Finance Minister rebuts Rahul Gandhi, highlights HAL’s 1,370% market value surge

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said that the market valuation of Hindustan Aeronautics has surged over 1,300 per cent. She also said that post-disinvestment erstwhile Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) are doing well.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said that the market valuation of Hindustan Aeronautics has surged over 1,300 per cent. She also said that post-disinvestment erstwhile Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) are doing well.

She was responding to senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on CPSE, where he alleged that the Modi Government has weakened CPSEs.

“Rahul Gandhi maliciously attacked Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Contrary to his claims, under PM Narendra Modi, HAL’s market valuation has skyrocketed by 1370 per cent in merely 4 years, rising to ₹2.5 lakh crore as of May 7 from ₹17,398 crore in 2020,” she said in a post on social media platform X. HAL has earned highest-ever revenue of more than ₹29,810 crore for FY24 and has a robust order book of over ₹94,000 crore. “These figures hardly suggest a ‘weakening’ institution but rather one experiencing significant fortification,” she said.

Attacking the Congress, she alleged it was the Congress party that left India crippled, relying heavily on imports rather than empowering our own institutions like HAL. Historically, Congress has shown a lack of faith in our nation’s scientists and engineers, fostering a dependency on imports that branded India as the world’s largest arms importer for many years.

“It is only under PM Modi that we see a significant shift—turning India from an import-dependent country to one that’s now proudly stepping into the role of an arms exporter. The increased defence spending & aim of achieving ‘Atmanirbharta’ in Defence has fuelled the growth of PSUs like BEL, HAL, Mazagon Dock, etc. In FY 2023-24 alone, India has reported arms exports worth ₹21,000 crore,” she said.

PSU disinvestments Talking about disinvestment, she countered the allegation that people lost jobs after disinvestment. For example, in the case of Air India, it was a pre-condition of the govt to the buyer that there would be no removal or retrenchment of employees for one year. Also, even after 1 year, there will be a voluntary retirement offer before retrenchment on terms no less favourable than maximum benefits. PF and gratuity benefits were also offered as per laws. After a transparent disinvestment, there has been a notable improvement in operations, she said.

Since privatisation, Air India has employed nearly 7,500 new employees (both flying and ground staff). The company is set to acquire 470 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus for its fleet expansion at an estimated cost of $70 billion.

According to the Finance Minister, a similar turnaround has happened in NINL (Neelachal Ispat Nigam Ltd) post-privatization. The plant started operations within three months of acquisition (October 2022). – The production of Blast Furnace was ramped up to full capacity of 1.1 MTPA within 6 months of startup. The Coke plant has been repaired and has started production in September 2023. A plan is being worked out for expansion from 1 MTPA to 4.8 MTPA. – Not only have the operations improved, but the employees have also benefitted from the disinvestment. With disinvestment, the unpaid employee dues of ₹387.08 crore were paid to them. So, “all claims of the INC and Rahul Gandhi with respect to PSUs fall flat, as they are baseless,” she said.

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