Policy on global assets acquisitions by PSUs soon: PM

Policy on global assets acquisitions by PSUs soon: PM

"In some sectors, there is also a need for our public sector enterprises to explore global opportunities. In particular, we need to step up our search for raw material assets. The government is working on a policy to support our public sector enterprises in this effort," Prime Minister said, giving away awards to top performing PSUs here.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the award function organised by the Standing Conference on Public Enterprises (SCOPE), Secretary in the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) Bhaskar Chatterjee said, the policy is expected to go to the Cabinet in the next two weeks.

"We have received comments from oil, coal and mines ministries... it would go to the Cabinet in the next 15 days," Chatterjee said. The Prime Minister said the government was committed to a strong public sector in many areas of the economy.

He said enterprises like Air India and BSNL "are receiving the due attention of the government." Both these companies are facing financial problems and strong competition from the private sector.

He said that the government was conscious of the need to ensure the highest standards of corporate accountability in the public sector.

"India is one of the few countries which have implemented the mandatory code of corporate governance in public sector. We have encouraged our central PSUs to adopt a robust and transperant management system".

In the backdrop of rising commodity prices and scarce natural resources, multinationals like Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and ArcelorMittal are aggressively scouting for coal and other mineral assets around the globe mostly in Africa, the US and Australia.

State-owned Chinese firms have also been making strong bids for assets in crude and natural gas.

The Prime Minister said the recent public issues of Coal India Ltd and Manganese Ore India Ltd have been hugely successful.

"This indicates the vitality of our public sector and also shows that it is ready to face market scrutiny. We have reasons to be confident about the ability of India's public sector to face the challenges that lie ahead for them," he said.

Coal India IPO in October mopped up Rs 15,199.44 crore for the government under the disinvestment programme, while state-run MOIL that hit the market in December was subscribed by 56 times and garnered Rs 1,260 crore.

MOIL today made a handsome debut at bourses and was listed at a premium of nearly 47 per cent on the Bombay Stock Exchange, against the issue price of Rs 375. Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said, "The Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) are increasingly showing their mettle on the stock exchanges also and as on October 31, the market capitalisation of CPSEs stood at Rs 14.85 lakh crore (excluding CIL's contribution) which was about 22 per cent of the total market capitalisation of BSE."

Asking the ministries and the PSUs to give serious attention to human resource issues at all levels, Singh said, "We must ensure proper succession planning in our companies. We must also ensure that we are able to recruit bright young men and women into public sector jobs and retain them there."

The Prime Minister also stressed on the need to use new technology and improve productivity in these companies in this increasingly competitive environment.

"The public sector units sometimes feel constrained by the need to follow transparent processes, which may impede speedy decision making. This is inevitable consequence of the fact that these companies have been set up with taxpayers' money," Singh said.

However, he added the government has been attempting to give increasing autonomy and flexibility to the public sector enterprises by creating a new category of "Maharatna."

The government has accorded the Maharatna status to four companies ONGC, SAIL, NTPC and IOC, giving them enhanced powers and greater financial autonomy. Singh said, "These companies are already significant global players and I hope they will use their enhanced powers wisely and play an even bigger global role in the time to come."

Singh said that PSUs also have a societal obligation. They often operate in areas where the private sector is reluctant to step in.

"It is my hope that this particular expectation will not be lost sight of. I am happy that as part of this role, many companies have been contributing a part of their profit earned for various projects meant for social development," the Prime Minister said.

Appreciating the work done by the Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises, he said, out of 39 revived cases, 20 are showing profits today while 11 companies have made profits in the last three years.

"The mantra of success of these 11 companies has been empowerment and enablement rather than mere financial assistance. We must ensure that these improvements are sustained in the long run and these companies do not need to come back to the government for fresh revival packages," Singh said.

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