Shimla, March 10
Faced with severe financial crisis, the Himachal Government could go in for merger of some more loss-making boards and corporations. As many as 12 of the 22 public sector undertaking (PSUs) are in the red.
Though proposal for merger of these loss-making PSUs had been under the consideration of the successive regimes it is Congress regime, headed by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, which has finally taken a decision on going ahead with the move. In the last Cabinet meeting, nod was given for merger of the Agro Industries Corporation with the HPMC, which had suffered a loss of Rs 87 crore in 2021-22.
It remains to be seen if this move of merger of loss-making PSUs will be taken further. There are indications that the State Finance Corporation could be merged with another PSU, the HP Small Industries Development Corporation (HPSIDC). Some of these PSUs opened in the past have become more of white elephants, incurring huge losses despite efforts to revive them.
Even though 12 of the 22 PSUs are in losses major quantum of loss is being incurred by Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board (HPSEB) and Himachal Roadways Transport Corporation (HRTC). The loss of the HPSEB was Rs 1,706 crore (12,655 employees) and of the HRTC was Rs 1600 crore (9,890 employees). Being a welfare state, the government is offering subsidy, putting additional burden on these two PSUs that are extended grant-in-aid in the Budget.
Though the Cabinet move to merge one PSU with the other clearly reflects the mood of the government on loss-making PSUs, these are the Budget proposals to be presented by the Chief Minister which will throw more light on this issue.With the debt trap of Himachal touching Rs 75,000 crore, the Congress regime is struggling to identify areas where wasteful expenditure can be cut down. The merger of PSUs is being as one of the steps in this direction.
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