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Orissa govt denies divestment misconduct

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 24: Denying alleged malpractice in the process of privatising 10 loss-making PSUs, the Orissa government today said valuation of assets of the companies were being carried out by reputed agencies in a “transparent manner”.

“The advisers for the privatisation process will be engaged in a process of competitive bidding,” public sector enterprise minister K.V. Singhdeo told the Assembly today.

On November 14, the Cabinet had approved the privatisation of 10 loss-making PSUs. These include the IDCOL Cement, IDCOL Rerolling mill, IDCOL Ferrochrome plant, Hirakud Industrial Works (all subsidiaries of IDCOL), Kalinga Studio, Baramba Co-op Sugar Mills, Nayagarh Co-op Sugar Mills, Kalinga Co-op Spinning Mill (Dhenkanal), Gopi Spinning Mill (Baliapal) and the Orissa Co-op Spinning Mill (Bargarh).

Of the 10 units, the valuation of seven is over.

Singhdeo said the government was forced to privatise the PSUs in the co-operative and non-core sector as these units incurred substantial losses because of the lack of professional management and widespread irregularities.

The minister said the main reason for privatisation was to “unlock” the productive potential of the enterprises so that budgetary support to them could be eliminated.

He said the government’s total investment in the 10 units was Rs 349.42 crore, while the accumulated losses mounted to Rs 231.62 crore.

Referring to the privatisation of IDCOL Cement, the minister said that till the end of July this year, the unit incurred a loss of Rs 3.78 crore. Besides, it carried a loan burden of Rs 234 crore.

Opposing the privatisation process, Congress leader Prasad Harichandan demanded that the government announce its disinvestment policy and set up a Public Sector Reforms Commission.

CPM legislator Pradipta Panda said the prospects of future of employees would be at stake after the privatisation of the companies. He demanded action against government officials who “looted” these PSUs.

Replying to the adjournment motion debate, the PSE minister said all employees would be asked to give their consent on whether they are willing to work under the new management and whether they would like to avail of Voluntary Separation Scheme benefits if not selected.

The list of employees who exercise the option to work under the new management would be furnished to the bidder to select the number of employees as per the commitment given in its bid.

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