New Delhi: Union heavy industry and public enterprises minister Anant Geete on Tuesday denied reports that the government was demanding hefty dividend from a few reluctant state-owned firms to bridge any tax shortfall this year.

He clarified that there is no undue insistence being made in this regard. “We are not insisting much on dividend, but all our central public sector enterprises are paying satisfactory dividend," Geete told PTI.

Recent reports suggested that the finance ministry had demanded a dividend payout between 30% and 100% from 12 of the state-owned firms from their 2016-17 or 2017-18 net profit, share buybacks or bonus shares. According to estimates, the centre has budgeted $21.8 billion in dividend payouts from all state firms in the current financial year, slightly less than the previous year.

However, businesses have experienced disruptions of late, stemming from the government’s move to demonetise high-value currency notes a year ago and the rollout of goods and services tax (GST) in July. Central public sector enterprises may only finalise their full dividend payouts for the current fiscal in September next year. Besides, the minister said efforts are being made to finalise the industry 4.0 policy within the next six months.

“The fear is that in the race to become multinationals, domestic firms should not forget India," Geete said in a lighter vein, adding that a majority of India industry was pursuing international projects, especially in Africa. Addressing a conference organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in new Delhi, the minister assured the government’s support to domestic companies to help realise their ambition to become multinational companies (MNCs).

He also said the government plans to spend Rs3,000 crore to implement various programmes under the capital goods policy.

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