THE LOSS-MAKING Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has yet again taken a loan of Rs 100 crore to pay monthly salaries of its 40,000 employees. The undertaking has been granted a loan of Rs 100 crore by Dena Bank. Last month, the undertaking had paid the salaries to employees by taking multiple loans from banks after delaying salaries by 10 days. The Labour Court had then directed the utility to pay the salaries by April 20 for this month.
“It was impending upon us to meet the stated deadline for payment of salaries, failing which we could have faced many implications. In the past few days, we put great efforts to collect money from available funds and not resort to taking loans which did not help. The sanctioned loan helped us arrange for the salaries of employees,” a senior BEST official said.
BEST requires Rs 180 crore to pay the salaries. Among various steps to reduce its losses, the BEST has already scrapped services of 266 air conditioned buses.
“Loans were the last option left to be able to pay the salaries of employees. While the initial dues of the employees were cleared, the remaining amount was cleared on Wednesday. Implementation of the financial plan at the earliest remains the call of the municipal corporation,” said Jagdish Patil, general manager, BEST.
Sources in the undertaking said the utility has already reached close to its limit of borrowings. With Rs 1,100 crore already borrowed, the undertaking can only borrow an additional Rs 200-300 crore.
“We are granted loans against the amount of receivables. We are left with a very narrow margin for borrowings,” a senior official said.
Employees, meanwhile, complained about the delayed salaries. They now await the results of implementation of the financial plan, which curtails many financial benefits to the employees.