Mumbai: Terming privatisation as the top-most priority, a senior Finance Ministry official on Thursday said the government will sell “whatever is saleable”, and is also planning to breach the minimum 51 per cent ownership level in select entities.
Getting down the government stake below 51 per cent will require amendments in the laws and will also ensure that these companies move beyond the remit of oversight agencies like the Central Vigilance Commission and the Comptroller & Auditor General.
The official explained that the Cabinet had in the past decided to own at least 51 per cent in PSUs but it will now have to take a call on going down below that level.
“The government is proposing/planning to bring down its equity holding below 51 percent in select central public sector enterprises,” the official said, requesting not to be named. This will also take out these units out of the purview of various central oversight agencies, the official said.
Privatisation, the official said, is “the top-most priority” for the government for the next three-four years.
“We have a strong support from the prime minister. With that support, I am 100 percent sure that whatever is saleable will be sold, and whatever is not saleable also will be tried,” the official said.
Addressing the annual Capam conference in Mumbai, a senior government official said the government is confident of exceeding the divestment target for the fourth consecutive year.
“We have a very well laid-out strategy for achieving the divestment target this year also. Last three years we exceeded the target and there is no reason why we will not exceed the target this year as well," Dheeraj Bhatnagar, Additional Secretary in the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, said.
The budget has set a divestment target of Rs 1.05 lakh crore for the current fiscal, up from Rs 90,000 crore last fiscal that it had overshot.
He said the government wants to sell excess land holdings held by state-run enterprises and will soon be appointing international consultants for the same.
“We are in the process of appointing international consultants for the property (sale). They will be handling these transactions,” Bhatnagar said.
The list of excess land or non-crore holdings held by the enterprises will be collected first by the Niti Aayog in consultation with the PSU’s administrative ministry, the DIPAM and the concerned state government.