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Union Telecom Minister Requests Bengal CM for Moratorium on BSNL Payments to State Electricity Boards till March

Earlier this week, BSNL had said that West Bengal owed it Rs 46 crore and had urged it to expedite the payments.

Sujit Nath | News18

Updated:November 13, 2019, 8:28 PM IST
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Union Telecom Minister Requests Bengal CM for Moratorium on BSNL Payments to State Electricity Boards till March
Representative Image (Reuters)

Kolkata: Union Telecom Minister Ravishankar Prasad has requested West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to consider the Centre's request for moratorium on payment by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) to state electricity board/discoms until March 31, 2020, and has asked the state to clear its dues owed to the public sector unit (PSU) that is facing a cash crunch.

The letter to Banerjee, by the secretary of the Department of Telecommunication, requested an intervention by the state government in the matter of payment of electricity dues by BSNL.

"It is requested that the state government favourably considers the request for moratorium on payment by BSNL to state electricity board/discoms till March 31, 2020, and thereafter BSNL can settle the dues in four quarterly instalments with waiver of interest/penalty/surcharge," it said.

Sources at the secretariat said that the state government has already considered the request made by Prasad.

Earlier this week, BSNL had said that West Bengal owed it Rs 46 crore and had urged it to expedite the payments. With its inability to recover dues, the cash-starved company has been unable to meet its own payment obligations, BSNL (Bengal circle) CGM Ramakant Sharma had said on Monday.

"The state government owed Rs 46 crore and we have asked the state chief secretary to expedite payment of the dues with the various departments," he had said.

BSNL Bengal Circle, which had failed to clear the power dues of Rs 17 crore to West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company, also sought moratorium till March 2020, he had added.

"We have sought a moratorium till March 2020 for payment of power dues and requested the state not to cut off electricity connection, otherwise BSNL telecom service will collapse," Sharma had said.

The telecom operator had apprehended that under the current situation, it will not be able to meet the power bill obligations in full till next March, he said. "In the last 2-3 months, we have not been able to pay the power bills in full. Now, the dues are Rs 17 crore. We have requested the state government to give more time and dues would be cleared in the next 4 installments post March 2020," he had further said.

The Union Cabinet last month had announced a bailout package for ailing BSNL, including a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), to improve the company’s finances through sovereign bonds and by providing 4G spectrum at administrative rates.

(With inputs from PTI)

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