Listed public sector enterprises, including public sector banks, will have until August 2018 to comply with rules that prescribe at least 25 per cent public shareholding.

The Finance Ministry has amended the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Rules to extend the timeline for compliance by a year, official sources said. The Ministry’s compliance window for the PSEs was to end next month, three years after the decision was announced in August 2014.

There are at least a dozen entities where the Centre’s direct holding is still in excess of 75 per cent. These include HUDCO, Hindustan Copper, Coal India, NLC India, SJVN, MMTC, Indian Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Central Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra and UCO Bank.

Meeting divestment targets

The Finance Ministry’s latest move gives it elbow room to achieve the disinvestment target for this fiscal, say economy watchers.

The government can wait for the right market conditions to offload equity, they said.

For the current fiscal, the Centre has set a disinvestment target of ₹72,600 crore, the highest-ever. This is a 60 per cent jump over the FY17 target of ₹56,500 crore.

Total disinvestment receipts in the fiscal stood at about ₹46,247 crore, including strategic disinvestment of ₹10,779 crore.

The Centre’s divestments in the current fiscal stand at ₹7,896 crore so far, including divestment of strategic holding to the tune of ₹4,153.65 crore.