Those who die, must die: Bajaj on govt bailout for Kingfisher
Mumbai: Top industrialist Rahul Bajaj on Saturday strongly opposed any bailout attempt by the government for the debt-ridden private sector entity Kingfisher Airlines, saying "those who die, must die" in a free economy.
"I am a proud private sector man and I don't see any logic of bailing out any private sector company, either for sake of employees, or customers," the Bajaj group patriarch said at the Indian summit of World Economic Forum here.
"If Bajaj auto gets into a mess, would you bail me out? If it's a free market economy, those who die must die," Bajaj told the private TV channel at the summit.
His comments came a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that steps would have to be taken to help private sector entities if they get into difficulties.
"Private sector airlines have to be managed efficiently. But if they do get into difficulties, we have to find ways and means to help them to get out of the process," Singh had said.
The Prime Minister said that he would talk to civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi and "we will explore ways and means in which the airlines can be helped."
After Kingfisher Airlines chief Vijay Mallya sought government help for meeting the financial challenges caused at the airline because of rising costs and high debt burden, Ravi had said that he would talk to the Finance Ministry and others to see whether banks and oil firms could provide some relief to the the cash-strapped airline.
While opposing any government bailout, Bajaj, however, expressed his displeasure over the high taxes hurting airline sector.
"The aviation sector is very highly taxed. We need to re-look at taxation. All airlines are in losses, everyone can't be inefficient," Bajaj said.
Bajaj even voiced his displeasure over Government's help to national air carrier Air India and said that it should be privatised.
"I am not even in favour of what's being done for Air India... Air India should be privatised, sold off or closed. It is taxpayers' money going down the drain," he said.
The financial troubles have been brewing at Air India and Kingfisher for quite some time, while losses have been incurred by many other airlines also.
Kingfisher has suffered a loss of Rs 1,027 crore in 2010-11 and has a mounting debt of Rs 7,057.08 crore.
The beleaguered airline has cancelled 210 flights since Monday, due to factors like increased costs.