Contours of public sector assets management changed: Finance Minister

The contours of public sector assets management in the country have changed with the government recently articulating a directional change on public assets, Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman said in Bengaluru on Friday.

She was inaugurating a conference, “Creating wealth through markets”, as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav being organised in 75 cities across the country, at the IISc here.

The nature of public sector asset management had changed since the Budget 2021 had introduced a directional change that the private sector would be allowed in all sectors except for four core/strategic areas, she added.

“This has created a lot of interest in the private sector and as a result we have been seeing the emergence of start-ups in the areas of defence and atomic energy. This has encouraged private investors,’‘ the Minister observed.

Initially, most investments used to be land-centric, centrally-driven and long-term involving setting up huge dams or electricity generation plants. It was tough to draw investments in these areas from the private sector those days. But today, things had changed and the country had private investors who were capable of investing and running businesses successfully, as per Ms. Sitharaman.

However, she clarified that the government had no plans to shut down any unit. “Not to shut down a unit, but to run it professionally and profitably. We want to improve the functioning of our units so that they will contribute to the growth of the economy. I want to disinvest the steel sector, to bring down the cost of production, increase output and to bring in more capital.” According to her, DIPAM (Department of Investment and Public Asset Management) is working towards classifying AAA rated public sector enterprises and put them as exchange traded stocks, through the bond market route. Bharat Bond ETF currently accounts for 84% of the country’s total ETF market, which has assets under management worth over ₹53,000 crore.

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