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Business of a Government is, not to do any business!.

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

Do the Government have the skill sets and acumen to own and operate a Corporate ? Do the Government staff, who are basically trained to run the Government Machinery have the adequate expertise and experience to understand the nuances of ever expanding, highly competitive, fast changing business and Corporate environment? Do our politicians and political leaders, who are having extremely high emotional quotient, have the adequate Intelligent quotient to adapt to a business environment and thereby take proper and timely decisions to lead a successful business venture? Do our political leaders are well educated to understand the legal and financial parameters of operating a business? Do an IAS officer, or an officer assigned on deputation for a limited period, will feel the salty pinch of losing own money, which was lost due to his poor business knowledge , pathetic administration skills and his financial misadventures, have the passion of a Corporate person, who is devoting his entire life on his dream project?

As a professional, who is observing the drama of agenda driven, politically influenced but miserably failed several attempts of various Governments who had ruled India, over last several years, I can confidently affirm that, none of the Governments or any of its machineries does not have capability or expertise or knowledge or acumen to operate a business in a profitable manner. I have seen the Ministers and top-level officers, sitting on the seat of the Managing Director of Government companies, but does not know even the basics of the company in which he is directly responsible for. What else we can expect from such personalities! The fate and present situation of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) , properties owned and operated by Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC), BSNL, AIR India, Airport Authority of India are classic and living examples of the said lack of expertise. We cannot expect a Government , who does not even have the expertise to operate a bar hotel in proper manner, to operate an Airport!

We, as fellow citizens of India, are emotionally attached to concept of Government Owned Public Enterprises. So, we blindly oppose disinvestment policies and privatization schemes without understanding the merits of it. The Preamble of the Constitution of India states that , we are a Socialist nation. A socialist nation’s objective is to provide social dividend to its fellow citizens and their intention is not to make profit from it. However, from the structure of many Public Enterprises, it can be seen that, all of them are designed to make profit and declare dividend on the profit for the benefits of its investors. Due to the monopoly enjoyed by the Government Owned Business Enterprises, they may have made some fortunes in past, but not anymore, as we had opened up our economic barriers to rest of the World, since 1991. So, literally and practically, we had lost the concept of “socialist” nation and we cannot cling on to that dream anymore.

Then what a Government should do? What are their roles? If the said under-utilized resources are assigned to persons, on lease or otherwise, who are having adequate knowledge, expertise, skill sets and business acumen, the real potential of the same shall be unleashed, which will create huge employment opportunities, escalate the tax revenue of the Government in the form of direct tax, indirect taxes and other levies. Any business, which are being controlled or operated from India, have to follow the Indian laws. They have to collect and remit GST, pay Income tax, follow the labor laws, give employee benefits, remit local taxes and levies etc. The private institutions are the biggest job creators and they do attract lot of investor’s attention to India.

As I had mentioned earlier, the Government does not have, undoubtedly , the expertise of operating a business in profitable manner. Instead of trying to earn a skill which it can never afford to, the Government should give more importance for creating infrastructure, make best use of the available resources, promote privately owned but strictly regulated enterprises and monitor their performance in regular manner, identify and punish for deviations and violations, preach and promote ethical and best industry practices, implement best labor practices, collect taxes, ensure equitable distribution of employment opportunities, develop skilled manpower to cater the need of ever growing private sector, make available adequate finance in the form of credit and many more. By unlocking the potential of the underutilized resources, the money which is parked with private companies and individuals will flow to the coffers of the Government and the said amount can be put to use for the social welfare of the people of the nation. The said practices will bring real socialism to the nation. Instead of trying to operate bar hotels and restaurants, the Government have to strive to ensure the healthy and hygienic condition of privately owned hotels and restaurants. Instead of operating Airports, they should concentrate more on attracting more travelers to the state. This will help the young generations of our nation to avail the best employment opportunities available in front of them and thereby lead a quality life, instead of committing suicide , for not getting a Government job.

So, in my humble opinion, the role of a Government is far more superior than that of a businessman. Government should not spend their time and energy in operating bar hotels, restaurants, tour operators, operating buses and vehicles, airport, beverage shops etc. It should not waste the skills of its administrative staff on areas in which they have no expertise. Instead the Government should route their skill sets and energy to monitor the business under them at its best. If the Government identifies their role in proper manner and do the governance accordingly, it will bring more investment to the nation and thereby improve the social and economic situation. I hope they will realize their true potential and move forward to monitor all business units and corporates, instead of trying to drool over a piece of cake, which they cannot afford to eat. Yes, Government has no business to be in business! It's a crime.

Bijoy P Pulipra

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