The government on Tuesday announced that its proposal to divest 10 per cent stake in Navaratna PSU Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited has been shelved due to lack of political consensus.
Addressing a news conference in New Delhi, Congress spokesman Jairam Ramesh, said the United Progressive Alliance government has taken a number of steps to revive sick public sector units and also given more autonomy to Navaratna companies. These companies need not come to the government to make an investment of up to Rs 1000 crore (Rs 10 billion) as was being done previously, he added.
He, however, refused to comment on Finance Minister P Chidambaram's statement that the divestment of 10 per cent in Bhel was well 'within the guidelines of the National Common Minimum Programme.'
"I am not here on BHEL. There are different perceptions of the NCMP -- one that is shared by the government and the finance minister, and the other by the CPI(M). As far as the Congress government is concerned the issue has been put in cold storage and it would be taken up only after an agreement is reached on the issue. The Congress can offer to bring in legislation, which would forbid divestment of Navaratna companies without the approval of Parliament," he said.
The nine Navaratna companies are Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum, Gas Authority of India, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Steel Authority of India Limited, National Thermal Power Corporation, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited and BHEL.
Jairam Ramesh said that all the companies would have to be run by a board in which there would be two government nominees besides the chairman cum managing director and their dealings would have to be transparent."We want these companies to become global and they can also go for mergers and acquisitions."