Disinvestment kitty swells to Rs 34,800 cr this year

Disinvestment fetches over Rs 4.20 lakh cr in 10 years but target to be missed again in FY24

NEW DELHI : The government received Rs 34,800 crore from the sale of minority stake in an array of state- owned firms this year even as it prepared ground for the first strategic sale of PSUs in over 12 years.
This year will be also remembered as watershed for the government’s disinvestment programme as Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to transform the Disinvestment Department from a mere seller of government stake in central PSUs to DIPAM – the manager of its assets.
The renaming of the 17-year old Department of Disinvestment (DoD) to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) signalled a revamp in the way government manages its investments in state enterprises by focusing on monetising non-strategic holdings — from surplus land and assets with a PSU to privatising non-core companies.
The year saw exchequer getting about Rs 34,800 crore from disinvestment of minority government stake in PSUs, a tad lower than the record high of Rs 35,236 crore collected through part-sale of its stake in 2015.
The disinvestment proceeds stood at about Rs 18,000 crore in 2014 and Rs 22,000 crore in the previous year.
The government in 2016 focussed on identifying and doing the spade work for strategic sale of some of the nearly 200 PSUs while asking cash-rich companies to put their idle money to use by either doing share buy-backs, bonus issues and special dividend.
NITI Aayog was asked to prepare a list of PSUs that can be outrightly divested. Scooters India, Pawan Hans, Hindustan Newsprint and units of Cement Corporation of India were among those identified.
Selling four steel plants of NMDC and Steel Authority of India as well as offloading 26 per cent stake in Bharat Earth Movers Ltd to a strategic bidder is on the cards. In addition, Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation Ltd, National Project Construction Corporation Ltd, and Engineering Project (India) Ltd are to be merged with other sectoral CPSEs.
Through share buybacks and strategic sale, the government is eyeing about Rs 40,000 crore from PSU share sale in 2017.
Parallelly, the minority disinvestment continues starting with Engineers India Ltd, NTPC and Concor.
With no strategic stake sale policy in place, the DoD, which was carved out of the Finance Ministry in 1999, could not privatise any PSU till last fiscal. But now a Core Group of Secretaries on Disinvestment or CGD on strategic sale has been set up.
From its first CPSE stake sale in 1991-92, DoD has surely come a long way and has transformed its role to giving ideas on how to monetise idle assets of PSUs as well as emulate private sector by restructuring their capital and utilising their cash balance for resource augmentation.


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