Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for privatisation of public sector enterprises, asserting that the “government has no business to be in business”. In a webinar on privatisation organised by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, the prime minister was addressing industrialists on reforms proposed in the Union Budget.
“The times were different, as were the needs of the country, back when public sector enterprises were established,” he said. “The policies that were correct 50-60 years ago, always have scope for reforms.”
Pointing out that disinvestment and asset monetisation were key elements of the Budget, he said that several public sector undertakings in the country were facing losses and need public money to survive.
“In a way, funds that belong to the poor and the aspiring youth are required to be pumped behind these enterprises and they put a burden on the economy,” Modi said. “Public sector enterprises should not be kept running just because they have been running...because they have been somebody’s pet project.”
Chalking out a roadmap, Modi said that the government was committed to privatise PSUs in all but four strategic sectors. “State-owned companies in four strategic sectors will be kept at bare minimum,” Modi said, adding that as many as 100 “underutilised and unutilised [government] assets” will be monetised to raise Rs 2.5 lakh crore.
“It is the responsibility of the government to supply, support country’s enterprise and business but there is no need for the government to be in business,” the prime minister said.
He further claimed that the government was focused on “monetisation and modernisation” of the public sector assets as private sector could bring more efficiency, besides creating jobs. He said that the roadmap for asset monetisation given in the Budget will put India back on “high growth trajectory”.
The ruling dispensation has often been criticised for prioritising privatisation. The Opposition had criticised the Union Budget, alleging that the government was selling the country’s assets. Communist Party of India General Secretary D Raja had said the Budget was “pro-corporate”. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had said that instead of giving cash in the hands of the people, the government was selling the country’s assets to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “crony capitalist friends”.