PMO blocks Aiyar plans for oil PSU merger

Vol 8, PW 19 (15 Dec 04) News in Brief

Mani Shankar Aiyars plans to merge state-owned oil companies have hit a roadblock.

The PMO (Prime Ministers Office) refuses to approve his proposal for a committee under former SAIL (Steel Authority of India) chairman S Krishnamurthy to work out the details, clearly stung by the manner in which Aiyar announced the committees formation without telling the PMO. Instead, the PMO has sent Aiyar a copy of an old order that states all committees must have its approval before the minister announces them in public.

Aiyars proposal to appoint diplomat Talmeez Ahmed to the oil ministry as additional secretary is also facing opposition. The Cabinet Secretariat tells him this needs approval from the expenditure department of the finance ministry because a new post requires additional expenditure.

Given Aiyars frosty relations with finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, it seems unlikely this proposal will be cleared in a hurry.

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