The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Patil lends voice to selloff protest

New Delhi, Oct. 9: Adding his voice to the growing dissent over the disinvestment programme, heavy industry minister Balasaheb Vikhe Patil today said public sector enterprises (PSEs) that are slated to be put on the block should be re-evaluated before any steps are taken to sell them off.

“Due to recessionary conditions, the valuation of government companies were not based on their original value. It is not good to rush into any decision. So I feel these companies should be evaluated once more,” he added.

Patil said he had already asked for an immediate revaluation of machine tool maker HMT Ltd. He said he had sent a letter to the Prime Minister, seeking some changes in the disinvestment procedure. However, he refused to divulge the details of his letter. Patil is believed to have opposed the sale of profit-making units and state-owned companies that belonged to the strategic areas.

Several PSUs that come within his jurisdiction are on the disinvestment ministry’s list of firms that should be sold off. Patil’s ministry has earlier pointed out that some of them produce goods for strategic sectors, like the railways, and should be taken off the list. “The government will continue as a government and companies should be allowed to continue as companies. Whatever investment is required for revamp should be made even if it is up for disinvestment,” Patil added.

The government has, of late, been turning down demands for funds needed to restructure certain public sector units on the plea that these were being put up for sale and, hence, the government should not spend any money on them.

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