Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has to give the clarification on the rising critism from the opposition on selling the country’s assets through the ₹6 lakh crore National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) that aims to monetise assets like roads and railways.
FM Sitharaman said, there will be a strict hand-back rule and the ownership of assets will remain with the government,” she clarified as the Opposition accused the Centre of selling the country’s assets. NMP includes the Centre’s four-year plan to monetise its brownfield infrastructure assets.
Under the NMP, the Centre’s infrastructure assets and state-run companies will be leased to create ₹6 trillion fund to build new infrastructure. Among the projects the government plans to lease are 26,700 km of roads, 90 passenger trains, 400 railway stations, 28,608 circuit km transmission lines, 286,000km of Bharatnet fibre network and 14,917 towers owned by state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd.
During the launch of the National Monetisation Pipeline Sitharaman clarified that there will be ‘mandatory hand back’ and no assets were being sold. “The ownership of the assets will continue to remain with the government. There is a mandatory hand back rule. The national monetisation pipeline focusses on brownfield assets where investment was made and is languishing or remains under-utilised,” Sitharaman said.
FM’s statement came after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi criticised the National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) and tweeted, “First they (Centre) sold respect and now #IndiaOnSale.” Sitharaman added, “Does he (Rahul Gandhi) understand what monetisation is?” She further said that, I would want to ask Rahul Gandhi who owns the railway station now. Jijaji (Robert Vadra)?” she said. She claimed Congress sold resources for kickbacks.
On Tuesday, the former Congress president Rahul Gandhi had called NMP a “huge tragedy” saying that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government had mishandled the economy and the move was aimed at creating monopolies in certain sectors.
Addressing a press conference Rahul said that what India built over the last 70 years is being given away. There is an excuse they have come up with that we are leasing these. The government clearly mishandled the economy and doesn’t know what to do,” he added.
While the saffron party and PM Modi say that nothing happened in the last 70 years, the finance minister decided to sell the assets that have been built over the last 70 years, Rahul said.
Slamming Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for accusing the Centre of selling government assets, Sitharaman said if monetisation meant that, then assets monetised under the Congress rule were also sold, pointing at the monetisation of Mumbai-Pune Expressway and a request for proposal (RFP) called for New Delhi railway station in 2008 when the Congress-led UPA was in power.
West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee attacks centre on NMP policy and said, the assets belong to country, not BJP nor Narendra Modi. She further said that, the entire country will stand together and oppose this “anti-people” decision.
We condemn this shocking and unfortunate decision. These assets belong to the country. It is the property of neither Modi nor the BJP. They (central government) can’t just sell a country’s assets as per their whims and fancies
The BJP should be ashamed. No one has given them the right to sell our nation’s assets,” she told reporters at West Bengal secretariat Nabanna. Further, the West Bengal CM said that the entire country will stand together and oppose this “anti-people” decision.
Banerjee alleged money generated from selling these assets will be used by the ruling BJP during elections against opposition parties.