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A file photo of union telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
A file photo of union telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
(Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

No plan to shut down MTNL: Telecom minister

Statement comes even as MTNL’s market share in wireless has come down to 0.36% and wireline to 13.10% at the end of January

New Delhi: There is no plan to shut down loss-making telecom company MTNL and the government is taking various measures to revive it, union minister for communications and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday.

His comments follow heavy industries minister Anant Geete’s statement in Parliament two days ago that five public sector undertakings (PSUs) which are in a list of 65 sick PSUs would be closed down.

The list of sick PSUs include MTNL, Air India and Hindustan Shipyard. The five PSUs to be closed down include three HMT units, Geete had said. He, however, did not name the other PSUs which are slated to be shut. “There is no plan to close down MTNL," Prasad said when asked if MTNL is among the probable PSUs that would be shut down.

Air India and MTNL, once market leaders in aviation and mobile telephony sectors, respectively, were declared sick as per the criteria for a PSU to be declared as such, after they incurred losses worth 50% or more of their average networth during four preceding years.

MTNL, which provides telecom services in Delhi and Mumbai, has been losing market share over the last many years. It’s market share in wireless has come down to 0.36% and wireline to 13.10% at the end of January.

The government is taking various measures to revive MTNL which includes refund the amount MTNL paid for acquiring broadband wireless spectrum (BWA) in 2010.

The government had also approved pension support to MTNL for about 43,000 employees who joined the state-run firm from the Department of Telecom. MTNL had reported a standalone net loss of 730.83 crore for the third quarter ended 31 December 2014.

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