Companies & Sectors
CAG: Private companies gain Rs1.86 lakh crore by getting coal blocks on nomination

The CAG report, tabled in Parliament, names 25 companies including Essar Power, Hindalco, Tata Steel, Tata Power and Jindal Steel and Power which have got the blocks in various states

New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Friday said private companies are likely to gain Rs1.86 lakh crore from coal blocks that were allocated to them on nomination basis instead of competitive bidding, which amounted to the loss to national exchequer, reports PTI.

 

The CAG in its report, tabled in Parliament, names 25 companies including Essar Power, Hindalco, Tata Steel, Tata Power and Jindal Steel and Power which have got the blocks in various states.

 

"Delay in introduction of the process of competitive bidding has rendered the existing process beneficial to the private companies. Audit has estimated financial gains to the tune of Rs 1.86 lakh crore likely to accrue to private coal block allottees," CAG said in a report on allocation of coal blocks.

 

The CAG said it has arrived at the estimates based on the average cost of production and average sale price of opencast mines of Coal India in the year 2010-11.

 

"A part of this financial gain could have accrued to the national exchequer by operationalising the decision taken years earlier to introduce competitive bidding for allocation of coal blocks," CAG said.

 

The auditing body said it is "of strong opinion that there is a need for strict regulatory and monitoring mechanism to ensure that benefit of cheaper coal is passed on consumers".

 

The concept of allocation of captive coal blocks through competitive bidding was announced in 2004. However, government is yet to finalise the modus operandi of competitive bidding.

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Government gives nod to bill on street vendors

The bill will also help the authorities to regulate hawking activities in public areas such as pavements and roads

New Delhi: A bill which seeks to protect street vendors against harassment and regulate their activities in public areas on Friday received the nod from the Indian government, reports PTI.

 

A meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cleared the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill.

 

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation is likely to introduce the bill in the ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament.

 

Under the bill, anyone over 18 years can register as a street vendor by making a one-time fee.

 

Once registered with local authorities, vendors will be provided with identity cards which will allow them to sell their products in vending zones allocated to them.

 

The bill will also help the authorities to regulate hawking activities in public areas such as pavements and roads.

 

The measure also provides for setting up of vending zones for hawkers to sell their products with minimal restrictions and without fear of being fined by municipal authorities for vending in unauthorised areas.

 

Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) had recently batted for a central legislation, saying the model bill prepared by the ministry limits the Centre's responsibility.

 

The bill approved on Friday includes the recommendations of the NAC.

 

"A central law will prevail over all state municipal laws to the extent that they are inconsistent with the law for street vendors. Hence the states will not be required to amend municipal and police laws," the Council had said.

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SEBI to take up further market reforms next month: Chidambaram

Chidambaram also said he expects the government to take a decision shortly on SEBI's recommendation for providing tax benefits to equity mutual fund investors under the proposed Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme

New Delhi: Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Friday said market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is expected to announce fresh market reform measures next month, even as he favoured encouraging more people to invest in financial instruments rather than in gold, reports PTI.

 

Expressing satisfaction over wide-ranging reforms announced by SEBI on Thursday for mutual funds and other segments, Chidambaram said he has requested SEBI Chairman UK Sinha to look into a number of other suggestions for the benefit of investors.

 

"The examination by the Government and SEBI is likely to be completed in the next two weeks. I have requested SEBI Chairman to schedule another meeting of the (SEBI) Board in early September when some more decisions can be taken on the suggestions that are under examination," he said.

 

The Finance Minister said the measures announced by SEBI on Thursday "will stimulate financial savings among households as well as give a fillip to the mutual fund industry. More and more households should be encouraged to save in financial instruments rather than in gold".

 

In a statement, Chidambaram also said he expects the government to take a decision shortly on SEBI's recommendation for providing tax benefits to equity mutual fund investors under the proposed Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme (RGESS).

 

In the longest list of decisions taken at a single board meeting in many years on Thursday, SEBI announced steps for expanding the reach of initial public offerings (IPOs) and mutual funds (MFs) across the country through measures like electronic public offers (e-IPOs).

 

Chidambaram said the government has taken note of the SEBI recommendation on RGESS and he has asked the Department of Economic Affairs, Capital Markets division, to examine the recommendation of SEBI. "I expect that it would be possible to take a decision shortly," he added.

 

"Government has noted with satisfaction that the measures announced by SEBI yesterday have been widely welcomed by all the stakeholders," the minister said.

 

Chidambaram recalled that in a statement on 6th August he had said that: "In the next few weeks, we will announce a number of decisions to attract more people to invest in mutual funds, insurance policies and other well-designed instruments".

 

"In the context of that statement (of 6th August), Government welcomes the decisions taken by SEBI," he said.

 

In wide-ranging changes to its various regulations, SEBI made it easier and more cost effective to invest and raise funds through IPOs, while allowing the MFs flexibility in using their fund expense charges and proposing a national mutual fund policy.

 

Besides, SEBI has also made provisions for retail investors getting an assured minimum lot of shares in IPOs and asked the companies to announce their price band at least five days in advance of the issue.

 

The market regulator also made it mandatory for all the investment advisers providing their services for a fee to get themselves registered, while putting checks and balances against possible misuse of funds garnered from investors through IPOs and MFs.

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