Disinvestment target realistic, achievable, says Sitharaman

Wednesday 03rd March 2021 05:09 EST

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman expressed confidence that the disinvestment target set in the union budget 2021-22 is realistic and achievable. The government has set a disinvestment target of £17.5 billion for 2021-22. Accepting that the government could not achieve the disinvestment targets in last two years, Sitharaman, said, “Last year, it was Covid-19, so obviously we could not achieve the target. The economy (a year before) was slowing down and there was no appetite for any disinvestments. So, there is no hesitation is saying I could not achieve the target.”

Speaking at an interactive session on ‘The Economic Rebound and the Indian Economy in 2021’ at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), she said, “Now, the appetite is probably better. Even during the pandemic, the stock markets were doing well, and they are now doing even better after the budget. I have come up with a realistic number. I have not given an overestimated number. So, I am sure to achieve it (disinvestment target).”

On privatization, she clarified that the government was not on a ‘spree’ to get out of every public sector undertaking and it would maintain ‘bare minimum presence’ in public sector through professionally managed, big and scaled up public sector undertakings (PSUs). “PSUs cannot be laggard in its operations. It is after-all run on taxpayers’ money. In our vision for new India, we trust the private sector to run this efficiently,” said the finance minister, responding to a question on disinvestment citing examples of efficiently functioning public entities in Singapore and China.

The finance minister also clarified that the government doesn’t intend to shut PSUs but instead wants them to run more efficiently. During an interaction with corporate professionals, business leaders, chambers of commerce and tax practitioners at the Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA), Sitharaman said, “Over the decades, several governments have tried to run public sector units efficiently. We are reaching a stage where some units are not able to run despite a huge demand for products they’re producing.

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