The board is likely to take a final decision after the Lok Sabha elections.
The board of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has cleared a proposal to let go of close to 54,000 employees, but will wait till the completion of the general elections, according to a Deccan Herald report.
The report quoted sources saying that the decision was made on the recommendation provided by an expert panel formed by the government to turn around the fortunes of the ailing telecom company.
The panel recommended to reduce the age of retirement from 60 years to 58 years, and provide the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) for all employees aged 50 years and above.
The report noted that these moves are estimated to slash the workforce by 31 percent of its current 174,312 employees.The paper reported that the average age of BSNL employees was estimated to be above 55 years.
The decision to reduce the retirement age would reduce the number of employees by 33,568 people, and provide savings worth Rs 13,895 crore over the next six years on the payment of salaries.
The report noted that VRS is expected to save between Rs 1,671 crore to Rs 1,921.24 crore annually, with the estimated costs to carry it out being Rs 13,049 crore.
The officials who spoke to the paper said that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) would likely carry out these recommendations after the completion of the general elections, as it would have major implications for the employees and the elections.
The panel has also recommended expediting the allocation of 4G spectrum to MTNL and BSNL. BSNL has been performing poorly after the disruption caused by the Reliance Jio in the telecom space.
BSNL's revenues dipped by 20 percent during 2017-18, earning Rs 25,071, as against Rs 31,533 crore in 2016-17. Currently, the state-run telecom firm is operating at a loss of Rs 7,993 crore during 2017-18.
The panel that provided these recommendations included Ajay Pandey, Rekha Jain and Vishal Gupta, who are all professors at Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).(Disclaimer: Reliance Industries Ltd. is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd)