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'Left must rethink disinvestment stand'

Taking a dig at the Left parties' opposition to disinvestment in PSUs, FICCI urgeds them to rethink.

business Updated: Jan 04, 2006 13:49 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Taking a dig at the Left parties' opposition to disinvestment in PSUs, apex industry association FICCI o Wednesday urged them to have a rethink saying their stand was not "principled".

"It certainly does not appear to be a principle(d) stand. We ask them (Left parties) to reconsider the decision," the newly elected president of the chamber Saroj Poddar said when asked if the Left's decision emanated from their principles or political considerations.

At the same time, he advised the government for privatisation of all the 'non-strategic' PSUs and bring the state holding in Navratna companies to 51 per cent and exuded confidence that sooner or later even Left parties would agree for disinvestment.

"We expected Left to maintain the same standard. If it (disinvestment) could be done in Kolkatta why not here?" he wondered and said: "We need to understand why they did it. We need to have more dialogue with them but we must certainly divest."

He, however, said that there appeared to be no difference of opinion between the UPA Government and the Left on certain matters of privatisation of loss-making PSUs and said that government could unlock the assets, particularly the real estate, of the units which were beyond redemption.

In case the government is unable to privatise the sick units, it should monetise the assets, Poddar said, adding "why should the government pump in money if they are unable to produce?"

He said it was for the government to decide on which PSUs fall under the strategic and non-strategic category. "From FICCI's point of view, all major Navratna companies should fall under the strategic category and the government must maintain ownership control with 51 per cent stake".

He, however, said: "Government should only be considered as shareholders of the companies and they (PSUs) should be allowed to run professionally".

All oil companies, BHEL, MTNL and BSNL were strategic PSUs, he said.

On the process of disinvestment, Poddar said the government should divest in small lots to the public so that there is diverse holding, improvement in performance and better compliance with SEBI guidelines.

Asked how the Left parties decision would affect Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's decision to declare 2006 as year for implementation, Poddar said: "Timing of implementation can change but fundamental decisions will not."

"With elections round the corner in the Left bastion of West Bengal along wiht some other states, they may slow down a little bit. But the Left front will be able to see the rationale (of disinvestment) and understand the needs of the country," Poddar said.

First Published: Jan 04, 2006 12:16 IST