Air India-Bharat Petroleum disinvestment: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman Saturday said that the government is planning to sell state-run airline Air India and the oil marketing PSU Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) by March 2020.
The finance minister stated that the strategic disinvestment of the two state-run companies is critical for the government to meet its disinvestment target of Rs 1 lakh crore for the current fiscal year.
"We are moving on both with the expectation that we can complete them this year. The ground realities will play out," Sitharaman told the Times of India.
The finance minister added that there is a "lot of interest" among investors which is apparent in international roadshows ahead of Air India's sale. The government had to drop the national carrier's stake sale last year owing to investors' lukewarm response. But, it is counting on proceeds from disinvestment (which includes the strategic sale and public offers) to bolster its revenues in a year when tax collections suggest a likely fiscal slippage.
However, the government has been taking a lot of steps to arrest the downturn in the economy which is manifested in a lot of sectors coming out of distress, Sitharaman told the news daily. She further stated that the industry captains had contributed to improving their balance sheets and many of them were also mulling fresh investments.
The finance minister said that she expected GST collections to revive following an improvement in sales in some segments as well as owing to the government's measures to plug leakages lately. Commenting on the Supreme Court's recent verdict on Essar Steel, Sitharaman said that the ruling has strengthened the constitutionality and legal strength of the IBC law and it would have a significant impact on the balance sheets of banks in the next quarter.
She also claimed that there were indications of revival in consumer sentiment, which was exhibited in demand of around Rs 1.8 lakh crore in loans from banks at the outreach programme during the festival season.
"If consumer confidence is not on way to being restored, why would you think that such an amount would have gone out as loans during the two outreach programmes started by banks? And, it is all over the country," the finance minister told the news daily.