There still remains many a slip between the cup and the lip for the Centre to go ahead with its full disinvestment programme. The latest being the collection of data for the creation of ‘land banks’ as proposed by the NITI Aayog.
The NITI Aayog believes the Centre need not wait for the last part of its disinvestment report to come out and can take up the PSUs identified in its report on closure and restructuring of loss-making public sector units.
“The report on closure, revival and sale of 74 sick and unprofitable PSUs has been submitted by the NITI Aayog some months back and it is now up to the Finance Ministry to work on it,” sources in the think-tank told BusinessLine .
“If a decision on strategic sales is taking time, assets of loss-making PSUs can at least be put in the land bank and auctioned off,” said a senior official. Under work is the process to set up land banks of all holdings with PSUs, autonomous bodies and the Centre. The Urban Development Ministry is understood to be developing an online portal for the purpose. Ministries and PSUs have been asked to survey the land available with them.
However, officials in the Finance Ministry noted that PSUs have been asked to work on a lot of the policies independently. “We are working on the process of strategic sale. But, for others such as capital restructuring or even land banks, PSUs will also have to follow it up, the government can only act as facilitators,” said an official.
With the first half of the financial year drawing to a close, the Centre has till now approved the winding up of only one PSU — Hindustan Diamond Company — which was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on September 21.
Following the Budget announcement, the NITI Aayog had in June this year submitted the first report consisting of two lists of sick and loss-making PSUs that it had identified for closure and strategic sale. It is now working on a part B of its second report on strategic disinvestment.
Time-bound closure The Department of Public Enterprises had last month issued norms for time-bound closure of PSUs while the Finance Ministry had earlier also announced norms for capital restructuring in state-run firms through methods such as stock split and share buyback.
Budget 2016-17 has targeted raising ₹56,500 crore from disinvestment, of which, ₹36,500 crore is expected from minority stake sales and ₹20,500 crore from strategic sales. Till now, share buybacks by PSUs have been the main focus and is understood to be raising sufficient revenue for the government.