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Friday, October 19, 2001

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New auto policy to boost car industry

By R. Gopalakrishnan

CHENNAI, OCT. 18. The new automobile policy, awaiting Cabinet approval and expected to be announced within a month, will give a `boost' to the passenger car industry, the Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Dr. Vallabhai Katheria, said today.

The policy will provide a `level playing field' and promote indigenisation, even while emphasising safety, quality and environmental protection, he said, addressing presspersons after a visit to Hyundai's car assembly plant at Sriperumbudur. He said by achieving 85 per cent indigenisation of its prime model (Santro) Hyundai had become `Indianised'.

Mr. Katheria said in India's economic conditions, car continued to be a `luxury' and hence he did not expect any major tax relief for cars to make them affordable to the common man.

The Minister said independent of the McKinsey recommendations for the Indian economy for privatisation of government ownership, the government's policy was against privatisation of `strategic' units in the `immediate' future, and favoured closure of bad and unviable units finding no buyers, joint venture with up to 74 per cent stake for the private sector in many units and total sale to the private sector in some cases.His Ministry had closed five PSEs which were continuously loss-making.

The NRF (National Renewal Fund) was transferred to his Ministry from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion only in April this year and hence it had not made much headway in retraining. It had identified 18 centres for retraining VRS-opted employees of PSEs.

The Ministry had also succeeded getting purchase preference for Hindustan Cables and wagon manufacturing PSEs from buying departments/agencies of the government.

Mr. A. P. Gandhi, President, Hyundai Motor India, said the company rolled out the 200,000th unit of its flagship model, Santro, today.

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