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  • DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS:Government announces Rs 1.64 lakh crore revival package for BSNL

Government announces Rs 1.64 lakh crore revival package for BSNL

Tags: National Economics/Business

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a number of proposals  including a package amounting to Rs 1.64 lakh crore to revive the ailing Public sector Telecom giant Bharat Sanchar Nigam ltd(BSNL) on 27 July 2022.

Revival measure approved by the government has three focus elements — to improve services, de-stress the balance sheet and expand the fibre network.

Financial package for de-stressing BSNL balance sheet:  

  •  Government has approved a proposal to increase its authorized capital from Rs 40,000 crore to Rs 1, 50,000 crore. This will help the company get more capital.
  • The government has also approved a proposal to convert  Rs 33,404 crore statutory dues into equity. BSNL, like other Telecom companies, has to pay Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) to the government as a license fee for using the spectrum (air frequency) owned by the government. Now AGR due of BSNL will be converted into shares and issued to the Government of India.
  • To repay the Bank loans, BSNL will issue low interest rate bonds worth Rs 40,399 crore, which will be guaranteed by the government of India. It means that if the BSNL fails to repay the bondholders then the government of India will repay them.
  • Government will provide Rs 13,789 crore to BSNL as viability gap funding for commercially unviable rural wire-line operations done during 2014-15 to 2019-20.

Expansion of Fiber service: 

  • To facilitate wider utilisation of infrastructure laid under BharatNet, Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) will be merged with BSNL. 
  • With the BBNL merger, BSNL will get an additional 5.67 lakh kilometres of optical fibre which has been laid across 1.85 lakh village panchayats in the country using the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). 
  • Currently, BSNL has an optical fibre cable network of over 6.83 lakh kilometres.

4G service: 

  • To improve existing services and provide 4G services, BSNL will be allotted Spectrum in 900/1800 MHz band administratively at the cost of Rs 44,993 crore through equity infusion.
  • BSNL is expected to launch 4G service within one or two years.

The Government of India hopes that with the implementation of this revival plan, BSNL will turn-around and earn profit in FY 2026-27.

Strategic Importance of BSNL:  

  • BSNL was set up in 2000 by the Government of India under the Department of Telecommunication, Ministry of Telecommunication.
  • Its network is used by the government and the defence forces.
  • BSNL plays a crucial role in the expansion of telecom services in rural areas, development of indigenous technology and disaster relief.
  • It is losing its market share to the Private telecom sector providers like Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone-idea.
  • According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India  as  on May 31, 2022, the private telecom service providers held 89.87 percent market share of the wireless subscribers, whereas BSNL and MTNL, the two PSU access service providers, had a market share of only 10.13 percent.

Union Minister of Railways, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology: Ashwini Vaishnaw

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