Cong accuses Centre of compromising strategic interests

CEL Sale: Congress accuses Modi government of compromising strategic interests

The government had announced the sale of CEL on November 29, the second such sale after Air India.

PM Modi. Credit: PTI Photo

Congress on Wednesday raised the pitch against Narendra Modi government's disinvestment programme as it accused the BJP regime of "compromising" the country’s strategic interests by selling the "profitable" Central Electronics Limited (CEL) to a private firm with no domain experience but having links to BJP leaders at a rate that is much lower than the value of its assets.

Party spokesperson Prof Gourav Vallabh demanded that the government immediately stop the sale and claimed that the promoters of Nandal Finance, which won the bid for Rs 210 crore, are linked to a private university in Noida and known for their proximity to BJP leaders.

"The government has sold a strategic PSU manufacturing satellite system, electric generator fuse for hand grenades and bulletproof materials for body armours to a furniture company," Vallabh told a press conference.

The government had announced the sale of CEL on November 29, the second such sale after Air India.

Vallabh said different models of the valuation of CEL's assets showed that its value could be between Rs 957 crore and Rs 1,600 crore but the government set a reserve price of just Rs 194 crore. This was when the value of CEL land alone was Rs 440 crore as per circle rates of the Uttar Pradesh government.

"The reserve price that was set by the government was shocking as it was a meagre 20% of the lowest valuation for a company which has the experience of more than 40 years in the field of strategic electronics and defence business, having highly skilled and experienced manpower for strategic products and whose future growth is very progressive," he said.

"Strong financials warranted a higher reserve price. CEL is a profit-making PSU with net sales of Rs 296 crore and a gross profit of Rs 136 crore in 2020-21. As of October 31, CEL has pending orders worth Rs 1,592 crore. With these orders alone, CEL would give the government a gross profit of Rs 730 crore," he said.

He also said the UP State Industrial Development Corporation had entered into an agreement with CEL for the acquisition of land for setting up a factory, which mandated that the state employ 50 farmers whose land was acquired. However, he claimed, no employment was provided and the land was used for commercial purposes.

"This is the extent to which national strategic assets are misused by the current BJP regime," Vallabh alleged.
He also claimed that the company that bought CEL had just 10 employees and also had a case pending in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal.

Citing financial statements filed by Nandal Finance and Leasing Pvt Ltd in 2019-20, he alleged that 99.96% of its equity was held by Premier Furnitures and Interiors Pvt Limited, which had no link to the business of CEL.

He also alleged that the second bidder for CEL was JPM Industries and Nandal Finance was linked to its competitor through their parent companies. JPM Industries quoted Rs 190 crore.

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