Power Ministry Roller Coaster
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A disturbing trend is being noticed in the PSUs under the Power Ministry. We have been trying to share with our readers some of the goings-on in the Power Ministry through our last few articles. This time round a rather crucial issue has been brought to our notice. We all know that CSR activities have acquired an important part of a Corporate spend especially in PSUs. Apart from a significant expenditure of part of profits of a company, it has the crucial task of improving the lot of the common man. However, over a period of time, CSR spends in PSUs have become a tool of appeasement. PSUs, especially those who make sizeable profits tend to use these funds to gain advantage with local/state authorities. All goes well till these spends become a bone of contention for the masters to be. While most Ministries claim to be not interfering in the day to day functioning of PSUs, most times the opposite is true.
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If the Minutes of a Recent Meeting held in the Power Ministry dated 23.03.2023 is to be believed in its true import then we shall be forced to acknowledge that the Ministry is using its power for giving direct instructions on spending of CSR Funds which should actually be the prerogative of an individual PSU. All this, despite most PSU Board having Govt. Directors/ Independent Directors who are appointed by the Government and who therefore exercise the writ of the Government firmly. Not only this, it is being suggested that the constitution of PSU Boards would soon be redone with a view to reduce the role of individual Board Members. A methodology is being suggested where the PSU Boards become totally subservient to higher powers and do not exercise whatever little independence they enjoy today. Needless to mention such directions go against the spirit of independent functioning of PSUs. The Minutes having apparently been signed by the Hon’ble Minster himself also comes as a bit of surprise. It can only be assumed that bureaucrats and babudom may have taken advantage of the fact that he come with a bureaucratic background and is not a career politician.
This drooling over the CSR cake of PSUs , to paraphrase another Hon’ble Minster of the current cabinet, certainly does not augur well for PSU CSR activities in future. Much of what PSUs are today is the culmination of investment of several years of common taxpayers money. In fact that is why more than the Board, it’s the relevant Ministries and ultimately the Parliament which they are accountable to. Such august bodies and temples of industry should not be allowed to become susceptible to extraordinary influences. And If things are not to change for better in PSUs, the sooner PSUs get privatized better it would be! (Report By..S.M.)