In order to shore up revenues and revive growth, finance minister P Chidambaram on Friday told public sector enterprises to ensure that their dividend payments this fiscal are not lesser than that paid in 2012-13.
“Dividend payments by PSUs will not be less than last year’s,” said Chidambaram after meeting chairmen of public sector units including Coal India Ltd, IndianOil, NTPC, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, GAIL India and Steel Authority. The Centre has targetted Rs 73,866 crore from dividend and profits of PSUs in 2013-14, which is a 33 per cent increase over the Rs 55,443 crore it received last fiscal.
Finance ministry officials are, however, hopeful that the target will be met but said the position will be reviewed in January once again.
Dividend payments by PSUs to the government are part of the non-tax revenue receipts which are used to finance the fiscal deficit. Higher dividends could make up for the lower-than-expected mop-up from disinvestment and tax receipts as the Centre tries to keep the fiscal deficit in check at 4.8 per cent of the GDP.
The finance minister also discussed capacity expansion plans of the PSUs at the meeting as the government tries to revive economic activities and return to a higher growth trajectory. “Most of the PSUs will achieve their capex plan. Some half-a-dozen may not. We will revisit those cases in January,” he said.
The chiefs of most PSUs also assured the minister that they would meet their capex target for the fiscal.
“The finance minister was fully satisfied by the performance of ONGC. Our capex target for the first half of the fiscal was over Rs 14,000 crore. We have spent 99.3 per cent. We will spend this fiscal year’s capex plan of Rs 35,000 crore. We have cash of around Rs 13,000 crore,” said ONGC chairman Sudhir Vasudeva.
SAIL also echoed similar views. “We will meet capex target of whole year, which is Rs 11,500 crore,” said SAIL chairman CS Verma.