The government raised its disinvestment target for 2019-20 by 12.5 per cent toRs. 90,000 crore even as less than half of the budgeted target of Rs. 80,000 in the outgoing fiscal has been realised in the first 10 months.
So far, the government has raised Rs. 35,532 crore from the sale of its shares in the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) in 2018-19. The government has expressed confidence of meeting the target, saying most sales happen in last quarter.
“The government received over Rs. 1 lakh crore from disinvestment proceeds during 2017-18. We are confident of crossing the target of Rs. 80,000 crore this year,” Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said while presenting the Interim Budget on Friday.
State-owned firms RITES, IRCON International and Garden Reach Shipbuilders hit the IPO market in the current financial year. Besides, the government mopped up Rs. 17,000 crore through the CPSE Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) follow-on offer.
The CPSE ETF was launched in March 2014 to help government manage its divestment in CPSEs. The government raised Rs. 8,325 crore in the first further fund offer (FFO) of Bharat 22 ETF, while some state-run firms announced share buybacks during the year.
“We have pursued the public enterprises asset management agenda to make these enterprises accountable to the people. As many as 57 CPSEs are now listed with total market capitalisation of over Rs. 13 lakh crore,” Goyal said.
The government plans to use the divestment fund of Rs. 90,000 crore to finance expenditure on infrastructure project, education, health sectors and investment in the railways towards capital expenditure in 2019-20, as per the Budget documents.
While disinvestment collections were never above Rs. 50,000 crore, it went beyond Rs. 1 lakh crore in previous fiscal 2017-18 against the budgeted target of Rs. 72,500 crore.
In previous fiscal, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) acquired government’s 51 per cent stake in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), both state-owned firms, for Rs. 36,915 crore, which was more than half of the disinvestment target for the year.
However, the purchase of government’s stake in a state-owned firm by another state-owned firm has raised doubts about meeting the real objective of disinvestment, which according to industry experts would be met if the sale is in the primary or secondary markets.