A Parliamentary panel is understood to have sought details from the government on the Air India disinvestment decision. Sources said the government’s decision to divest stake in Air India was discussed today at the meeting of the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture. After the discussion, it was decided to seek an explanation on the reasons behind the disinvestment decision from the civil aviation ministry. The aviation secretary is believed to have been asked to appear before the panel on July 12, sources said.
On June 28, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its in-principle approval for the disinvestment of Air India, which has been in the red for long. During the panel’s meeting today, sources said the issue of Air India was raised by Congress member and former Minister of State for Civil Aviation K C Venugopal. A group of ministers, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, would be looking into various aspects of Air India. It would look into the treatment of unsustainable debts of the national carrier, hiving off certain assets to a shell company and de-merger and strategic disinvestment of three profit- making subsidiaries.
Air India, which has a debt burden of more than Rs 52,000 crore, is staying afloat on taxpayers’ money. The previous UPA government had extended bailout package worth little over Rs 30,000 crore to the national carrier for a ten-year period starting from 2012.