New Delhi: The proposals for grant of Maharatna status to power equipment-maker BHEL and gas utility GAIL will soon be referred to a high-level secretaries' panel, headed by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth, according to an official.
At present, BHEL and GAIL are Navratna PSUs.
A Maharatna firm can take investment decision of up to Rs 5,000 crore without going to the government. For Navratna firms, this limit is Rs 1,000 crore.
"The Search Committee has scrutinised and cleared applications of BHEL and GAIL for awarding Maharatna status. The proposals would soon be sent to the apex committee for its consideration," an official said.
Besides the Cabinet Secretary, other members of the apex panel are secretaries of the Department of Public Enterprises, Department of Expenditure and in the Planning Commission.
A company qualifying for the Maharatna status should have an average annual turnover of more than Rs 25,000 crore in the last three years, according to the guidelines.
Among others, the PSU must have a net worth of over Rs 15,000 crore and net profit of more than Rs 5,000 crore during the last three years.
BHEL qualifies for Maharatna status as the company meets the eligibility criteria in terms of net worth, turnover and net profit.
During 2011-12, the company's net profit stood at Rs 7,039 crore on a turnover of Rs 49,244 crore. The entity's net worth stood at Rs 25,373 crore.
While GAIL meets two parameters related to turnover and net worth, its net profit falls short of the eligibility criteria of Rs 5,000 crore on an average annual basis in the last three fiscals. This is because GAIL along with state-owned explorer ONGC and Oil India Ltd sell LPG and crude oil to refineries at a discount to partly compensate them for selling diesel and cooking fuel below cost.
As regards to GAIL, sources said, "The company would meet the net profit criteria after taking into account the fuel subsidy it provides to Oil Marketing Companies. The apex panel is likely to consider this option."
State gas utility firms' net profit stood at about Rs 3,653 crore, turnover was about Rs 41,000 crore and net worth Rs 21,449 crore in 2011-12.
At present, there are five Maharatna companies -- ONGC, Indian Oil, SAIL, NTPC and CIL and 16 Navratna companies, including Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited and NMDC.
The government had announced the Maharatna scheme in December, 2009 to give more operational freedom to the top performing PSUs.