Mumbai, Apr 14: Rejecting any notion about the government being pro-big business, Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari today said it is not pursuing any corporatisation agenda for the state-owned ports and the priority is to modernise them.
"It is not a problem of the unions. It is a political problem. The opposition parties want to establish that the government is against poor, this government is pro- industrialists.
So it is a fight for the image," Gadkari said at a CEO roundtable at the maiden Maritime India Summit. He was replying to a question on whether the pressure from unions was coming in way of the corporatisation of state-run ports.
"That policy which was already there regarding corporatisation of ports, presently we don't have anything in mind to take any decision on this subject," Gadkari said.
The minister said the government has thought "seriously" on the matter and decided to modernise the ports, give them new systems and all advantages through beneficial policies.
Unions have been opposing any move to corporatise state- run ports after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech last year said that the government will encourage ports in public sector to corporatise and become companies under the Companies Act.
The opposition parties have also been alleging that the government was working to appease big businesses, a charge denied by the government. Some of the top government leaders have said in the past that it was possible to be pro-poor and pro-business at the same time.
Earlier today, Gadkari said there has been a 30 per cent improvement in efficiencies of major ports after the government implemented a part of suggestions given by an international consultant and had also affirmed the government's commitment to do more.
He had also said that the government wants to invest up to Rs 50,000 crore to construct 6-8 new major ports in addition to the current 12 ports. Gadkari had said yesterday that the 12 major ports together delivered Rs 4,200 crore profit in 2015-16, and their growth rates are faster than private sector rivals as well as global peers.