Amid Opposition protests, government today said it will not sell sick pharma PSUs — BCPL and HAL — to foreign firms and closure of IDPL and RDPL will not affect domestic capacities.
There will not be any shortage of medicines in the country because of this move, Minister of State for Fertiliser Mansukh L Mandaviya said, adding the domestic pharma industry was growing at an over 12 per cent per annum rate and the government has come out with several schemes to provide drugs and medical devices at affordable rates.
During Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, some members of Congress, CPI, CPI(M) and DMK voiced concern over the government’s decision to sell Bengal Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals (BCPL) and Hindustan Antibiotics (HAL) and closing down of Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (IDPL) and Rajasthan Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (RDPL).
They demanded that the government should revive them.
Allaying the members’ apprehensions, Mandaviya said: “There is no plan to sell Indian companies to foreign firms. …the closing down of two pharma PSUs will not affect domestic capacities. The domestic share is such that our public will not suffer any shortage of medicines.”
The goverment is providing affordable drugs and medical devices at 50 per cent lower prices than the market rates under various schemes, he said.
That apart, the domestic pharma industry is growing at over 12 per cent per annum and it will get a further boost in the GST regime, he added.
Stating that the government has not taken the decision in haste, Mandaviya said, “After careful consideration and based on Niti Aayog’s recommendation, the government has decided to put HAL and BCPL for strategic sale.”
The government has decided to sell much of surplus land of these two PSUs to government agencies as would be required to clear their outstanding liabilities and implement VRS/VSS to pave the way for their closure, he said, adding that the Union Cabinet has approved the proposal.
After liabilities have been met, balance sheet cleansed and VRS/VSS effected, HAL and BCPL will be sold strategically, while IDPL and RDPL will be closed down, he added.
Unhappy with Minister’s reply, D Raja (CPI) in a supplementary query noted that a Parliamentary panel had suggested revival of these units and the government has not acted upon it.
To this, the Minister said these PSUs had turned sick in 1990s and their net worth came down and liabilities increased. The efforts were made to revive them but were not successful.
Anand Sharma (Cong) was also unhappy with the Minister’s reply and sought a direction from the Chair on the mandate of Niti Aayog with respect to sale of pharma PSUs.