West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee criticised the Modi government for proposing to sell stakes in key state-owned firms like Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), Air India, BSNL, among others. The TMC supremo took to Twitter to express her displeasure. She labelled the disinvestment programme of the Centre "ambush of the heritage of public institution".
I am shocked & appalled to see how the Central Government plans to ambush the heritage & legacy of public institutions.— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) February 1, 2020
It’s the end of a sense of security.
Is it also the end of an era?#LIC #IndianRailways #AirIndia #BSNL
Mamata Banerjee has opposed the privatisation and disinvestment plans of the Modi government since the beginning. In Bengal, the Trinamool has been at the forefront of protests against disinvestment of public sector undertakings, or PSUs. Banerjee has repeatedly alleged that the government is selling national assets to its cronies and not making efforts to turn around struggling PSUs.
While delivering the budget, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a crucial announcement about the divestment of LIC. The government will sell a part of its holding in LIC through the initial public offer. According to her, this would ensure more financial discipline. Without revealing more details, she said, "The government proposes to sell a part of its holding in LIC through the initial public offer." Currently, the government owns a 100% stake in LIC, established in 1956. For the fiscal year 2020-21, the Centre has set a disinvestment target of Rs. 2.1 lakh crore.
The Centre has now set March 17 as the deadline for submitting Expression of Interest (EoI) by bidders wanting to buy Air India according to a preliminary information memorandum issued earlier this week. The Centre has given ‘in-principle’ approval for strategic disinvestment of the national carrier by way of transfer of management control and sale of 100% equity share capital of the company held by GOI. The stake sale will also include the airline's shareholding interest of 100% in AIXL (Air India Express) and 50 per cent in the airport services company AISATS.