Srinagar: The Governor-led administration is contemplating devising a comprehensive policy to rejuvenate Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) by optimum use of their assets and manpower. Restructuring the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), a watchdog of the omnibus PSUs and Corporations, is also under consideration to make it effective and worthwhile, sources said.
Last week, the government issued a circular to administrative secretaries to furnish details of the assets originally owned by the PSUs and leased or rented out to government departments or private parties. This is the first step towards formulating a policy to streamline use of PSUs assets, considered to be priceless and spread across the state.
Some experts say the wrong policies of successive governments have robbed the essence of PSUs and Corporations as agencies to provide employment and help utilise the state’s resources. “The PSUs not receiving budgetary support from the government are also not profit earning. They are eating out of the rentals and sale of public assets placed at their disposal,” said an expert. He said forests produce is used by the State Forest Corporation to remain afloat while industrial land is the mainstay of SIDCO.
The story of SICOP is quite baffling. It earns a little surplus in revenues out of the commission or service charges from government departments who receive supplies from the small scale industry through SICOP. “If the commissions were to be reduced even marginally, SICOP will come down to its knees”, he said.
Likewise, Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC) is managing a part of its salary from the agency charges but has a huge establishment for which the agency charges do not suffice. Consequently, it is using departmental advances temporarily to meet its establishment cost which would mean that many works assigned to JKPCC are either not being executed or are inordinately delayed. J&K cements has been sinking for the last four years and is on the brink of closure. JK Industries, once a flagship company for silk and wool, is nearly shut. SRTC, HPMC, Handicrafts and Handloom corporations are on the verge of extinction.
Other corporations are also on the brink. Only a few, like JKTDC and Cable Car Corporation are afloat. However, lack of a firm policy on the sector can even cast a shadow on their future. Interestingly, most PSUs, generally running on losses, have no balance sheets, a fact pointed out in a CAG report. The uncertainty of employees is continuously increasing due to the sordid state of affairs.
The rejuvenation of PSUs has been on the priority list of every government but little effort has been done to change the status on ground.
Sources said a strong lobby of vested interests ensured that the Bureau was never effectively functional. “There are many beneficiaries who do not want the status quo in PSUs altered. They benefit from the mess and disorder”, a senior functionary of a PSU said. Experts say that BPE can be functional only when domain experts are involved. This requires reconstitution of BPE and devolution of powers to it by the owner of the corporations.
Ironically, the BPE does not have any say in the selection of the MDs or at least in drawing up a panel of names from whom to choose. The administrative and financial restructuring proposals too are directly considered by the Board of Directors (BODs) without technical clearance by the BPE.