State-owned telecommunications service provider, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL), has been in the midst of a financial crisis and is unable to pay the salaries of its employees for three months now. It has therefore raised pending dues of Rs 500 crore from the Department of Telecom (DoT) for the time period 2000–2013.
The service provider has sought reimbursement of Rs 488 crore, which includes pension and GPF, which was paid to employees who were absorbed from DoT by MTNL and also towards the telephone services provided to DoT employees.
The lands and buildings of MTNL were leased by DoT during 2000-2013, towards which the MTNL is now demanding rental of Rs 12 crore.
It is reported that, from the amount so generated, Rs 200 crore will go into settling the wage bill of MTNL employees for January.
The DoT is said to be going through the MTNL invoices to consider releasing some amount to help pay the salaries of the employees. The balance will be released only after thorough examination of the invoices and other documents of MTNL to determine the veracity of the Rs 500 crore claim.
With a workforce comprising 23,000 employees, MTNL reported a loss of Rs 859 crore in the quarter ended on September 30, 2018, owing to increase in finance cost and drop in sales. The Company posted a loss of Rs 730.64 crore during the same time in 2017.
According to auditors, MTNL’s net worth has been been fully depleted and it is carrying a debt of approx. Rs 19,000 crore.