No plan to privatise state telcos, says govt

Strengthening BSNL, MTNL crucial: Minister

No plan to privatise state telcos, says govt

Some forces are at work to create trouble for the growth of the two state-run telecom companies but the government has no plans to privatise these PSUs, Telecom Minister Ravishankar Prasad said on Friday.

Responding to queries from MPs during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, Prasad admitted that not everything is fine with Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL).

One has to find out the reasons why these companies, which had posted profits in 2004, had slumped to losses, he said.

He said BSNL was in Rs 10,000 crore profit in 2004 but fell into a loss of Rs 8,000 crore now while MTNL that had Rs 800-900 crore profit also fell into losses in the past seven-eight years. The question has to be raised why it went in loss, he added.

“I have never misled the House on the financial health of MTNL and BSNL. There are several reasons for this, which I want to discuss in the House in detail one day. However, we will make them healthy,” he said adding, “there are forces which are working to create trouble for the growth of MTNL and BSNL.”

However, he did not name the forces, which were after these companies though a section of employees unions and labour activists claim that the governments have been more sympathetic to private players.

Batting for both the companies, he said, “as long as public sector is not strong, competition will not be healthy.”

His response came after senior MP Sharad Yadav, JD-U, pointed out that despite huge infrastructure, the two units were not able to make any move forward.

“Those who have taken MTNL connections are in great difficulty. You are not able to make or attend calls. You (government) have given us (MPs) MTNL connections. It is not working,” Yadav said. Responding to this, Prasad said 25,000 new mobile towers are being erected besides setting up next generation telephone exchanges.

He also sought to debunk campaign against mobile towers being hazardous to health.

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