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`CPI(M) not opposed to PSU restructuring'

By C. Gouridasan Nair

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, AUG. 14. The CPI(M) politburo member, Prakash Karat, has said that his party is not opposed to restructuring of public sector units or closure when no other option is available. But he made it clear that any decision to close a PSU should be conditional upon the workers being retrained and redeployed or being given compensation.

In an interview with The Hindu, here today, he said that this policy had been enunciated in the West Bengal Government's industrial policy, adopted in 1996. The CPI(M), he said, had a `nuanced approach' to the whole question.

The PSUs can be divided into various categories. The PSUs that perform well should be given financial and technical support. In the case of PSUs that can be strengthened by restructuring, the effort should be in that direction.

Unviable units

In the case of units that are unviable, any proposal for closure should be accompanied by a package for retraining, relocation and compensation for the workers. "You must either give them alternative employment or compensation. These are units to be decided after discussions with trade unions and evolving a common understanding among major political parties. The Government must be clear about it and be able to put out a proposal. But what happens normally is that they are all put in one basket for privatisation and invariably the profitable ones would get privatised," he pointed out

Expressway project

On the controversial expressway proposal of the Kerala Government, Mr. Karat said the CPI(M) wanted clarification on several issues before it took a stand on the proposal. Questions such as whether a small State like Kerala should have such a high-cost limited access expressway, whether an investment of roughly Rs. 8,000 crores on such a project was justified and affordable for a State of Kerala's size, whether this was the best way to improve Kerala's transport infrastructure and how the project would impact the environment were the questions that needed to be looked at before the party took a final view on the subject, Mr. Karat said.

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