PSU losses spur Himachal to contemplate reform

Monday, 30 June 2003, 07:00 Hrs
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SHIMLA: The cumulative losses of almost all public enterprises in Himachal Pradesh have crossed the 6.15 billion mark, forcing the state government to plan sweeping reforms to stem the rot.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who holds the finance portfolio, has said public sector undertakings (PSUs) that have "outlived their usefulness" would be drastically restructured, including cutting employee strength.

According to figures tabled in the assembly, of the total 23 PSUs, 17 are in the red. In financial year 2001-02 alone, the losses increased by 1.4 billion.

Leading the loss brigade in 2002-03 was the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board at 1.06 billion, followed by the Himachal Pradesh State Transport Corporation at 288.5 million.

The transport corporation accounted for the highest cumulative losses of 2.7 billion followed by the power board at 1.2 billion.

The Himachal Pradesh State Civil Supplies Corporation is the only PSU in this hill state that is doing reasonably well, with a cumulative profit of 2.3 billion.

The chief minister, who heads a Congress party government, said in his budget speech last week: "Our government has decided to undertake extensive reform of the public sector enterprises to improve their finances and achieve the objectives for which they were established."

"Wherever they have outlived their usefulness, we will take steps to reorganise and restructure these undertakings."

Said Singh: "The burden of the government on account of a large labour force is a factor adversely affecting our ability to generate resources. We propose to introduce a voluntary retirement scheme."

Asked to elaborate on the specific measures he intends to take, the chief minister said the government would aim to cut sloth by changing the work culture and might amalgamate public enterprises that fail to generate profits.
Source: IANS
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