The Congress on Tuesday said that it will not allow the reckless selling of Public Sector Banks (PSBs). The party alleged that the Modi government is now all set to completely exit from public sector banks, which is an “ill thought out strategy with dangerous repercussions.”
Addressing a press conference, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said: “The Congress will oppose this reckless sale of strategic profit making assets including the complete exit from Public Sector Banks which are being sold. We will tell them to sell those assets which have been built in 8 years.”
The party said that banks were nationalised in 1969 which did not just break the monopoly of a few private lenders but ensured that banking reaches the last mile. State owned banks do priority lending to sectors like agriculture and small industries that private banks shy away from.
They have helped in the development of backward areas and have opened branches in far flung regions of the country where no private banks would venture. PSBs are not just financial institutions, they are actually agents of social empowerment.
“But this fire sale of strategic and profit making assets built over the last 75 years raises some serious questions. What is the explanation for the disastrous IPO of LIC with losses of over $18 billion, almost one third of its valuation,” Shrinate said.
The party pointed out that the Modi government forced to halt reckless PSU sale in the last 2 months alone, the government has been forced to halt its privatisation spree. The BPCL sale has been called off after 2 of 3 investors withdrew, deterred by faulty fuel pricing policies and various uncertainties. The sale of Pawan Hans Ltd is now on hold after 51 per cent stake was sold to a company that had failed to honour a previous bid for an insolvent company, and the NCLT Kolkata had ruled against it. PHL plays a strategic role in offshore oil platforms, commercial operations in border areas.
Central Electronics Ltd is a Ministry of Science and Technology PSU that provides critical materials and services for strategic sectors such as defence, railways and energy. It was severely undervalued and 100 per cent equity was sold to a financial company with no scientific background that had links to BJP politicians –now on hold after the two bidders turned out to be related parties, the Congress said.
Sale of Container Corporation of India (Concor), a unit of the Indian Railways, was put on hold over Congress party’s charges of how the government was using backdoor arrangement to hand over railway land acquired from farmers at a concessional rate or free of cost to a private party for commercial use.
Shrinate alleged that the privatisation of three PSUs has been delayed because of issues over the valuation of land. CONCOR has land around railway stations, Shipping Corporation of India has land in Maharashtra especially Mumbai) while Bharat Earth Movers has land in West Bengal and Karnataka.
“It is clear the single minded objective is to hand over these ventures and the lakhs of acres of land they hold to Mr Modi’s chosen few crony capitalist friends,” she added.