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PM selling country’s crown jewels: Rahul Gandhi criticizes the monetary policy

On Tuesday Rahul Gandhi attacked the Central government over the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP), alleging that the BJP-led government is selling all assets created in the last 70 years to the Prime Minister’s ‘industrialist friends’. The Modi-led government is endeavoring to sell India’s crown jewels, built by previous governments with public funds over 70 years,’ Gandhi said while speaking at a press conference along with Congress leader P Chidambaram.

The Congress leader alleged that the BJP’s privatization plan would create monopolies in key sectors and destroy jobs. Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the National Multi-Plan, worth Rs 6 lakh crore, on Monday. The plan included unlocking value by involving private companies in a range of infrastructure sectors, including passenger trains, railway stations, airports, roads and stadiums. Congress has referred to the government’s infrastructure monetization plan as ‘legalized loot and organized plunder,’ alleging that public assets created over decades are being defrauded. Moreover, it claimed the government was giving away assets worth crores made from the hard work of the people to its billionaire ‘friends’.

Former Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had earlier attacked the Centre, claiming that it is giving the ‘jumla of Aatmanirbhar (rhetoric of self-reliance)’ but has made the country dependent on its ‘billionaire friends’. The government has made the entire government dependent on its billionaire friends by giving them the ‘jumla’ of ‘Aatmanirbhar’. She tweeted in Hindi, ‘All the work for these billionaire friends, and all the wealth for them too’. Smriti Irani, a BJP leader, hit back at the Opposition party, saying that its claims have exposed its ‘political hypocrisy’ since it has monetized the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and airports.

The National Monetisation Pipeline, which will run for four years, provides a clear framework for monetization and gives potential investors a ready list of assets to choose from. It has been stated that these brownfield assets have been ‘de-risked’ from execution risks so that they should encourage private investment. A key challenge will be structuring the monetization transactions to ensure a balanced risk profile of assets and an effective implementation of the NMP.

Over 66 percent of the estimated value of the assets to be monetized will come from the road, rail and power sectors, with the balance coming from sectors including telecom, mining, aviation, ports, natural gas and petroleum product pipelines, warehouses and stadiums. 25 airports of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), including those in Chennai, Bhopal, Varanasi and Vadodara, as well as 40 railway stations, 15 railway stadiums and an undetermined number of railway colonies are to receive private investment.

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The Finance Minister claimed that no land ownership or land transfer takes place when she said, ‘The NMP provides for the transfer of brownfield infra assets to be developed in areas where an investment has already been made, which are either unutilized or not fully monetized’. The government announced plans for NMP in this year’s Budget and earlier in August. She said monetization would create further value for infrastructure creation in the country and explore innovative ways of private participation without transferring government ownership.



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