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No decision yet on Disinvestment Ministry

Tuesday 18 May 2004

KOLKATA, MAY 18. The West Bengal Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, who completed three years of office today, endorsed his party’s decision not to join a Congress-led government at the Centre but expected the new government to adhere to the common minimum programme (CMP).

By Our Special Correspondent

"We cannot betray our people and voters who had not asked us to join the Government at the Centre. Oil does not mix with water and differences will be there if there is an attempt to get the two to coexist," Mr. Bhattacharya said at the Writers’ Buildings.

Hoping that many problems the State Government faced would be resolved once the CMP became functional and the State got from the Centre its rightful share, Mr. Bhattacharya said his party had not as yet taken any decision on the demand for winding up the Disinvestment Ministry. It would, however, oppose any disinvestment in the core sector.

There could be no comparison between the moves of the State Government for disinvestment of sick units and the policy of the National Democratic Alliance on the subject while in power.

"Ours is a different story. Of the 56 State public sector units, none was set up by the State. They were taken over once they turned sick to safeguard workers’ interests," he pointed out.

Funds were being provided to those State units that needed a turn-around. The State Government was going in for joint sector projects and also inviting private parties to convert sick units into viable ones.

On the other hand, "the Centre had invested huge funds for setting up Central public sector units and there is no reason why it should go in for disinvestment."

The Left parties were waiting for the CMP to be formulated after which it would be decided whether any revision was required, the Chief Minister said.

"But we expect the Congress-led coalition Government to put a halt to blanket privatisation - particularly in the profit-making and core sector public undertakings. This will break the economic backbone of the country."

"I hope that the CMP will include subsidies for the public distribution system, education and health and reflect a change in policy from the previous government on small savings. There should be proper sharing of Central taxes to bail out State Governments from the debt trap," he added.

Looking back on his term as Chief Minister, Mr. Bhattacharya said that the State Government, while concentrating its efforts on agricultural development that had resulted in crop diversification, was also opening up to investment in industry, information technology and bio-chemical sectors, "though there were certain problems to be sorted out."

See online : The Hindu

P.S.

in The Hindu, Tuesday, May 18, 2004.

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