The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bengal hastens public sector cleanup

Calcutta, Nov. 7: The West Bengal government aims to overhaul its public sector by the end of this financial year. The comprehensive divestment policy of the state covers closure of unviable units, revival of some of the sick units with private sector participation and ownership of the profitable ones.

Outlining the grand plan, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said today, “There are 69 public sector undertakings, of which 56 are in very bad shape.”

“We had set up a technical committee to look into the conditions of the PSUs and suggest measures to revamp them,” Bhattacharjee said at the 115th annual general meeting of the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BNCCI).

The committee has categorised the PSUs as red, yellow and green. Companies with a red rating need to be closed. While the yellow ones need private partners for revival, the green units can be run profitably by the state government, Bhattacharjee said.

The chief minister was responding to BNCCI president Niranjan Saha’s statement that the state government should declare its policy on the disinvestment of state PSUs and non-viable units and reduce fiscal support to the loss-making state PSUs.

According to industry experts, there are around 24 state-owned units which can be revived through private sector participation.

On new investments flowing into the state, Bhattacharjee said Wipro will start construction of its software development centre from mid-December. “Azim Premji (Wipro chief) has informed me about this only a week back,” he said.

Bhattacharjee today presented a progress report before members of trade and industry. He said that in the medium and larger scale industrial sector of the state, investment made between 1991 and August 2002 is in the order of Rs 21,400 crore. He said between January and August this year, 13 units in the iron and steel sector have come up with a total project cost of Rs 232 crore and another 77 steel projects involving an investment of almost Rs 2,000 crore are under different stages of implementation.

Between January 1998 and 2002, 523 Haldia Petrochemicals downstream industries have come in the state. Besides, 36 HPL downstream units have been set up in other states.

The chief minister said that the state’s IT industries sector has registered a high growth and the state has been able to attract 10 prominent IT companies over the past five years.

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