State-run BSNL or Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd is expected to post losses of Rs 14,202 crore for the financial year 2018-19, the government said. The revenue of the public sector telecom company is slated to be around Rs 19,308 crore, Telecom and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. He also said that "fierce competition in the mobile segment" and "absence of 4G services in the data centric telecom market" were among the main reasons for the company's losses. In line with sector trends, BSNL has seen a dip in its revenue after the entry of Reliance Jio in the market in 2016.
"Low tariffs due to fierce competition in the mobile segment, high staff cost and absence of 4G services (except in few places) in the data-centric telecom market are the main reasons for losses of BSNL," Mr Prasad said.
BSNL's salary expenditure is set to be a massive 75 per cent of the firm's total expenses at Rs 14,488 crore. Its provisional loss in 2015-16 was Rs 4,859 crore, Rs 4,793 crore 2016-17, and Rs 7,993 crore in 2017-18.
The company's revenue is pegged at around Rs 19,308 crore for 2018-19, compared with Rs 25,071 crore in 2017-18 and Rs 31,533 crore in 2016-17.
Struggling with poor cash flows from services and a severe financial crunch due to a huge workforce of 1.76 lakh, BSNL is looking for non-core asset monetisation under the broad policy of the government where DIPAM is the nodal department.
BSNL's corporate office has circulated a list of land parcels proposed for monetisation through the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) in the first instance. The company is in the process identifying land parcels all over the country for monetisation, which as per its internal estimate is valued at Rs 20,000 crore in 2018-19.
Time-bound monetisation of land assets, mobile towers and fibre networks will help BSNL earn some money in these tough times of falling revenues and rising losses.
"The total area of land parcels, which are spread across the country and have in-built structures, buildings and factories, is 32.77 lakh square metres (sq m) and the spareable land parcel is 31.97 lakh sq m," said an earlier BSNL corporate office letter to its circles seeking their comments.
"The fair value of spareable parcel as on April 1, 2015, is Rs 17,397 crore and the estimated present fair value of these lands is Rs 20,296 crore. The enhancement in valuation is based on cost inflation index for FY 2014-15 as 240 and FY 2018-19 as 280.
"The valuation of these land parcels is proposed to be done along with the structures lying in the parcel after the in-principle approval for sale or long tem lease by the government. The cost of buildings has not been included in the Fair Value of land parcels", it added.
BSNL telecom factories at Mumbai, Kolkata, West Bengal, Ghaziabad, Jabalpur and wireless stations, as well as other offices and staff colonies have been included in the list of land parcels to be monetised.
Some of these parcels are mutated, while some are not, and the status of some of these parcels are freehold and some are on leasehold.
The government is planning a revival scheme for BSNL and MTNL.
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