Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that the Centre was committed to reviving troubled telecom provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited but added that it was not possible to retain all its employees, PTI reported.

“The government of India is committed to the revival of BSNL,” Prasad said during the Question Hour. “Our intention is to keep BSNL alive and that it performs but it is not possible to retain all employees.”

The telecom minister said 74% of BSNL’s revenue goes towards paying salaries whereas in the case of private telecom operators, the salary outgo is less than 10%. He said that BSNL had 1,55,296 employees as on October 1, 2019.

Prasad said that the revival plan for BSNL, approved by the government in October last year, includes reduction in staff cost through Voluntary Retirement Scheme for employees aged 50 and above. He said nearly one lakh BSNL employees have opted for the scheme and added that the posts left vacant by voluntary retirement have been scrapped and there has been no recruitment against those vacancies.

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Asked about the possibility of BSNL adopting 4G technology, Prasad said the Union Cabinet has made a decision and the services may be introduced soon.

The minister said the BSNL has been incurring losses since 2009-10. On the basis of its financial performance and as per the guidelines issued by Department of Public Enterprises, BSNL was classified as “Incipient sick Central Public Sector Enterprise” in 2017.

Last year, the Centre had announced its decision to merge BSNL with Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited – another loss-making company. The Centre had said it plans to offer an attractive voluntary retirement package for employees of the two firms.