A day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi slammed the Centre over the proposed National Monetisation Pipeline (NMP) and accused the Union government of “putting India on sale”, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman clarified that the government was “not selling off anything”. “There will be a definite handing back of assets being monetised. We are putting brownfield assets which are being underutilised to better use by the process of monetisation,” Sitharaman said in Mumbai yesterday.
She lashed out at the Congress and Rahul, saying they needed to do homework before questioning the government over NMP. “The Congress can say, ‘you are selling off the country’. That's something they are very good at. They sold air, water, land, mines, and made a lot of money through kickbacks. In the Monetisation Pipeline, there is no change of ownership,” she said.
The FM recalled the “monetization” of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and the makeover of the New Delhi Railway Station during the UPA rule. “Who monetised the Mumbai-Pune corridor? Was it not the Congress? Was it not under the Congress headed by Sonia Gandhi that Rs 8,000 crore was raised? What about the New Delhi Railway Station? Who called for the RFP on it? Was it not the Congress?” she asked. “Was this not monetisation? And if it was indeed monetisation, did they ‘sell off’ New Delhi Railway Station? Does Rahul Gandhi understand what monetisation is?”' Sitharaman said.
As far as privatisation or disinvestment in banking and insurance sectors was concerned, Sitharaman said that there will always be a “government presence though bare minimum”. “Life insurance, general Insurance and reinsurance are crucial sectors where there will always be government presence, though bare minimum. Moreover, the government understands the concerns of employees and will look after their interests and it has always done so,” she said.
On Tuesday, Rahul had said, “What this country has built over the last 70 years is being given away. There is an excuse they (Centre) have come up with, that we are leasing these. The government clearly mishandled the economy and doesn't know what to do.”
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)