the eligibility criteria for the Maharatna tag," an official told PTI.
The apex committee, headed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth, has approved both the proposals for awarding the status to these two public sector units (PSUs). Both the companies are likely to get the status soon, he added.
Besides the Cabinet Secretary, other members of the apex panel are secretaries of the Department of Public Enterprises, Department of Expenditure and in the Planning Commission.
A Maharatna firm can take investment decision of up to Rs. 5,000 crore without going to the government. For Navratna firms, this limit is Rs. 1,000 crore.
A company qualifying for the Maharatna status should have an average annual turnover of more than Rs. 25,000 crore in the last three years, according to the guidelines.
Among others, the PSU must have a net worth of over Rs. 15,000 crore and net profit of more than Rs. 5,000 crore during the last three years.
BHEL and GAIL qualify for the coveted status as these companies meet the eligibility criteria in terms of net worth, turnover and net profit.
During 2011-12, the company's net profit stood at Rs. 7,039 crore on a turnover of Rs. 49,244 crore. The entity's net worth stood at Rs. 25,373 crore.
While GAIL meets two parameters related to turnover and net worth, its net profit falls short of the eligibility criteria of Rs. 5,000 crore on an average annual basis in the last three fiscals.
This is because GAIL along with state-owned explorer ONGC and Oil India Ltd sold LPG and crude oil to refineries at a discount to partly compensate them for selling diesel and cooking fuel below cost.
Sources said Gail meets the criteria after taking into account the fuel subsidy it provides to oil marketing companies.
State gas utility firms' net profit stood at about Rs. 3,653 crore, turnover was about Rs. 41,000 crore and net worth Rs. 21,449 crore in 2011-12.
At present, there are five Maharatna companies – ONGC, Indian Oil, SAIL, NTPC and CIL and 16 Navratna companies, including Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited and NMDC.
The government had announced the Maharatna scheme in December, 2009 in a bid to give more operational freedom to the top performing public sector undertakings.