Gas pricing formula: Committee submits its report to oil ministry

Though contents of the report have been kept under wraps, there are indications that the gas price increase may be around 50%


A four-member committee of secretaries has submitted its report on a new gas pricing mechanism, prescribing a rate much lower than the doubling of price approved by previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.


"The report was submitted on Tuesday," a top official said.


Last month, the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government constituted a committee comprising of secretaries of power, fertiliser and expenditure with additional secretary in the oil ministry as its member secretary, to make amends to a formula notified in January that doubled the gas price to $8.4 per million British thermal unit (mmBtu).


The official said the report will be reviewed in the Oil Ministry before a note is moved to the Cabinet.


Though contents of the report have been kept under wraps, the official indicated that the price increase may be around 50%. Most of the domestically produced gas is currently sold at a price of $4.2 per mmBtu.


The panel has tried to strike a balance between demands for a market linked rate by gas producers to make marginal and deep sea fields economically viable, and consumers in power and fertiliser sector, who have said they cannot afford any rate higher than $5.


Though the government had stated that a gas price will be announced by September end, there are indications that a decision may be put-off until completion of assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana in mid-October.


Any increase, even of $2 per mmBtu, will lead to a hike in CNG price for automobiles, something the ruling establishment does not want on the eve of state polls.


Industry sources said the previous UPA government had notified the Rangarajan formula in January but before a rate could be implemented from 1st April, general elections were announced and Election Commission sought postponement of its implementation.


Since elections to Maharashtra and Haryana assembly have already been announced, a deferment can be sought on similar grounds.


An increase in gas price would have led to increase in cost of urea, power and CNG.


Every dollar increase in gas price will lead to a Rs1,370 per tonne rise in urea production cost and a 45 paise per unit increase in electricity tariff for just the 7% of the nation's power generation capacity based on gas.


Also, there would be a minimum Rs2.81 per kg increase in CNG price and a Rs1.89 per standard cubic metre hike in piped cooking gas.


The increase in gas price would bring windfall for the government -- about $2.08 billion or about Rs12,900 crore from additional profit petroleum, royalty and taxes accruing from doubling of gas rates, according to oil ministry estimates.




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Competition Commission rejects case against Ford India

Ford India increased price of its particular model in January, leading to the consumer accusing the carmaker abusing its dominant position


The Commission Commission of India (CCI) has rejected allegations against Ford India that it abused dominant position in the market for 'multi/sport utility vehicles'.


In an order issued on 12th September, the CCI, said, "The issue of abuse of dominance by the Opposite Parties (Ford India and its authorised dealer Harpreet Motors Pvt Ltd) does not arise and no case of contravention of provisions... of the Act (Competition) is made out against them."


Consequently, the CCI has closed the case against Ford India and its dealer.


In a complaint, one Sanjay Kumar alleged that Ford India has abused its dominant position in the relevant market of 'multi/sports utility vehicle in India' by hiking the price of the vehicle.


Kumar had booked a Ford Ecosport 1.5 Litre Petrol Ambiente version car manufactured by Ford India in June last year by paying an initial deposit of Rs50,000, from its authorised dealer Harpreet Motors. The car was to be delivered within five months of booking.


Subsequently, Kumar received a letter in December 2013 from Ford India stating therein to deliver the car before the end of February 2014 and the price of the car will be revised in January 2014 due to macro-economic factors and rising input costs.


Ford India accordingly revised the price of the said version of car to Rs6.19 lakh in January 2014 in place of Rs5.59 lakh at the time of booking.


Citing Ford India's December letter, the CCI said "it is evident that the informant (Kumar), if so desired, could cancel the booking and the entire booking amount is to be refunded immediately after waving of the cancellation charges."


"In these circumstances, no case, whatsoever, is made out against any of the Opposite Parties and the issues projected by the Informant at best appear to be purely consumer /contractual dispute, remedies whereof lie elsewhere," the Commission said.


Mutual fund investment in IT shares hit new all-time high

At Rs29,688 crore as on August end, the mutual fund industry has the highest exposure to software sector since August 2009


The mutual fund (MF) industry is betting big on software companies as its equity exposure to the sector climbed to an all-time high of Rs29,688 crore at the end of August.


This also marks the third consecutive rise in MF industry’s exposure to software stocks.


Mutual fund is an investment vehicle that is made up of a pool of funds collected from many investors for the purpose of investing in securities such as stocks, bonds, money market instruments and similar assets.


According to data from Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), investment from mutual funds’ in software stocks stood at Rs29,688 crore as on 31 August 2014, accounting for 10.53% of their total equity assets under management (AUM) of Rs2.81 lakh crore.


In comparison, MFs had deployed Rs27,596 crore in the shares of software companies in July.


At current levels, the MF industry has the highest exposure to software sector since August 2009. Data is not available for sector-wise exposure before August 2009, when the equity funds had deployed Rs11,913 crore (6.71%) in software shares.


The previous high was in February this year when investment in the sector rose to Rs28,784 crore.


According to market participants, MFs have been showing interest in software stocks since the beginning of the year amid rising equity market.


They believe that the ongoing market rally might see mutual fund assets getting diversified.


Meanwhile, the IT index surged by 3.52%, while the benchmark Sensex witnessed a gain of 2.86% in August.


This year has seen a consistent growth in investment in software stocks by equity fund managers and fund infusion has grown from Rs27,772 crore in January to Rs29,688 crore in August.


Besides, mutual fund managers raised their exposure in bank stocks to an all-time high of over Rs56,600 crore in August this year, which is the highest among all the sectors.


Among others, MFs have an exposure of Rs19,394 crore in pharma space, followed by auto at Rs17,754 crore and finance at Rs15,116 crore, as on 31 August 2014.


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