Opposing the Centre’s decision to hive off and disinvest shares in several PSUs, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should talk to experts and all political parties to tide over the economic crisis.
She asserted that shoring up funds by selling off government stake in central public sector firms (CPSUs) could only provide temporary respite.
“The Centre should look for a permanent solution instead of advocating stopgap measures. Unless there is economic stability, such measures cannot be the solution,” Banerjee told newspersons here.
While an elected government should be allowed to work independently, “it should also seek opinion of all other parties” on issues affecting the country, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo noted.
“I feel the prime minister should talk to experts in the country and hold an all-party meeting to overcome the crisis,” she added.
In the biggest privatisation drive ever, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved sale of government’s stake in blue-chip oil firm BPCL, shipping firm Shipping Corporation of India and cargo mover Concor, and decided to cut shareholding in select public sector firms below 51 per cent to boost revenue collections that have been hit by the slowing economy.
Banerjee said participation of private partners in PPP model could be allowed in specific areas as was done by her during her tenure as the railway minister.
Selling off companies owned by the central government was not a wise decision, she insisted.
“If the Centre sells off everything, what will be there with the government?” she asked.
Questioning the Centre’s decision to amalgamate several PSU banks, the chief minister said the merger of United Bank of India (UBI) with two other banks would pose problems for the state government.
“Several schemes of our government run through banks, so if UBI’s headquarters is shifted out of the state, the future of these schemes might be in question,” she said.
The TMC boss claimed that the government was selling off national carrier Air India and key units in defence production and telecom sector in order to raise funds.
Banerjee said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should talk to all political parties to find ways to generate employment in the interest of people.
Iterating her criticism of the Centre’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 banknotes in 2016, she said, “India is a country where cashless society cannot be effective; people do not have money.”
Banerjee asserted that disinvestment of government shares in CPSUs would not create jobs.
Earlier, too, the Centre had taken the disinvestment route, but the measure failed to boost the economy, the chief minister claimed.
“The central government has said that the current disinvestment plan announced on Wednesday will fetch anywhere between Rs 1.76 to Rs 1.80 lakh crore, but this would not rejuvenate the economy in the long term,” she added.