With the sale of the public sector Bharat Petroleum Corp postponed indefinitely and the Centre having slashed its disinvestment receipts target from Rs.1.75 lakh crore in 2021-22 to Rs.65,000 crore this year, socialist India’s public sector enterprises (PSEs) look set to remain a perpetual ball and chain hobbling the Indian economy.
According to the Public Enterprises Survey of the Union ministry of project implementation, of 256 Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs), 84 reported an aggregate loss of Rs.44,817 crore in 2021, i.e, Rs.5 crore per hour. Last August, the ministry informed Parliament that 30 CPSEs have incurred a cumulative loss of Rs.106,879 crore.
Hitherto, the standard explanation for this sorry record of public sector enterprises (PSEs) was inefficiency, business illiteracy and social responsibility obligations. But startling new evidence indicates that a major cause is sale of PSE (and government) jobs. On May 18, CBI belatedly filed a charge-sheet against former Union railway minister Laloo Prasad Yadav for allegedly trading land and property in several cities countrywide in exchange for jobs in Indian Railways when he was railway minister in 2004-09. Earlier, former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay were sentenced to ten years in jail for auctioning government school teachers’ jobs.
Recently in Karnataka, the state’s CID unearthed a PSI (public sub inspector) recruitment scandal in which PSI posts were sold by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.
It’s self-evident that if jobs are sold to good-for-nothings, the enterprises that they serve will come to no good. Clearly, PSEs and Indian Railways are losing money hand over fist, because induction of unmeritorius employees has hit output and productivity.
The plain truth is that post-independence India’s neta-babu brotherhood which has sold self-serving socialism to the public, has swamped PSEs and government with unqualified kith and kin. Little wonder that even ‘right wing’ BJP leaders are having second thoughts about privatising PSEs. They have too much to lose.