Privatising key sectors in the garb of economic stimulus package | The Background

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

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Privatising key sectors in the garb of economic stimulus package

The Background:

Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the fourth set of 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package today by targeting coal, minerals, defence production, civil aviation, power distribution, social infrastructure, space and atomic energy sectors.

An easing of limits on foreign direct investment in defence manufacturing, privatisation of six more airports, opening up of more airspace and allowing private sector in commercial coal mining were among key announcements made by Sitharaman.

In the name of economic stimulus the government will bring in commercial mining in the country’s coal sector and that the government monopoly in coal mining will be removed. She said that any company can bid for a coal block and sell in the open market.

The government is auctioning 500 mining blocks.

Coming to the Defence production, the FDI limit in defence manufacturing under automatic route will be hiked from 49 per cent to 74 per cent.

CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yehury reacted on his tweet.

“India’s national security can’t be held hostage to private foreign companies. The decision to increase FDI in defence production goes against India’s strategic interest. How is this ‘self-reliance’?

In Civil aviation, restrictions on the utilisation of Indian airspace are going be eased so that the flying of civilian aircraft becomes more efficient. The government claim that it will ring in benefits of nearly Rs 1,000 crore per year.

Most importantly, six more airports are now up for the auction under public-private-partnership (PPP) model.

In the power sector, power distribution companies in the union territories (UT) will be privatised.

That the Union government is hell bent on privatising key sectors of the country in this catastrophic situation is quite evident from the steps it is taking while announcing economic package.  Yechury in his tweet said, “Using this Pandemic lockdown to unilaterally impose the agenda of the rich, Foreign & Domestic Capital for more super-profits is inhuman. Looting national assets destroys Self Reliance.”

 Meanwhile, in India the number of positive cases due to coronavirus has gone up to 90, 615 and the death toll 2,871. Worldwide, the confirmed cases stand at 4,605,673. The number of death has reached 310,180.

In India, the saga of migrant labourers continues. At least 24 migrant workers were killed and 37 injured in an accident that took place in Uttar Pradesh’s Auraiya district around 2.30 am on Saturday, reports The Indian Express. “The accident happened between 2 am and 3 am on Saturday under the Kotwali police station at a place called Mihauli. A trolley truck, which was coming from Rajasthan and was loaded with white putti. It had people who were headed to Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal.  The truck was stationed at Mihauli at a dhaba where people were getting tea. A DCM truck which was coming from Delhi which had around 20 migrant workers. The DCM truck hit the trolley after the driver possibly fell asleep on the wheel. Both vehicles overturned.” Auraiya Additional Superintendent of Police Kamlesh Kumar Dixit gave this information.

The Congress leader, Rahul Gandhi interacting with the media via video conference has said, the Centre should stop acting like a “money lender” for its children by giving them credit instead of cash, and urged the prime minister to reconsider the economic package. He also said it’s important to lift the lockdown intelligently without compromising the health of the old and vulnerable population.

Cover photo- Via Twitter

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