Jan 9: Even after a Parliamentary panel had cautioned against hasty divestment of national carrier Air India, the government has decided to go ahead with its stake sale plan. Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary Rajiv Nayan Chaubey has been quoted in news reports as saying that the government will seek expressions of interest in February.
Stating that the ministry has begun drafting of invites seeking bids, Chaubey said that the draft invite would be submitted to the ministerial group overseeing the privatisation of the national flag carrier.
This is in fact totally in contrast with the Parliamentary panel’s suggestion that the debt-ridden national carrier should be given five years to revive itself.
If the government plan goes ahead as scheduled, the transaction has all chances of being completed by June this year
It may be recalled that a Parliamentary committee in its report had said that it wasn’t yet the right time to begin the privatisation process of Air India. Though the government has initiated the process towards strategic divestment of the airline, the new report suggested that the Centre should review its decision to privatize the airline, pointing out that the government should look at the possibility of an alternative to disinvestment.
The panel was critical of the the Civil Aviation Ministry’s policies, and had cited them as a reason for Air India’s massive debt. It added that Air India needs to be allowed to operate as a government PSU with less government control.