotted in the 2014-15 budget for Government expenditure was 10.8% of GDP(Gross Domestic Product), in this budget of 2015-16, it is reduced to 10.3% of GDP. The allotments to Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and food security remained stagnant in real terms. While the total subsidies in the budget of 2014-15 were Rs 2.60 lakh  crores (2.1% of GDP) , it is reduced to  Rs 2.44 lakh crores (1.7% of GDP) in 2015-16 budget. While in the budget 2014-15 an amount of Rs 35,163 crores was allotted for Health and Family Welfare, it is reduced to Rs 29,653 crores in this budget 2015-16. For housing and urban poverty eradication, an amount of Rs 6008 crores was allotted in the budget . It is reduced to Rs 5634 crores in this budget.

Modi budget is against weaker sections. The amount allotted for Tribal Sub-Plan is Rs 5000 crore less than last year’s allocation. The rule for allotting 8.2% of the budget for Tribal Sub-Plan is violated and only 5.5% is allotted. Similarly, the rule for allotting 17.5% of the budget expenditure for SC sub plan is violated and only 8.34% is allotted. This is Rs 12000 crore less than what should have been allotted. For the gender budget meant for empowering women, the allotment is reduced by 20% compared to 2014-15 budget allotment. This reduction amounts to Rs 20,000 crore. For ICDS(Integrated Child Development Scheme), in last year’s budget an amount of Rs 16000 crores was allotted. But it is reduced to Rs 8000 crores only in this budget.

Sevveral proposals in this budget are against the employees and workers. Large scale disinvestment of PSUs is proposed and collecting a huge amount of Rs 70,000 crore in the year 2015-16 is aimed at by dis-investing PSUs. Loss making PSUs are also proposed for disinvestment. The ports owned by the  Government are proposed to be Corporatized, as a first step towards their privatization. Thus a severe attack is planned on the PSUs. Income tax exemption limit is not increased, thereby disappointing the middle class employees. In the name of bad performance of EPF, the workers and employees covered by it are offered an option to opt for New Pension Scheme(NPS) instead of EPF. While it is difficult to divert EPF funds to invest in share markets, the New Pension Scheme allows diversion of pension contribution of employees  to the share markets and the employees will not get pension in case the pension fund company to which the employee contributed his pension contribution faces losses on its investments in the share market. Thus the aim is to divert the funds of the pension contribution of the employees to the gambling in the share markets. Similarly, it is proposed to allow option for Health Insurance instead of ESI, so that the funds contributed for health security can be diverted to share markets by the health insurance companies.

Modi Government has shown no interest at all in reviving the loss making telecom PSUs like BSNL, MTNL and ITI. We are demanding for immediate refund of the amount of Rs 6724 crores paid by BSNL for the surrendered BWA spectrum. Instead of doing this, the Government has allotted Rs 830 crores only in this 2015-16 budget(In 2014-15 budget it allotted Rs 100 crores only). For ITI which is declared as a sick industry in 2004 itself, the Government allotted an amount of Rs 150 crores as support for payment of salaries to its employees and allotted another amount of Rs 50 crores for its revival in this budget 2015-16 (In the budget 2014-15,Rs 165 crores was allotted for support to salaries expenditure and Rs 460 crores was allotted for revival. But this 460 crores was reduced to Rs 192 crores subsequently). It is to be noted that the UPA Government has approved on 12.2.2014, a revival package of Rs 4157 crores for reviving ITI. It has to be implemented in 18 months. But how it can be implemented in 18 months when the annual allocations in the budget are so small? This proves the lack of interest in Modi Government for reviving PSUs. At the same time it agreed to forgo thousands of crores of rupees capital gains tax from Corporates like Vodafone etc.

Modi budget is carrying forward the same anti people policies of the UPA Government, but with more speed and vigor. Its logic behind the showering of lakhs of crores of rupees concessions to Corporates is that with these concessions, the foreign and Indian big capitalists will be encouraged to invest in India for developing the economy. But what is the use of investments when people’s purchasing power is not growing? Who will purchase the increased production due to investments if the purchasing power of the people is not increasing? It is also not possible to depend on exporting the increased produce to other countries even if our people are not able to purchase it, since the world economy is facing stagnation and it will be so for some more years. The reduction in subsidies and welfare measures will further reduce the purchasing power of the people and the economy will face more stagnation and crisis. Therefore the policy of Modi Government to shower lakhs of crores of rupees concessions to corporates and to reduce Government expenditure on subsidies and welfare measures is counterproductive and will put the economy in more and more crisis. The correct policy is to abolish all the concessions being given in lakhs of crores of rupees to the Corporates and use that money for subsidies, welfare measures and for developing the infra structure. It will increase the purchasing power of the people and create jobs. But Modi will not do this since he has to repay his debt to the Corporates who helped him in his election campaign. Both BJP and the Congress and regional parties are parties of the Corporates and landlords. The trade unions, agriculture workers organizations, peasants organizations, women’s organizations, SC/ST/minorities organizations and Left and democratic forces have to fight a united and broad based struggle against these policies and for a pro-people economic policy.