If I was not a minister today, would be bidding for Air India: Piyush Goyal

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal addresses the Board of Trade meeting, in New Delhi on Thursday Photo: PTI
As the government works on divesting its stake in debt-laden Air India, Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said if he was not a minister, he would be bidding for the airline. Air India has been in the red for long and the government is now in the process of finalising the contours of its disinvestment.

Responding to a query about proposed disinvestment of Air India, BPCL and other companies, Goyal said in the first term, the government had inherited an economy that was in terrible shape. Steps were taken to put the economy back in shape and if the government had looked at divesting these jewels, it would not have got great value.

He was talking at a session on “Strategic Outlook: India” at the World Economic Forum 2020 here.

“If I wasn’t a minister today, I would be bidding for Air India. It has some of the best bilaterals the world over... a well managed and efficient Air India with lot more good aircraft put in using these bilaterals is nothing short of a gold mine to my mind," Goyal said.

Bilaterals are agreements between two countries that allow each other’s airlines to operate services with a specific number of seats.
Goyal, who holds the portfolios of Railways, and Commerce and Industry, said: “India today is a land where you have equal opportunity, you can work with integrity...”He added that he thought a good job has been done in cleaning up the banks and strengthening them.

“I do hope everybody in the room does not have an impression that public sector banks haven't done a good job. World over, and if I may take the example of the world's biggest economy, way back in 2008 and 2009, it was not government banks that caused the economic collapse, it was all private banks,” Goyal said. He said there were private banks in India that had got the country great glory. “On the contrary, if you ask me, banks that have been run by the government for 30-40 years, they have done some great service to the nation."

He also said the Indian economy was well-poised to take off as there was a lot of enthusiasm for investing in the country. "... things have once again started showing an uptrend... economy is well poised to take off from here," Goyal said. At least four or five companies have said that more than 50 per cent of their total workforce would operate out of India in the coming years, he added.

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