Millennium Post

Public sector units deserve level playing field: Pranab

Pitching for a level playing field and greater autonomy for public sector enterprises (PSEs), President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said that this will encourage them to get listed in the stock market and improve their performance.
'Much more needs to be done to provide a level playing field between the public and private sectors in terms of flexibility of operation and quicker decision-making. A measure that can help in this process is the listing of PSEs on stock exchanges,' Mukherjee said here.
He was speaking at the Global Public Sector Enterprises Summit.

He said the listing would allow millions of small and large shareholders to participate in their (state-run firms) ownership, the collective action of which could stimulate the PSEs to better their performance.Out of around 260 units, only 60 are listed in the stock exchanges.

'The country needs a strong public sector to complement the efforts of the private industry. It underlines the need to bring in measures to strengthen the PSEs,' he added.

The President said the government-run companies are facing challenges such as increasing their competitiveness to deal with market forces.
'Management has to be of the highest professional level, enabling the attainment of global benchmarks in productivity and efficiency and meeting the multiple objectives expected of contemporary global enterprise,' he said.

Management of human resources, including dealing with the existing skill gap as well as forecasting and preparing for skills required in the future, have to be accorded priority, Mukherjee added.

'Many of our PSEs have emerged as exemplars in productivity and quality. Their business practices have to be studied and appropriately disseminated to other similar and less successful PSEs,' he said. In the area of corporate social responsibility, President Mukherjee said that as custodians of social development, the public sector units would need to set an example for their private sector counterparts in the backdrop of the provisions laid down in the Companies Act, 2013. He also said that the country's industrial growth calls for high priority in technology development and innovation.

'Developing new products and processes, entering new markets, and addressing new consumers have to be an ongoing business strategy. PSEs have to take a leading role in espousing such business behaviour,' he added.
As many public sector units have active programmes of overseas engagement, he said, adding they have to strategise to reach the commanding heights of the global economy.

He said strategies like smooth and facilitative systems for vendor payment, greater use of information technology, and enhanced engagement of smaller firms have to be adopted to keep industrial operations stable and enable growth of all firms in the value chain.
Mukherjee said that the PSUs must drive overall industrial and economic growth.
'It calls for increased autonomy to enable PSEs to meet the demands of the market in a responsive manner. Managerial and commercial autonomy have been devolved on the profit-making central sector PSEs through the scheme of Maharatnas, Navratnas and Miniratnas,' he said.
Currently the government has accorded Maharatnas tag to seven units, Navaratnas status to 14 units and Miniratnas classification to 70 such companies.

'The public sector has played a stellar role in the Indian economy after Independence. The Constitution of India has guided our approach to public sector,' Mukherjee added.
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