NATIONAL

Advani denies rift over disinvestment

New Delhi Nov. 13. Making light of the controversy over disinvestment, the Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, said today that the views on the mode of privatisation could not be called ``differences'' within the Government.

In an interview to the PTI, Mr. Advani said ``there are no differences" within the Government on the disinvestment policy. "Just because there are two views on the disinvestment of the two oil companies (Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum), it cannot be said that there are differences.''

Even those who were committed to liberalisation and disinvestment had two views on the mode of privatisation through the strategic route.

And to present these as "differences" within the Government was not proper, he said, adding that the Government had been pursuing the policy for the last four years.

On the Kelkar Committee's recommendations on tax reforms, Mr. Advani said they were only a "consultation paper" to elicit public opinion, and not a Government decision yet. He had discussed the reforms — on which even sections of the BJP have expressed reservations — with the Finance Minister, Jaswant Singh.

Mr. Singh himself was not in agreement with some of the things mentioned in the report, Mr. Advani said. Asked about the slow progress of reforms legislations, he said that the Government would consult all the political parties to evolve a consensus on the early passage of crucial economic bills in the winter session of Parliament, beginning next Monday.

``There is a proposal to consult political parties. I believe the Finance Minister has already taken some initiative and was holding discussions with the Opposition parties.''

As many as 23 economic bills, including the crucial ones on fiscal responsibility, banking sector and labour reforms, are pending before Parliament. Mr. Singh had written a letter to the Congress leader, Manmohan Singh, early this month for better floor coordination in Parliament.

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