Patel not in favour of declaring Air India sick

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New Delhi, Jan 20 (PTI) Praful Patel, who took over asCabinet Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises,today said Air India, under his previous charge, should not bedeclared sick as restoring financial health to nationalcarrier is "completely doable".

"Thankful to the Prime Minister for the newresponsibilities" given to him, Patel, 53, said Air Indiarequired for a long time fresh equity and the decision on thesame came "a little too late".

The government was committed for financial restructuringof the carrier, he said.

Consultancy firm Deloite and SBI Caps are working on AirIndia''s revamp plan. "I have seen the document prepared byDeloite and SBI Caps and the long term plans for AI. It iscompletely doable and certainly there is no issue of AI notdoing well in the future," Patel said.

He was "sure" that the new Civil Aviation Minister (VayalarRavi) would be able to look at the complex issue of revival ofAI.

" I do not see any reason why it can''t be put to goodhealth", he remarked.

It was only about a month ago that Patel had met thenHeavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh advising againstthe move to declare AI sick.

The state-owned company has accumulated losses over Rs5,000 crore.

With the change in his portfolio,Patel himself has take acall on whether or not to declare AI sick. He said, putting AIinto a sick category would be "very categorical" and notadvisable".

"Now after coming in this ministry, I will give all thehelp and positive approach to o it (AI)", he said.

Reacting to an allegation that the merger of Air Indiaand Indian Airlines was ill-advised,the NCP leader said it wasa collective decision of the government.

"Whatever was done was done with a very very elaborateprocess of government decision-making. Nothing was donein haste or individually," he said.

Happy with his promotion from the Minister of State(Independent charge) to a Cabinet rank, Patel said he has beewanting a change for a long time.

"It is time to move on, am happy to move on".

As for priorities in the new portfolio, he said with thehelp of his economic background, a new direction would soughtto be given to the functioning of the public sectorenterprises.

If necessary, the government would examine with an openmind the issue of the PSUs entering into joint ventures " aslong as it makes economic sense".

His predecessor Deshmukh wished Patel all the success andgreeted him on the occasion.

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