Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Sep 19, 2002
Industry & Economy - Disinvestment
Government - Politics
Oct 17 deadline for divestment review panel Samata Party flexes muscles
NEW DELHI, Sept. 18
THE Government's disinvestment programme faces a renewed threat from the Samata Party, a constituent of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
The party is now planning to set a deadline of October 17 for the Prime Minister to set up a review committee on disinvestment, which it had demanded earlier.
The National Executive and the National Council of the Samata Party will meet for three days between October 18 and 20, when it will chalk out its course of action based on the Prime Minister's decision.
The party headed by the NDA Convenor, Mr George Fernandes, had last month raised objections to the sell-off of the two oil companies, HPCL and BPCL, ultimately forcing the Government to defer a decision by three months.
The Chief Whip of the Samata Party in the Lok Sabha, Mr Raghunath Jha, told Business Line that it was absolutely essential to review the disinvestment policy at this point of time and figure out where things exactly stood.
"Three years have passed and only two years are left for this NDA Government. It is high time we took a look at whatever decisions had been taken during this period to decide on the roadmap for the next two years,'' Mr Jha said.
Mr Jha said that the party was not against the Government's policy, but "all we want is a review of the impact of the Government's decisions. not. Nobody, we think, should oppose a review.''
The party has demanded the setting up of a high-level committee headed by the Prime Minister and comprising representatives from all major NDA components to review the impact of all the disinvestment decisions taken so far.
"Whether we have gained or lost from these decisions, we have to evaluate. This is the right time that a committee headed by the PM looked into it and took a final decision on whether the earlier decisions were correct or whether they should be re-examined,'' Mr Jha said.
The Samata Party Chief Whip said that the party would expect the Prime Minister to take a stand on the review committee before the party's National Executive and National Council meets in Gujarat for three days starting October 18 to chalk out their course of action for the future.
Mr Jha said that the party's stand has been vindicated by the latest CAG report on sale of Balco, which would be tabled in Parliament during the coming winter session.
According to the Samata Party leader, "the CAG report states that there has been undervaluation of Balco and the Government put up a reserve price of Rs 514.4 crore for 51 per cent stake whereas according to CAG the reserve price should have been Rs 558.64 crore. Who was behind this undervaluation? The Ministry of Mines and the Finance Minister should institute a CBI enquiry into the entire process.''
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