The disinvestment department has been told to bring a sum of Rs 1 trillion to the Budget table for FY18. Fresh from the success of crossing the annual disinvestment target for the first time, the finance ministry feels the department should be able to reach the sum by March 2018. “We have been told to make use of the buoyant market conditions to reach the magic figure,” a source in the know of the developments told Business Standard.
Over the weekend, state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has bought out the entire 51 per cent government stake in downstream Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd for Rs 369.15 billion. With this sale, the total earnings from disinvestment in the financial year FY18 will reach Rs 912.53 billion. The Budget estimate for sell-off for the year had stood at Rs 750 billion, which the department under disinvestment secretary Neeraj Kumar Gupta has handsomely exceeded.
The impressive numbers will come in handy for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to hew close to the budgeted fiscal deficit number of 3.2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for FY18. The ministry has been under pressure to meet its fiscal math since the collections from the Goods and Services Tax (GST), introduced in July this financial year, has so far consistently fallen short of target. A Business Standard report on Monday noted that the centre would need to raise another Rs 4.2 trillion through indirect taxes to meet its target of Rs 9.26 trillion for the financial year in four months.
The disinvestment department, also part of the finance ministry, has to line up some quick sales in these months to raise an additional Rs 88 billion in the revised Budget estimate to touch the Rs 1-trillion mark. It is understood that the department would like to do parcels of small sell-offs than any large ones. Their current performance is already far ahead of their achievement in the previous financial year. In FY17 the Centre had raised Rs 462.47 billion after revising down its Budget estimate of Rs 565 billion.