BSNL Board May Sport Directors From Pvt Sector

New Delhi: | Updated: Oct 29 2002, 05:30am hrs
The government is considering the option of dipping into the private sector talent pool to man some key directorial posts at the government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). However, given the opposition that such a move is likely to generate from the telecom services cadre, the transition to external recruitment will be very gradual.

To begin with, at least for the marketing function, we can look at a board director from outside the government cadre, a senior government official told eFE. However, the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) would still be involved with the recruitment exercise.

Except for Prithipal Singh, the chairman and managing director of the Rs 23,500 crore company, the four other directors on the boardBR Khurana (commercial director), SD Saxena (finance), Shabbir Ahmed (human resources) and Kranti Kumarwill be retiring within the next six months.

That marketing is not a strength of the babus can be gauged from the fact that prior to the launch of its Cellone cellular phone service earlier this month, none less than communications and information technology minister was giving inputs on marketing strategies.

The existing BSNL cadre, drawn from Indian Telecom Services, feels that such external and lateral entries limit their prospects of promotion. One alternate proposal is that the sub-directorial level positions are taken by recruits from private sector while retaining the topmost ones in government hands.

But that defeats the whole purpose of the exercise since the people running the show will carry on the public sector culture, the official added.

Recruitments, promotions and absorption into the public sector entities have always been a tricky issue.

The 1986 born MTNL is still to get its own senior officers (group A and B). The current team is on deputation from the Department of Telecom. Ditto for BSNL. For MTNL (and soon for BSNL) the dispute is on financial terms of transfer, seniority recognition, terms of pension payment, among other things.

This is also one of our priority areas. To begin with absorption of group B officers in MTNL to be followed by group A, the official said.

The BSNL case, where group A officers were promised that they would retain their government employee status for at least five years, will be dealt with after MTNL is sorted out.

Since the fate of these officers is decided at the DoT/ministerial level, it is seen to have an adverse effect on the organisation.

Working without permanent employees is not good for any organisation, the official added.