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Air India, Bharat Petroleum sale by March 2020: Nirmala Sitharaman

Government’s plans to raise Rs 1 lakh crore in the current fiscal from the sale of Air India and BPCL as India continues to tackle a demand slowdown.

The government is planning to sell two state-run companies Air India and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) by March 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said.

The Finance Minister also stated that the privatisation of two state-run companies will help government to meet its disinvestment target of Rs 1 lakh crore for the current fiscal year.

“We are moving on both with the expectation that we can complete them this year. The ground realities will play out,” Sitharaman told The Times of India.

Sitharaman also added there was a “lot of interest” among investors about the sale of Air India as seen during international road shows.

In 2018, government put up 76 per cent stake of Air India for sale, which saw a lukewarm response by investors. This is the second bid by the government to sell Air India.

She also said that consumer sentiment was improving, adding that Rs 1.8 lakh crore in loans had been sought from banks at the outreach programme during the festival season,

 “If consumer confidence is not on way to being restored, why would you think that such an amount would have gone out as loans during the two outreach programmes started by banks? And, it it is all over the country,” Sitharaman told the paper.

However, government has been taking measures to reverse the economic slowdown at the right time and several sectors are coming out of distress, Sitharaman said to the news daily. She further stated that the industry captains had contributed to improving their balance sheets and many of them were also mulling fresh investments.

The finance minister said she expected goods and services tax (GST) collections might rise due improvement in sales in some segments as well as government’s recent efforts to reduce leakages.

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