Goyal bets on divestment in loss making units

Air India privatisation ruled out

Goyal bets on divestment in loss making units
Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday said the government will aggressively pursue strategic sale in loss-making units and has put Hindustan Photo Films on the block, but ruled out privatising bleeding Air India, saying every major country needs a national carrier. “We have decided on strategic disinvestment of several loss-making companies,” the minister said at a Conclave here, adding that the struggling Hindustan Photo Films is among the first PSUs to be divested.

Without naming Hindustan Antibiotics, Goyal said a Pune-based pharma company is also under the hammer. He said that the government is talking to employee unions and other stakeholders for an “amicable settlement” and there will be some progress on this front soon. The government has set an ambitious Rs 72,500 crore fund mop-up from the divestment process next financial year.

To a question whether there is any plan to privatise the loss-making national carrier Air India, which is surviving on government assistance, he replied in the negative, saying “every major nation has a national carrier”. But Goyal conceded that Air India needs to improve its operational efficiency. Acknowledging that AI reported operational profits last year, he said now the focus should be on financial re-engineering and effective deployment of routes. He challenged private carriers to undertake missions like ferrying pilgrims to Mecca for the Haj as the national carrier does.

On the power sector, the minister said the UDAY scheme has helped Tamil Nadu discoms cut losses by 60% in a single year, which are likely to post profit next year. He identified Uttar Pradesh as the next state for initiating power reforms. “India could not have completely focused on ‘Making in India’ in the last three years as being in the nascent stage, its solar power sector needed technological and financial boost from abroad to rapidly expand its horizons,” Goyal had said at an event on Friday.

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