No differences on privatisation: Sinha

NEW DELHI, JULY 12. The Finance Minister, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, today declared that there were no differences within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) constituents over privatisation of public sector enterprises. Differences, if any, would be cleared. Mr. Sinha expressed the confidence that the target of Rs. 10,000 crores during this financial year through disinvestment would be achieved.

Mr. Sinha was speaking to newspersons at an awards function for cooperative banks organised by the NABARD. The issue was raised since the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment has now been postponed to July 19, giving rise to speculation that efforts are on to reach a consensus on the issue of privatisation of PSUs.

Earlier, Mr. Sinha said the Government was considering providing loans to farmers against their food stocks in a bid to help them get remunerative prices. This would prevent farmers from making distress sales.

Mr. Sinha said the proposal formed part of a three point agenda to boost the rural and agricultural sector. It would help prepare the farmer face the challenges of competition with the dismantling of quantitative restrictions by April 1 next year.

The Minister underlined the need to end politicisation and bureaucratisation of cooperatives. The two evils should be eradicated for the cooperative movement to gather pace. Legislation would not help in overcoming this problem, which needed creation of a congenial atmosphere through self-discipline and commitment from those heading the cooperatives. He suggested early passage of a model law for cooperatives to strengthen the cooperative movement.

On the growing non-performing assets of cooperative banks, he said they would have to settle bad debts or start legal proceedings prior to September 30, just like commercial banks. Reserve Bank of India would also soon come out with non- discretionary and non-discriminatory guidelines for settling non- performing assets (NPAs). Mr. Sinha said the NPAs constituted 12.55 per cent in state cooperative banks and 17.81 per cent in district cooperative banks. The total NPAs, as on March 31, 1999, were estimated at Rs.2748 crores in state cooperative banks and Rs.6573 crores in district cooperative banks.