The government had targeted to generate Rs 1,62,000 crore rupees in the year 2022-2023 from handing over assets of public sector undertakings to various monopoly capitalists under the National Monetization Pipeline. Now, it is reported that the government is falling short of this target by over Rs. 50,000 crores.
The National Monetization Pipeline was announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Seetharaman in the Union Budget of 2021-2022. Under this scheme, the government declared that it would collect Rs 6 lakh crores in a four-year period from 2021 to 2025 through transfer of infrastructural assets to monopoly capitalists.
The railways were supposed to provide for over 1.52 lakh crores of this money. This was to be realized through monetization of 400 stations, the Konkan Railway, the Hill trains, privatisation of 90 trains and 15 railway stadiums, etc., over a period of 4 years.
In 2021-2022, the railways were able to collect just Rs 800 crore through handing over one railway station and some railway colonies to capitalists. In the current year 2022-2023, the target is to monetise 120 stations, 30 trains and 1,400 km track. The railways are unlikely to meet this target.
The department of telecom has not been able to monetize any of the telecom assets so far, as against the target of Rs 20,180 crore. This was to be achieved by handing over 3 lakh kilometers of optical fibre networks of BharatNet Infra and BSNL/MTNL towers to monopoly capitalists.
The petroleum ministry has so far made no progress in handing over natural gas and petroleum pipelines of public sector companies to monopoly capitalists. The ministry of power has also failed to achieve its targets of monetization of power infrastructure.
The main sector where the National Monetisation Pipeline has surpassed targets is coal mining. This has been the case both in the year 2021-2022 and the current year. According to the National Monetisation Pipeline, 160 coal mining assets had been identified for monetisation during the four years 2021-2022 to 2025-2026. These include auction of mines and projects on Mine Developer and Operator (MDO) model. The MDO model is one in which a public sector company owns the coal mine, but the mine is developed and operated by a private capitalist.
The total target from coal monetization for the two years 2021-2022 was just over 9,000 crores. The government got over Rs 40,000 crores in 2021-2022 and plans to get Rs 75,000 crores in the current year through sale of coal mining assets. In these two years, the coal ministry has estimated that it will earn Rs 80,000 crores from sale of coal blocks to monopoly capitalists, and Rs 30,000 crores through the MDO model.
According to news reports, the government is demanding that the ministries which have failed to fulfill privatisation targets, come up with plans of what to sell to achieve the target. The Finance Minister has proposed to cut funds to such ministries in the coming budget. This means that the government plans to further wreck the railways, BSNL and MTNL, the Petroleum and Natural Gas companies, the power sector generation and distribution companies, etc, and prepare conditions to hand them over to capitalists extremely cheaply.
The National Monetisation Pipeline is part of the privatization program of the bourgeoisie. It is aimed at handing over the mineral wealth, the land, and the infrastructure assets that belong to the whole of society to monopoly capitalists. These infrastructure assets have been built up by the labour of generations of workers.
The results of the past two years, since the NMP was announced, shows that the government is finding it difficult to implement this plan in the face of mounting opposition of workers and working people to privatisation. In particular, the opposition of railway workers, electricity workers, petroleum and gas workers, and telecom workers has put a spoke in these plans.
Workers in all industries and sectors need to step up their struggle against privatisation in any form, including against the NMP. We must strengthen our unity cutting across sectors and industries, and stand shoulder to shoulder with workers of coal and other sectors who are facing the brunt of privatization.