Govt’s second attempt to divest CIWTC hinges on appeal of enhanced VRS

By: | Published: December 31, 2014 4:11 AM

The government’s second attempt to divest Central Inland Transport Corporation (CIWTC) can only be successful if the voluntary retirement...

The government’s second attempt to divest Central Inland Transport Corporation (CIWTC) can only be successful if the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) it has offered takes off.

The cabinet has proposed 100% disinvestment of CIWTC, which was taken over by the government in 1967 and has been incurring losses since then. A shipping ministry official told  FE that with the government making major plans to utilize inland water ways especially national waterways 1, the stretch of the Ganga from Haldia to Allahabad, CIWTC can be turned into a viable company. “But its main liability is the odd 277 workforce, which has to be brought down to below 45 to make a viable proposition for disinvestment,” the official said.

He said although the cabinet has given clearance to disinvestment, the government has not yet decided when to start the process.

CIWTC chairman and managing director Manish Jain, who is also the Kolkata Port Trust deputy chairman, said there has been no official communication from the ministry about disinvestment as yet.

The ministry official said the government would provide a three months window for availing VRS. If workers opt for VRS by March then they would get it at an enhanced scale of 2006-07. But if retirement happens after March then the package would be given at 1996-97 scale. “The ministry may think of appointing a consultant for carrying out the disinvestment after March,” the ministry official said.

CIWTC has been on the list for 100% disinvestment since 2005. It was born out of an amalgamation of two old British companies, India General Navigation & Railways Company and Rivers Steam Navigation Co.

The government referred CIWTC to the Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprises in 2005. BRPSE proposed 100% disinvestment of CIWTC, with a rider that the workforce should be brought down to 45. Before the company was referred to the BRPSE it had a workforce of 2,800. But the company continued to make losses even when the workforce was brought down to below 300.

The government did not want to close down the company because disinvesting a closed company won’t be feasible.

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