The government does not have plans to privatise state-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), Parliament was informed on Friday.
MTNL has been incurring losses since 2016-17, and its loss stood at Rs 2,617 crore for the year 2021-22, Minster of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
“There is no plan to privatise MTNL,” the minister said.
The government approved the revival plan for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and MTNL in October 2019 in which an in-principle nod for the merger of the two state-owned telecom corporations was granted.
Due to the high debt of MTNL and the adverse financial position of BSNL, the government, in December 2020, deferred the merger till MTNL’s debt position improves.
To another question, the minister noted that the Cabinet, in its meeting held on June 14, 2022, had reserved the spectrum for BSNL for providing 5G services.
“Testing of Indian make 4G equipment, under Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative, is already at advance stage and the delivery of the equipment will commence after completion of the testing,” Chauhan said.
People will start getting benefitted once this equipment is deployed and commissioned, he observed.
Replying to another question, the minister said the total licence fee (LF) and Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) dues up to FY2018-19 for major telecom service providers stood at about Rs 1,62,654.4 crore.
As per the information made available, the cumulative dues of telecom service providers, which have opted for a moratorium scheme, add up to Rs 1,02,325 crore.
Of this, Bharti Group’s LF and SUC dues up to the financial year 2018-19 came to about Rs 29,856 crore, while that of Vodafone Idea was Rs 59,236.8 crore.
The LF and SUC dues of Reliance Jio Infocomm – which has not opted for the moratorium scheme – were at Rs 406.4 crore.
The assessment of such dues is an ongoing process and subject to revision based on representation, audits and litigation.
“For addressing the financial stress in the sector, the government has given an option of moratorium of up to four years on LF and SUC dues assessed up to FY 2018-19, to be paid by the licensees in yearly instalments by 31.03.2031,” the minister said.