BSNL, AI account for half of losses by PSUs

In 2017-18, BSNL and Air India together accounted for 52% of Rs 25,181 crore losses incurred by the 52 loss-making PSUs in the country.

Amid talks of a suspected closure of BSNL, a startling data series by the Centre has revealed that the telecom major, along with aviation behemoth Air India, accounted for more than half of the total losses incurred by PSU firms year after year since 2011.

In 2017-18, BSNL and Air India together accounted for 52% of Rs 25,181 crore losses incurred by the 52 loss-making PSUs in the country.

India currently has around 300 PSUs of which 52 have been making losses for over a decade. Air India and BSNL have been the biggest contributors every year, showed the data available with the Centre. However, the needle has not moved much on the perpetual loss-makers except for a proposed discussion by the board of BSNL over options of divestment and closure next week, and one or more failed attempts by the Centre to sell its shares in Air India.

The Air India sale, however, has been shelved and is expected to be back on the drawing board only after the new government is installed at the Centre.

“The earliest I can see the expression of interest in Air India is June next,” disinvestment secretary Atanu Chakraborty told DH in an interview.

BSNL made a cumulative loss of close to Rs 50,000 crore between 2011 and 2018, with Air India following at Rs 39,755 crore. The losses of Air India kept piling even after a Rs 30,000-crore lifeline to the state-owned carrier during 2012-2018, the data showed.

Now, the government is planning to sell 100% of its stake in the Air India ground handling arm to service debt.

On an average, losses of Air India remained in the range of Rs 5,500-Rs 6,000 crore each year since 2012-13, barring 2015-16 when they came below Rs 4,000 crore.

In the case of BSNL, the losses jumped 60% to Rs 7,993 crore in 2017-18 from the previous year. BSNL had incurred a loss of Rs 4,793 crore in 2016-17.

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BSNL, AI account for half of losses by PSUs

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