Finance Ministry to exit Air India this year: Official

Mumbai: The government is confident of exceeding the divestment target for the fourth consecutive year, a senior finance ministry official said on Thursday, affirming that privatisation efforts will also be speeded up.

Strategic sale involving a sale of the flag carrier Air India is also "doable" this fiscal year, and there can be one more strategic sale for which the ministry is awaiting the Cabinet nod, the official said. The budget has set a divestment target of Rs 1.05 lakh crore for the current fiscal, up from Rs 90,000 crore last fiscal that it had overshot.

Dheeraj Bhatnagar, the additional secretary in the department of investment and public asset management, said there are 11 state-run companies which are in the process of going public and the government has drawn up other plans as well on the same. On Air India, he said the government has taken care of a lot of apprehensions of prospective investors after the earlier unsuccessful bids to sell the company, and is now willing to sell beyond 74 percent as well.

Bidding for the national carrier will be carried out through a newly developed e-bidding system, he added. Meanwhile, he also said the government is considering realising its "dream" of corporatising the national airports operator Airports Authority shortly and also the ports.

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