New Delhi: The government will next week launch the 9th round of auction under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) for the oil and gas sector, reports PTI.
The government is likely to offer about 34 blocks under NELP-IX which will be formally launched on 15th October, a senior oil ministry official said.
"Petroleum minister Murli Deora will lead a pre-launch roadshow in London this week to attract big names to the round," he said.
There will be will be a roadshow in Mumbai on 18th October while international roadshows will be decided later.
"Last date for bidding for blocks offered under NELP-IX will be 18 March 2011," he said.
In the eight rounds of NELP since 1999, 235 blocks have been awarded till date. This has resulted in enhancement of exploration coverage from 11% to about 58% of Indian sedimentary basin between 2000 and 2010.
"The discoveries made under the NELP have resulted in in-place hydrocarbon reserve accretion of a staggering 642 million tonnes of oil and oil equivalent gas," he said.
A total of 81 oil and gas discoveries have been made in 23 blocks under NELP during this period.
"With more exploration under progress, more oil and gas discoveries can be expected," the official said.
Out of 81 oil and gas discoveries, natural gas production in Reliance Industries’ (RIL) eastern offshore KG-D6 block commenced from April 2009.
The 8th round that closed on 12 October 2009 attracted investment commitment of $1.34 billion in 36 blocks that attracted offers. 70 areas or blocks for exploration were offered in NELP-VIII, the largest licensing round in India.
Of the 36 areas bid for, the government had awarded only 33 blocks to successful bidders.
NELP-VIII was launched when the world economies were in recession yet the investment committed was more than $1.7 billion in the 44 blocks that went out, the official said.
The round, he said, fared better than licensing rounds elsewhere in the world where even hydrocarbon rich nations like Brazil and Algeria attracted bids for less than half of the blocks on offer.
The official said unlike NELP-VIII when simultaneously 10 coal bed methane (CBM) blocks for harnessing gas lying below coal seams, were offered, no CBM areas would be offered in the latest round.
The official said the government expects a better response as economic situation has improved tremendously since the last round and international crude oil prices have stabilised in the $70-80 band, a comfort zone for both the producers and consumers of oil.
New Delhi: The support price for wheat is likely to be hiked by a nominal Rs20 in the rabi season, but the procurement rate for pulses could go up sharply, as the government wants to reduce dependence on imports for this commodity, reports PTI.
According to official sources, the agriculture ministry has proposed a Rs20 hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat to Rs1,120 a quintal, while the MSP for pulses could be hiked by up to Rs420 a quintal.
In the pulses category, the MSP of masoor may increase to Rs2,250 from Rs1,830 per quintal, while that of gram could rise from Rs2,100 from Rs1,760 per quintal. MSP for mustard seeds would be raised marginally by Rs20 to Rs1,850 per quintal.
The proposal to increase the MSP of rabi crops is likely to be placed before the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) this week, sources said.
The government aims to increase the pulses output by two million tonnes in the 2010-11 crop year to 16.5 million tonnes. To achieve this, it had raised the MSP of kharif pulses significantly and now it plans to do the same for rabi pulses such as gram and masoor.
Higher support prices for kharif pulses had resulted in a sharp jump in acreage under cultivation and production is estimated to rise to 6 million tonnes in the kharif season of the 2010-11 crop year from 4.3 million tonnes in the year-ago period.
India, the largest producer of pulses, has to import 3-4 million tonnes every fiscal to meet domestic demand of 18-19 million tonnes.
In the case of wheat, the ministry plans to give only a slight hike to the MSP, keeping in mind that food inflation is hovering above 16 per cent, sources said.
In addition, unlike pulses, India is self-sufficient in wheat production and harvested record crop of 80.71 million tonnes in 2009-10, beating the previous year's record, they added.
The proposed hike in MSP is based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).
The sowing of rabi crops like wheat commenced this month and will continue till December. These crops will be harvested from April, 2011.
The authorities are trying to iron out the chinks in the current electronic tax payment mechanism; a dedicated toll-free number has also been provided for resolving problems
The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) is setting up a new helpdesk for addressing the issues faced by assessees while filing service tax returns online. According to Dr Dhananjay Samant, director and chief economist, Indian Merchants' Chamber, "The new helpdesk information should be released in one or two weeks. In the meantime assessees finding any difficulty in using the Automation of Central Excise and Service Tax (ACES) application can seek help of the ACES service desk by sending an
email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling up (the) national toll-free number 1800 425 4251 on any working day from Monday to Friday between 9 AM and 7 PM."
Dr Samant was speaking after an interactive meeting on service tax organised by the Indian Merchants' Chamber (IMC) and the Bombay Chartered Accountants' Society (BCA) with B Ravichandran and KK Sharma, Commissioners of Service Tax, Mumbai.
The meeting covered administrative and other issues concerning service tax arising from recent amendments and notifications, including in particular, issues and difficulties relating to e-filing and e-payments. Assessees are facing problems, but the department is willing to extend all the help to move towards e-governance.
Dr Samant told Moneylife, "KC Johny or Rishi Goel will be the contact persons at the Churchgate (south Mumbai) office of CBEC."
CBEC had issued Notification No. 01/2010-Service Tax, dated 19 February 2010, making e-filing of service tax return (ST-3) mandatory, effective from 1 April 2010 for assessees who have paid total service tax of Rs10 lakh or more (including the amount of tax paid by utilisation of CENVAT credit) in the preceding financial year. Such assessees would have to file the half-yearly return (ST-3), electronically under sub-rule (2) of Rule 7 of the Service Tax Rules, 1994 and deposit the service tax liable to be paid, electronically, through Internet banking.
Even though 97% of payments are electronically carried out, only 1% of ST-3 returns are filed electronically. ST-3 returns are due from 1st October to 25th October. There are over 1.5 lakh registered service tax assessees of which more than 80,000 are active assessees. Most of the taxpayers face problems while filing their tax at the last minute. This practice leads to overloading of the system at the tax authorities' end and ultimately results in technical glitches. The department concurs that there are a few technical snags and there will be teething problems till the systems mature like the excise e-filing system that is working fine now.
The facility of e-filing of returns on the website (http://exciseandservicetax.nic.in), as provided in the CBEC Circular No.791/24/2004-CX. dated 1.6.2004, has been withdrawn and the assessees are required to file their returns online or by uploading the downloadable off-line return utilities to the new ACES website (http://www.aces.gov.in).
Further, to make it easy for the assessees to file returns in ACES, an XML schema has been hosted on the ACES website. By suitably modifying their own software application and using this schema the assessees can also generate an up-loadable form of return directly from their own database without the need to make a fresh data entry. Details for e-filing of returns are available in the 'Help Section' of this website under 'Learning Management Software' (LMS), 'User Manual' and FAQs and in the 'Download Section'.
There were non-technical issues like inability to get filing of an
e-acknowledgement if there was some missing/invalid data. The request was to provide e-acknowledgement so that it protected assessees from late filing. It is likely the department will consider this request. The other request was to allow 90 days from due date instead of filing date to submit any missing/invalid data. It is unlikely the department will allow the same as 90 days was considered a long enough period for any correction to e-filing.
There are issues relating to lack of identification for valid access to the system. Some assessees have not provided basic information like email addresses and phone numbers that the department requests from assessees. There are issues arising from system migration from SAP software to Wipro. There are cases where the branch information was not added to SAP software and hence was missing in the new system. The assessees having missing branch information on the new system are requested to submit branch address proof. There are issues like while deletion of a particular category of service, other categories except for the last also get deleted.
Department officials questioned why assessees registered for a particular category that was not related to their business. Assessees are requested to enter 'Nil' if no service was rendered for a particular category. The technical problem of deletion of categories will be looked after by the department, officials said.