Cabinet To Consider Proposal To Bring Down Stake Below 51% In CPSEs Soon
Indian two thousand and five hundred rupee banknotes are arranged for a photograph in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)  

Cabinet To Consider Proposal To Bring Down Stake Below 51% In CPSEs Soon

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The Union Cabinet will soon consider a proposal to bring down government stake in central public sector enterprises to below 51 percent even while retaining the state control, sources said.

Besides, the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to take a call on the merger of public sector general insurance companies.

The Budget for 2018-19 had proposed the merger of three public sector general insurance companies and subsequent listing of the merged entity on stock exchanges.

Last week, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government would move forward on the merger of the three state-owned general insurance companies -- National Insurance Company, United India Insurance and Oriental Insurance Company -- as announced in the previous Budget.

In her Budget Speech of 2019-20, Sitharaman had announced the government has been following the policy of disinvestment in non-financial public sector undertakings maintaining the government’s stake not to go below 51 percent.

“The government is considering, in case where the undertaking is still to be retained in government control, to go below 51 percent to an appropriate level on a case-to-case basis. The government has also decided to modify present policy of retaining 51 percent government stake to retaining 51 percent stake inclusive of the stake of the government-controlled institutions,” she had said.

Such a move is possible by amendment to Section 241 of the Companies Act.

Sources said the government envisages that the government can bring down its stake in a public sector undertaking by roping in other state-owned entities to retain the public sector nature.

For example, the sources said, if Life Insurance Corporation picks up stake which lowers the government holding below threshold level of 51 percent, the companies still are majority controlled by the government.

To achieve the ambitious disinvestment target of Rs 1.05 lakh crore in the current financial year up from Rs 90,000 crore projected in Interim Budget 2019-20 in February.

In 2018-19, the government raised Rs 84,972 crore from CPSE disinvestment, while in 2017-18, the figure was Rs 1,00,056 crore.

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