New Delhi: Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan hinted that public sector undertakings (PSUs) may not be allowed to take part in bidding during disinvestment of BPCL. He also reiterated that the government should not be operating businesses in sectors that are self-sustaining. The statement comes a day after Union Cabinet gave its nod to the Centre's proposal for disinvestment of five PSUs — Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), Shipping Corporation of India; Container Corporation of India, Tehri Hydro Power Development Corporation (THDCIL), and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd (NEEPCO).
When asked on whether the government has already found a buyer for BPCL or a public sector company will step in to buy the government's stake in the company on the lines of the ONGC-HPCL deal, Pradhan said, "The nitty gritty will be kept in mind when the next decisions are taken. But when I say that the government has no business to stay in business, then a lot of things are included in this." Commenting on the timeline of the strategic sale, Pradhan said, "The Finance Minister has said the strategic sale is expected to be completed this year itself."
Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the ISA India Steel Conclave 2019 on Thursday, Pradhan said, "We have been clear since 2014 that sectors where businesses can sustain themselves should be allowed to continue. Government has no business to be in the business. The rights of consumers in India are supreme." Citing the example of the telecom and aviation sector, he added that the Centre's proposal to sell its stakes in PSUs is aimed at bringing in more professionalism in some sectors.
Commenting on the Cabinet's decision to carve out Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) from BPCL before selling it off, the minister said, "Including or excluding anything is to be decided by market experts and strategists … Numaligarh Refinery is an outcome of the Assam Accord. It was set up after Assam was integrated within the India's framework, following a student movement that resulted in dialogues." "NRL will maintain the identity of a government company. A successful PSU will be given its responsibility. The Assam government had made a request for the same to the Prime Minister and this was accepted," he added.
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