The Finance Minister said the following in her budget speech on government stake in Central Public Sector Enterprises:
Government has been following the policy of disinvestment in non-financial public sector undertakings maintaining Government stake not to go below 51%. Government is considering, in case where the Undertaking is still to be retained in Government control, to go below 51% to an appropriate level on case to case basis. Government has also decided to modify present policy of retaining 51% Government stake to retaining 51% stake inclusive of the stake of Government controlled institutions.
In order to improve the capital flows into the Indian economy, it is important to align domestic corporate systems and practices with global ones. It is also appreciated that global finance movement in equity uses certain parameters to evaluate the stocks in which they choose to invest. Government intends to further encourage retail participation in CPSEs which, of late has shown very encouraging upward trend. In order to provide additional investment space, the Government would realign its holding in CPSEs, including Banks to permit greater availability of its shares and to improve depth of its market.
Strategic disinvestment of select CPSEs would continue to remain a priority of this Government. In view of current macro-economic parameters, Government would not only reinitiate the process of strategic disinvestment of Air India, but would offer more CPSEs for strategic participation by the private sector.
Government is setting an enhanced target of `1,05,000 crore of disinvestment receipts for the financial year 2019-20. The Government will undertake strategic sale of PSUs. The Government will also continue to do consolidation of PSUs in the non-financial space as well.
ETFs have proved to be an important investment opportunity for retail investors and has turned out to be a good instrument for Government of India’s divestment programme. To expand this further, Government will offer an investment option in ETFs on the lines of Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS). This would also encourage long term investment in CPSEs.
For bringing better public ownership of the PSUs and also bring greater commercial and market orientation of the listed PSUs, the Government will take all necessary steps to meet public shareholding norms of 25% for all listed PSUs and raise the foreign shareholding limits to maximum permissible sector limits for all PSU companies which are part of Emerging Market Index.
The highlighted portions above were significant and I had singled them out for praise in my comment on the budget I wrote for MINT on Saturday.
As per ‘India Today’, the Finance Minister has issued the following clarification:
Talking to media persons, Sitharaman said: “51 per cent control assumes that there is a company where the government directly holds 51 per cent and there are also government-run institutions holding additional stake (say 10 per cent).
If the government intends to eventually seek more retail participation where employees of the company can purchase the shares, then even as the government retains 51 per cent, the extra holding through the government-run institutions can be released for employees who want to possess shares, by which the government control is not diluted. [Link]