Computerisation of FIU data to help real-time analysis

Computerisation of the Financial Intelligence Unit has been launched because of the changing dynamics of financial crimes and the need for a faster scrutiny of all available inputs

The country's financial intelligence will now be on a comprehensive digital platform to help enforcement agencies gain real time access to critical information and faster analysis of suspicious transactions, reports PTI.

Finance ministry sources said the computerisation of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU-IND), which investigates and disseminates sensitive information between financial and law enforcement agencies for identification of suspicious money laundering, is already on.

"Financial Intelligence Network will be a major reform initiated by the ministry. All the banks are already connected to us but the new network will enable electronic data entry and analysis on a real time basis of suspicious transactions," the sources said.

They said the new technology has been introduced because of the changing dynamics of financial crimes and the need for a faster scrutiny of all available inputs. The platform is being prepared by software giant Wipro and will be called FINnet.
"Most of the bigger crimes have a financial aspect to it. The FIU-IND therefore acts like the key player to unravel many of the financial trails of various individuals," the sources said.
Last year over 4,000 suspicious financial transactions relating to crime, terror and others were analysed by the FIU-IND.
In an effort to identify patterns of money laundering, terrorist financing and other economic crimes, the government also scanned about 55,11,150 cash transactions of at least Rs55,111.5 crore.
Each cash transaction that was monitored and reported to the FIU-IND, a government agency to investigate and disseminate information between financial and law enforcement agencies for identification of suspicious money laundering, had at least Rs10 lakh in it, the sources said.
The government also received 69 requests of information from foreign financial intelligence units, while it sent 17 such requests to other countries.


Govt considering import parity price for domestic coal

The proposed move will result in an increase in the cost of the raw material and a rise in power tariffs

The government today said it is considering to price domestic coal on par with global rates, a move which may increase the cost of the raw material and lead to a rise in power tariff, reports PTI.

Both the coal ministry and the Planning Commission have favoured using imported coal price as benchmark for domestic coal.

"In the recent price revision exercise, efforts have been made to price higher grades of non-coking coal of Eastern Coalfield Ltd closer to import parity price... It needs to be carried further," coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told PTI.

Domestic thermal coal, consumed by power companies to produce power, is as much as 50% cheaper than the imported coal.

Globally, coal prices start from $45 (nearly Rs2,000) per tonne. The government had hiked coal prices by an average 11% last year to Rs448-Rs2,500 a tonne.

Coal is the primary source of energy and the power sector alone consumes 85% of the 500 million tonne produced in the country. Other consumers include cement and steel makers.

"In Coal India Ltd (CIL), for pricing of coking coal, import parity price is taken as benchmark and adjusted for quality," Mr Jaiswal said.

Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia termed the need for parity in prices as unavoidable in the wake of the country's increasing coal import needs.

"I would say that (import price parity) is also necessary... If you are can subsidise...but we are coal importers ...our assessment shows that in the Twelfth Plan import of coal would increase substantially. So I think linking (coal prices with global prices) is unavoidable," Mr Ahluwalia said.

He said states should ensure the price parity and also advocated shifting to this system for other sources of energy.

Increase in coal prices may lead to increase the power tariff by up to Rs1.50 per unit, according to industry estimates.

"The essence of the Integrated Energy Policy statement was that it (the price policy) should be consistent across different sources of energy," Mr Ahluwalia added.

"Go to any economist and say that in the world of energy want to get energy follow any policy other than linking energy prices with world prices ...especially when you are energy importer...then they would tell you that this is not the correct thing to do," he said.

Earlier this month, power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had said that power tariff could go up by about Re1 per unit (kWh) owing to the government's decision to more than double gas prices to $4.20 per mmBtu.

"Import price parity will increase the price of power significantly. Almost 65%-75% of cost of generation is because of coal. Cost of fuel is pass through. If it goes up it will be passed to the consumers. If in case it is not passed on then the subsidy would rise," Ernst & Young executive director (business advisory), Arun Shrivastava said.

State-owned CIL, which meets over 80% dry fuel requirement of the country, produced 431.5 million tonnes of coal in the last fiscal. Still the demand-supply gap in the country is pegged at around 100 million tonnes.


Home is where the consumption is

Chinese imports of metals commodities are slowing down sharply as domestic production picks up.

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