CITU condemns ‘retrograde’ move to privatise Air India

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New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) The CITU on Wednesday denounced the Modi government’s “retrograde” proposal of privatizing Air India, saying the exercise was done with dubious intent and was against national interest.

“This dubious exercise of selling out the national carrier is being justified on the ground that Air India is loss making entity and privatisation is needed to save public money,” CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen said.

While Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Centre was considering exiting Air India, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Tuesday said the government was examining suggestions by the NITI Aayog to restore the carrier’s financial health.

The CPI-M affiliated Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) said the decision had been taken at a point of time when Air India, after prolonged losses since 2008, had just started achieving operating profit.

It blamed “bungling and disastrous experiments” by successive governments for debt burdening Air India which had been a profit making company till 2007.

“After infusion of equity of Rs 24,723.74 crore through budgetary support, procurement of 23 new aircraft with another 7 aircraft being on the way of receipt and at a time when Air India has achieved operating profit covering up Rs 2,636.18, the government is actively processing handing it over to the private sector,” said Sen.

“The offer for outright privatisation of Air India is being made with a bonus to the prospective private buyer — the writing off of Rs 30,000 crore debt burden. Altogether, the privatisation is going to be bonanza of Rs 50,000 crore plus to the prospective private buyer, if the latest budgetary support and written off debt liability are taken together,” he said.

“Privatization of Air India is not for saving public money but for frittering away national asset and exchequer for the benefit of private corporate and private airlines, both domestic and foreign.

“This is an exercise with a dubious intent, totally against the national interest,” said Sen, and urged the trade union movement and working people to oppose the move.

–IANS

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