No to freebies by new ministers

PSU heads surprised by a perceptible change at the centre

GN Bureau | June 9, 2014



The offices of power minister Piyush Goyal, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan and steel minister Narendra Singh Tomar have not sought freebies such as air tickets, guest houses, personal staff or vehicles for their families or staff members, a rare sight.

Two weeks into the tenure of the Narendra Modi-led government and executives of blue-chip public sector companies are already feeling a perceptible change at the centre, according to a report published in The Economic Times. Admitting that the first task of chairmen of public sector giants after the installation of a new central government often used to be to ensure a fleet of swanky sedans and household helps, among other facilities, to make life easier for the staff of the ministers, senior executives say this is definitely a welcome change.

The central ministers have always had at their say and call chief executives seeking quick approvals for juicy contracts, foreign junkets and extension to their tenures; directors aspiring to head blue-chip companies; and senior executives whose job is to liaise with these privileged people - the bunch that surrounds powerful cabinet ministers and deftly makes political masters inaccessible to the world. But executives of firms such as NTPC, ONGC, SAIL, BHEL, IOC and Gail say the new government seems different.

With companies making profits of thousands of crores of rupees, a few air tickets, paid holidays in luxury resorts and white goods were a small price to pay to get the top authorities to look aside when there was some bungling in business. But this time, the ministers demand performance, not indulgence, senior government officials and executives said.

While Pradhan is keeping his entire focus on enhancing oil and gas output and he has directed state-run oil companies to improve management efficiency on priority. Goyal has been even more blunt in his approach as he did not give appointments to many top executives of power and coal PSUs to offer bouquets.

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