Ahead of cabinet expansion, govt brings DPE under finance ministry

Ahead of cabinet expansion, the Narendra Modi government has brought Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) under the Ministry of Finance in order to better control public sector enterprises as it looks to privatise them.

Earlier, the DPE came under the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises. It monitors the performance of PSUs, dividend, capex performance, possibility of buyback of shares, and pay packages of the staff, among others.

As the government is set to announce a cabinet expansion by inducting new members, the Cabinet Secretariat has notified changes in the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961.

In March 2021, Business Standard had reported that the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) had written to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) to explore the option of bringing DPE under the Ministry of Finance, pointing to the overlap of some functions between DPE and DIPAM.

The changes are being done as the government looks to maintain a “bare minimum” presence in PSUs in strategic sectors and privatise, merge, subsidiarise or close the remaining state-owned entities.

The change would bring about 36 PSUs and their subsidiaries under the finance ministry, some of which are already under strategic divestment. These 36 companies include Heavy Engineering Corporation Ltd., Mining and Allied Machinery Corporation Ltd., Engineering Projects (India) Ltd., Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd., H.M.T. Bearing Ltd., Scooters India Ltd., Andrew Yule and Company Ltd., and Bharat Opthalmic Glass Ltd. among others.

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