PSEs cannot remain isolated from global economy

Written by Praveen Kumar Singh | Praveen Kumar Singh | Updated: Oct 30 2009, 05:00am hrs
Within three months of assuming charge of director-general at Standing Conference of Public Enterprises (SCOPE), UD Choubey has begun work on expanding the scope of work of the institution. In conversation with FEs Praveen Kumar Singh, Choubey shares his vision for SCOPE.

Since many years, SCOPE has limited its functioning to organise conferences and seminars on issues related to central public enterprises. Do you think it is time for the institution to review its performance and widen its role

SCOPE has done its bit. But you are right in saying that its performance has been limited. There has been a sea change in the corporate world after liberalisation of the economy in 1992. In my opinion, the domestic public enterprises should not remain isolated from this single global entity that the world economy is today. SCOPE has to revisit its vision programme to pursue the interest of public sector enterprises (PSEs), keeping this in view.

What should be the role of SCOPE today

SCOPE has to transform the way PSEs function. Corporate governance and corporate social responsibility are the two important aspects in this regard. Besides, issue of autonomy among PSEs is still being debated and the role of government nominees and independent directors need to be reviewed. The institution is going to initiate an exercise towards this by organising a brainstorming session among the government, industry and academicians on the development of universal code of conduct for all directors.

SCOPE should also facilitate setting up of vocational training institute on the lines of Howard, Oxford or Cambridge universities to train the unemployed people who can feed the PSEs. This will enable the PSEs to replace those employees that are being poached by the private sector. Also, the institution would come handy in training the existing employees of PSEs.

As a representative of PSEs, the institution could also act as an effective and economical arbitrator for inter or intra-PSE conflicts. But we would of course want to avoid any clash of interest with the existing authorities established for the purpose.

How long will it take to bring your vision in practice

I am preparing a draft paper for presentation before our board in its meeting in the middle of November. I think I will be able to present the draft in the board meeting. If the board approves the proposal, SCOPE can start acting on the same. In case the department of public enterprises needs to give its nod on some part of the draft, the issue can be pursued with it on a priority basis.

The institution is creating new specialised posts like economic analyst. Is this a move towards SCOPEs expansion

Yes. Till now, we used to depend on various reports including those from newspapers for data on PSEs. We want to create our own databank now. The institution also needs to create chapters in several metropolitan cities of the country. We would recruit a limited number of people for such an expansion. Besides, if the state governments desires, we can assimilate state-level public enterprises and try to bring them in a good shape.