THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation (Kitco), the first Technical Consultancy Organisation (TCO) in the country, formed by Industrial Development Bank of India, government of Kerala and public sector banks, has been passing through a turbulent period for some time, with Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) going ahead with the proposal of privatising the agency.
And to make things worse, the managing director of Kitco was told to step down and a three-member panel was entrusted with the charge of heading the firm. Kitco MD Cyriac Davies was asked to retire from service all of a sudden on March 31 before his term expires by SIDBI, the lead bank which holds the majority stake in the firm.
This comes in the backdrop of the privatisation move which he was opposing and a controversy over the utilisation of CSR fund by Kitco.
According to sources, he was opposing the move to privatise the technical consultancy and management firm right from the beginning when the idea was first mooted by SIDBI in 2012.
Even after many technical consultancy organisations were disinvested by SIDBI, Kitco was not disinvested due to various reasons, including the protest within the technical consultancy.
Though SIDBI recently put the firm for sale, it didn’t go through even after firms like CIAL, KFC, Uralungal, etc. bidding for the agency. A Kolkata-based company has quoted the highest bid, but SIDBI temporarily stopped the procedures following a strong protest.
Cyriac Davies told Express it will not be fair to portray he was told step down for the reason that the firm has opposed the privatisation.
“Of course, privatising the firm will not do well for a company like Kitco as its current shareholding pattern under public sector helped the firm to be a frontrunner in the segment,” he said.
He said SIDBI has completely stopped the procedure of selling the agency to private firms.
But experts in the field opined though Kitco has a pan-India and some global presence in terms of executing projects in various sectors, it would be fair if the state steps in and takes over the firm as 90 per cent of the work being done by Kitco belongs to Kerala.
Louis Berger Consulting Pvt Ltd was appointed as consultant for holding and submitting a techno feasibility study of the proposed greenfield airport at Sabarimala for which the state sanctioned Rs 4.55 crore as consulting fee.
If Kitco was given the work, it could have been done with Rs 50-60 lakh, they added.
Can be retained as state PSU: Officers
Given that Kitco registered 20 pc growth in turnover touching D60.02 crore and an increase in profit of 11.62 pc to clock D9.34 crore in 2017-18 fiscal and was instrumental in setting up the first PPP airport CIAL, besides contributing to KIAL and other vital projects, the state can acquire and retain it as state PSU, said officials close to Kitco.
The state government can retain it in the public sector by developing it into a kind of autonomous centre of excellence like CDS, CESS, etc. Considering the fact the highest bid for Kitco was only D60 crore, SIDBI would not have any hesitation to sell the firm to Kerala government if it offers the amount.
Kitco has carved out a niche in the engineering, consultancy and infrastructure space covering aviation, sea ports, environment, urban planning and tourism