BPCL Privatisation: Oil Minister Says No Role Of Government In Business; Competition To Benefit Consumers
Customers line up to refuel their vehicles at a BPCL gas station in Mumbai. (Photographer: Vivek Prakash/Bloomberg)

BPCL Privatisation: Oil Minister Says No Role Of Government In Business; Competition To Benefit Consumers


Days before the Union Cabinet takes up a proposal to privatise state-owned Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd., Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday said the government has “no business to be in business”, and cited examples of telecom and aviation where opening up the sectors led to increased competition and price cuts to the benefit of consumers.

Refusing to comment specifically on the possibility of government selling its 53.29 percent stake along with management control in oil marketing and refining firm BPCL for about $10 billion (around Rs 70,900 crore), he said the role of the government should be to create policy framework that guarantees “affordability, accessibility, sustainability and security” of fuel to consumers.

“When Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) says the government has no business to be in business, it is not a slogan. It is a philosophy,” he told PTI. “Our public sector undertakings have done a commendable job in building of modern India and ensuring availability of fuel to common man. But the common man will benefit most from competition.”

Pradhan said telecom and aviation sectors are shining example of what competition can do for consumers.

Opening up of these sectors to private players had led to crash in phone call rates and internet charges as well as provided wider option to travellers to choose from affordable airfare.

“This democracy is committed to the common man of the country. We have to create ease of living through more open and process driven regulation. Product is important, who is running it is not important,” he said.

He refused to be drawn into timelines for stake sale in BPCL, the country’s second biggest state-run oil refining and marketing company.

It is being speculated that the Union Cabinet may take up a proposal to privatise BPCL as early as next week.

Stake sale in BPCL is critical for the government to meet its disinvestment target of Rs 1.05 lakh crore set for the current fiscal year.

Also read: BPCL Privatisation Could Result In Reassessment Of Government-Oil Companies Linkages: India Ratings

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