Expert panel recommends more autonomy for Kerala PSUs

Study covers 33 industrial and manufacturing enterprises; suggests financial freedom
Former chief secretary Paul Antonyhanding over the report on PSUs to Industries Minister P Rajeeve
Former chief secretary Paul Antonyhanding over the report on PSUs to Industries Minister P Rajeeve

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A government-appointed expert committee has recommended responsible autonomy for public sector enterprises. The committee’s study covered 33 industrial and manufacturing enterprises under the control of the industries department. Chaired by former chief secretary Paul Antony, the committee submitted its report to Industries Minister P Rajeeve on Thursday. Travancore Cochin Chemicals managing director Harikumar K and former Kochi refinery executive director Prasad K Panicker were the other members on the committee. The panel has recommended financial and operational freedom for PSUs in 28 subjects.

According to the report, the director board of a company should be given freedom to devise projects and implement modernisation measures; enterprises should be allowed to secure bank loans without government guarantee, meet capital expenses and carry out maintenance; managements should be empowered to redeploy workers, cancel irrelevant posts and sanction requests for voluntary retirement; companies should be allowed to make contractual appointments in managerial and technical posts; decide product pricing; decommission old equipment; and sell scrap.

The committee suggested the government give companies the freedom to adopt new technologies, start joint ventures and purchase raw material. All PSUs should sign MoUs with the government on performance review, and the government should set targets for each company. The government’s intervention should be confined to policy matters and total control over day-to-day functioning should be vested with the director board, the report said. The committee also suggested that managing directors get fixed tenures, with their performances assessed every year.

Among other recommendations are: one-third of the directors should be professionals, the Restructuring and Internal Audit Board should be reconstituted as the Board for Public Sector Transformation, and salary revision should not exceed 25% of the profit. Rajeeve said the government policy was to make PSUs autonomous and self-sufficient. “The government wants to make 30 units profitable by next year,” he said.

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