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BHEL issue in cold storage: Cong

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
August 02, 2005 19:24 IST
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The Congress has made it clear that the issue of 10 percent disinvestment of the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited has been put in cold storage due to a lack of consensus on the issue between it and the Left parties.

Addressing a news conference in New Delhi, Jairam Ramesh, spokesperson for the Congress, claimed that though the government of India had taken major steps to give more autonomy to the public sector companies and revive the sick public sector companies, the BHEL issue had become the central issue.

He refused to answer questions on the statement of the finance minister. Finance Minister P Chimdambaram had said the disinvestment of 10 per cent was well 'within the guidelines of the National Common Minimum Programme.'

"I am not here on BHEL. There are different preceptions of the NCMP, one that is shared by the government and the finance minister and the other by the CPM. As far as the Congress government is concerned, the issue has been put in cold storage and will be taken up only after an agreement is reached. The Congress party can offer to bring in a legislation in parliament which would forbid disinvestment of Navratna Companies without the approval of the parliament," he said.

He claimed that the government of India had taken a number of steps to give more autonomy to the Navratna companies. These companies need not come to the government to make an investment of upto Rs 1000 crore as was being done previously.

"We want these companies to become global and they can also have mergers and acquisitions. The foreign travel of the board of directors would now have to be approved by the chairman-cum-managing director, who would be appointed by the union cabinet," he clarified.

The 9 navratna 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 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.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi