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Exclusive | Stake sale in BPCL, Air India and SAIL units at advanced stage, says govt

The government has fixed a target to monetise assets worth Rs 17,000 crore by selling stakes in oil refiners GAIL and IOCL.

February 25, 2021 / 09:41 PM IST

The strategic sale of stake in state-run oil refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL), national carrier Air India and two units of steel producer SAIL are at an advanced stage as the government moves ahead with its privatisation push to improve public finances.

The government has also fixed a target to monetise assets worth Rs 17,000 crore by selling stakes in oil refiners GAIL and IOCL in the next financial year, as part of its plan to divest stakes in state-owned companies.

The details of the divestment plan were revealed at a webinar on disinvestment held by the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which is tasked with the privatisation plan, on February 24, said people familiar with the matter.

The government’s plans to relinquish control of large enterprises such as BPCL and Air India did not make much headway in this financial year due to the pandemic. The DIPAM plan shows that the government is pressing ahead with its divestment programme to collect revenues that will sustain its spending programme and lift the economy out of its deepest slump in decades.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been batting for the privatisation of government enterprises and called on private companies to participate in the asset moentisation programme. On February 24, he said the government has no business to be in business.

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DIPAM’s presentation at the webinar, which included more than 20 slides, showed that the privatisation plans of BPCL, Air India and the two units of SAIL at Salem and Bhadrawati are at an advanced stage, the sources said.

The government has lined up a mega disinvestment and asset monetisation plan for the next four years. It is also pushing the privatisation of IDBI Bank and has approved the privatisation of CONCOR, SCI and BEML.

According to sources, the presentation by DIPAM focused on asset monetisation programmes. About 2,000 km of pipelines owned by GAIL and 360 km of HPCL pipelines have been identified for monetisation. Similarly, 1.68 cKMs transmission network of Power Grid has also been identified for monetization.

For the next financial year, 15 projects of shipping, port and waterways have been identified for monetisation, sources added.

DIPAM has made it clear that PSUs in the non-strategic sectors will be either privatised or closed. In the strategic sectors, there will be a bare minimum presence of PSEs, and the rest will be privatised or merged with other PSUs.
Lakshman Roy
first published: Feb 25, 2021 08:03 pm

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