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HomeNewsNirmala Sitharaman rebuts Congress on PSUs, says they showed resurgence in Modi...

Nirmala Sitharaman rebuts Congress on PSUs, says they showed resurgence in Modi regime

NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday presented a report card of central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) under the Modi government, highlighting the 87% growth in their combined net profit from 1.29 lakh crore in 2013-14 to 2.41 lakh crore in 2022-23.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Modi government’s initiatives have helped the public sector banks to recover from the banking crisis created by the UPA (PTI FILE PHOTO)
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Modi government’s initiatives have helped the public sector banks to recover from the banking crisis created by the UPA (PTI FILE PHOTO)

In two posts on X, formerly Twitter, Sitharaman sought to counter an attempt by the Congress during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections to claim that the public sector firms suffered after PM Modi came to power. In contrast, Sitharaman said during the years that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power, public sector firms suffered and cited data from 2022-23 and 2013-14 to demonstrate their transformation under the Modi regime.

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The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) replaced the UPA regime, which was in power for 10 years, at the Centre in May 2014.

“Repeated claims from the @INCIndia ecosystem and @RahulGandhi in particular that Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) are being dismantled & are in disarray under the current government are a textbook example of ‘Ulta Chor Kotwal Ko Daante’, as the facts reveal a very different picture,” she said.

Citing the example of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which she said was “maliciously attacked” by Rahul Gandhi, Sitharaman said: “Contrary to his claims, under PM @narendramodi, HAL’s market valuation has skyrocketed by 1,370% in merely 4 years, rising from 17,398 crore in 2020 to 2.5 lakh crore as of May 7, 2024. HAL on 31st March 2024 announced its highest-ever revenue of more than 29,810 crore for FY 2023-24 and has a robust order book of over 94,000 crore,” she said in a reference to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s 2019 campaign pitch accusing the Modi government of destroying HAL.

She said under the leadership of PM Modi, “PSUs are thriving, benefiting significantly from the culture of professionalism infused in them along with increased operational freedom” and the government’s “focus on capital expenditure” has also led to substantial growth in their stock performance.

Management incentives such as “sharpening of performance-linked incentives, capital management guidelines on dividends, buybacks, etc. and the calibration of the disinvestment strategy” have helped improve the performance of the CPSEs and reposed investor confidence, she said in her post.

“Modi Govt’s initiatives have helped the public sector banks (PSBs) to recover from the banking crisis created by the UPA. GNPAs [gross non-performing assets] in PSBs have fallen to decadal lows of 3.2% and profits are at record highs, even as the push to financial inclusion brings formal banking to every corner of the country,” she said.

She cited comparative data to back her claims. According to her, the total paid-up capital of all CPSEs jumped 155% to 5.05 lakh crore on March 31, 2023, as compared to 1.98 lakh crore on March 31, 2014. Total gross revenue of CPSEs in FY23 was 37.90 lakh crore against 20.61 lakh crore in FY14, an 84% growth.

According to her, the total contribution of CPSEs to the exchequer in taxes and dividends was 4.58 lakh crore in FY23, a 108% jump over 2.20 lakh crore in FY14. The net worth of CPSEs also increased from 9.5 lakh crore on March 31, 2014, to 17.33 lakh crore on March 31, 2023, an increase of 82%.

The capital employed by CPSEs also rose by 119% to 38.16 lakh crore on March 31, 2023, compared to 17.44 lakh crore on March 31, 2014. “Due to better management of PSUs, their share prices have tremendously increased in last three years,” she added.

“In fact, even under former PM Atal Ji led NDA Govt, shares of PSUs had performed better compared to UPA, due to better management,” Sitharaman said. During 1999-2004 of NDA regime, PSU index soared over 300%, vastly outperforming the BSE Sensex’s 70% gain, she said. In comparison, under UPA -1 (2004-09), the PSU index rose by 60%, but this was only half the growth rate of the Sensex. During 2009-14 (UPA II), the PSU index declined by 6%, while the benchmark rose by 73%, she added.

“Contrary to @RahulGandhi’s claim, it was the Congress party that left India crippled, relying heavily on imports rather than empowering our own institutions like HAL,” Sitharaman said. Historically, Congress has shown a lack of faith in our nation’s scientists and engineers, fostering a dependency on imports that branded India as the world’s largest arms importer for many years, she said.

“It is only under PM Modi that we see a significant shift—turning India from an import-dependent country to one that’s now proudly stepping into the role of an arms exporter,” she added. In FY24, India has reported arms exports worth 21,000 crore. “This achievement showcases our government’s robust confidence in our scientists and engineers, a stark contrast to @INCIndia’s approach,” she said.

Sitharaman said that false claims were made over job losses after disinvestment. “Let’s take Air India, for an example. It was a pre-condition of the govt to the buyer that there would be NO removal or retrenchment of employees for a period of 1 year. Also, even after 1 year, there will be a voluntary retirement offer before retrenchment on terms no less favourable than maximum benefits. PF and gratuity benefits were also offered as per laws.”

“After a transparent disinvestment, there has been a notable improvement in operations. Air India has seen significant growth in employment opportunities, with over 7500 NEW employees (both flying and ground staff) having joined the company since privatization. So, far from losing jobs, thousands have joined the company. Air India is set to acquire 470 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus for its fleet expansion at an estimated cost of $70 billion,” she said.