undermined by the pandemic, India is auctioned

A “Quantum leap”. This is the expression used by Ajay Bhushan Pandey, director of the budget at the Ministry of Finance of India, to give an idea of ​​the scale of the privatizations that his country has decided to undertake in the months to come. This senior official from New Delhi, 60 years old, knows what is going on. Director of taxes until March 2020, he had the sad privilege of witnessing, month after month, the fall in state revenue following the slowdown of the South Asian giant (1.38 billion inhabitants ), long before the SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged.

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To get the subcontinent back on its feet, while a second wave of Covid-19 has been sweeping at breakneck speed since mid-February, Mr. Pandey knows that the recovery will have to be financed by scraping the funds from the drawer. In 2020, with the increase in business bankruptcies, soaring unemployment and the dramatic drop in household consumption, tax revenues have fallen by half compared to forecasts. There is no longer any question of continuing the public asset management policy of recent years, with targets for privatization revenues never achieved. No, this time the nationalist government led by authoritarian Narendra Modi wants to sell everything it can.

Among the family jewels to be divested are two state-owned banks, as well as a host of industrial and service companies.

Ajay Bhushan Pandey, who was the main architect of the finance bill for the fiscal year 2021-2022, presented to the Council of Ministers on 1er February, thinks that it is appropriate to make a virtue of necessity. In the revenue column, he entered, with the approval of the Minister of Finance, Nirmala Sitharaman, the sum of 1,750 billion rupees (19.5 billion euros) under the heading “divestments, privatizations and monetization of assets ”.

Among the family jewels to be divested over the next twelve months are two state-owned banks – the IDBI in Bangalore and, arguably, the Bank of Maharashtra, headquartered in Pune – as well as a host of industry and services: the shipping company Shipping Corporation of India; the freight carrier Container Corporation of India, a subsidiary of the national railways, Indian Railways, also for sale; construction machinery manufacturer Bharat Earth Movers; the helicopter transport company Pawan Hans and the mineral operator Neelachal Ispat Nigam. India is up for auction.

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