By Anjana Das
New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) Unable to pay salaries to its employees for a third consecutive month in January, state-run MTNL has raised pending dues of Rs 500 crore from the Department of Telecom (DoT) for the period 2000-13.
The Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) seeks reimbursement of pension and GPF totalling Rs 488 crore paid to employees absorbed from DoT in MTNL and also for rendering telephone services to DoT employees.
The DoT had leased the lands and buildings of MTNL during this period for which the public sector undertaking wants Rs 12 crore in rentals.
An amount of Rs 200 crore from this is meant to settle the wage bill of MTNL employees for January, DoT sources said.
A senior DoT official said the department was examining the MTNL invoices and would release some cash towards the salary payment. The rest would be given after due scrutiny of MTNL documents in support of their claim of Rs 500 crore.
MTNL has an employee strength of around 23,000. Its stock price closed at Rs 12.20 a piece on Monday, just about 1 per cent higher than the previous close.
Earlier, MTNL was paying pension to its employees. But three years back, DoT started funding pensions of MTNL employees. It is on this basis that MTNL is now reclaiming the amount what it has already paid to tide over its current financial crunch.
MTNL reported widening of its loss to Rs 859 crore on standalone basis in the quarter ended on September 30, 2018, mainly on account of increase in finance cost and decline in sales.
The debt-ridden firm posted a loss of Rs 730.64 crore in the same period a year ago.
The finance cost of the company during the period under review increased to Rs 422.72 crore from Rs 366.22 crore. The total income declined by about 21 per cent to Rs 621.26 crore in the reported quarter from Rs 791.1 crore in July-September 2017 quarter.
The auditors of MTNL in a note said that the net worth of the company had been fully eroded. MTNL has a debt of around Rs 19,000 crore.