MTNL Likely to Report Profit in Next Fiscal: Telecom Minister

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MTNL Likely to Report Profit in Next Fiscal: Telecom Minister
Communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Sunday said state-run telecom firm MTNL, which is running into losses, is likely to turn profitable in the next fiscal.

BSNL, the other state-owned telecom service provider, has already reversed its loss making trend by reporting operating profit of Rs. 672 crores in 2014-15.

"MTNL was in loss of Rs. 2,900 crores loss in 2014. Today, their operating loss has come down from Rs. 140 crores to Rs. 70 crores in one year time," Prasad told reporters in Mumbai.

"They (MTNL) have promised me that in fiscal 2016-17 like BSNL they will also come into operating profits," he added. According to Prasad, MTNL plans to install about 6,000 cameras at 1,800 locations Mumbai under the police city surveillance scheme. The firm also proposes to provide hi-speed broadband to 100,000 homes in Mumbai.

BSNL operates on pan-India basis, barring Delhi and Mumbai, where the other state-owned firm MTNL provides telecom services.

Prasad noted that BSNL had recorded loss of Rs. 8,000 crores at the time he took over as the minister.

"But, today in five years BSNL has recorded operating profits of Rs. 672 crores this year. BSNL revenue has risen by 4.1 percent," he said.

Prasad also noted that BSNL was adding 1.5-1.6 million mobile customers every month, an increase from 600,000-700,000 customers it was getting till March-April 2015.

On the issue of call drops, the minister said he appreciated the mobile companies for spreading mobile services across the country. However, he noted that it was the responsibility of the companies to also provide good quality services including maintenance and infrastructure.

"For the service to be good the government has to sometimes take a tough stand for all telecom operators including BSNL and MTNL," Prasad said. "They (mobile firms) have done some good work they need to do more," he added.

He also noted that his government is pushing electronic manufacturing in big way. "About Rs. 11,700 crores [worth of] investments proposal were there when I became minister in June 2014 but till December-end about Rs. 1,18,000 crores have been invested in the sector," Prasad said.

"World is watching electronic manufacturing in India with great interest," the minster added. Moreover, Prasad said that as many as 40 domestic and multinational financial giants have sought to partner India Post for its upcoming payments bank which should commence by March 2017.

Also observing that government's digital India initiative is to help in 'upliftment' of the poor, Prasad noted that his ministry will set up call centres in digitally weak regions of the country.

"We are bringing in call centres in small cities. We have identified 48,000 seats and allocated them to cities which are digitally weak," he said.

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