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Privatisation in public sector units benefits customer: Petroleum minister Pradhan

daijiworld 2019-11-08 00:00:00

Daijiworld Media Network - New Delhi (SHP)

New Delhi, Nov 8: Petroleum Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday spoke in favour of the government's move to privatize BPCL. Drawing examples from the telecom and aviation sector, where privatisation leads to competition and price cuts, Pradhan claimed that the government has 'no business to be in business.'

"When Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) says the government has no business to be in business, it is not a slogan. It is a philosophy," he told PTI. "Our PSUs have done a commendable job in the building of modern India and ensuring the availability of fuel to the common man. But the common man will benefit most when there is market competition."

Pradhan claimed that with privatisation customers were served better. He stated that in this day and age, the end product is vital and not the aspect of who is delivering the result. He asserted that the government is focused on bringing in top energy players - Saudi Aramco, Total SA of France and ExxonMobil to operate in the downstream fuel marketing business to bring in competition.

India is touted to be one of the fastest-growing energy markets in the world. Over 95 per cent of diesel and petrol and around 100 per cent of LPG kerosene sales are under PSUs.

The acquisition of BPCL, which has 15,177 petrol pumps out of a total of 65,973 outlets in the country, provides an excellent opportunity to gain one-fourth of the market share. The company distributed 21 per cent of petroleum products consumed in the country by volume as of March 2019. BPCL also owns more than 250 aviation fuel stations in the country.

As regards when the stake sale in BPCL will take place, Pradhan refused to make a statement. One of the reasons the government is considering the move is to meet the disinvestment target of Rs 1.05 lac crore for FY 2019.

Back in 2018, the government sold the entire stake of HPCL to ONGC. As of March 31, BPCL reportedly has cash and cash equivalents of around Rs 5,300 crore, against its Rs 10,900 crore of debt maturing over the next 15 months. With the current share prices of BPCL in the market, the value of the government's stake in BPCL is believed to be worth Rs 60,000 crore.