The Congress on Thursday criticised the Narendra Modi-led central government for its decision to sell stakes in five state-run companies, including oil refiner Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala in a tweet said: “They did not create anything, but will sell everything. This is what one means by ‘selling the country’. When there is Modi, it is possible.”
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had on Wednesday announced that the government will sell its entire 53.29% stake in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited. However, the sale will not include the strategic Numaligarh Refinery Limited in Assam.
The government will also sell its entire 63.75% stake in Shipping Corporation of India and will cede management control to the strategic buyer. Similarly, it will sell 30.8% of its shares in Container Corporation of India and hand over management control to the buyer.
The finance minister added that National Thermal Power Corporation Limited – India’s largest power generation company – would buy the government’s entire holding in power producers THDC India Limited and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited.
“The resources unlocked by the strategic disinvestment of these CPSEs [central public sector enterprises] would be used to finance the social sector/developmental programmes of the government benefiting the public,” the government said in a press release. “The unlocked resources would form part of the budget and the usage would come to scrutiny of the public. It is expected that the strategic buyer/acquirer may bring in new management/technology/investment for the growth of these companies and may use innovative methods for their development.”
The Cabinet approved the government’s proposal to reduce its shareholding in certain public sector enterprises to below 51% but still retaining management control on a case-by-case basis. This was done to boost revenue collections, which have declined because of slowdown in economic growth.
Sitharaman said the strategic sale would help the government achieve its divestment revenue target of Rs 1.05 lakh crore for the current financial year. So far, it has managed to collect Rs 17,364.26 crore, Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur informed the Lok Sabha on Monday.