Over 94,000 employees of state-run BSNL and MTNL have so far applied for the recently announced Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) with eight more days to go for its closure, as per the reports.

As per the reports, nearly one lakh BSNL employees were eligible for VRS out of its total staff strength of about 1.50 lakh. The effective date of voluntary retirement under the present scheme is January 31, 2020. The ‘BSNL Voluntary Retirement Scheme – 2019’, rolled out recently, will remain open till December 3. BSNL was looking at savings of about ₹7,000 crore in wages, if 70,000-80,000 personnel opt for the VRS.

According to the plan, all regular and permanent employees of BSNL, including those on deputation to other organisations or posted outside the corporation on deputation basis, aged 50 or above are eligible to seek voluntary retirement under the scheme. The amount of ex-gratia for any eligible employee would equal 35 days salary for each completed year of service and 25 days salary for every year of service left until superannuation.

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) has also announced VRS for its employees. The scheme, based on the Gujarat model, would be open for employees till December 3, 2019. The Union Cabinet had approved a plan last month to combine MTNL, which provides services in Mumbai and New Delhi, with BSNL that caters to the rest of the nation.

“MTNL’s 13,988 employees have applied for the VRS. Of the total 18,200, 16,372 are eligible for it. I am expecting another 500 to opt for the VRS. Our target was 13,500”, MTNL chairman Sunil Kumar was quoted as saying to IANS.

The Union Cabinet had last month approved a plan to combine MTNL, which provides telecom services in Mumbai and New Delhi, and BSNL that services the rest of the nation. It also approved a package for the ailing PSUs to cut employee cost by offering the VRS on the Gujarat model to the employees of 50 years and above.

The total of ex-gratia (as per the Gujarat model) and admissible pension for the remaining period of service doesn’t exceed 125 per cent of the salary that the employee would have drawn on the date of voluntary retirement. The payment for ex-gratia on VRS (Rs 17,169 crore) and preponed pensionary liability (Rs 12,768 crore spread over 10 years) is to be supported through budgetary allocation. The ex-gratia on VRS is to paid in two instalments of 50 per cent each during FY20 and during Q1FY21.

The rescue package includes infusion of Rs 20,140 crore for purchase of 4G spectrum, Rs 3,674 crore for GST to be paid on spectrum allocation, companies raising Rs 15,000 crore in debt on the sovereign guarantee and the government funding Rs 17,160 crore VRS and another Rs 12,768 crore towards retirement liability.

(With input from agencies)