We won't cancel IBP disinvestment, says Baijal

Vol 5, PW 6 (09 May 01) People & Policy

Good news for anyone with an eye on the government's 33.58% stake in petrol and diesel retailer IBP Petroleum.

Indian authorities have no intention of cancelling the disinvestment mid-way! Talking to Petrowatch from his home in Delhi, Pradip Baijal, Secretary, in the Department of Disinvestment, and the man ultimately responsible, is adament. "No.

The disinvestment of IBP has not been cancelled," said Baijal. "It is most definitely on!" Baijal is a key figure in the disinvestment process of IBP.

When journalists contact his minister and boss Arun Shourie for comments, it is to Baijal they are directed, such is the confidence in which he is held. Baijal is candid in his explanation for the delay surrounding IBP's disinvestment.

He blames controversy generated over the government sale of Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO) and confusion over the pre-requisite Rs2,000cr ($440m) investment in the Indian oil and gas sector. "Both of these issues will soon be behind us," adds Baijal.

"Only today (1st May) the Supreme Court made a ruling that should settle the BALCO issue and in two weeks time (around 15th May) the cabinet will clarify the position regarding the Rs2,000cr investment."A dozen or so frustrated contenders for IBP submitted 'Expressions of Interest' on 28th February but have heard nothing since.