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57,000 BSNL employees opted for VRS scheme in four days: Govt

New Delhi: As many as 57,000 employees of public sector undertaking Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) have already availed themselves of the voluntary retirement scheme that was rolled out on 5 November, news agency PTI reported on Sunday. The figures when combined with those of state-owned MTNL exceed 60,000.

The scheme will be open till 3 December.

In all, nearly one lakh BSNL employees are eligible for the VRS out of its total staff strength of about 1.5 lakh. BSNL’s internal target for VRS is pegged at 77,000 employees, PTI further reported. The effective date of voluntary retirement under the present scheme is January 31, 2020.

All regular and permanent employees of BSNL including those on deputation to other organisation or posted outside BSNL on deputation basis, who attained the age of 50 years or above are eligible to seek voluntary retirement under the scheme.

When contacted by PTI, BSNL Chairman and MD P.K. Purwar confirmed that discussions have been initiated on the issue.

“We have to work meticulously because we have now started taking the data, which SSA, which unit, how many people are taking VRS….We will still be left with about 80,000 people. So, the numbers are not less…but it will be almost half. The work culture will also have to change,” Purwar told PTI.

BSNL is looking at savings of about 7,000 crore in wage bill, if 70,000-80,000 personnel opt for the scheme.

Telecom secretary Anshu Prakash told PTI on Friday that the VRS is very attractively designed and has received “unprecedented” response from the employees

The Cabinet last month approved a 69,000 crore revival package for BSNL and MTNL that includes monetising their assets and giving VRS to employees. The two operators will also be merged.

Employees above the age of 53.5 years will get 125 per cent of their salary, which they could have earned in the balance period of their service. Employees in the age bracket of 50 to 53.5 years opting for VRS will get benefit in the range of 80 to 100 per cent of the remuneration to be paid in the balance period of their service.

For employees over 55 years of age opting for VRS, the pension will be commuted only when they attain 60 years of age (the current retirement age).

The package includes infusion of 20,140 crore for purchase of 4G spectrum, 3,674 crore for GST to be paid on spectrum allocation, companies raising 15,000 crore in debt on the sovereign guarantee and government funding 17,160 crore for VRS and another 12,768 crore towards retirement liability.

The two firms will also monetise assets worth 37,500 crore in the next three years. MTNL has reported losses in nine of the past 10 years and BSNL too has been ringing in loss since 2010. The total debt on both the companies stood at 40,000 crore, of which half of the liability is on MTNL alone.

Source: Livemint