State-run companies will soon be brought into the stock market, said Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal yesterday, in yet another promise from the government that has remained unmet over decades.
The minister, however, went on to say that “it wouldn’t be done overnight.”
Every company’s balance sheet should be re-assessed because their current asset prices are not the same as ten years ago, Kamal said at a press briefing at the NEC auditorium in the capital.
“We have given the companies two months to complete their assessment and evaluation.”
After assessing the assets, their share prices will be fixed, he said, adding that the companies can be audited by several firms so the process ends as soon as possible.
“Initially we target to offload 10-25 per cent shares of seven companies gradually.”
The companies are: Titas Gas Transmission, Power Grid Company, North-West Power Generation, Electricity Generation Company of Bangladesh, Ashuganj Power Station Company, B-R Powergen, and Gas Transmission Company.
Though Titas Gas is already listed on the two bourses, it would offload more shares because the government owns 75 per cent stake in the company.
The government’s promises to bring more state-run firms to the stock market date back to at least 2010 when the finance ministry had selected 26 companies and instructed them to offload shares in the next six months.
The deadline was extended several times but the instructions never materialise even though stocks investors have long been crying for quality shares and stakeholders urging the government to offload its shares in companies to prop up the market.
The current finance minister came up with the latest promise as the stock market has been on a downward curve for at least three-four months mainly due to a fund crisis in the banking sector and a lack of corporate governance in companies.
Investors, especially the small ones, remain on edge as stocks keep plumbing new depths just about every day.
DSEX, the benchmark index of the Dhaka Stock Exchange, was hovering around the 5,000-mark in September last year but sank to 4,036 points on January 14 this year.
Turnover, another important indicator to gauge the strength of the bourses, plunged to Tk 250 crore from Tk 1,000 crore during the period.