Foreign investors, who are wary of delays and uncertainties associated with project clearance, have reiterated their interest in participation in coal projects provided government sets up a workable single window clearance which works within a time frame
In the last few months Moneylife has extensively covered the ongoing problems relating to power generation, distribution and breakdowns. Poor and inadequate rains have added fuel to fire. Indigenous supply of coal is also insufficient but what is available at the pitheads, due to transport logistics, is not able to move fast.
Hundreds of proposals are stuck at the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) or at state level on some ground or another.
What is really happening? Looks like nothing at all. And in any case, not at the speed at which the power-hungry aam aadmi’s needs or the way power generators conceived when they got into the projects in the first place. Also, some of them are equally guilty of not doing anything on the coal blocks offered to them earlier, on which nothing had been done for years.
Files are collecting dust and moving at a snail’s pace much to the discomfort of the public and projects attached to these schemes.
What should an enterprising investor do? Already, some leading power generators are smart and have had the wisdom and foresight to establish overseas supply sources. In fact, many of them have spent millions of dollars in buying and leasing mines in different countries such as Indonesia, Mozambique, South Africa and Australia. Others are now prospecting for supply sources in Russia and USA.
In a road-show organized by IDFC in Singapore, which was attended by a team lead by coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, the pulse of the foreign investors was they too would face the long delays and uncertainties associated with green clearance and land acquisition already faced by many Indian companies.
They have reiterated their interest in participation in such projects provided government moves in the direction to set up a workable single window clearance with a time frame. According to the information made available by Coal India, 133 of their proposals are pending at state levels and 45 at the MoEF, awaiting various types of clearances.
Even if a blanket clearance is given, hypothetically, it will take at least two to three years before commercial production can be achieved in various degrees in these sites mentioned above. Until then, Coal India has to continue its overseas purchases of 18-20 million tonnes of coal every year and try to manage and increase the indigenous production, tackle the issue of transport logistics and pray to avoid labour strikes in areas of contract labour associated with this industry.
The railway ministry, for reasons best known to them, have not made any dramatic announcements in regard to setting up dedicated corridors for facilitating coal movement, nor is it an overnight easy job to lay additional tracks alongside existing ones.
In the meantime, FSAs (fuel sales agreements) are still undergoing changes in regard to delivery commitments, compensation, import and indigenous product mix and uniform price levels. Not an easy or enviable task for Coal India at the moment while the country suffers from inadequate power supply.
Time is the essence of contract and there should be no more delays in settling the FSA issue.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)
Gold demand in the first half of 2012 has been subdued, primarily due to the poor macro economic conditions. However, it is likely to recover in the second half during the upcoming festival and marriage season, the World Gold Council said
Mumbai: Gold demand in India is likely to drop by around 33% at about 700 tonne due this year to weak consumer sentiments following record high local prices and rising inflation following concerns over weak monsoon, reports PTI quoting the World Gold Council (WGC).
"The overall demand in the country for this year is likely to be in the range of 688-700 tonnes, which will be around 28-33% lower than last year," WGC Managing Director, India and Middle East, Ajay Mitra told reporters.
However, the demand is likely to recover in the second half of this year following the upcoming festival and marriage season in the last two quarters and confidence building measures expected to be taken by the Finance Minister, he said.
"In our view the worst is over. There is going to be a recovery due to the festivals. We expect the rate of decline to shrink. We also think the host of measures expect to be taken by the finance minister will help in strengthening consumer confidence," he said.
In the first half gold demand declined by 15% in value at Rs1.05 lakh crore compared with Rs1.24 lakh crore in the corresponding period in 2011. In terms of tonnage the demand also went down by 36% at 383.2 tonnes from 596 tonnes in the first half of 2011.
"Gold demand in the first half of 2012 has been subdued, primarily due to the poor macro economic conditions. India's economy has expanded at the slowest pace in nine years during this period. General sentiment is low with India staring at below 6% GDP growth in fiscal year 2012-13 due to the deficit in monsoon rains and the gloomy global economic outlook," Mitra said.
He further said, gold demand was affected by a number of factors, like slowing GDP growth, record high local gold prices, and fluctuations in the exchange rate were compounded by domestic inflation and concerns over a weak monsoon.
Jewellery demand also decreased by 8% in value terms to Rs72,634 crore in the first half of this year compared to Rs78,947 crore in the same period last year. In tonnage, jewellery demand fell 30% to 262.9 tonne from 378 tonne in 2011.
Investment demand was worth Rs33,232 crore, a 27% year-on-year decline and in tonnage terms it was at 120.3 tonne 45% down from same period last year.
The local gold prices increased by 29% in the second quarter to a average of Rs28,000 per 10 grams from Rs21,670 in the corresponding quarter last year, while globally the growth in price was only 7%.
Talking about imports, Mitra said, it stood at 340 tonne in the first half and during July was the best since January.
"If there is a slowdown in scraps, the imports may grow," he added.
The global supply declined by 48% to 1,117.8 tonne in the first half compared to 2,144 tonne last year mainly on account of adverse weather conditions and production interruptions at number of operations.
Going forward, the mine production is likely remain in consolidation phase for the reminder of 2012, ahead of a further raft of new operations scheduled to come online next year.
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