Offer Nalco Shares To Public: Uma

New Delhi, November 26: | Updated: Nov 27 2002, 05:30am hrs
Union minister for coal and mines, Uma Bharti on Tuesday favoured public offering of equity shares as the route for divesting government stake in Nalco and said the decision on privatisation of the aluminium firm rests with the Prime Minister.

I have placed my views on the Nalco selloff issue before Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who will finally give his verdict, Ms Bharti told reporters after accepting a dividend cheque for Rs 224.60 crore from Nalco.

The balance amount of Rs 33.12 crore has been disbursed to the other shareholders of the company.

Ms Bharti, who had been tight-lipped over the Nalco sale in the past, said, I am not against disinvestment policy per se but we have to ensure public participation. The disinvestment process should benefit the public at large.

A right balance has to be struck in the government-owned firms and private sector. Middle path of having some companies in private sector and some under government control was necessary for right balance, she said.

Asked about why due diligence of the company was stopped, Ms Bharti said this qustion should be posed to the ministry of disinvestment.

Nalco declared a dividend of 40 percent for the year 2001-02 on the paid up capital of Rs 644.31 crore. The total amount payable works out to be Rs 257.72 crore which is 62.95 per cent of the profit after tax of Rs 409.35 crore. Last year too, the company had paid Rs 224.60 crore as dividend.

During 2001-02 fiscal, while the company achieved record performance in production and sales volume, the adverse market conditions and increased operating cost pulled down the net profit from Rs 655.83 crore in 2000-01 to Rs 409.35 crore in 2001-02.

The company has continued the implementation of the Rs 4,200 crore capacity expansion programme. The expansion of bauxite mines capacity from 24 lakh tonne to 48 lakh tonne was completed in December, 1999 and the expansion of alumina refinery from eight lakh tonne to Rs 15.75 lakh tonne has been commissioned in December 2001.

As regards smelter plant expansion, the commissioning of plants have been in progress since August 02, which will raise the metal capacity from 230,000 tonne to 345,000 tonne. The captive power plant capacity is also being increased from 720 mw to 960 mw in two phases. The total project cost of the smelter and power plant is pegged at Rs 2540 crore.