The Centre has already granted `some' functional autonomy to the PSUs.

Our Bureau

Thiruvananthapuram, Oct. 30

The issue of granting more functional autonomy to public sector undertakings will be taken up at the next meeting of the Group of Ministers, according to the Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Mr Sontosh Mohan Dev.

Speaking to newspersons here on Monday, Mr Dev said that the meeting of a Group of Ministers chaired by the Union External Affairs Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, would be held on November 13.

Other Issues

The autonomy to the boards of PSUs apart, the Group would also consider raising the retirement age of employees to 60 and revival of sick companies.

The Centre had already granted `some' functional autonomy to the PSUs and the boards are empowered to take business decisions and negotiate independently. The board members need not, henceforth, secure the Ministry's clearance for deciding on each and every issue.

`ENCOURAGING REPONSE'

The performance of those companies, which had been given functional autonomy, was encouraging, he said.

The Centre had proceeded with revival plans for some sick companies and had cleared salary arrears. Another attempt towards this direction would be tried out soon. It was committed in the Common Minimum Programme of the UPA Government and there would be no retrenchment, Mr Dev pointed out.

Asked whether the Centre planned any substantial investment in the State, Mr Dev said a proposal for the Hindustan Newsprint Ltd (HNL) was being considered, but specifics had not been worked out. The HNL Chairman, Mr Raji Philip, who was also present, said that the expansion-cum-development project launched by the Minister would be completed by August 15 next year.

The project aimed at enhancing the production capacity by 1.70 lakh tonnes per year by diversifying into premium grades of writing and printing paper.

It also envisaged the installation of a de-inking plant with a capacity of 200 tonnes per day and a captive power plant with a capacity of 25 MW. The capital outlay would be around Rs 718 crore. The funds would be generated through loan and internal accruals, he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 31, 2006)
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