NEW DELHI, INDIA: Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited in its 10 year as a corporation was lauded by ministers and senior officials for meeting its social responsibility but at the same time all these top government figures acknowledged the need to improve the company’s balance sheet.
BSNL had reported loss of Rs 1823 crore approximately for financial year 2009-10.
“BSNL as corporation in 10 year of its operation has created key role in economic and social development of the country. It is BSNL on which the government depends at large to provide various telecom services to masses at large and particularly to the rural and under-served people of the country,” said R Chandrashekhar, Secretary, Department of Telecom, while speaking at BSNL Seva Padak Award 2010 ceremony on Tuesday evening.
Chandrashekhar expressed hope that BSNL would continue to discharge its obligation towards the people of this country while keeping an eye on its bottom line.
“It is difficult to achieve but at the same time it is something which has to be done. The fact that BSNL's overall performance in terms of market share, revenue and profitability has slidden is a matter of concern. BSNL's market share has come down to 14.5 per cent. The organization has some of the best talent in telecom technologies but innovation, marketing and customer interface are some area on which the company needs to work more,” said Chandrashekhar.
The Telecom Secretary mentioned that the company needs to think and act like any other competitive organization.
“Being a public sector enterprise, BSNL has special challenges. It may not be able to posses all the freedom that is available with private telecom companies to improve profitability but at the same time it has the opportunity to find its own way for sustaining in competitive environment,” said Chandrashekhar.
Chandrashekhar pointed out that BSNL should take inspiration from other PSUs that in spite of similar constraints, which BSNL faces, are doing very well. The Telecom Secretary thinks advent of 3G services and MNP roll out in the coming days are going to increase challenges for the company but it should see these challenges as opportunity and make difference in the market.
He appreciated the improvement of BSNL market share in broadband segment.
“BSNL has improved its market share which now stands at 61 per cent. This needs to be sustained and expanded. Enough opportunity exists in the broadband segment as market penetration is very low,” said Chandrashekhar.
Sachin Pilot, Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology lauded the services being rendered by BSNL and its employees throughout the country.
“BSNL stands accountable to the government, to Parliament and through Parliament to the people of this country. I have seen that at the time of need in any part of the country BSNL employees stand to fulfill government's obligation as their own responsibility. BSNL employees have stood with their responsibility even in the tough climatic condition of Leh,” said Pilot.
Pilot mentioned that close to three lakh people work in BSNL and the telecom provider can efficiently use their talents to become as competitive as any telecom company in the country.
“I don’t see reason to believe that BSNL lacks in technology, talent, capability, energy that other telecom companies have. When I meet BSNL employees in any part of the country then I think that we can bring back the old days of BSNL. Today there are less than 1 per cent people in the country that have broadband connection. It shows a big opportunity for BSNL,” said Pilot.
Making public appearance after a long time, Gurudas Kamat, Minister of State for Communications and IT did not miss the opportunity to take a ride on controversies that exist in the country. In his brief remark, he stressed that all companies should bring in more transparency in their working.
“Telecom sector has contributed to the nation’s economic growth. All the companies in the sector need to be transparent, and not buckle down under any pressure, in order to maintain the fair name of the organization and the nation,” said Kamat.
Union Minister for communications and IT, A Raja specially asked media to observe BSNL’s challenges and also his initiatives to encourage the telecom PSU.
“Some people accuse that BSNL’s profitability is coming down. Friends from media and other domain should know that the duties that have been bestowed upon BSNL is not exclusively based on commercial purpose but it is the only organization that is giving social obligatory function to the common people. When there was hue and cry in Leh, none of the operators thought of giving service to people there. It was only BSNL that was asked to provide service to people there,” said Raja.
Raja said his decision to give 3G spectrum to BSNL on priority basis was an encouragement to the company.
“When the decision was taken to auction the spectrum, we took a policy decision that one slot will be given to BSNL in each circle and it will have to match the winning price,” said Raja.
Raja promised to extend all possible support from his ministry to make BSNL a profitable company.
The BSNL event was a rare occasion which saw the presence of all the three ministers from the ministry.
Gopal Das, chairman and managing director, highlighted efforts being made by the PSU to improve its services.
“We are quickly enhancing customer service by implementing superior billing and ERP system. We have launched massive training program for BSNL employees so that they can redefine themselves as skillful and trained workforce,” said Das.