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 Industries ministry declines to offload shares of its SoEs

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Posts : 78
Join date : 2010-05-30

PostSubject: Industries ministry declines to offload shares of its SoEs   Mon May 31, 2010 1:05 am

Nazmul Ahsan

The Ministry of Industries (MoI) has declined to offload the shares of its profit making state-owned enterprises (SoEs) under its control in the capital market fearing a backlash among the workers of these enterprises, official sources said.

The unilateral decision of the ministry, which has been conveyed to Ministry of Finance (MoF) last week, has stunned the top finance ministry officials. They said the MOI decision is contrary to a government decision taken earlier to make the country's capital market vibrant by making available a part of the stakes of the SOEs.

"We are not convinced by the reasons cited by the MoI for not offloading the shares of profit making government companies," a top MoF official said.

He said the issue would soon be placed before Finance Minister AMA Muhith for next course of action.

The MoI in a recent communication, made to the MoF, said the ministry is not interested to offload a significant portion of shares of eight companies, as decided earlier by the incumbent government, the last caretaker government and the past four-party alliance government.

The communication said that any offloading of shares of government -owned companies might create resentment among the workers employed in the companies concerned. The popularity of the incumbent government might be affected by the move of share offloading, it added.

The response from the MoI came when the finance ministry wanted to know about the progress in the matters of offloading of SoEs.

Experts termed the position of MoI as untenable and sought intervention from the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in this regard.

According to the government's latest decision, the MoI will offload 49 per cent shares of each of the four SoEs, namely, Pragati Industries ltd, Chittagong Dry Dock Ltd, GEM Company Ltd and Bangladesh Blade Factory Ltd latest by June, 2010.

Furthermore, according to the decision, the MoI is supposed to take appropriate measures to offload 25 per cent government shares of four more listed companies by June, this year.

The listed companies are Atlas Bangladesh, National Tubes, Eastern Cables and Usmania Glass Industries Ltd, sources said.

Presently, government owns 51 per cent share of Atlas, Eastern Cables, Usmania Glass and 52.54 per cent of National Tubes. The remaining portion of shares of these companies belongs to general and institutional invetors.

Professor Abu Ahmed, a capital market analyst, said the argument of workers' resentment is nothing but a lame excuse. He questioned the intention of the Industries Ministry on this particular issue.

"The MoI earlier offloaded shares of many companies in the capital market. So, the issue of workers resentment raised by the ministry is not acceptable,' Abu Ahmed told the FE Sunday.

He said the issue should be placed before the Prime Minister.
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