Citizens' Issues
Government decides to deallocate one more mine

With de-allocation of Gourangdih ABC, jointly given to JSW Steel and Himachal EMTA, the government has approved cancellation of licenses of five coal blocks, out of a total seven recommended by the IMG

New Delhi: The Union Government on Monday decided to de-allocate one more mine - Gourangdih ABC-- jointly given to JSW Steel and Himachal EMTA besides deduction of bank guarantees of two allottees for failing to develop mines within time, reports PTI.

 

This follows the recommendation made by Inter-Ministerial group (IMG) which is scrutinising 29 blocks awarded to the private parties out of the total 58 which were given show cause notices for delays in development and some of these find mention in CAG report.

 

With this, the government has approved cancellation of licenses of five coal blocks, out of a total seven recommended by the IMG so far.

 

"I have approved the IMG's recommendations given on Friday and will take a call on others," Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told PTI ahead of the meeting of the panel, scheduled this afternoon.

 

The IMG, on Friday had recommended de-allocation of the Gourangdih ABC mine, given jointly to JSW Steel and Himachal EMTA, in 2009.

 

The block has 61.54 million tonnes (MT) of extractable reserves and the coal from the mine was meant to be used for a power project.

 

The block finds mention in the CAG report as well. The government auditor had said the allottees of the block, located in West Bengal, might have accrued undue benefit to the tune of Rs1,818 crore.

 

Earlier, on 13th September, the government had decided to de-allocate four blocks - Bramhadih Block in Jharkhand allocated to Castron Mining Ltd in 1996, Chinora and Warora (southern part) blocks in Maharashtra given to Fieldmining and Ispat Ltd in 2003, Lalgarh (North) block in Jharkhand allotted to DOMCO Smokeless Fuels Pvt Ltd in 2005.

 

It had also accepted the IMG recommendations to deduct Bank Guarantee (BG) in case of Marki Mangli-II, III and IV Blocks in Maharashtra allocated to private player Shri Virangana Steels besides asking Monnet Ispat & Energy to submit BG for Utkal B2 Block in Odisha allocated it.

 

CAG had recently estimated that the financial impact of the benefit to the private allottees will be about Rs1.86 lakh crore.

 

Meanwhile, the panel is meeting again later in the day to decide the fate of about six more coal mines allocated to private firms that were issued notices for delaying production.

 

The panel on Saturday had recommended de-allocation of mines including one to SKS Ispat and Power in which Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai's brother allegedly had a link and another jointly alloted to Jindal Steel Works (JSW). However, the Coal Ministry is yet to take a call on these.

 

The panel has so far scrutinised the replies furnished by 18 coal block allottees out of 29, in its three meetings last week.

 

It earlier heard the coal block allottees, who were invited to make presentations from 6-8 September, and also obtained updated status paper from Coal Controller/Ministry of Coal.

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Personal Finance Exclusive
Loan rates could moderate further following CRR cut

Soon after the Reserve Bank cut CRR rates by 25 bps to 4.5% in it’s the monetary policy, several bankers hinted that they may reduce lending rates in the coming days

Borrowers could see better days ahead as banks are expected to cut lending rates following the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)'s decision to unlock Rs17,000 crore by slashing cash reserve ratio (CRR) by 0.25%, reports PTI.

 

Soon after the Reserve Bank unveiled its mid-quarter review of the monetary policy, several bankers hinted that they may reduce lending rates in the coming days.

 

Commenting on RBI's action, Pratip Chaudhuri, chairman of State Bank of India (SBI) said the bank will review its rates in the light of policy decision. The asset liability committee (ALCO) of bank is expected to meet soon to take a view on rate revision.

 

"It is a very positive move. I think the RBI has given a clear signal that they (banks) are willing to respond and that they (banks) have taken note of the signs of deceleration in economy," Chaudhuri said.

 

RBI today announced cut in CRR, the percentage of deposits banks keep with central bank, to 4.5%.

 

However, repo rate, at which the central bank lends to the banks, would remain unchanged at 8%. The reverse repo, at which it absorbs excess liquidity through borrowings from banks, remains at 7%.

 

Terming the policy action strongly positive for the markets, MD Mallya, Chairman and Managing Director of Bank of Baroda said as much as Rs720 crore of additional fund would come to the bank.

 

The liquidity infusion would ensure adequate flow of credit to productive sectors of the economy, Mallya said, adding that the bank's ALCO would meet soon to take stock of the situation.

 

Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) Chairman and Managing Director SL Bansal also said that the bank would take a view on the rate revision in its ALCO meeting soon.

 

"I am of the opinion that there will be fall in the interest rate," Bansal said, adding that the lending rate would moderate further.

 

OBC has already cut its base rate or the minimum lending rate by 0.1% to 10.4% last month.

 

According to MV Tanksale, Chairman and Managing Director of Central Bank of India, the CRR cut will infuse Rs515 crore into the bank. He said, however, that he did not anticipate cut in the base rate. There could be moderation in certain segments, he added.

 

Credit growth is expected to pick up during the upcoming festival season, Tanksale said.

 

On the similar lines, Dena Bank Chairperson Nupur Mitra said the bank will decide about base rate cut in the committee's meeting. RBI's action will definitely help in the credit growth, she added.

 

Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) Executive Director AK Bansal said, "We will take a call in ALCO soon taking into consideration liquidity condition and credit off-take."

 

If credit picks up further from here on, he said, there is a possibility of moderation in the interest rate.

 

It was not a surprise that RBI maintained status-quo on policy rates and provided a token 0.25% cut in CRR, said Moses Harding, IndusInd Bank head (ALCO and economic & market research).

 

It was a balancing act with one eye on inflation and the other on the government's action on pushing reforms, and fiscal consolidation, he said.

 

"The shorter end of the rate curve will benefit the most while medium to longer is expected to stay steady," Harding said.

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Market rally to fizzle out, says Nomura

The government should take bold steps in addressing problems related to fiscal deficit, current account deficit, inflation and slowdown in corporate investment. This is the only route to improve market sentiment, says Nomura Equity Research

On the balance, Nomura expects the market rally to fizzle out in due course of time, primarily because the global liquidity glut would likely push up global commodity prices as well, which would worsen India’s twin-deficit problem and raise inflation expectations across the board.

 

The government policy in India and abroad is fuelling the current rally. The government is defensive because of Coalgate. It has been bolder with respect to the diesel price hike and the opening up of FDI in multi-brand retail, civil aviation and power. The Federal Reserve’s QE3 (third round of quantitative easing) policy is also brave. The ECB’s OMT (outright monetary transactions) lowers financial risk. The rally in markets could also be followed by a rally in the rupee if the capital flows come in strong on improved market sentiment.

 

Nomura predicts that the market may rally in the short-term, given the facts that dedicated investors are mostly defensively positioned; and Nomura’s feedback from ‘long-only’ investors suggests an across-the-board underweight position on India.

 

Nomura’s market predictions for the medium term include: (a) It suggests buying banks, real estate and metals as insurance against a beta rally; (b) It thinks that problems besieging the infrastructure sector have not been sorted out in the least, as yet; (c) Nomura feels that inaction of the past few years means that a quick turnaround in the investment cycle would be close to impossible; (d) Nomura thinks that the window of reforms would close in about a couple of months with key impending elections in the states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

 

Nomura’s predictions are in the light of the three key overhangs on the economy in India which include:

(a) Fiscal deficit – diesel price hike of Rs5 per litre is insufficient to rein in fiscal deficit. This problem is far from over until the next Union Budget;

(b) Current account deficit – with greater liquidity and a weaker dollar fuelling the rise in global commodity prices, the trade deficit would likely come under further pressure in the coming months. Improved domestic market sentiment may boost FII inflows in both debt and equity, leading to a short-term fix in balance of payments;

(c) Inflation – the potential strength in global commodity prices also means that inflation is likely to surprise negatively in the coming months.

 

Government leadership is required in policy-making with respect to:

(a) investment slowdown to be addressed, which is due to issues hampering infrastructure and corporate capex; and

(b) commitment to fiscal rectitude—important in the context of general elections in 2014. The government should be cautious on its policy towards subsidies.

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