MSMEs file 668 plaints against BSNL to recover dues

The miniratna company, however, needs as much as Rs 6,000 crore instantaneously to service its subscriber base and to disburse June salaries to 1.75 lakh workforce, with the company’s revival plan including voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) hangs in balance.

NEW DELHI: As many as 668 complaints have been filed by the micro, small and medium businesses (MSME) against the state-controlled Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), a highest for any Central public sector enterprise, to recover their outstanding, following government’s non-clearance of Rs 3,300 credit to the telco.

Of the 668 grievances, only one has been resolved so far while 27 of them have been rejected, according to the MSME Samadhaan, a delayed payment monitoring system maintained by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

The state-owned operator, which is seeing squeezed cash flow over the last few months on the back of non-availability of competitive fourth-generation or 4Gservices and stalled government-funded programs have so far not received sanction for Rs 3,300 crore worth loan from the government.

In addition, BSNL had sought Rs 2,400 crore as interest on the Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum and Rs 2,300 crore as excess sum taken by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) towards pension contribution from 2007 onwards which has also been dragged despite the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) intervention.

The miniratna company, however, needs as much as Rs 6,000 crore instantaneously to service its subscriber base and to disburse June salaries to 1.75 lakh workforce, with the company’s revival plan including voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) hangs in balance.

BSNL spends as much as 65% of its overall revenues in maintaining employee salaries and benefits while private sector rivals such as Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel typically expend less than 5% on human resources.

The multinationals as well as homegrown companies including smaller firms have sought the Prime Miniter Narendra Modi-led government’s “immediate intervention” to get their payments cleared for the services and products, they offer to the fourth-largest operator.

In a letter to the Minister of State for Communications Sanjay Dhotre, dated June 1, seen by ETT, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s telecom committee chairman Sandeep Aggarwal said that local firms were finding hard to survive due to continued non-payment of dues by the public sector enterprise.

“Companies are closing down their production due to lack of funds. BSNL has not paid industry even from loans taken with Presidential approval stating that they will be used for only salary purpose,” Aggarwal in a letter to Dhotre stated.

Clixxo, an indigenous manufacturer of IPPBX’s and allied systems that employs nearly 200 headcount, is on the verge of collapse with salaries remain unpaid for a quarter and shutdown of its branch locations due to non-payment of rentals.

“The Ministry of MSME and the Ministry of Communications should take immediate steps and provide relief to vendors of the beleaguered BSNL to support the growth of MSME and Make in India,” Clixxo chief executive Pankaj Singhal told ETT.

The Noida-based firm that also supplies its systems to Indian naval headquarters, and Andaman & Nicobar command centre said that it would be difficult to service other strategic clients or mission-critical customers following non-clearance of its dues since March.

Meanwhile, the All India Graduate Engineers and Telecom Officers Association (AIGETOA) in a letter dated June 18 has sought the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to offer budgetary support to BSNL to help address liquidity crunch which was severely impacting operations and maintenance of services.

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