The government has no immediate plan to offload its stake in the State Bank of India and the nod sought from parliament to sell up to 49 per cent holding in the country's largest lender need not necessarily be acted upon, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday.
"Amendment in the State Bank of India Act does not mean tomorrow the government's stake will be offloaded," Mukherjee told the Rajya Sabha, moving the bill that seeks to permit the government to dilute its stake in the bank to a maximum of 49 per cent.
"Under no circumstance will the government's stake fall below 51 per cent because that is the minimum statutory requirement," the finance minister said, as the house passed the bill by a voice vote. The lower house had already passed the bill.
The government currently holds 59.41 per cent stake in the bank and opposition members, particularly those from Left parties, wanted to know the reason why the bill was being tabled when the intention was not to sell the state stake.
The amendment also seeks to allow the State Bank to issue preferential shares to existing shareholders.