The Centre’s disinvestment agenda is likely to be on a strong wicket in 2018-19, with nearly three dozen firms ready for stake sale.

While the Finance Ministry is finalising plans for strategic disinvestment of over six firms, including Air India, Dredging Corporation of India Ltd and Indian Medicines Pharmaceutical Corporation Limited, another two dozen companies, including railway PSUs such as IRCTC and IRCON Ltd, Mishra Dhatu Nigam and Mazagon Dock Ltd will hit the markets with their initial and further public offering.

“All these PSUs are being readied for disinvestment. They have received approval from the Cabinet and their transaction and legal advisors are being appointed,” said an official, adding that equity stake in some of the firms will also be sold in the remaining months of the current fiscal.

The Bharat-22 exchange traded fund, which helped the Centre raise nearly ₹14,500 crore, is also an option for 2018-19.

However, officials said the government is likely to keep the target from disinvestment proceeds at a lower level in 2018-19, compared to the ₹72,500 crore budgeted for this fiscal.

“The target may be about ₹50,000-₹55,000 crore, which, though less ambitious, is more achievable. Further, with a number of State elections in 2018, along with General Elections in 2019, disinvestment may have to slow down,” said a source.

A final decision may be taken later this month, when more detailed estimates for revenue and expenditure for the next fiscal is finalised. An announcement on the Centre’s disinvestment roadmap will be made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Budget on February 1.

Conservative targets

The Medium Term Fiscal Policy Statement in Budget 2017-18 had also hinted at slightly subdued disinvestment plans in the coming years.

“The target for disinvestment receipts is kept conservatively at ₹47,000 crore and ₹ 40,000 crore in 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively,” it had said.

However, former officials pointed out that the disinvestment target is firmed up more towards the end of the Budget preparations, depending on the fiscal situation.

In the current fiscal, the Centre has raised ₹53,833.05 crore from stake sale, and officials said the government is on track to meet the Budget target. Stake sale in a few more firms will take place over the next two months while the proposed merger of State-run oil companies ONGC and HPCL is also on track.