The government had revealed the broad contours of the policy in May 2020 as part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat package unveiled in the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The strategic sectors identified at the time for retaining certain public sector entities within the government’s control remain the same in the final policy approved by the Cabinet. These are atomic energy, space and defence, transport and telecommunications, power, petroleum, coal and other minerals, and lastly, banking, insurance and financial services. While the initial plan was to retain one to four public sector firms in these sectors, this has now been replaced by the phrase “bare minimum presence”.
Once the government decides, what is the bare minimum number of firms it wants to retain, the rest of the firms will be privatised, merged or subsidiarised with other CPSEs, or closed. For all firms in sectors considered non-strategic, privatisation or closure are the only two options being considered. The policy’s objective is to minimise the public sector’s role and create new investment space for the private sector, in the hope that the infusion of private capital, technology and management practices will contribute to growth and new jobs. The proceeds from the sale of these firms would finance various government-run social sector and developmental programmes which were delayed due to lack of funds.
A bold push for disinvestment of the public sector was expected soon after Prime Minister assumed office in May 2014 and announced that the government had “no business to be in business”. This was seen as a clear intent to privatise a huge chunk of India’s large public sector, a legacy from post-Independence policies that placed government firms at the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy. However, the first term saw little activity by the government on this front, barring an aborted attempt to sell 76% of its stake in the loss-ridden national carrier Air India. A few public sector enterprises were merged with other PSEs and the proceeds from the transactions counted as disinvestment proceeds in the government’s accounts. In its second innings, however, there _____________ privatise, with a fresh push to sell Air India (lock stock and barrel, with 100% stake sale), followed by Maharatna oil PSU Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL), and the likes of Shipping Corporation of India, Container Corporation of India and Pawan Hans. The process for those sales are under way, although timelines and investor interest were affected by the pandemic. However, the process indicated a piecemeal approach to privatisation and created uncertainty.
Q) According to the information given in the passage, what does “business for no business” mean?