Suppliers may move insolvency pleas against BSNL and MTNL

Some suppliers of BSNL and MTNL are planning to move insolvency pleas against the state-run telecom operators for non-payment of dues, estimated to be around Rs 20,000 crore, PTI reported.
BSNL Kerala offersThe pending payments are against the supply of telecom gear and other goods to BSNL and MTNL as well as Rs 45,000 crore rural broadband project BharatNet, PHD Chamber of Commerce Telecom Committee chairman Sandeep Aggarwal said.

“Banks started putting pressure on vendors to clear their dues. All vendors will stage a protest on November 19. If payments are not made within 10 days, they will approach NCLT for liquidation of BSNL and MTNL,” Sandeep Aggarwal claimed.

The Telecom Export Promotion Council on October 31, 2019, wrote to the administrator of Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to pay pending dues of around Rs 2,000 crore to various suppliers. USOF manages the BharatNet project.

These vendors include Sterlite Technologies (Rs 500 crore due), Tejas Networks (Rs 314 crore), HFCL (Rs 219 crore), Paramount Wires and Cables (Rs 168 crore), VNL (Rs 150 crore) etc.

Paramount, in a letter to telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, said its bankers are pressuring the company to clear their dues at the earliest.

“Our plant has remained mostly shut, since we do not have funds to buy raw materials. Creditors are refusing to supply even at high prices. Our staff and worker salaries have not been paid for the last two months. This has never happened in our history,” Paramount said.

Last month, the Cabinet approved a Rs 69,000-crore revival plan for BSNL and MTNL but dues of many vendors are still unpaid.

Sandeep Aggarwal said that around 1 lakh direct employment is affected due to non-payment of dues by government-run firms.

Meanwhile, representatives of some employee unions and officer associations of BSNL and MTNL met telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday and offered their full support to the relief package, VRS and asset monetisation plans announced by the government recently.

MTNL has reported losses in nine of the past 10 years and BSNL too has been posting loss since 2010. The total debt on both the companies stood at Rs 40,000 crore, of which half of the liability is on MTNL alone.