After 20 years, privatisation programme in India off to 'Maharaja' start

Other News Materials 28 January 2022 13:04 (UTC +04:00)
After 20 years, privatisation programme in India off to 'Maharaja' start

After a hiatus of nearly two decades, the government's programme to privatise state-owned firms restarted with the handing over of debt-laden national carrier Air India to the Tata Group.

With the new owner shelling out Rs 18,000 crore for the buyout of the 'Maharaja', this would be the highest-ever amount garnered through privatisation, and is even more than the cumulative sum mopped up through strategic sales from 1999-00 to 2003-04.

The government had in October last year inked the share purchase agreement with the Tata Group for sale of national carrier Air India for Rs 18,000 crore.

The deal also includes sale of Air India Express and ground handling arm AISATS.

The government had garnered roughly over Rs 5,000 crore during that five-year period by privatising 10 CPSEs.

Besides, three hotel properties of Hotel Corporation of India and 18 of ITDC were also sold off by way of slump sale.

Here is a timeline of strategic sale of central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) to private entities between 1999-00 to 2003-04:

1999-00 - Modern Food Industries Ltd -- Rs 105 crore

2000-01 - BALCO , Lagan Jute Machinery Co Ltd -- Rs 554 crore

2001-02 - VSNL, Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC), Hindustan Teleprinters Ltd (HTL), Paradeep Phosphate Ltd (PPL), some hotel properties of HCI and ITDC -- Rs 2,089 crore

2002-03 - Hindustan Zinc Ltd (HZL), Indian Petrochemicals Corporation (IPCL), some ITDC hotel properties -- Rs 2,335 crore

2003-04 - HZL (second tranche), Jessop & Co -- Rs 342 crore

The government has also sold its majority stake in certain CPSEs to public sector companies operating in the same sector.

This includes sale of 74 per cent government stake in Indo Burma Petroleum Co (IBP) to Indian Oil Corp (IOC) in 2001-02 for Rs 1,153 crore and Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) buying out government stake in Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) for Rs 36,915 crore in 2018.

Besides, government's 52.63 per cent stake in REC was sold to Power Finance Corp for Rs 14,500 crore in 2018-19.

Between 2000-01 and 2019-20, the government has sold its entire stake in nine CPSEs to other similarly placed public sector enterprises, garnering a cumulative Rs 53,450 crore.

The privatisation process witnessed stagnation post 2004 as the focus shifted to selling minority stake in CPSEs through follow on public offer (FPO) and offer for sale (OFS) and also stock exchange listing of profitable CPSEs.

In the 2021-22 Budget, the government announced the PSE (public sector enterprises) privatisation policy as per which all PSUs will be privatised, barring those in four strategic sectors of atomic energy, space and defence; transport and telecommunications; power, petroleum, coal and other minerals; and banking, insurance and financial services.

Even in these strategic sectors, the government will retain only a bare minimum number of PSUs.

In her Budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said strategic disinvestment of BPCL, Air India, Shipping Corporation of India, Container Corporation of India, IDBI Bank, BEML, Pawan Hans, Neelachal Ispat Nigam Ltd, among others, and IPO of LIC would be completed in 2021-22.

Besides, two public sector banks and one general insurance company would be privatised as per the privatisation agenda.

The Budget for 2021-22 has set a divestment target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore, compared to around Rs 32,835 crore estimated to be garnered in the last fiscal.

Of the Rs 1.75 lakh crore, Rs 1 lakh crore is to come from selling government stake in public sector banks and financial institutions, while Rs 75,000 crore will be CPSE divestment receipts.

So far, Rs 9,330 crore has been raised through sale of minority stake in Axis Bank, NMDC Ltd, Housing and Urban Development Corp (HUDCO) and Hindustan Copper.

Additionally, Rs 2,700 crore will come from the Air India sale.