Notices served to 5 firms for delays in developing coal blocks

New Delhi: A Coal India subsidiary and three firms of the OP Jindal group were served show-cause notices by the government for 'inordinate delays' in developing a coal block jointly allocated to them, reports PTI.

The coal ministry, seeking a response from the companies in a month's span for delays warned that failing this, de-allocation process should be initiated "for violation of the terms and conditions" of the allotment of Utkal-A and Gopal Prasad West coal block in Orissa.

"Various review meetings were held from time to time with the representatives of Mahanadi Coalfields, JSW Steel, Jindal Thermal Power, Jindal Stainless Steels and Shyam DRI... It was noticed that no serious efforts have been made to develop the coal blocks, even after repeated assurances," the notice said.

The companies had assured production from the block by January 2010.

"...You are hereby called upon to show cause on each milestone (lease, land acquisition, production etc) separately ...failing which it would be presumed that your company has no explanation to offer and action would be taken against your company for de-allocation," the notice sent to them said.

The OP Jindal group firms refused to comment on the issue saying they were minority holders of the block with CIL subsidiary holding 60% of the block. CIL subsidiary and Shyam DRI, however, could not be reached for their comments.

The notice is part of government's drive to weed out "non-serious" companies that have procrastinated development of allocated captive blocks.

The coal ministry has so far issued notices to 28 coal companies, including these five. It has prepared a list of 81 such firms, who were allotted captive blocks long back.


S&P revises outlook of Tata Steel and its UK unit to stable

New Delhi: Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) today revised its outlook for Tata Steel and its UK-based subsidiary from negative to stable, as the liquidity conditions at its unit have eased, reports PTI.

"We revised the outlook as we believe the potential pressure on Tata Steel UK’s (TSUK) liquidity has eased following the refinancing of a £3.67 billion bank loan," the rating agency said in a statement.

The outlook assesses the potential direction in which a rating will move. While stable outlook means that rating is unlikely to change, negative denotes that it may be lowered.

It further said that the refinancing also reduced the potential pressure on parent Tata Steel's liquidity.

Besides, the rating agency has retained the 'BB-' long-term corporate credit rating on Tata Steel and the 'BB-' issue rating and 'B+' long-term and 'B' short-term corporate credit rating on TSUK.

BB is less vulnerable to non-payment than other speculative issues, while B is one notch down than BB.

"We view TSUK as a strategic subsidiary of Tata Steel, and believe that the parent will continue to support the company, if required," it added.

S&P said that Tata Steel's consolidated operating performance has improved over the past year, especially with a turnaround at TSUK.

"The companies' operating performance remains susceptible to any weakness in the tentative global economic recovery, particularly in Europe. In addition, it remains exposed to volatile steel and raw material prices," it added.

The rating agency said that Tata Steel and TSUK have adequate liquidity and the companies' liquidity positions have improved with the refinancing of debt at TSUK by a new bank loan.

"The new bank loan lengthens the repayment schedule and will enable TSUK to significantly reduce its repayment obligations for the next four to five years," it added.


India for greater say to developing nations in IMF

New York: India pitched for increasing the voting power of emerging economies in the International Monetary Fund by 5%-6%, which will give developing countries a greater say in how the 186-nation Fund is run, reports PTI.

"Quota reforms in IMF is one of our basic objectives...

We want at least 5% to 6% quota should be increased in IMF and emerging market economies of the world should have their shares," Pranab Mukherjee told PTI here on Wednesday.

In April this year, India wrested greater say in the affairs of World Bank when member nations approved a shift in voting rights. This saw India's voting rights increase to 2.91% from 2.77% — making it the seventh largest member.

"This is one of the subjects that will emerge in the course of my discussions with the authorities of the World Bank and IMF," he added.

Mr Mukherjee will raise the matter at the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which kicks off in Washington on Thursday.

Once their voting powers are increased, developing nations would be able to influence how and where the funds are deployed, such as fighting poverty and fostering development.

The Brussels Declaration on more effective global economic governance, adopted at the conclusion of the eighth Asia-Europe Meeting, stated that IMF quota shares should be shifted to dynamic emerging markets and developing countries by at least 5% from over-represented to under-represented countries.

Like the United Nations' Security Council, which is criticised for reflecting the political power structure that existed after the Second World War, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is rebuked for reflecting the economic dynamics of the same era.

He pointed out that the developing countries were making a substantial contribution in the world's output and gross domestic product (GDP) and "according to us the quota and governance structures of IMF does not reflect the ground realities."

Underling the urgent need for reform, Mr Mukherjee said that global economic realities "should get reflected in the share in the quota and governance architecture of the world's financial institutions."

Mr Mukherjee also plans to raise this issue again at the meeting of finance ministers from the Group of Twenty (G20) countries in South Korea, later this week.


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