Indrani Dutta

Talks on with chambers to make redeployment easier

Kolkata: The West Bengal government expects to complete restructuring of the bulk of its loss-making public sector enterprises by March 2009.

This follows the success of the first phase of recasting its enterprises, for which the British aid agency DFID had given Rs. 208 crore. Completed in 2005, the first phase has already brought a saving of Rs. 65 crore to the government coffers.

In the run-up to the second phase for which preparatory work such as appointment of consultants has been completed, the government has also begun talking to leading chambers of commerce so that redeployment of the workers who are likely to be displaced is easier.

Talks with chambers

“We have recently held talks with apex chambers such as the FICCI and the CII and also with local chambers to find out their employment requirement so that we can scale up the training facilities that we propose for the workers in the 20 companies, that are to be covered in the second stage,” a senior state government official told The Hindu.

Of these, it has been decided to offload government holding in nine units, retain ownership in 10, which will be restructured, and close down one which has been dysfunctional.

Even as efforts continue to tie up funds from the DFID for this phase too, three international management consultants, Deloitte & Touche, PriceWaterhouse and Mott Mcdonald, have been appointed for conducting studies which will form the basis for taking the exercise forward.

Varied sectors

The business segments of these enterprises, most of which were acquired by the government over years, on social consideration, cut a wide swathe involving sectors such as engineering, printing, pharmaceuticals, textile, chemicals and dairy sector.

Major groups such as Bharat Hotels have participated in the recast exercise, with even public sector majors such as the Steel Authority of India Ltd. showing keenness to takeover an engineering company — National Iron and Steel.

Training facilities

The workers had earlier availed themselves of the training facilities provided by institutions attached to the Ramakrishna Mission and now efforts were being made to set up new training facilities.

“This is the reason why we started dialogues with the apex chambers, some of whom also have entrepreneurship development courses,” the official said.