NEW DELHI: Asserting that the government will not shy away from taking strong decisions, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said that the Centre will move ahead with its aggressive divestment policy and continue to roll out strong reforms.
“(This is) a government which is looking at progressive reforms, a government which does not shy away from taking very strong decisions. And a government which has made very clear that the disinvestment agenda, for which the cabinet has given clearance, will go on,” she said addressing the annual general meeting of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
“Even during the pandemic, our efforts to disinvest some of those big companies are going on fine. The EoIs have come in, the next stage is going on... I expect DIPAM to be able to prove that they are even more actively engaging in those disinvestments for which Cabinet has already given approval,”she said.
The Cabinet has approved the strategic sale and transfer of management control in over 25 public sector companies, including those such as Air India , BPCL, Pawan Hans, Scooters India, Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), Shipping Corporation, and Cement Corporation.
While the Centre’s ambitious target of raising Rs 2.01 lakh crore through divestments this fiscal year had suffered an upset due to the outbreak of Covid, it has reinitiated the sale process for BPCL and Air India, and the listing of LIC. Hinting at a growth-oriented Union Budget come February, Sitharaman said that no amount of goverment intervention was adequate for the pandemic-hit economy, but assured the business community that public expenditure will continue—particularly for the infrastructure sector.
“Public expenditure will continue and at a better pace. Public expenditure—meaning capital expenditure from the public sector undertakings—particularly for infrastructure, will be kept up,” she said.
Sitharaman also added that with the tax concessions that doled out by the government, several sovereign funds and pension funds are now keen to invest in infrastructure projects outlined in the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP). Earlier in the day, she also held pre-budget consultations with representatives of the social sector along with top officials.