No plan to merge BSNL and MTNL: Pitroda

Sam Pitroda, IT advisor to the prime minister said on Friday that the government was not planning to merge BSNL and MTNL but efforts were on to sell stake in BSNL.

He told reporters that there was no move to merge BSNL and MTNL, however the government was considering selling a part of its stake in BSNL and would move quickly in that direction.

A high-level review meeting chaired by prime minister Manmohan Singh had earlier this week agreed to consider a suggestion for immediate sale of 10 per cent government equity in BSNL.

Pitroda is also coordinating the spectrum release by the defence forces ahead of the 3G auction and is learned to be in favour of an immediate disinvestment of 10 per cent government equity in BSNL, a proposal that is expected to be considered at the highest level in the government soon.

The review assumes importance against the backdrop of deteriorating revenues of telecom PSUs, particularly BSNL, which is also confronting a controversy over a Rs35,000-crore expansion plan. He clarified that there was no plan to follow-on-public offer of MTNL.

It may be recalled that the government had earlier contemplated a merger of BSNL and MTNL to help synergise operations of the two public sector telcos.