The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bharti for Nalco selloff through public issue

New Delhi, Nov. 26: Coal and mines minister Uma Bharti today favoured public offering of equity shares as the route for divesting government stake in Nalco and said the decision on privatisation of the aluminium firm rests with the Prime Minister.

“I have conveyed my views (on disinvestment of Nalco) to the Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister. The decision has been left to the PM,” Bharti told reporters after accepting a dividend cheque for Rs 224.59 crore from Nalco.

Refusing to divulge details of the discussions, she said: “That was personal talk which I will not disclose in public. I will state them at an appropriate forum.”

She, however, favoured public offering of equity shares in Nalco as opposed to strategic sale.

“I am not against the disinvestment policy per se but we have to ensure public participation. The (disinvestment) process should benefit the public at large,” she said. A right balance has to be struck in government-owned firms and the private sector.

“Middle-path of having some companies in private sector and some under government control is necessary for right balance,” she said.

Bharti said her ministry was going to do an experiment on larger public participation by leasing out one coal block to locals of the area. “The difference between (mines) being in private hands and public participation would be clearly brought out,” she said.

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