Not an Opportune Moment for SCI disinvestment
Former CMD Tete a Tete with Littoral Wind

BY Tiya Chatterji 22.Nov.2019

The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) reported disinvestment of five major PSUs including Shipping corporation of India. At times of Economic downturn also in the shipping industry globally, this may not be an appropriate time to disinvest , reports Sabyasachi Hajara.

In conversation with the former SCI chairman, he expressed his thoughts on the decision for disinvestment. 'As government being shareholders , it is their prerogative to decide and no one can intervene that. The Shipping corporation of India has acted as a lifeline in times of crisis and war and aided to national issues. No other private stakeholder has ever done that'. ' I doubt the equal importance that will be given by any private organization in any national crisis as SCI has done in the past'.

The idea of disinvestment at a period where globally the shipping scrapes are subdued, will not fetch the appropriate value the company has been paid since 1961. The desired returns to be acquired by the government at this stage is doubtful.

'It is the professional management which runs the company under the direction of the board and the ownership and share holding should not matter. As long as there is no interference of the stakeholder's in this case the government, a public sector can be as efficient as government. I must admit that I had the opportunity of being chairman for almost 7 and half years and I have not come across any government interference. We did run the company very efficiently in all the parameters and we have shown time and again that we compare very favorably with International and National players'.

A little flexibility, could be incorporated in terms of buying and selling of old ships as the process and transparency do not exist at the same level. The government unfortunately, at times tends to judge the professional management with hind side which can prove discouraging to the executives. This is one area, where the private sector can be more agile. SCI has tremendously contributed to the nation and if any private sector can maintain the same standard, there is no harm like the theory; government should not be in the business of business.

Another aspect which merits attentions if the diversified fleet of SCI, which is synonyms with NYK,MOL and K-line, three Japanese giants. It will be slightly difficult to find bidders within and outside the country to make up their minds for the same, said former CMD.