The government would ensure protection of rights and perquisites of workers of public sector units (PSUs) that are put up to privatization, says Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. She said that PSUs that are being privatized would receive capital infusion and professional management.
In her address to India Inc at the Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence, Sitharaman said privatization is not going to end up being selling for closure. “I am selling it to continue to be in business because I cannot run it efficiently, and I do not have money of the scale that is needed to invest,” she explained. “If these two principles are there that the unit will run more efficiently and workers’ concerns are addressed by us, I am sure I shall be able to convince and take forward the agenda.”
The Finance Minister said principles would apply irrespective of whether the units were profitable or loss-making. The government has proposed to privatize two banks and a non-life insurer, which have employees entitled to lifelong index-linked pension. In her budget speech last month, Sitharaman had unveiled a massive privatization and asset monetization plan for PSUs. The government may reduce the number of PSUs over time to just around two dozen from the current over 300 at present, following the new policy that focuses on privatization in non-core areas while shutting down loss making state run enterprises.
The government is also actively engaging with sovereign wealth funds globally to attract capital into the proposed development finance institution (DFI). “We are making sure that we are engaging with sovereign and pension funds of the world so that when we are coming up with DFIs, we’ll have great interest.
Sitharaman highlighted the growth path of the global economy has turned positive and India’s growth path is being pitched a notch higher with a clear sign of revival not just in manufacturing, but in the services sector as well. Several multilateral agencies estimate the Indian economy to grow in double digits in 2021-22 to emerge as the fastest growing major economy after the COVID-19 induced lockdown hurt the economy. It is forecast to contract around 8% in the current fiscal year and rebound next year on the back of measures unveiled by the government to script a turnaround.
The minister said the government’s focus on the concept of Atmanirbhar Bharat was not a throwback to socialist India. “I have been very selective about the items on which we have raised tariffs. These are essentially final consumer goods that are manufactured in India, not on intermediaries and raw materials. Import substitution does not blindly stop imports,” Sitharaman said.