BSNL and MTNL to merge; Cabinet approves VRS, 4G spectrum for BSNL, MTNL revival

Giving wings to the dreams of the revival of the state-owned BSNL, the Cabinet today approved a revival package for the two ailing telcos— Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL).

The revival package includes Rs15,000 crore infusion via sovereign bonds, a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) and allocation of fourth-generation (4G) airwaves. The cabinet has also decided to an eventual merger of the two loss-making state-run operators.

The Narendra Modi-headed Cabinet has also agreed to a Rs 38,000 crore-asset monetisation scheme over four years, while 4G spectrum would be allocated administratively at 2016 prices, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at a briefing Wednesday.

“4G spectrum will be allocated administratively at 2016 prices,” Prasad said and added that the government will pay Rs 4,000 crore from the budget provision towards spectrum expense.

“Neither BSNL nor MTNL will be closed, disinvested or sell-off but the government wants to make them professional,” Prasad said.

“Rs 15,000 crore worth of sovereign bonds will be given to them,” the minister said.

MTNL which is a stock-listed company, according to him, would become a subsidiary of BSNL till the time both entities are completely merged.

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