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BPCL disinvestment: Employees send an SOS to PMO

As the Centre takes big strides towards the disinvestment of BPCL, an umbrella organisation representing employee unions has sent out an SOS to the PMO
New Delhi: As the Centre takes big strides towards the disinvestment of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), an umbrella organisation representing BPCL employee unions has sent out an SOS to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). In a letter dated October 5, a bunch of employee associations at BPCL, including Cochin Refineries Officers Association, BPC MSA Mumbai Refinery Division, NRL Officers Association and BPCL Marketing Officers Association, said, “There is a concern and fear among officers on the interest and business model that private players would be adopting. We even fear that post-privatisation, there may be policy decisions that may impact refinery operations and job security of officers.”

‘BPCL disinvestment could lead to private monopolies’

The letter said, “There is also concern on how the privatisation would be impacting the various verticals that BPCL has ventured into BRPL and other joint ventures. We fear private players may exploit BPCL’s robust and widespread marketing network to bleed IOCL and HPCL, eventually making these CPSEs sick in few years.” The employees added that the privatisation of BPCL may lead to private monopolies in the oil sector which will be dangerous for our nation, considering energy security.

‘Disinvestment should be limited to non-core sectors’

“Strategic disinvestment of many CPSEs until now was guided by the principles that the government need not be engaged in non-core sectors where competitive markets have come of age and economic prosperity can be better explored through the entry of global players, better technology, infusion of capital etc. Petroleum sector is a core sector for the development of the country and BPCL has proved its contribution in this journey from year 1976. Privatisation of BPCL may have an adverse impact on our nation, as private players will be inclined on profit maximisation, ignoring energy security and social inclusiveness in delivery of services,” the letter said.

Employees say BPCL’s financial health has been robust

In the last fiscal, BPCL, along with Indian Oil and HPCL, cumulatively paid Rs 8,119 crores in dividend to all shareholders. The net profit of BPCL for the last five years has been between Rs 5,000-8,000 crores. “BPCL has invested more than Rs 50,000 crores in various projects in the last five years. These projects were capitalised without time or cost overrun, which indicates the efficiency of BPCL,” the employees contended.

‘Employees live in anxiety’

“Sir, the officers of BPCL live in anxiety about the future. We pray for your decisive and kind intervention to address these fears. The officers of BPCL take pride in being a public sector undertaking (PSU), energising lives of millions and it is this pride that has driven BPCL to heights. We would love to work under the leadership of the government of India, as we feel that BPCL can prosper and bring in value to the nation only if it remains a PSU,” the letter said.

The backdrop

The news comes a day after a media report said that in order to clear the way for the disinvestment of BPCL, the government had already repealed the legislation that had nationalised the company in 1976. The Repealing and Amending Act of 2016 had annulled “187 obsolete and redundant laws lying unnecessarily on the Statue-Book,” including the Act of 1976 that had nationalised the erstwhile Burmah Shell. Now that the act has been repealed, the government will not be required to seek approval from the Parliament to privatise BPCL.