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LIC Staff To Hold Strike On February 4 Against Proposed Share Sale In Budget

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Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India employees will hold nationwide strike on Tuesday to protest against the government's move to sell stake in the country's largest insurer. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while announcing Budget for financial year 2020-21 announced stake sale of the LIC via initial public offering. Apart from selling stake in LIC, Ms Sitharaman also announced sale of its entire stake in IDBI Bank. The plan to announce stake sale of LIC is part of the government's aim to achieve Rs 2.1 lakh crore disinvestment target set for next financial year, up from Rs 1.05 lakh crore in the previous financial year.

"We will hold a one-hour nationwide strike on Tuesday from 12.15 to 1.15 p.m. We will stage a demonstration in all our offices also, then," Life Insurance Employees Association's Kolkata division Vice President Pradip Mukherjee told IANS. "We will then hit the streets to protest and resist the step. We will also go to all the MPs," he added.

Describing the proposal of partial disinvestment of LIC as "against national interest", Mr Mukherjee said the company was now India's biggest financial corporation in terms of assets, even surpassing the State Bank of India.

As per figures released in December, LIC cornered about 80 per cent of the market share in the insurance business despite the presence of 24 private companies.

Opposing the government's move, All-India Life Insurance Employees Federation General Secretary Rajesh Nimbalkar told Press Trust of India, "LIC has always been the last resort for funding for other public sector entities. We strongly oppose the government's proposal to sell a portion of its holding in LIC."

Any dilution of the government's stake in LIC would shake the faith of the policyholders in the institution, Mr Nimbalkar said. He added that although the government has not revealed the amount of the holdings it is planning on selling, past experience suggests that a majority of stake would be sold, resulting in LIC losing its public sector status.

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