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Mar 19, 2010, 11.26 AM | Source: CNBC-TV18

Excl: BSNL board wants financial support to implement VRS

The BSNL board is seeking financial support from the government to implement a voluntary retirement scheme. The scheme will be only in specific cadres with surplus staff, and not across the board to escape union anger.

Siddharth Zarabi

Economic Editor, CNBC-TV18

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Even before the GSM tender controversy dies down, state-owned telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) may be placing an order for 5.5 million GSM lines. Sources also indicate that the BSNL board is considering the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) option as suggested by the Sam Pitroda Committee, reports CNBC-TV18's Economic Policy Editor Siddharth Zarabi.


The company may shortly order 5.5 million GSM lines for the north and east India. The order may be placed with Ericsson and other vendors. Recently, BSNL had cancelled its mega 93 million GSM line order.


The board also wants land usage change to monetise its land bank. It wants the transfer of land title to be expedited. The Pitroda Committee had suggested a separate subsidiary for land assets.


RN Jha, Officer, Department of Telecom, is the new government nominee on BSNL board.


The state-owned player plans to continue to look at overseas acquisitions. The BSNL board at its last meeting had formally dropped the bid for Zamtel Zambia.


BSNL plans to sign a Rs 4,348 crore wage agreement with staff. The board also wants financial support to implement its voluntary retirement scheme. The Pitroda Committee had suggested VRS for one lakh employees.


Over 60,000 employees are scheduled to retire in five years. The board feels its VRS move may face challenge and resistance from the union. It favours VRS in specific cadres with surplus staff. The board is also in favour of a series of small, specific VRS schemes.


The board is keen on partnerships for expanding its wireline and wireless business. It plans to rework its revenue-share model for Wi-Max franchisees. It has not fully agreed on unbundling local loop. The Pitroda Committee had suggested unbundling of local loop.


BSNL is keen on setting up venture fund for technology investments.


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