Will not cut govt stake in power PSUs below 51%: Piyush Goyal

Power minister Piyush Goyal says management and control of public sector undertakings should remain with the government

Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

New Delhi: Supporting the finance ministry’s disinvestment plan for public sector undertakings (PSUs), Union power minister Piyush Goyal has said his ministry will not reduce the government’s stake in power sector PSUs below 51%.

“Finance minister can do whatever (as much disinvestment) he wants to do. We will support him. But we will not go for (reducing government stake) below 51%. That is what we had announced for CoaI India and our other PSUs,” Goyal told PTI.

“Management and control of the PSUs should remain with the government. Last year divestment in PFC (Power Finance Corp. Ltd) and REC (Rural Electrification Corp. Ltd) was done. If they want then we are ready for another round,” he added.

The government has set a disinvestment target of Rs.56,500 crore for the fiscal. Of this, Rs.36,000 crore is to come from minority stake sale in PSUs and Rs.20,500 crore from strategic sale. The government has already kick-started the disinvestment programme for the current fiscal with 11.36% stake sale in NHPC, which fetched Rs.2,700 crore.

It has lined up as many as 15 PSUs including Coal India, NMDC, MOIL, MMTC, National Fertilisers, NALCO and Bharat Electronics for divestment in 2016-17.

Recently, NITI Aayog had submitted two separate lists for dealing with sick units and those PSUs where strategic sale is possible. Under strategic sale, the government reduces its stake to 49% or below. In common parlance it is known as privatization.

During 2015-16, the government managed to notch up Rs.25,312 crore through disinvestment, less than half the target of Rs.69,500 crore. It had raised around Rs.24,500 crore in 2014-15 by selling stake in companies, about Rs.16,000 crore in 2013-14 and Rs.23,960 crore in 2012-13.

It had raised around Rs.14,000 crore in 2011-12 and over Rs.22,100 crore in 2010-11. Asked about the impact of increase in coal prices by Coal India, Goyal said, “We are trying to rationalize it. We are not increasing the price of coal. When there will be drastic reduction in price of certain grade of coal (high calorific value) then there will be some increase in some other grades.”

He said this will lead to increase in use of higher calorific value coal and reduce quantities to generate the same amount of power which will ultimately reduce freight cost. “You need to blend the high calorific value coal as its prices have come down. You will require less quantity of coal and save freight. If I will not rationalize coal prices then there will be more imports, which would not be in nation’s interest,” he said.

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