Opinion | There is a method to India’s sell-off agenda2 min read 26 Dec 2019, 10:06 PM IST
The government’s privatization plan might fail to meet this year’s target. But what matters more is the strategy revealed by its choice of firms up for sale—this is a cause for optimism
Just a few weeks ago, the government gave advocates of privatization reason to cheer by announcing the sale of its stake in several state-owned companies. For a dispensation that was seen as dragging its feet on this agenda in its previous term, it seemed like an “at last" moment of relief. For a regime that sorely needed to shore up its finances to cover a drastic shortfall in tax revenue, its words were taken as a precursor to action. However, as Mint reported on Thursday, time for offloading equity has begun to run out and, going by the tardy progress on Air India, Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL), and Container Corp. of India Ltd (Concor), all slated to be wholly or partially hawked, the Centre looks likely to meet only about half its targeted ₹1.05 trillion by the end of this fiscal year. Delays on disinvestment are not new and, while they could adversely impact fiscal health, observers also need to bear in mind that this is not only about raising money. What we also need to ask is whether the pattern of sell-off proposals has an underlying plan that could do the economy some good. On this, there is some cause for optimism.