The NDA government at the centre is eyeing a huge Rs 3 lakh crore worth assets in its possession that can be monetized. These assets include power transmission lines, gas pipelines, telecom towers, airports.
The government has left it to its policy think tank, the NITI Aayog to draw up a list of these assets. Many of these assets are owned by public sector enterprises, or Central PSEs like PowerGrid Corporation and BSNL. The gas pipelines of Gail India Ltd., another CPSE, can be sold, as demonstrated by Reliance Industries when it managed to collect Rs 14,000 crore by selling 1,400 km of pipeline to a Canadian entity.
Besides these tangible assets, there are companies like National Textile Corporation, Hindustan Antibiotics and National Thermal Power Corporation which have large tracts of real estate in their possession that could be sold and added to the government’s coffers.
The carrot the government is dangling at these CPSEs is that they could monetise the excess real estate in their possession and use the amounts generated to launch fresh ventures. If they are unable to do so, these funds will automatically be transferred to the government treasury.
Some assets like the tower infrastructure of BSNL or the oil pipelines of GAIL can even be leased out instead of selling them outright.
The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had, in her budget speech in July, indicated that the government has set for itself a target of Rs 1,05,000 crore as income from disinvestment in public enterprises. The government has tweaked the 51% holding policy by saying that as long as the overall holding in any CPSE including the stake with institutions like LIC etc. remains 51% or above, the government won’t mind liquidating its stake to raise resources.
The department of investment and public asset management (DIPAM), will be the nodal agency to steer these initiatives and has asked companies to submit their expressions of interest. Boston Consulting Group, Cushman & Wakefield and Colliers International are entities that are said to have sent in their expressions of interest, it is reported.—The News Minute