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March 1, 2001                                       Feedback  

    - EXIM POLICY '00



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Govt will not go back on privatisation: Sinha

Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha on Thursday asserted there will be no going back on privatisation of all non-strategic public enterprises, be it profit-making or loss-making.

"We have looked at all aspects carefully during budget-making and we have decided to go ahead with privatisation of PSUs. Let there be no doubt on this count in anybody's mind," Sinha told a FICCI seminar on the Union Budget.

"Time has come to address forthrightly the privatisation issue and meet the challenges of vested interest," Sinha said, adding political criticisms on this score are because the parties are "ill-informed and misinformed".

He maintained that the divestment target of Rs 120 billion in the Budget for the coming year was "credible" and had been set after much deliberation.

Sinha said the only consideration for not privatising a PSU would be strategic and all other public enterprises would be privatised.

The finance minister also said the criticism by opposition parties that his fourth budget has been prepared keeping in view the dictates of FICCI and multinationals were "unwarranted and uncalled for."

The Budget has been prepared keeping in mind the "long-term interest" of the country, particularly the future generation, by carrying forward the difficult phase of the reforms, he said.

The growth-oriented budget was certainly not for short-term gains, he said, adding that if he had not done what he did in the budget he would be endangering the very reform process.

Warning that the second generation reform was on a "slippery slope", Sinha asked the Trade and Industry to adopt a constructive approach to it, particularly the labour reforms and phased de-reservation of small scale sector in the budget.

Sinha said the government was committed to protecting the interest of the workers and it was precisely for this that the budget has proposed compensation of 45 days instead of 15 days while retrenching workers.

The finance minister said the government was exploring an insurance cover to industrial workers to ensure that there was a safety net.

He said the VRS scheme in public sector undertakings prvided for 45 days' compensation in loss making units and 60 days in profit-making units.

"I do not see any reason why private industry too could not pay at least this much, he said adding "we cannot take a one-sided view while reforming labour laws. We will have to take a view that is acceptable to both sides."

"We have a long-haul on this issue (proposed amendment to Industrial Dispute Act to allow industries employing upto 1000 workers to retrench without government permission)," he said.

Dismissing the criticism that the middle-class had got a raw deal in the Budget, Sinha said the Budget is not an aggregate of responses to demands from various sections.

Somehow over a period of time people have come to expect that the Budget would contain something for everybody and "I don't think that is the purpose of the Budget", he said.

The Budget must address issues that confront the economy and provide a strategy of growth for the future,he said.

"If one looked from that point of view the elements that should be included in the budget are fiscal consolidtion, development of infrastructure and rural economy and human resource development," he said.

This is precisely what the budget has aimed at, he added.

On domestic automobile industry's charge that 80 per cent duty for new cars was inadequate to check imports, Sinha said government should not be expected to protect the inefficiency of the industry.

Budget 2001

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