India Considers New Panel to Quicken Privatization of State Firms
An aircraft operated by Air India Ltd. is seen from a control tower as it taxis along the tarmac in Delhi. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

India Considers New Panel to Quicken Privatization of State Firms

India is considering setting up a body comprising of independent experts that will take over the role of privatizing state-run companies once the government decides to divest, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The panel will replace bureaucrats, who currently manage privatization, as well as minority stake sales, the people said asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. The proposal is at an early stage and a final decision hasn’t been taken, they said.

An external panel will help accelerate the asset sale process and bypass red tape, according to the people. India still hasn’t manage to find a buyer for debt-ridden Air India Ltd. even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet approved the sale in 2017.

A finance ministry spokesman declined to comment.

Modi’s administration earlier this month said it will keep a “bare minimum presence” by running companies in atomic energy, space and defense; transport and telecommunications; power, oil and coal; banking and financial services, according to a notice on the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management’s website.

India plans to raise 1.75 trillion rupees ($24 billion) selling stakes in state-run companies in the fiscal year starting April 1, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said when she unveiled the federal budget on Feb. 1.

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