Cabinet Decisions: BSNL, MTNL to be merged; MSP for wheat and pulses hiked

PTI

New Delhi: Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri addresses a press conference on cabinet decisions, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar are also seen. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri addresses a press conference on cabinet decisions, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar are also seen. (PTI Photo)

The government on Wednesday decided to merge loss-making telecom firms MTNL and BSNL as part of a revival package that includes raising sovereign bonds, monetising assets and voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for employees.

Briefing reporters on decisions taken by the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government will put in Rs 29,937 crore for revival of the two state-owned telecom companies.

The revival package includes raising of Rs 15,000 crore sovereign bonds and monetising Rs 38,000 crore of assets in next four years.

Also, voluntary retirement will be offered to employees to cut cost, he said.

He said BSNL and MTNL will be merged. Pending this, MTNL will act as a subsidiary of BSNL.

The government also hiked the minimum support price for wheat by Rs 85 to Rs 1,925 a quintal and for pulses by up to Rs 325 per quintal.

A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The MSP is the rate at which the government buys grains from farmers.

“In a move to increase farmers’ income, the Cabinet has increased the MSP of rabi (winter-sown) crops for the current year,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters after the meeting.

The CCEA has approved Rs 85 per quintal hike in wheat MSP to Rs 1,925 per quintal for the 2019-20 rabi crop, up from Rs 1,840 per quintal last year.

Barley MSP has also been increased by Rs 85 to Rs 1,525 per quintal from Rs 1,440 per quintal last year.

To encourage the cultivation of pulses, the support price of masoor has been increased by Rs 325 to Rs 4,800 per quintal from Rs 4,475 per quintal last year.

Similarly, the MSP for gram has been hiked by Rs 255 to Rs 4,875 per quintal for this year from Rs 4,620 per quintal last year.

Among oilseeds, rapeseed/mustard MSP has been increased by Rs 225 to Rs 4,425 per quintal for 2019-20 rabi crop from Rs 4,200 per quintal during 2018-19.

The minimum support price for safflower has been hiked by Rs 270 to Rs 5,215 per quintal from Rs 4,945 per quintal last year.

The MSP for rabi crops announced for this year is in line with the recommendation of the government’s farm price advisory body CACP.

Wheat is the main rabi crop, sowing of which will begin next month. The crop will be marketed from next April onwards.

(PTI)