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Government to regulate coal sector – fallout of Coalgate scandal?

The power crisis is causing widespread distress in Tamil Nadu. Apart from hours of scheduled outages, the quality in some parts is so poor that it is causing extensive damage to equipment appliances  and gadgets apart from paralysing production in factories.     

The Central government has moved in quickly to regulate the coal sector to help monitor quality, supply and grading but restrained itself from controlling prices.

The proposal formulated at the GoM meeting recently seeks to constitute a Coal Regulator who will have a closer look at the sector plagued by the Coalgate scandal in which leading private sector companies are alleged to have received out of turn allotment of mines. It also seeks to establish a see-through mechanism by which the high costs of imported coal would translate into higher tariffs to make up for the increased burden.

The proposal is likely to come up for legislation in the monsoon session of parliament.

The proposed coal regulator bill will primarily be tasked with monitoring and testing of quality, supply and grading of coal, but will not regulate pricing. However, it is expected to have a parallel body attached to it that would adjudicate on any dispute between the coal suppliers and buyers covering pricing issues.

Coal industry watchers, including senior executives and analysts on the commodity’s trends, are however, not entirely convinced that the regulator could be effective if pricing is kept out of its scope. Because Coal India Ltd (CIL) is a near monopoly producer of the fuel of the fuel.


TCS’ Ramadorai appointed AirAsia Chairman

The appointment of the former head of India’s No 1 software firm TCS,

S Ramadorai, as Chairman of the newly launched AirAsia where the Tata’s have a stake, shows the confidence the industrial house has in him as an administrator and his ability to launch a startup airline with flying colours.

Air Asia is already a successful venture outside India and its foray into the Indian skies has already sent waves of trepidation amongst the established players such as IndiGo, Spice Jet, Go Air and Air-India.

The general fear is that Air Asia’s entry into the Indian skies might trigger a fare war amongst the airlines already fighting worldwide recession in air traffic, competitive fares, high costs of fuel, airport charges and taxes, reducing profits,....

Air Asia’s successful model as a low cost carrier in Malaysia and Singapore and outside these South East Asian states could be replicated in India as well. Air Asia will launch its operations by December this year.


PFC to buy a stake in PSU bank

State - owned Power Finance Corporation (PFC) is all set to buy a substantial stake in a public sector bank. The country’s largest lender to the power sector can take a 26 per cent stake in any of the PSU bank such as Punjab and Sind Bank, Bank of Maharashtra, Indian Bank and United bank of India.

A proposal to set up a US $ 1 billion power sector equity fund with Tata Capital was also submitted to the finance ministry. The proposal is to be seen against the backdrop of hopes of revival in the fortunes of the power sector.

According to PFC Chairman Satnam Singh, the Indian power sector has witnessed some positive trends which include increase in tariffs by the state governments, debt restructuring initiatives for the SEBs, reduction in their losses and ratings of the discoms. CERC’s decision on compensatory tariffs in relation to viability issues is perceived as a good sign.

It may be noted that CERC allowed both Adani Power and Tata Power to charge higher tariffs for power generated by their plants at Mundra in Gujarat so that they could recoup their losses due to increase in the price of imported coal and shortage of domestic coal supplies.

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