Meeting with the Prime Minister on 2nd March 2005.
Either the government was not taking any decision on many of the urgent issues or it was unduly delaying matters as in the case of USO Fund, ADC, Pension from government etc. In this connection, a meeting was arranged with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh at the instance of Com. Basudeb Acharya, senior Member of Parliament on 2nd March 2005 in the Parliament building. Members of the Joint Forum viz. Coms. V.A.N.Namboodiri (Convener and GS BSNLEU), O.P.Gupta GS NFTE, S.Basu GS AIBSNLEA, G.L.Jogi GS SNEA, K.Vallinayagam GS FNTO, V.Narayana GS BSNLMS, V.K.Tomar GS MTNLEA, S.D.Sharma GS BSNLWRU, Vrijesh Upadhyaya GS MTNLMS, V.Subburaman GS TEPU, K.M.Pillai GS MTNLSW, Umesh Thyagi GS MTNLKVS, Sathish Kumar GSMTNLWU and Devender Singh GS MTNLOA were present along with Members of Parliament Coms. Basudeb Acharya and Neelotpal Basu.
The delegation thanked the Prime Minister for the decision to pay government pension and also pension contribution by BSNL as per FR and SR. Prime Minister stated that cabinet decision is already taken in both these cases and will be implemented without delay.
On the issue of increasing the FDI from 49% to 74% in telecom sector, the Prime Minister addressed the concern of the workers on the risk to security of the Nation as well as take over by the MNCs, stating that the government has taken sufficient steps to ensure the security. He also stated that BSNL and MTNL were capable of competing with MNCs and the government will provide help to the PSUs.
The PM’s attention was drawn by the Forum to the unwarranted decision of the TRAI to reduce the ADC, which was a compensation for BSNL and MTNL for providing landline services below cost. Forum wanted to continue ADC as before. The Forum also brought to the notice of the Prime Minister that though funds were available with the USOF due amount is yet to be paid to BSNL and MTNL. While the loss to BSNL for providing rural connections in 2003-04 was Rs. 9528 crore, the refund was only Rs. 2522.77 crore through reimbursement licence fee and allotment from USO Fund. It was also pointed out that unnecessary outsourcing of work was being resorted to by management of both PSUs, draining their funds. Prime Minister assured to look in to these matters.
It is worth mentioning that despite Parliament was in session, Prime Minister was kind enough to spend about half an hour of his valuable time to hear the points raised by the representatives. The M.P.s present also put in certain valuable suggestions during the discussion.
The government started a move to merge BSNL and MTNL. The Forum expressed its strong view that the merger can be considered only after the MTNL shares sold are bought back. The protest had its effect. The move was stopped for the time being. ( to be continued)