Addressing his maiden press conference after assuming charge on Friday, Deshmukh said, The issues related to this department that were raised by the Congress manifesto would get higher priority. He however said his ministry would wait for a go-ahead from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before acting on disinvestment.
While calling the disinvestment policy of National Democratic Alliance government a blind policy, the Congress had in the election manifesto said it believes that the Indian people have every right to own part of the shares of public sector companies while the government retains majority shareholding. It had also said that public sector enterprises would be given all support to grow and become competitive.
At the end of 2007-08, there were 242 central public sector enterprises (CPSEs). Of these, 159 were profitable with profits of Rs 91,140 crore. The department of heavy industry controls 32 CPSEs, of which 17 are making profits. Disinvesting a part of stake in public sector enterprises is seen as one of the ways to bridge the fiscal deficit, which went up to 6% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2008-09 as the government increased expenditure to raise demand in the weak economy. For financial year 2009-10, fiscal deficit is expected to be 5.5% of GDP.
The government raised spending through three stimulus packages announced in the second half of 2008-09 to boost the sagging demand and lift economic growth. As per the Central Statistical Organisation, countrys GDP had grown 6.7% during the previous fiscal against an average 8.5% in the preceding four financial years.
Deshmukh said he would also work toward bringing transparency in the way PSEs function. I would try to take new initiatives, particularly transparency. , he said