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`PSUs must for national security'

By Our Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD, MAY 25. There is little coherence in the disinvestment policy followed by different finance ministers since the reforms were initiated in 1991, claimed former Union finance secretary, E.A.S. Sarma, while delivering the N. Giriprasad Memorial Lecture here on Monday.

Mr. Sarma, who spoke on "Public Sector Strategic Industries: Perspectives before new Government" quoted the four finance ministers -- Yashwant Sinha, Manmohan Singh, P. Chidambaram and Jaswant Singh - to argue that the definition of privatisation and disinvestment had varied from time to time.

While for the first few years of reforms, it was stated that selling PSU shares was a means to raise resources for investment, it soon became a source to meet long term budgetary shortfalls and then, a tool to develop capital markets. Now, disinvestment has become an end in itself and not a means to some end, which Mr. Sarma said, was patently wrong. He said that sectors like defence, oil, coal, electricity and telecommunications were nationalised keeping in mind the national security.

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