State owned enterprises (SOEs) have long had a poor reputation in many countries. These government owned or controlled companies often are unprofitable, poor service providers, and sources of corruption and inefficiency.

In the past, privatisation was seen as the catch-all solution that would improve state-owned enterprise performance, reduce political interference, foster financial discipline, and professionalise operations.

This changed after the global financial crisis of 2008. It saw a shift away from "plain vanilla" privatisation to a model that used more complex and sophisticated methods to attract private investors and improve corporate governance.

This included greater use of contracting and other kinds of public private partnerships. Objectives and goals of the privatisation had to be clearly articulated and backed by political commitment from the top.

A well-defined legal and regulatory framework, along with institutional capacity and good governance of the program, also had to be established.

A version of this article appears in the print on October 26, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.