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Make Public Sector Companies autonomous, says Vedanta Chairman

PW Bureau

Anil Agarwal asserted that PSUs should be run in a way that they are owned by the shareholder, with a condition that you cannot retrench people New Delhi: While urging the government to not think of money-making as a dirty business, Vedanta Group’s Chairman Anil Agarwal has made a strong case for making PSUs autonomous in order to boost their performances at a time when a bulk of state-owned companies in the public sector are running into massive losses.

“It does not mean you give business to Anil Agarwal, it should be the way L&T and HDFC Bank are run. The way GE, Exxon and BP are running, our public sector can run with autonomy, owned by the shareholder, with a condition you cannot retrench people.”

In an interview given to one of India’s leading national dailies, Agarwal said, “All over the world, people make money, companies make money and re-invest. If you see any democratic country, no government runs business. Every government said the government has no business being in business. That’s true — it should remain on the top, collect revenue, make sure governance is followed and regulators do proper regulation.” He added that it does not mean that the government should sell its businesses to private players: “It does not mean you give business to Anil Agarwal, it should be the way L&T and HDFC Bank are run. The way GE, Exxon and BP are running, our public sector can run with autonomy, owned by the shareholder, with a condition you cannot retrench people.” Vedanta Group took over two of the oldest and most robust names in the public sector — Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (BALCO) and Hindustan Zinc Limited — in the early part of the 2000s when the government, under the leadership of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had undertaken disinvestment/privatisation of public sector companies on a large scale. Both these companies drove Vedanta’s revenues to great heights and have been registering impressive growth figures since then.