Centre open to TN govt. offer on Neyveli divestment

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NEYVELINew Delhi, July 1;The Centre will consider Tamil Nadu government’s offer to buy 5 per cent shares of the proposed disinvestment of public sector Neyevli Lignite Corporation (NLC) and sought to assuage employees’ concerns, saying there will be no change in management or staff policies.

“I have read about it (Tamil Nadu government’s offer) in the newspapers. I have not seen the letter (written by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa),” Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told PTI on Monday.

“The letter, I believe, is addressed to the Prime Minister. The copy of the letter has not come to me but assuming that is what the letter says, I will ask the Capital Markets division to quickly consult Sebi whether that would amount to compliance with the Sebi regulations,” he said.

“We have an open mind. We are disinvesting in Neyveli only for one reason, mainly to comply with the Sebi regulations. If there is another way to comply with Sebi regulation why should I shut my mind to that? I am willing to consider that option but I will have to consult Sebi,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

Asked about workers’ threat to go on strike against the disinvestment, Mr. Chidambaram said, “But why should they go on strike. There is a suggestion (of the Tamil Nadu government), we have not rejected it. We will consider it (and) if that’s a feasible suggestion we will accept it.”

“Be that as it may, what is the reason for a strike,” he asked.

“We are complying with the law. How can you say that the government should not comply with the law? Even after disinvestment, 89 per cent of the shares of Neyveli Lignite will be held by the Government of India and the remaining bulk of it will be held by some public sector institution LIC, GIC, etc. So the character of NLC as public sector navratna does not change,” the Finance Minister said.

NLC is facing stiff protests over the disinvestment decision and 17 trade unions have already announced they would go on indefinite strike from the midnight of July 3 till the decision of disinvestment is withdrawn.

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