The disinvestment process requires far more due diligence involving "complete unglamorous backdoor work", said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, adding that the government is delving into the details and moving steadily.
Concerning the privatisation of companies such as Air India, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL), and others, FM Sitharaman said it's her "very optimistic and effort-driven belief" that the government will be able to conclude the same by the year-end.
"It's one thing for the government to buy a thing. But when the government lets go of its ownership, there is far more due diligence that has to be adhered to. There is the complete unglamorous backdoor work. They cannot be defining it every day, describing it every day. And therefore, for a long past, you have not heard of Air India," the finance minister told The Economic Times.
She further stated that the government doesn't want to rush through the process to avoid being dragged to the courts later.
"You will feel probably it's not happening. But the details of what happens at the back, unglamorous but absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you're just asking them to rush through something, and however genuine the intention, maybe it can create paragraphs by CAG, people can go to the courts saying you didn't take care of things. So, we are going steadily, but surely," Sitharaman said.
The government is determined to meet the divestment target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore for 2021-22, she had affirmed at the annual conclave of industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on August 12.
The finance minister, in her 2021-22 Budget speech, had announced a big-ticket privatisation agenda, including the privatisation of two public sector banks and one general insurance company.
As of date, there are four general insurance companies in the public sector - National Insurance Company Limited, New India Assurance Company Limited, Oriental Insurance Company Limited and the United India Insurance Company Limited. Now, one of these will be privatised for which the government is yet to finalise the name.
In the 2021-22 Budget, the government announced the PSE (public sector enterprises) privatisation policy as per which all PSUs will be privatised, barring four strategic sectors of Atomic energy, Space and Defence; Transport and Telecommunications; Power, Petroleum, Coal and other minerals; and Banking, Insurance and financial services.
In these strategic sectors, the government will retain only a bare minimum number of PSUs.
Copyright©2021 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today