CPI(M) flays move to privatise FACT

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Nov. 9. The CPI(M) State secretariat has strongly condemned the move to privatise the Fertilizers And Chemicals Travancore (FACT) Limited.

In a statement here today, the CPI(M) leadership called upon all sections of the people to mount a strong agitation against the Central Government move to sell off majority stake in the largest public sector undertaking in the State to the private sector.

The Union Government was trying to sell the company citing mounting losses. But the company had fallen into the red during the last three years owing to the withdrawal of fertilizer subsidies, hike in the price of naphtha and establishment of an ammonia plant recently, the statement pointed out.

The CPI(M) secretariat said the remedy for the FACT's losses was not privatisation but correction of the Central Government's wrong policies. The company had assets worth about Rs. 2,000 crores. However, the Centre had assessed the company's assets at a mere Rs. 354.80 crores in order to sell it off for a meagre price.

The workers and trade unions at the FACT had been on an agitational path for sometime now to save the company. They had also submitted several representations to the Central and State Governments. Still, the Central Government was going ahead with the move to privatise the company.

Instead of intervening effectively, the State Government was remaining a passive onlooker, the CPI(M) leadership alleged.

The CPI(M) secretariat wondered why the State Government was reluctant to take a leaf from its Orissa counterpart which had mounted a stiff resistance under the leadership of the Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, against the move to private the National Aluminium Company (Nalco).

Faced with such stiff resistance, the Central Government was forced to shelve the privatisation move. The Chief Minister, A. K. Antony, should clarify whether his Government was willing to do the same to keep the FACT in the public sector, the CPI(M) leadership said.

VS flays Govt.

The Leader of the Opposition, V. S. Achuthanandan, has called upon the Government to give up the move to privatise major rest houses of the Public Works Department.

In a statement here today, Mr. Achuthanandan said the Government would not get much benefit by handing over the valuable properties to the private sector. The private parties taking the rest houses on lease would be required to pay Rs. 26 lakhs each annually to the Government. Since the same rate would be applicable for 30 years, the Government would get a mere Rs. 7.5 crores during the period, he said.

He noted that those who take the rest houses on lease would be allowed to convert them into properties with four-star facilities. These places would also get bar licence. With this, the rest houses would become unavailable for those travelling for official purposes.

The decision to allow construction of additional buildings and sale of liquor clearly involved large- scale corruption, he alleged.

Mr. Achuthanandan pointed out that the Government had not spelt the conditions on which the rest houses were being handed over to private parties. He also wondered how a Government, which had mandate for only five years could take decisions that would bind the Government for 30 years.

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