Govt lifeline for bleeding PSUs
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For most public sector firms, periodic lifelines from the government form the very basis of survival.
The Department of Telecommunications has recently circulated a draft note for inter-ministerial consultations proposing "preferential treatment to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) services in central government ministries, central government PSUs and other autonomous bodies. The proposal, the note says, is "not contrary to economic policy as it is limited to government employees for whom reimbursement facility from government is provided".
The matter is currently under consultation and a decision is still awaited, with some ministries and a number of PSUs having protested citing the need to have more options in opting for basic infrastructure providers such as telecom services.
The desperate move to shore up the revenues of the two state-owned telecom firms, comes in the wake of a Group of Ministers report submitted to the Centre on April 17 this year suggesting revival measures for both the bleeding firms.
MTNL's net loss widened to Rs 5,321.12 crore in the financial year 2012-13 from Rs 4,109.78 crore in the previous fiscal while the unlisted BSNL's losses, according to reports, are expected at over Rs 8,100 crore during the last fiscal.
Compared to the telecom ministry's move, the civil aviation ministry appears to have taken a slightly more progressive stance. Government employees have now been allowed to fly airlines other than Air India on official trips or to avail Leave Travel Concession (LTC) only if the national carrier does not operate to such destinations, according to a new order issued by the aviation ministry.
Hitherto, government officials or employees were allowed to fly only Air India or its subsidiaries on official duty. The latest missive says in case government officials or employees plan a trip to a destination not served by Air India, they would have to fly the state-run airline or its subsidiaries till a hub or the "point closest to the eventual destination" and then take another airline.