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Tuesday, Jun 22, 2004

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Panel to review revival plans of PSUs

Our Bureau

Kolkata June 21

THE Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Mr Santosh Mohan Dev, has said the Ministry has set up a committee to take a fresh look at ailing public sector units and examine their chances of revival.

Addressing a meet at the Press Club here, he said that the committee comprising six joint secretaries would submit their report by July. The committee is chaired by Secretary of the Heavy Industries Ministry.

He said that the decision to take a fresh look was in line with the Common Minimum Programme of the Government which said that loss-making units will not be sold off if they can be turned around. Once the report was available, the managing directors of these companies would be asked to submit their suggestions followed by the unions.

``Units can be revived only if everyone, the State Governments, the trade unions and the managements co-operate,'' he remarked.

Mr Dev said he has already spoken to the Union Railway Minister for exploring the possibility of reviving the companies under the fold of the Bharat Bhari Udyog Nigam Ltd (BBUNL).

Many of the units under this holding company were dependent on the railways and were facing stiff competition from the private sector.

He said that a preliminary exercise for revving up the heavy industry units has already been completed and a tentative requirement of plan funds under a distinct head `Restructuring of PSEs under DHI' has already been projected to the planning commission and the Union Finance Ministry.

If the Government wishes to dispose of some of the assets of these companies as a part of the revival exercise, the same would be done in a transparent manner keeping in mind the financial health of the company and the shareholders interest.

Mr Dev hinted at the possibility of taking a look at the property deals of disinvested companies.

``Many of the deals were not done in a transparent manner and the properties were undersold,'' he said.

However, he ruled out the possibility of reopening the share-holder agreements of divested companies saying that these matters were conducted by the previous Government 's Disinvestment Ministry which in turn is under the Finance Ministry.

Noting the huge arrear salary payments position in PSEs, the Minister regretted that employees were not getting their statutory payments, or even their VRS dues.

``The plight of these deprived workers have been taken up on a priority basis and I hope the budget makes some provision for these employees,'' he said.

He said that while his Ministry was in administrative control of 48 heavy industry PSUs, it was also responsible for giving policy directions for the 240 PSUs in the country.

He said that successful profit-making PSEs operating in a competitive environment would be given full managerial and commercial autonomy and will not be privatized.

Of the 11 heavy industry PSEs operating in West Bengal, the Minister said that the three profit-making ones - Bridge & Roof, Hindustan Paper Corporation and Hooghly Printing Co Ltd would be monitored so as to improve their performance and strengthen them managerially and financially.

Of the eight loss-making units efforts would be made for their revival.

The Minister made a special mention of Hindustan Cables whose accumulated losses have touched Rs 1,425 crore.

A view would now be taken on the BIFR package prepared for this company by its operating agency the State Bank of India, he added.

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