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Govt announces voluntary retirement scheme for employees

New delhi 25.10.2019. The government has also announced an ‘attractive’ voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for BSNL and MTNL employees after announcing the merger of the two telcos.

“If an employee is 53-and-a-half years old and opts for VRS, he will get 125 per cent salary, pension and gratuity till the age of 60,” Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ravi Shankar Prasad said at the press briefing after the Cabinet meeting.

Government of India will be putting in Rs 29,937 crore on ex-gratia account and Rs 12,678 crore for pensionary benefit, the minister stated. The government will also adjust GST worth Rs 4,000 crore that will have to be paid for granting 4G spectrum to BSNL and MTNL, he said.

The minister evinced hope that the steps taken in respect to the two state-run telecom companies would help make BSNL EBITDA positive within two years, and will make the company profitable after that.

“Narendra Modi government has offered a very generous financial assistance to revive BSNL and MTNL. Now I would like to urge the employees of both these PSUs to work hard and help Govt in making these organisations profitable,” Prasad said.

Supreme Court Allows Centre To Recover Rs. 1.3 Lakh Crore From Telecom Companies
The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected telecom companies’ appeal against the government’s definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) and allowed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT to recover dues worth Rs. 1.33 lakh crore from telecom companies – Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications (RCom) and Vodafone Idea.
The Supreme Court said that the adjusted gross revenue will also include other items besides licence fee. However, the gains from sale of capital assets and insurance claims by telecom companies will not be a part of it, the top court further said.

The verdict came as a huge relief for the telecom department and as a big setback for the telecom operators, reeling under heavy debt and intense competition in the sector.

“We are disappointed by the verdict of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The definition of AGR has been a long standing dispute between the DoT and the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) dating to 2005,” Bharti Airtel spokesperson said.

“The TSPs have invested billions of dollars in developing the telecom sector and providing world-class services to consumers. This decision has come at a time when the sector is facing severe financial stress and may further weaken the viability of the sector as a whole. Of the 15 old operators impacted by the order, only two private sector operators remain in service today. The Government must review the impact of this decision and find suitable ways to mitigate the financial burden on the already stressed industry,” Airtel’s spokesperson added.

On the other hand, Vodafone-Idea said it will explore grounds to file a review application.

“We will study the ruling as soon as it is available, along with our legal advisers, to determine next steps. If there are technical or procedural grounds for doing so, this could include a Review Application”, a Vodafone-Idea spokesperson said.

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