Updated: September 4, 2021 1:35:52 am
Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram on Friday slammed the Centre’s National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP), stating that the Narendra Modi-led government was planning to sell state assets in the name of the monetisation policy. He further said that the Congress, when it was in power, only monetised non-core, loss-making assets.
Addressing the media in Mumbai, Chidambaram said, “All that has been built over the last 70 years is being pawned off into the hands of a select few. People must be aware of this danger and protest against it.”
He added, “There is a concept in economics called asset stripping. That is what is happening here. No consultation was held on this policy. There was no debate in Parliament. The government will never allow a discussion on this issue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not answer questions and neither does Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.”
Last month, the Centre had unveiled a four-year NMP worth an estimated Rs 6 lakh crore. The policy aims to unlock value in brownfield projects by engaging the private sector, transferring to them revenue rights and not ownership of the projects, and using the funds generated for infrastructure creation across the country.
The NMP has been announced to provide a clear framework for monetisation and give potential investors a ready list of assets to generate investment interest. The government has stressed that these are brownfield assets, which have been “de-risked” from execution risks, and therefore should encourage private investment. Structuring the monetisation transactions, providing a balance risk profile of assets, and effective execution of the NMP will be key challenges.
“Congress sold only non-core assets. Our criterion was that core and strategic assets would never be sold. The ones which were running in losses and with miniscule market share were sold. However, the Modi government is selling everything. This government is planning to sell Konkan railway and the Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor as well,” Chidambaram said.
He asked the government if provisions will be included in the invitation to bid to ensure the monetisation process doesn’t create monopolies or duopolies in the sector. “What provisions will be included to prevent monopolies emerging in ports, airports, telecom and power sectors,” he asked.
Issuing a list of 20 questions to the Modi government, Chidambaram demanded that the Centre reveal the current revenue from the assets it plans to sell. He added that in listing the assets to be monetised, the government has acknowledged the work done by previous governments in the last 70 years. Asked if Congress plans to challenge the government legally, he said so far only a policy announcement has been made. “After the invitation to bid process starts, someone will surely challenge it. Congress prefers the people’s court and we will raise awareness about the dangers,” he added.
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