Chidambaram was addressing a press conference in Mumbai as part of the Congress’s national outreach programme against NMP. Criticising the Modi government, he said there was no criterion set for NMP and it was introduced without consultation with anyone.
Former Union finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, while terming the Centre’s National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) policy ‘a scandal and a daylight robbery’, said on Friday that the Narendra Modi government was planning to sell off the assets created in 70 years of Independence. The former minister also called it a move that would lead to cartelisation as the assets were going to go to a select two or three industrialists.
Chidambaram was addressing a press conference in Mumbai as part of the Congress’s national outreach programme against NMP. Criticising the Modi government, Chidambaram said there was no criterion set for NMP and it was introduced without consultation with anyone. He also raised 20 questions over the policy.
The former Union minister asked about the criteria applied for the choice of the assets for monetisation. “For roads and railways, there is PPP model in place, what is the difference between it and the proposed monetisation? If these assents are leased out for 50 years, would they not be depreciated over the years, worth nothing on their return? Will there be provision to avoid asset stripping by the lessee? What steps are being taken to avoid monopolies or duopolies? Has the Modi government decided that the Railways is no longer be considered a strategic sector? Has the government examined the impact of the policy on prices of goods and services in the sectors concerned?” he asked.
Chidambaram has also questioned that if the government expects the revenue of ₹600,000 crore in the next four years from monetisation, why was it not revealing the total capital investment in the identified assets. “They should also reveal the current revenue from the assets for the people the understand the difference between the two. How is the revenue of ₹6 lakh crore be sufficient to fund the ₹100 lakh crore infrastructure programme announced by the Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech?” he said.
When asked about the disinvestment during UPA government, Chidambaram said that the Congress-led government sold loss making units and they had certain criteria for it. “The Congress sold non-core and non-strategic assets. They were chronically loss-making units. Ministerial market shares in PSUs were sold in case the private players in dominating in the sector. Here is they are selling of everything from Railways to airports and sea ports,” he said.
BJP legislator Atul Bhatkhalkar said the Congress should first speak about their decision of liberalisation of the economy in early 1990s and the sale of the PSUs in the past. “The economy of the country was going through dire conditions, forcing the then Congress-led government to go for the liberation. Many government entities were sold, Mumbai and Delhi airports were given on lease when Chidambaram was the finance minister in Manmohan Singh government…The funds received from monetisation will be used for infrastructure projects . Congress and P Chidambaram are not able to accept the development the programme is going to bring,” he said.
The Centre is yet to react to Chidambaram’s allegations.