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Centre to return Rs 1,089 cr to Sterlite in BALCO deal

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Aug 31 (UNI) The government today decided to review the disinvestment in Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO) by returning Rs 1,089 crore to Sterlite Industries Ltd, which had paid the amount for safe custody of 49 per cent of the BALCO shares, and setting up a committee of Secretaries to go into the share pricing, accepted by the previous NDA regime, and consider the call option.

The ''important decision'' was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told reporters.

The move comes in the light of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India which had been placed on the table of Parliament on August 25, the last day of the monsoon session, the minister said.

The functioning of the Secretary-level committee, headed by the Law Secretary, would be overseen by Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi. The other members of the committee are Secretaries of Disinvestment and Mines.

The arbitration proceedings on the disinvestment deal, as directed by the court, would be taken up only after the Secretary-level committee had given its report for which no time had been set, Mr Dasmunsi said.

The committee would give its report to the CCEA, he said.

Sterlite had bought 51 per cent of the government shares in BALCO for Rs 551.5 crore, at the rate of Rs 49.01 per share, on March 2, 2001. Subsequently, the government had placed on March 19, 2004 the remaining 49 per cent of its shares under the safe custody of Sterlite for Rs 1,089 crore.

Asked whether the government would go for public issue of the 45 per cent shares, the minister said no decision had been taken.

There was no time to discuss the CAG report in Parliament as it had come on the last day of the session, he said.

UNI SN CS RS1434

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