Government proposes preferential share offer to BSNL staff

The government today proposed to make a preferential offer of equity shares to the employees of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), in a bid to placate the employees opposing privatisation of the state-run telecom service provider.

The preferential share issue plans will be finalised as and when consensus is reached on the initial public offer of BSNL, telecom minister A Raja told the Rajya Sabha.

"I assure you it is not a question of disinvestments or privatisation," Raja said, adding, "If it is possible, we can go in for 10-20 per cent IPO."

He said discussions with trade unions on the issue are continuing and a decision on IPO is yet to be taken.

He cited various reasons for the fall in BSNL's profit, which has come down to Rs500 crore. He said BSNL lost revenues due to delays in expansion and on court cases over equipment tenders.

"Because of the court cases we are not able to build up the expansion", he said.

He said the company's expansion plans have been hit by objections raised by the urban development and home ministries to its putting up more telecom towers.

He said BSNL would soon place advanced purchase order for equipment to roll out 93 million.