Coal Regulatory Bill to be introduced in Budget session

The coal ministry today said it will introduce the Coal Regulatory Authority Bill in the forthcoming Budget session of Parliament. "The work on coal regulator is moving forward...We are hopeful that in this Budget session we will introduce the Coal Regulatory Bill," Union Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told reporters here. The Budget session begins on 21st February.

The proposed Coal Regulatory Authority Bill aims to regulate and conserve coal sector resources besides protecting the interests of consumers and producers. The Bill would facilitate standardised operational norms and establish benchmarks in safety standards, performance and productivity through adoption of best mining practices, reports PTI.

Mr Jaiswal, who has recently been promoted to the Cabinet rank, said guidelines and rules for the proposed competitive bidding for auction of coal blocks would also be finalised within a month and the bidding process is likely to begin from April.

"I am hopeful that within a month these rules will be finalised... And from April bidding process will start," the Minister added.

Earlier, the Coal Ministry had said that it was framing guidelines and rules for the proposed competitive bidding for auction of coal blocks.

The Parliament in August last year had passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2010, which paved the way for introduction of auction through competitive bidding for allocation of coal blocks to private companies for captive use.

To encourage greater transparency, the Bill seeks to replace coal block allocation done by a government screening panel with allocation of coal blocks through auction.

At present, an inter-ministerial screening committee, which includes representatives from concerned state governments, allocates coal blocks to private firms engaged in generation of power, production of iron and steel, and some coal washeries.


No proposal to hike diesel prices: Jaipal Reddy

New Delhi: New oil minister S Jaipal Reddy today ruled out any increase in diesel prices, even though oil companies are losing Rs7 per litre on sales of the transport fuel, reports PTI.

There is no proposal on the anvil for an increase in prices of diesel, Mr Reddy told reporters after taking charge of the new ministry.

Asked about deregulation of diesel prices, which Cabinet had said in June 2010, would take place in due course, Mr Reddy said, "I don't think anybody can take such long-term decisions."

He, however, indicated that there will be no roll-back of the price hikes in petrol seven times since its deregulation in June 2010.

The newly appointed minister said the three state-owned fuel retailers are expected to lose Rs72,000 crore in revenue this fiscal on account of subsidised fuel sales and his ministry will press for a reduction in customs on crude oil and excise duty on diesel, as was proposed by his predecessor, Murli Deora.

Mr Reddy, who moved from urban development to the oil ministry, got down to tackling the task straightaway with a brainstorming session with senior ministry officials today.

"This is not a new government... I am a new minister in the old government. I am morally and politically accountable for all the policies and decisions of my predecessor. They were collective decisions of the Cabinet," he said last evening.

With rumours doing the rounds that the Congress party brass was not happy with Mr Deora and his junior Jitin Prasada over last week's Rs2.50 per litre hike in petrol prices, Mr Reddy said spiralling international oil prices "was a challenge."

Despite last week's price hike-the seventh since June, oil firms lose Rs1.22 a litre on petrol. Besides, they lose Rs7 a litre on diesel, Rs366.28 on LPG and Rs19.60 a litre on kerosene.

The Congress heavyweight said decisions on such issues would be taken at the Cabinet-level.


Thursday Market Report: A short rally possible

Sensex may target 19,400 and Nifty 5,800 in the next few days

The market opened on a subdued note on negative cues from global markets. Offloading by institutional investors pulled down the sectoral indices in early trade. The indices were range-bound, ahead of the announcement of the weekly food inflation numbers, which eased from the previous week. Buying was seen on the IT, healthcare and consumer durables counters, pushing the sectors higher.

The market touched the day's low a little after noon and soon regained momentum, lifting the indices into the green. Choppy trade continued throughout the session and the benchmarks closed with modest gains.

The fall which began from 4 January 2011 seems to be losing strength. Today the Sensex rose 68 points to close at 19,047 while the Nifty ended 21 points up at 5,712. The market is now beginning to move in a non-directional way. Two down days will be followed by an up day and vice-versa.

However, it is still too early to say that the market is out of the woods. We will know that possibly tomorrow when it will be 15 trading days since 4th January. It could well be that we see the Sensex touching 19,400 and Nifty 5,800, at least. If, however, the recent support of 5,624 on the Nifty is decisively broken, we will see another bout of selling.

Will the market end the week in the negative? Last week, the Sensex ended in the negative for the second consecutive week. Since 1990, there have been 229 such occasions (including the fortnight ended 14 January 2011). Of the previous 228 occasions, the market has ended positive in the third week on 113 occasions, and on 115 times it has remained negative. If the market ends in the positive, the recent fall would have been arrested. Even though the market was in the green in the end, the advance-decline on the NSE was 533:706, which is not very encouraging.

The gainers outnumbered the losers today. The Sensex had 17 advancing stocks against 13 declining stocks while 32 stocks on the Nifty closed positive and 18 closed in the red. The broader indices underperformed the Sensex today. The BSE Mid-cap index rose 0.14%, while the BSE Small-cap index added 0.04%.

BSE Bankex (up 1.66%), BSE IT (up 1.13%) and BSE TECk (up 0.76%) were the top sectoral gainers while BSE Oil & Gas (down 1.50%), BSE FMCG (down 1.19%) and BSE Realty (down 0.24%) ended at the bottom of the list.

ICICI Bank (up 2.67%), Jindal Steel (up 2.33%) and HDFC Bank (up 1.94%) were the top Sensex gainers. The laggards were led by ITC (down 2.16%), ONGC (down 2.02%) and Bajaj Auto (down 1.75%).

Declining for the second week in a row, food inflation fell to 15.52% for the week ended 8th January, though vegetable prices, especially those of onions, continued to remain high. The decline in food inflation is mainly due to falling prices of pulses, wheat and potato, according to official data released today.

Having touched 18.32% for the week ended 25th December last year, food inflation had declined to 16.91% on 1st January.

Markets in Asia closed lower as Chinese economic data renewed concerns about Beijing initiating further policy-tightening moves. Rising prices are becoming a big problem for policymakers in emerging markets, as central banks in the region are doing their best to rein in inflation.

The Shanghai Composite plunged 2.89%; the Hang Seng was down 1.70%; the Jakarta Composite tanked 1.80%; the Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.13%, the Straits Times declined 1.13%, the Seoul Composite and the Taiwan Weighted fell 0.43% each.

Back home, foreign institutional investors were net sellers of stocks worth Rs270.38 crore on Wednesday, while domestic institutional investors were net buyers of equities worth Rs488.53 crore.


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