Category: The Hindu – Business Line

It’s all just power play

Electricity boards and consumers are being systematically short-circuited by the robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul policy Tata Power Ltd bagged a 4000 MW ultra mega power project based on imported coal in Mundra, Gujarat, under tariff-based competitive bidding to supply power at fixed tariff of Rs. 2.26 per unit all through the project’s operational life. Likewise, Adani Power (APL) bagged a UMPP to supply to Gujarat and Haryana at Rs. 2.35/Rs. 2.94 a unit. In April 2013, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) allowed compensatory tariff(CT) of Rs. 0.524 per unit to TPL for all its buyers. APL was allowed CT at Rs. 0.851 per unit and Rs. 0.364 per unit for supplies to Gujarat and Haryana, respectively. The CT was meant to neutralise...
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Why a price stimulus for gas?

A return to global markets-based pricing will hurt the fertiliser and power sectors In his Budget speech, finance minister Arun Jaitley lamented the situation of “rising demand, near-stagnation in production and consequent rapid increase in import” in the case of gas. He argued that there was need to incentivise gas production from deep water, ultra-deep water and high-pressure-high-temperature areas. “A proposal is under consideration for new discoveries and areas which are yet to commence production, first to provide calibrated marketing freedom; and second, to do so at a pre-determined ceiling price to be discovered on the principle of landed price of alternative fuels”. Finance ministry U-turn The concern expressed in the speech is not new. The government was mindful of...
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Distorted gas allocation to fertiliser sector

Fertiliser needs gas on priority and at reasonable rates, more so non-urea fertiliser producers The Modi government is doing everything within its executive power to ensure that ‘Make in India’ succeeds. However, there is one sector, fertilisers, which has not got the attention it deserves. Even after two-and-a-half decades of reforms, this industry not only remains highly regulated with intrusive controls on production, distribution, sales and pricing, it is also excessively micromanaged. Controls on selling price at levels unrelated to cost, and subsidy accounting for an overwhelming share of manufacturers’ realisation from sale have seriously hampered the sector’s ability to survive. No fresh investment has been made in this industry for close to two decades. Discriminatory policy Even as the...
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It’s wrong to deny gas to the fertiliser sector

And worse still, to favour urea producers over decontrolled fertiliser units in gas allocation, exacerbating the nutrient imbalance The manner in which gas is allocated within the fertiliser sector smacks of arbitrariness. The Centre gives a uniform subsidy to all manufacturers, including those of decontrolled complex fertilisers, under the Nutrient Based Scheme (NBS) . Why, then, does it use a different yardstick for allocation of gas to manufacturers of urea on the one hand and decontrolled fertiliser on the other? A two-judge bench of the Delhi High Court has ordered the government to resume supply of natural gas to Deepak Fertiliser and Petrochemicals Corporation (DFPCL), a manufacturer of decontrolled phosphatic fertilisers, which was arbitrarily suspended last year. The bench has...
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Gas price loss is urea’s gain

It’s time to leverage the conditions. Freeing distribution and movement will also make a difference Under new pricing guidelines notified in October, 2014, the price of domestic gas was fixed at $5.61 per mBtu on net calorific value (NCV) basis with effect from November 1, 2014 — an increase of 33 per cent over the $4.2 per mBtu prior to that date. The price was applicable till March 31, 2015. The price was arrived at by taking a weighted average of gas prices in Henry Hub (the US), NBP (National Balancing Point, the UK), AGR (Alberta Gas Reference, Canada) and Russia. It was to be revised once in six months based on movement in these indices for a full year,...
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Root cause of inaction in fertiliser reforms

Unless the government accepts a higher MRP for urea, nutrient imbalance cannot be addressed Four major pronouncements on fertiliser reforms need close scrutiny. First, the Prime Minister promised that every farmer would have a soil health card (SHC) to know how much nutrient is needed for a good yield and to keep the soil healthy. What if the results of the soil analysis encapsulated on the SHC require application of more phosphate (P) and potash (K) but the fertilisers carrying these nutrients, other complex fertilisers and so on are too expensive? The pricing consideration Currently, the MRP of dia-ammonium phosphate (DAP, the primary source of P) is four times the price of urea (the main source of nitrogen), whereas muriate...
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Food subsidies still haunt India at WTO

But they needn’t, if India sticks to the view that the benchmark price for measuring extent of support is too low and outdated India is concerned over the delay in reaching a ‘permanent solution’ to the problem of dealing with food procurement subsidies. The WTO members are thrashing out a work programme for the 10th Ministerial to be held in Nairobi this December. Under Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), developing countries can give agricultural subsidies or aggregate measurement support (AMS) up to 10 per cent of the value of agricultural production. AMS has two components viz., (i) ‘product-specific’ or the excess of price paid to farmers over international price or ERP (external reference price) multiplied by quantum of produce; (ii) ‘non-product...
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We need a coherent urea investment policy

A burden: And nobody will gain from it – A MURALITHARAN The urea industry is in need of wholesome nourishment rather than the piecemeal changes the Centre has been offering October 26, 2014: In January 2013, the Government had notified a urea investment policy (UIP) for new greenfield projects; expansion of existing units; additional urea from revamp of existing units and revival of projects of sick public sector units of the Fertilizer Corporation of India (FCIL) and Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation (HFCL). Early this year, it made two amendments in the UIP. The first dispensed with the “dispensation of guaranteed buy-back”, while the second requires interested private companies to give a bank guarantee of ₹300 crore for every project, while PSUs...
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Stop skirting fertiliser reform

Soil remedies Fertiliser reforms are good for farmers P RAJU By taking tough decisions now on MRP and subsidies, the Government will ensure better times to follow September 10, 2014: The Prime Minister unveiled a five-point agenda for ushering in a technology-led second green revolution in India. One of these is the issuing of a soil health card (SHC) to every farmer, with recommendations for fertiliser use. But will this help address the persisting imbalance in fertiliser use? Though the Economic Survey recognised the seriousness of the problem, the Budget was silent on any policy steps to address it. To get maximum crop yield from fertiliser use and maintain soil health, a farmer needs to apply all three major nutrients,...
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