BSNL must sell 30 per cent stake, slash staff: Pitroda panel

Bharat Sanchar Nigram Ltd, the state run telecommunications company, should retire or transfer 100,000 employees, and should also consider divesting 30 per cent of the government stake, a committee headed by advisor to the prime minister Sam Pitroda has reportedly recommended.

''BSNL needs to improve organisation performance and employee productivity substantially. Retire or transfer around 100,000 employees through best possible processes such as voluntary retirement scheme (VRS),'' the committee said.

BSNL is said to have over 3,00,000 workers and is one of the largest employers in the country along with the railways. In contrast, the privately owned Bharti Airtel, the country's biggest mobile operator with over 122 million subscribers across the country, has just about 25,000 employees.

Unofficial reports say the committee led by Pitroda, a technocrat who is credited with laying the foundation for the telecom revolution two decades ago, also suggested that the government offload 30 per cent of its stake in BSNL to an Indian strategic investor or through an initial public offering.

The company should also raise funds from the sale of its infrastructure, such as signal towers and real estate, the panel has recommended. A larger part of the income from the equity sale should be used for VRS, expansion and operational efficiency, it said.

BSNL ''is under severe pressure due to increased competition, a declining fixed line market, antiquated processes and procedural bottlenecks, especially related to purchase of equipment,'' the report said. ''A bureaucratic and government-dependent decision making system, lack of collaborative actions, large workforce, regulatory changes, operational inefficiencies and other internal and external challenges'' also contributed to its decline.