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Divestment of profitable PSUs: 2 top PSU federations call for a press conference

Two apex federations of oil PSU officers and PSU officers in Maharatna companies will address the media on Dec 9 on the “divestment of profitable PSUs

Divestment of profitable PSUs
Divestment of profitable PSUs

New Delhi: Joining the chorus against privatisation, two apex federations of oil PSU officers and PSU officers in Maharatna companies will address the media on December 9 on the “divestment of profitable PSUs,” an official statement said on Wednesday. The two federations — Federation of Oil PSU Officers (FOPO) and Confederation of Maharatna Company Officers (COMCO) — claim to represent 1 lakh officer-level employees in the PSU sector.

The news assumes significance because this is the first time that two apex federations representing officer-level employees have decided to address the media on the issue of divestment of profitable PSUs. “There has been continuing coverage on the decision of the Government of India to divest its majority shareholding and even transfer management control in several profit-making Central PSUs. Many reports and analysis on the subject appearing in media need to be supplemented with facts and figures and many misconceptions also need to be dispelled. Also, the take of the collectives of these profitable PSUs need to be placed in the right perspective to create a correct understanding of the issue and its larger ramifications on the economy and society,” said a statement released jointly by FOPO and COMCO.

On the divestment of profitable PSUs

“These PSUs are lifeline of Indian economy and contribute immensely to the progress of the nation. Lots of sweat and blood of our members has gone into building these PSUs and handing over these profitably running established businesses on a platter would be counter-productive and ultimate wealth destroyer. Government has already opened all the sectors and created level playing field for any and every company in the world to enter India and build a profitable business,” the statement said.

‘Give autonomy to PSUs instead of divesting them’

“For the creation of wealth for the common public in the real sense, it would be beneficial to give complete freedom of decision making to these PSUs rather than divesting & privatizing and transfer a profitable business on platter,” the statement said. While FOPO represents officers from IOCL, BPCL, HPCL, ONGC, OIL, GAIL & CPCL, COMCO represents officers from BHEL, CIL, IOCL, NTPC, ONGC, SAIL and GAIL.

The backdrop

The news comes a day after Minister of State (MoS) for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur told the Rajya Sabha that profitability, or the lack of it, in PSUs is not a criterion for the government to decide whether a PSU should be divested or not. “The list of PSUs shortlisted for strategic disinvestment includes profit-making, as well as loss-making CPSEs. The government follows a policy of strategic disinvestment of CPSEs, which are not in ‘priority sectors.’

For this purpose, NITI Aayog has been mandated to identify such CPSEs based on the criteria of (i) National Security, (ii) Sovereign function at arm’s length, and (iii) Market Imperfections and Public Purpose. However, profitability/loss of the CPSEs is not among the relevant criteria,” Thakur told the Upper House of the Parliament.

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