The Union Cabinet on Thursday gave in-principle approval for strategic sale and divesting management control in over two dozen public sector units, some of which may be profitable.
However, the disinvestment, which would include transfer of at least 50 per cent of government holding as well as management control, would be decided on a case-by-case basis for each state-run firm, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.
“The recommendations of NITI Aayog with regard to both disinvestment and strategic sale came up for consideration. In principle, the Cabinet has approved the recommendations with regard to some of the units,” he said, adding that the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management will examine each company, based on merit, including the price and timing.
NITI Aayog had, in its report submitted in June, identified firms such as Cement Corporation of India, Tyre Corporation of India and Central Electronics Ltd for strategic sale.
The Centre had spelt out its intent to exit loss-making PSUs in Budget 2016-17; in September, the Cabinet approved strategic disinvestment of Bharat Pumps and Compressors.
There has been no strategic sale since the NDA government headed by AB Vajpayee sold stake in Hindustan Zinc and Jessop and Co nearly 13 years ago. The Centre hopes to raise ₹20,500 crore from strategic disinvestment this fiscal, of the disinvestment target of ₹56,500 crore.
However, Jaitley said there would be no rush to sell PSUs merely to raise funds. “I am not going to allow it to be under-sold merely because there is a calendar limitation,” he said.
Closure of HMT tractor unit The Cabinet also approved the closure of the loss-making HMT Tractor Division by offering voluntary retirement schemes to its employees at 2007 notional pay scales as well as budgetary support to HMT Ltd for payment of outstanding wages. The total financial outgo is estimated at ₹718.72 crore.
“The employees of the Tractor Division based at Pinjore have not been paid salary since July 2014 and other statutory dues are pending since November 2013,” said an official release.
In a related move, the Cabinet approved the transfer of select small parcels of HMT land in Bengaluru and Kochi to different government entities for their use in larger public interest.
The decision follows a Budget announcement that PSUs would be encouraged to divest assets like land and manufacturing unitsto unlock their asset value to make investment in new projects.