Lord Mandelson faced questioning from MPs
The taxpayer has been a "very generous banker" to the Royal Mail and needs paying back now, the Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has said.
Speaking to MPs on the Business and Enterprise Committee, Lord Mandelson said the public deserved a modern and reliable mail service.
He denied that the government was part-privatising the Royal Mail.
Lord Mandelson also said he hoped the results of a four-year inquiry into the demise of MG Rover could be published.
Publication of the report has been delayed pending a decision by the Serious Fraud Office on whether there will be criminal prosecutions.
The former directors of the carmaking firm, which collapsed in April 2005, deny any wrongdoing.
"I would hope that it would be possible to publish the report as quickly as is humanly [and] legally possible," he said.
'In the markets' hands'
Last month, the government said plans to sell a minority stake in Royal Mail to a private company were being delayed.
But Lord Mandelson told the committee that the government remained committed to introducing a strategic minority partner.
"We are in the hands of the markets here and as markets cheer up, profits improve and the bidding process becomes possible. Then, as the government has said, we'll be prepared to take this forward," he said.
He added that the economy was within touching distance of recovery.
"In the course of the coming months - it will be months, let me tell you - we will see things picking up, but we will only see things picking up if we maintain the government's current policies."