Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
Capitalists are not only telling the central government which public sector undertakings (PSUs) and public sector banks (PSBs) need to be privatised but are also dictating the terms on which they should be privatised.
When the government announced the privatisation of two PSBs last year, it had planned to retain 26% ownership. That meant that it would continue to have some say in the running of those banks. Capitalists told the government that they, however, do not want it to be involved in any way in the banks after they are privatised. It is reported that the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act amendment bill, which is planned to be introduced in the coming monsoon session, has accordingly been altered and will allow the government to sell complete ownership. The government says that this is being done based on the “feedback from investors”.
In case of private operation of 150 passenger trains, too, it was seen that the government had asked the private operators to quote the amount of revenue they would share with the government. Private operators more or less boycotted the tender for operating of private trains and conveyed to the government their opposition against the revenue-sharing clause. In 2021, when the government announced the plan for private operation of Bharat Gaurav trains, it dropped the revenue sharing clause. This deprived Indian Railways of income from running of these trains.
A few months back when it was decided to sell a part of shares of LIC, the value of LIC was initially estimated to be over Rs 15 lakh crore. However, the value of LIC was reduced to one-third from the original estimate at the time of sale of shares on the “advice of investors”. This meant that “investors” could buy LIC shares at one third the price.
The history of privatisation of Air India shows how that the government kept making terms more and more favourable to capitalists in each attempt of privatisation but they refused to buy Air India till the government agreed to the terms they wanted. Capitalists insisted that the government should give complete ownership. Further, they asked the government to take the responsibility for bulk of the loan of Air India and not specify the loan amount to be paid by capitalists. Only when the government agreed to these terms, could Air India be privatised.
Each case of privatisation is again and again showing that privatisation is the agenda of big capitalists of the country who are deciding what, when and how privatisation should be done. Does this not show that the real rulers of the country are these big capitalists, and the government has to do their bidding?
Only the united opposition of workers and involvement of users/consumers of products and services of PSUs and PSBs will be able to stop this anti-worker, anti-people agenda.