Cabinet clears body for land monetisation

ByRajeev Jayaswal, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Mar 10, 2022 02:09 AM IST

“Government would be able to generate substantial revenues by monetizing unused and under-used assets,” Union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Singh Thakur said in a tweet after the Cabinet meeting that was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Union cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod for the creation of a government-owned entity, National Land Monetisation Corporation (NLMC) , to monetise unused and under used non-core assets such as land and buildings of public sector firms, including that of companies identified for strategic disinvestment or closure -- a move that could potentially raise tens of thousands of crores for the government.

Union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur.(PTI)
Union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur.(PTI)

“Government would be able to generate substantial revenues by monetizing unused and under-used assets,” Union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Singh Thakur said in a tweet after the Cabinet meeting that was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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NLMC will undertake monetisation of surplus land and building assets of central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) and other government agencies, the minister added in another tweet.

The company will be professionally managed with an initial authorised share capital of 5,000 crore and paid-up share capital of 150 crore, according to an official statement.

“Unlike disinvestment, asset monetisation is not always an outright sale of land and properties. Its purpose is to maximise value of assets that are either idle or under-utilised and that could be done through lease and other arrangements. The SPV will take appropriate decisions on case-to-case basis,” a government official aware of the development said on condition of anonymity.

The idea of asset monetisation was explained by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her 2021-22 Budget speech. “Idle assets will not contribute to AtmaNirbhar Bharat [Self-reliant India]. The non-core assets largely consist of surplus land with government Ministries/Departments and Public Sector Enterprises. Monetizing of land can either be by way of direct sale or concession or by similar means. This requires special abilities and for this purpose, I propose to use a Special Purpose Vehicle [SPV] in the form of a company that would carry out this activity,” she had said.

NLMC will be set up under the administrative control of the department of public enterprise (DPE), which is under the ministry of finance. DPE was made an arm of the Union finance ministry in July last year.

The cabinet approved hiring of professionals in NLMC from the private sector recognising the wide range of specialised skills and expertise required for asset monetisation that involve market research, legal due diligence, valuation, master planning and land management, according to the statement.

“NLMC will be a lean organization with minimal full-time staff, hired directly from the market on contract basis. Flexibility will be provided to the Board of NLMC to hire, pay and retain experienced professionals from the private sector,” it said.

The board of directors of NLMC will comprise senior central government officers and eminent experts to enable professional operations and management of the company. The chairman and non-government directors of the NLMC will be appointed through a merit-based selection process, it said.

The new company will also sell surplus land and non-core assets of such state-owned firms that are in the disinvestment list. “For CPSEs undergoing strategic disinvestment or closure, monetization of these surplus land and non-core assets is important to unlock their value. NLMC will support and undertake monetization of these assets,” it said.

“This will also enable productive utilization of these under-utilised assets to trigger private sector investments, new economic activities, boost local economy and generate financial resources for economic and social infrastructure,” it added.

NLMC is also expected to own, hold, manage and monetise surplus land and building assets of CPSEs under closure and the surplus non-core land assets of government-owned CPSEs under strategic disinvestment. This will speed up the closure process of CPSEs and smoothen the strategic disinvestment process of government-owned CPSEs, it said.

“These assets may be transferred to NLMC to hold, manage and monetize these assets. NLMC will also advise and support other Government entities (including CPSEs) in identifying their surplus non-core assets and monetizing them in a professional and efficient manner to generate maximum value realization,” the statement said.

In cases of strategic disinvestment, NLMC will undertake surplus land asset monetisation as an agency function, it said. “It is expected that NLMC will act as a repository of best practices in land monetization, assist and provide technical advice to Government in implementation of asset monetization programme,” it added.

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