Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The dithering on Air India sale is just another shameless sell-out of taxpayer

For an important parliamentary panel, the appropriate time for Air India privatisation hasn't yet arrived. Are they a bunch of incorrigible optimists or just those nonchalant 'beltway' spendthrifts who love to splurge largesses on their own ilk?

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture said in its draft report the taxpayers should continue to underwrite the losses of the decadent business that stopped returning profits -- and serving the nation -- ages ago.

In 2012, the Manmohan Singh government ruled out privatisation of Air India and instead announced a plan under which Rs 30,000 crore would be funnelled into the company over a ten-year period to revive and turn it around. At the halfway mark of the costly turnaround plan, the fortunes of the withering behemoth aren't looking up. It's still wallowing in the quicksands of debt and corporate inefficiency.

It wasn't the first time that divestment of the carrier was on the table. The Air India sale came up as an option at the turn of the century but was put on the backburner, leading to huge losses, debt pile-up and bailouts while the white elephant remained a haven of red tape, lethargy, apathy and mismanagement.

The parliamentary panel highlights the operational profits the national carrier made last year. But it conveniently forgets the fact that the meagre operational profits were a result of a continued softness in the global oil markets.
09/01/18 Jijo Jacob/IBTimes

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