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Budget prop for PSU staff dues

New Delhi, Jan. 23: A group of ministers who met here today decided to categorise some Rs 757 crore in back pay due to PSU workers as unrecoverable from the companies that owe them and recommended that this money be paid out of budgetary grants.

The GoM, chaired by Planning Commission deputy chairman K. C. Pant, has placed the PSUs that have not yet paid various statutory dues and back pay to its employees in four categories. Those belonging to the last category some 28 PSUs who owe workers about Rs 757 crore will not be able to shell out the money in any form and will need to be bailed out by the government.

The other three categories will be able to either generate money from their own earnings, or by liquidating resources, or by trading in the junk debt they hold. There are some six firms in the first category involving a paltry sum of Rs 4.29 crore, seven in the second category who owe Rs 535 crore to workers and could liquidate resources to shell out this amount. There are some 16 PSUs in the last category which will have to trade junk debt to pay off Rs 495 crore.

The GoM had consulted analysts from IDBI on the issue. According to IDBI officials some Rs 320 crore which was being earlier shown in the PSU account books as money owed to workers was really money that had been diverted and spent on other heads.

The GoM had been set up by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee after vociferous complaints by opposition MPs, especially from West Bengal who complained that it was a shame that the government which prides itself on being a model employer was unable to pay PSU workers their statutory dues.

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