In an effort to revive the loss-making telecom PSUs BSNL and MTNL, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved certain financial incentives for them, reports fe Bureau in New Delhi. Accordingly, it gave its nod to BSNL to hive off its towers into a separate company, which
would help it monetise it. In addition, both PSUs will get refunds for surrendering part of their CDMA spectrum that was put up for auction this year in March. The compensation works out to R169.16 crore for BSNL and R458.04 crore for MTNL. While the compensation for
BSNL comes in lieu of surrendering one block of 1.25 MHz of CDMA spectrum in four circles, for MTNL it is for surrendering 5 MHz each in Delhi and Mumbai. BSNL has around 64,000 towers across the country valued at around R20,000 crore according to industry estimates.
All the private telcos hived off their towers around 10 years ago.
Last year, the government had in principle approved BSNL’s plan to hive off its tower assets into a separate entity.
BSNL also plans to monetise its other passive infrastructure like factory, land assets and training centres. The monetisation of other related passive infra assets could help BSNL raise another Rs 10,000-15,000 crore, according to estimates.
So far it has leased around 5,471 towers to various private telecom companies earning a revenue of Rs 432.6 crore at the end of May this year.
Currently, BSNL has tower sharing agreements with most private players. As its towers are spread across the country, even in the remote areas, private telcos prefer to share BSNL’s infrastructure.
The Cabinet on Wednesday also approved amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, aimed at reducing delays in resolving commercial disputes and at eliminating cost escalation. Sources said the amendments would help in improving the ease of doing business in the country.
The government also decided at a meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rectify the anomalies in pension benefits for high court judges elevated from the bar by implementing an earlier order of the Supreme Court. For pensionary benefits, 10 years’ practice as advocate will be added as qualifying service for high court judges elevated from the bar as ordered by the apex court in a ruling in March last year.
The Cabinet also decided to empower public sector units to take quick decisions for transportation of cargo by sea. Accordingly, central and state PSUs would be able to make their own arrangements of bulk cargo without having to route the requirements through the shipping ministry.