West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee criticised Centre's move to disinvest Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) like Air India and Bharat Petroleum on Thursday. Opposing the Centre's decision to sell off or disinvest shares in several PSUs, Banerjee contended that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should talk to experts and all political parties to deal with the economic crisis. "If you do disinvestment of everything, what will remain with the Centre? Good investment needs to be done in defense, Air India and Railways," said the TMC supremo calling this to be a very serious situation that needs to be thought about.
"We are proud of BSNL, Air India, Bengal Chemicals, Indian Railways, Ordinance factories, Bharat Petroleum. Their names are connected with the pride of the country. Institutions like Bharat Petroleum are also facing disinvestment. By disinvestment of these public institutions, the money is being used for investment for the country. But these are temporary, not permanent. Their needs to be economic stability for a permanent solution because if this continues then the economy will only worsen," said Mamata Banerjee in Bengal's Behrampore.
In a big move on privatisation, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the sale of government stakes in blue-chip oil firm BPCL, shipping firm Shipping Corporation of India and cargo mover Concor. The Centre also decided to cut shareholding in select public sector firms below 51% to boost revenue collections that have been hit by the slowing economy.
Mamata Banerjee who has been a constant critic of disinvestment policies of Centre, questioned on the future of bank mergers as well. She said, "The various schemes that are working in our state is functioning through UBI and other leading banks. If all these banks are merged and the headquarters, which are in Bengal are removed from here, what will happen to the schemes run by them? What will happen to the various officers who are working? The future of these schemes is debatable."
CM Banerjee also suggested Prime Minister Modi should seriously speak to economists on this situation and even asserted that it should be solved by taking a consensus of the states. "We are ready for an all-party meet on the economy; only then the elected government can work. Opinions of all state governments need to be taken so that employment increases. Public spending is low. People are scared that they won't have their own money in their hands", said Mamata Banerjee. Speaking on the Centre's move of digitalisation, Banerjee said the Indian society has never been and can never be a cashless society. She questioned the benefits of digital payment systems and stated that it won't help because if people don't have money then it will be of no use.