Centres attitude towards PSUs

Nitya Chakraborty

The leading public sector companies of the country are increasingly getting sidelined by the Narendra Modi Government in terms of getting orders despite recording solid performance in their respective areas of operations for long. The Government is making all efforts to extract maximum dividends from the PSEs. The government policies have been tuned to mobilise substantial funds from the sale of the stakes of the premium PSEs but at ground level, the public sector enterprises are being deprived of a level playing field as against some of the leading private players.
Latest is the bid of the Modi government to hand over some of the high oil potential oil fields of the ONGC to the private players despite the ONGC management stating firmly that the ONGC engineers are in a position to do a better job in producing oil in these fields compared to the private players. All these policies are being piloted by the Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) and significantly, the petroleum ministry which is headed by a comparatively junior politician of BJP Dharmendra Pradhan, is only carrying out the instructions sent by the PMO.ONGC which has been doing a fantastic job in the oil and gas sector despite continuous obstacles being made by some of the big players belonging to both domestic and global  arenas, is crestfallen but the management has to keep silent since the PMO itself is actively involved in framing te new guidelines.
The petroleum ministry, at the instance of PMO has prepared a plan to offer 60 per cent participating interest to private players inn 11 fields of ONGC and 4 of Oil India Ltd for raising production in these so called ageing fields. But the studies made by the ONGC scientists say that these fields considered for private investment are among the better performing and the ONGC itself has spent a lot of funds for enhancing production from these fields. Losing them would mean a drop of 15 per cent in annual output for the ONGC while the private players will get returns on the basis of investments made by the public sector ONGC.
ONGC has got the best geo scientists and oil engineers of the country. The PMO has given no heed to their assessment and suggestions and has changed the policy to favour the private oil companies. Interestingly, the petroleum ministry has not been transparent in evaluating the performance of its own company as against the private companies which have failed in so many targets in KG-D6 oil basin. The Association of Scientific & Technical Officers (ASTO) of ONGC has sought similar evaluation for the private oil companies fields but the Government is still mum on that.
The strangest part is that the PMO did not find any private taker for GSPC at that time and dumped the ailing company on the blue chip ONGC by finding it competent. And now, it is not finding ONGC capable of dealing with the so called old fields and handing over those to the private companies on platter. As the ONGC executives point out the painful side is that the poor field performance index which is spoken about now has never been discussed with the ONGC officials. The ONGC engineers got no scope to defend their position against the propaganda of the private lobby which the Modi government cared to listen and then followed up.
Equally disastrous, if not far more, is the decision of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to jettison the country’s premier defence manufacturing company Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) from the Rafale deal at the last minute and replacing this public sector by Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence. Prime Minister took the decision himself to damage the future of India’s one of the public sector jewels when 95 per cent of the process of the deal involving HAL, was completed. Even before the visit in April 2015, foreign secretary S, Jaishankar said that” In terms of Rafale, my understanding is that there are discussions underway between the French company, our ministry of defence, and the HAL which is involved in this.” HAL was involved in the discussions till a few days before the visit. HAL has been denied a work in which it has expertise and in which the French company was also interested. It could have been a showpiece of perfect Make in India programme.
Defence manufacturing is one of the priority sector identified under Make in India initiative which aims at increasing the manufacturing industry contribution in national GDP to 25 per cent. As a major defence aerospace defence sector enterprise in the country, HAL has taken a number of initiatives.HAL has given thrust on design and development to encourage indigenization of components, accessories and systems required for manufacture as well repair and overhaul of aircraft, engines and associated systems.HAL was a perfect Indian partner for the Rafale deal and the French company Dassault CEO Eric Tappier was happy in having discussions with such an experienced public sector company like HAL but to the misfortune for HAL, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not allow this to happen.HAL was dumped to accommodate a greenhorn in defence manufacturing in the last minute. That in fact is an indication of the real attitude of the Modi regime to the Indian PSEs. (IPA)

Tuesday, 28 November, 2017