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EXCLUSIVE: 65 senior positions vacant in pharmaceutical PSUs and research institutes

EXCLUSIVE: 65 senior positions vacant in pharmaceutical PSUs and research institutes

Department of Pharmaceuticals, 3 out of its 5 PSUs and research institutions combined have 65 senior positions vacant

According to an internal report of the department, DoP has at least 5 posts vacant, of which, one is of the Economic Adviser and 2 of Principal Private Secretaries and one each for undersecretary and principal staff officer. According to an internal report of the department, DoP has at least 5 posts vacant, of which, one is of the Economic Adviser and 2 of Principal Private Secretaries and one each for undersecretary and principal staff officer.

Drug pricing regulator -- Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP), under the central government which also holds responsibility for making affordable drugs available to the public, is facing a severe manpower crunch, with vacancies for top positions lying unfilled. The department itself, along with its autonomous bodies and Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), has at least 65 positions in total vacant.

According to an internal report of the department, the DoP has at least 5 posts vacant, of which, one is for the Economic Adviser and 2 for Principal Private Secretaries, and one each for the undersecretary and principal staff officer. The report also mentions that the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research, which comes under the DoP's ambit, too has a director-level position vacant.

The CPSEs too have several posts vacant. There are five CPSEs under the administrative control of the Department of Pharmaceuticals, i.e Karnataka Antibiotics & Pharmaceuticals Limited (KAPL), Rajasthan Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Limited (RDPL), Hindustan Antibiotics Ltd. (HAL) in Pune, Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Limited (BCPL) and Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (IDPL).

KAPL has at least 13 vacancies i.e. Senior Manager (05), Deputy General Manager (03) and General Manager (05). KAPL has 59 per cent of the equity shares of the government of India and 41 per cent of the equity shares of Karnataka State Industrial and Investment Development Corporation (KSIIDC). The paid-up share capital of the company as on date is Rs 13.49 crore, according to the government.

HAL has the maximum number of vacancies at the managerial level with 38 positions yet to be filled. There has been a cash infusion by the government worth Rs 137.59 crore for the company’s revival in recent years. Recently the government approved a proposal of HAL to the tune of Rs 30.17 crore for setting up new powder injectable facilities for Cephalosporin (antibiotics to treat bacteria) and upgradation of existing facilities for penicillin. 

During 2019-20, HAL has achieved production of Rs 43.05 crore against Rs.54.51 crore in 2018- 19 and achieved a sales turnover (total revenue) of Rs 58.56 crore in 2019-20 against Rs 63.17 crore in 2018-19.

Similarly, BCPL has over 8 posts vacant, which includes the post of the director finance, and marketing and other finance related positions. The company manufactures and markets a wide range of industrial chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, besides cosmetics and home products. There was also a cash infusion by central government worth Rs 207.19 crore.  

According to the government’s own annual report of 2020, of the five PSUs, three, viz. IDPL, HAL and BCPL, are considered sick and were referred to Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) few years ago for revival plans. KAPL is the only profit-making CPSE, according to the report.

Officials in the DoP have an explanation about the situation. “In 2016, the government took a decision to close two PSUs of the five, namely IDPL and RDPL. The government had also decided to strategically disinvest HAL, BCPL and Karnataka Antibiotics & Pharmaceutical Ltd (KAPL). Both processes are ongoing. Until and unless we get direction from the government, we cannot fill the vacancies. However, the administrative work of the PSUs is being done efficiently by the rest of the staff. We are in the process of filling up other vacancies,” a senior official in the DoP told BT, on the condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, the then Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers, D V Sadananda Gowda, in a question-answer session, had informed the Lok Sabha in 2021 that the government has offered voluntary retirement benefits to all employees of IDPL and RDPL.

“However, the Committee of Ministers constituted on September 9, 2019, will take necessary decisions pertaining to closure/strategic sale of the pharma public sector undertakings, including the sale of assets and clearance of outstanding liabilities,” Gowda had told Lok Sabha.

BT has reached out to DoP for an official comment on the matter. The story will be updated as and when they respond. 

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