NITI Aayog begins groundwork on identifying more PSUs for sale

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NEW DELHI: NITI Aayog has begun the groundwork for selecting the next set of public sector enterprises for strategic sale and disinvestment.

A preliminary meeting will be held at the Aayog on Monday to identify more state-owned companies across sectors that can be put up for sale, a top government official aware of deliberations.

The Aayog has asked different ministries to recommend the names of the enterprises which can be considered for a strategic sale, where both ownership and control will be transferred. “The idea is to see which all companies and assets, which are non-strategic in nature, can be pushed for sale in the next round,” the official added.

The government can opt for strategic deals, disinvestment where a minority stake will be sold, monetization of certain assets of a company or even a share buyback in the enterprises that will be identified. Such details will be worked out later.

The move to push for privatization on a war footing is in sync with the government’s intent to completely exit non-strategic sectors through privatization or strategic disinvestment while retaining only a few public-sector units in strategic sectors which could include defense, banking, and insurance, steel, fertilizers and petroleum.

The government aims to raise Rs 1.2 lakh crore in the current fiscal year through the strategic sale and another Rs 90,000 crore from disinvestment of a stake in public sector banks and financial institutions, taking the total to Rs 2.1 lakh crore.

The Aayog had recommended 48 companies in the first round of disinvestment, including Air India and certain assets of NTPC, Cement Corporation of India, Bharat Earth Movers and Steel Authority of India.

The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, which is the nodal authority under the finance ministry to implement the government’s drive to exit non-strategic sectors, is expected to push for the sale of BEML, Container Corporation of India, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Shipping Corporation in a month which is expected to fetch the government more than Rs 45,000 crore. Work on the disinvestment in Air India is moving ahead and the government hopes to kick-start the process by December.

The government has identified more than half a dozen PSUs, including NTPC, Coal India and NMDC, for a share buyback — the government will sell part of its shares to the companies through such buyback offers.