Government is again considering selling its money-losing international airline, after an unsuccessful attempt. The new guidelines have been framed after an attempt proved futile last month since the terms and conditions discouraged potential buyers.
On the instruction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the top brass of the government are readying themselves to modify the process. A clause is being added which requires a minority state stake in the airline. Besides, the government is working on a number of options. Now, it won’t insist on keeping 24 per cent of the company, it is said.
A different strategy is being devised because the last bidding did not find many takers. Then, it was thought to work out something different to be done, said the secretary of economic affairs.
He clarified that there’s no objective that government should have 24 per cent of the stake. It is open to the reconsideration.
The NDA Government’s privatization plan of the airline ended in a fiasco on May 31 when the deadline for prospective bidders passed by, and nobody evinced interest in the process. It is worth noting that the carrier is in debt of more than Rs 50,000 crore.
IndiGo, the nation’s one of the biggest carriers, was keen to take it over but withdrew out after the government made it clear it wasn’t selling Air India’s international operations.
The disinvestment in Air India is thought of utmost importance since it is losing above Rs 33,000 crore on account of its debt. Previous attempts by the various Indian governments to dispose of the carrier were also criticised by political parties.
The government wishes to take a call based on an expert committee report. A group of secretaries on the subject is expected to deliberate soon on the matter and take up its next plan of action. Based on the panel’s suggestions, the Group of Ministers may take an appropriate decision, said a government spokesperson.
The Air India’s sale process would also depend on the political will of the government. The political implication of the decision will also come into play, it is being argued in the official circles.