Centre selling govt assets in name of monetisation policy, says P Chidambaram

Addressing the media in Mumbai, Chidambaram said, “All that has been built over the last 70 years is being pawned off into the hands of a select few. People must be aware of this danger and protest against it.”

Upping the ante against the Centre over its asset monetisation pipeline scheme, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram Friday alleged the government was planning to sell off its assets in the name of the monetisation policy.

Addressing the media in Mumbai, Chidambaram said, “All that has been built over the last 70 years is being pawned off into the hands of a select few. People must be aware of this danger and protest against it.”

He added, “There is a concept in economics called asset stripping. That is what is happening here. There was no consultation done on this policy. There was no debate in Parliament. The government will never allow a discussion on this issue. PM Narendra Modi does not answer questions and neither does Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.”

Last month, the Centre unveiled a four-year National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) worth an estimated Rs 6 lakh crore. The policy aims to unlock value in brownfield projects by engaging the private sector, transferring to them revenue rights and not ownership in the projects, and using the funds generated for infrastructure creation across the country.

The NMP has been announced to provide a clear framework for monetisation and give potential investors a ready list of assets to generate investment interest. The government has stressed that these are brownfield assets, which have been “de-risked” from execution risks, and therefore should encourage private investment. Structuring the monetisation transactions, providing a balance risk profile of assets, and effective execution of the NMP will be key challenges.

“Congress sold only non-core assets. Our criterion was that core and strategic assets would never be sold. The ones which were running in losses and with miniscule market share were sold. However, the Modi government is selling everything. This government is planning to sell Konkan railway and the Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor as well,” Chidambaram stated.

Questioning the rationale behind selling these assets, the former finance minister said, “These assets generate revenue for us. The finance minister says that these assets will fetch Rs 1.5 lakh crore, but why is the Centre not disclosing the revenue that these assets are generating. I believe these assets are currently making around Rs 1.3 lakh crore. Hence, there’s no justification in selling assets that have been built over 70 years for a meagre Rs 20,000 crore profit.”

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