Cong slams govt on Jet ‘bailout’

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20

The Congress today questioned Government’s attempts to bail out Jet Airways using taxpayers’ money by using SBI, PNB, Canara Bank, Syndicate Bank and Allahabad Bank to wipe off Jet’s debts through purchase of equity in the company.

“Public money of ONGC was earlier used to buy out scam-ridden Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation for Rs 7,700 crore and savings of 38 crore LIC holders worth Rs 9,000 crore was used to save the IDBI Bank. Country’s leading public sector bank SBI and others are being used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bail out a bankrupt private airline Jet Airways, which has a loss of Rs 7,355 crore and owes Rs 8,500 crore to the banks. As on March 31, 2018, Jet Airways was making a loss of Rs 67.18 per share,” Surjewala said, asking the Government to explain why it was trying to use taxpayers’ money to help the airline.

Detailing the structure of Jet Airways, the Congress said the company is owned 51% by London-based NRI Naresh Goyal and 24% by Etihad Airways.

“So 75% of Jet is owned by these two entities. An investigation into financial irregularities and siphoning off funds in the company is underway and a forensic audit by the SBI was also ordered last December through Ernst & Young. Both these probes are still underway,” said Surjewala, accusing the PM of using the SBI and other national banks to run a private bankrupt airline.

The Congress said it was strange that Jet Airways’ debt of Rs 8,500 crore will be wiped off when public sector banks take equity of the private airliner. The foreign company will be given a bailout package by offloading its 24% shareholding to National Infrastructure Investment Fund for Rs 150 per share without any valuation or due diligence, Surjewala said.

Slamming the government for bailing out private entities while saying it had no money for farm loan waivers, the Congress said “Is this the new Modi model of siphoning off public funds?”

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