According to reports in the press, the SBI has posted a huge loss of Rs. 2416 crore in the three months quarter ending December 2017. This is the first time that SBI has posted any loss since the quarter ending March 1999, which was Rs. 115 crore. The loss is mainly due to the increased NPA (bad loans), reduced returns from bonds etc. But another major reason is the merger of the six associate banks including State Bank of Travancore, with SBI. The merger was implemented despite strong opposition by the workers.
Merger has been made a tool by Government to make PSUs in to loss making. While both the airline PSUs, Indian Airlines and Air India were profitable, the merger, among other reasons like purchase of large number of planes which were not at all required, made the merged Air India in to loss. The same policy is now implemented in the bank sector and made SBI posting loss.
Government is now planning and moving fast for merger of BSNL and MTNL in to one entity. BSNL is fighting for survival with the initiative from the workers and has earned operational profit for the last three years,though the net loss continues. MTNL is in a very difficult financial situation with increasing loss. The merger with out writing away the loss and repurchase of the disinvested shares to the tune of 46.5% of MTNL will be disastrous. That disaster is exactly, what the government wants to hand over the telecom sector completely to the foreign and Indian corporates. Why can not the government which is allowing the banks to write off lakhs of crores of rupees of loan taken by corporates, allow the same in the case of its own PSU, MTNL?
The fact that the entire workers / unions in BSNL are on united struggle to save BSNL is a very welcome step. The privatisation of BSNL and MTNL is not only against the interests of the BSNL, MTNL workers and the customers of both the PSUs, but also of the entire telecom customers of all the private telecom operators. Once BSNL and MTNL are closed or privatised, there will be no limit to the charges for telecom service. India has one of the lowest tariffs in the world and absence of the PSUs will result manifold tariff increase, which will be much beyond the capacity of the ordinary customer. India has got mobile connection of about 110 crore. The high tariff cost may perhaps reduce the telecom density, but the profit that will be garnered by the telecos will be manifold with reduced costs. This is what the pro-corporate government wants.
The struggle against unwanted merger of PSUs as in the case of banks and telecom sectors, should continue and the government move should be defeated