The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hint of early selloff meet

New Delhi, Feb. 4: Disinvestment minister Arun Shourie will push for a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment (CCD) before the budget session of Parliament begins on February 17.

The meeting will be called to put on fast-track the selloff of other public sector units like Shipping Corporation of India, Hindustan Copper, Engineers India Ltd, State Trading Corporation and possibly Nalco which took a back-seat during the unseemly squabble within the government over the modalities for the selloff of the two oil retailing majors — Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd.

Shourie warned that the proposed strike called by PSU oil industry workers could affect the valuations of HPCL and BPCL which have been finally cleared for divestment.

The government had decided to sell a 34.01 per cent stake in HPCL to a strategic investor while another 5 per cent will be given to the employees. In BPCL, the government will offload a 35.2 per cent stake through a public issue in the domestic and international markets. BPCL employees will also get a 5 per cent stake. A drop in valuations would compromise workers’ interests as the value of the shares that they will receive under the divestment plan will erode, said Shourie.

The minister said he would urge the finance ministry to free investments for the infrastructural development. “The states must be energised to carry out reforms. They should compete with each other as investment destinations,” he added.

“The first stage of reforms in the states is over with the removal of a number of regulations. But there is still a lot of ground-level work that remains to be done,” the minister said.

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