The government has zeroed in on three options in deciding the fate of five coal blocks which witnessed low-price bids. The options include auctioning them again, give them back to Coal India or giving them to the states.
The five mines — Tara, Brinda and Sasai, Meral, Dumri and Mandla South — which were part of the 13 Schedule-III blocks were auctioned in the second tranche but had witnessed low price bids. While the auction results of eight mines have been made public, the winners of remaining five mines have not been announced by the Nominated Authority (NA).
Talking to The Indian Express, coal secretary Anil Swarup on Tuesday said there are three options before the government. “The first is to auction them again, secondly give the mines back to Coal India as they originally belonged to the company. The third option is give them to the governments of the states where the blocks are located,” he said.
These suggestions are understood to have come from an inter-ministerial committee (IMC), which had submitted its report about ten days ago on the reasons for the low-price bids. The government is likely to announce its decision on these five mines soon. The ministry has finalised its recommendations after perusing the IMC’s report and forwarded them to coal minister Piyush Goyal to take a final call on the issue, it is learnt.
He denied that any decision has been taken on these blocks so far. The electronic auctions have been carried out in “most open and transparent manner” and any chance by any bidder of taking undue advantage is ruled out.
“We are satisfied to have offered a transparent platform for coal blocks auction,” the coal secretary said in reply to another query. The passage of the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2014 by April 5 would be imperative to commence the next round of coal blocks auction or else re-promulgation of the Ordinance which has already been promulgated twice on October 20 and December 24 last year.
Delving on promoting commercial mining of coal, Swarup said, there is no decision yet in allowing so, which was reflected in the first and second tranches of auctions, wherein only companies with end-use plants were allowed to bid for blocks. However, the ministry has inserted an enabling provision in the coal Ordinance to allow such mining.
A ministry source said some state governments are asking that their respective mining corporations should be allowed to sell coal to local buyers in small quantities. In a recent meeting with the ministry, senior state government officials have asked the coal ministry to explore how the need of such customers can be met by empowering their mining corporations, the source added.
India, US to ink pact on sharing tax info
New Delhi: India on Tuesday decided to sign an agreement with the US on a tax compliance act that will enable exchange of information on cases of tax avoidance through overseas entities. The agreement on the Foreign Account Compliance Act (FATCA) would also ensure that Indian corporates would not have to pay 30 per cent withholding tax on their US income.
The Union Cabinet approved signing of an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between India and the US for implementation of the FATCA.
FATCA is a US law which seeks to facilitate flow of financial information. It was also decided to join the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI).
Sources said decision will enable Indian authorities to receive information from the US and from other jurisdictions with which India has entered into an agreement for AEOI about the assets of Indians held abroad. It will also result in Financial Institutions in India being FATCA compliant and they will not be required to enter into separate agreements to avoid 30 per cent withholding on their US income. pti
Govt okays R33K cr CST compensation to states
New delhi: The government on Tuesday approved the release of Rs 33,000 crore in tranches to states and Union Territories to compensate them for revenue loss on account of phasing out of Central Sales Tax for three financial years up to 2012-13. In the first phase, Rs 10,800 crore is payable for 2010-11 as balance CST compensation, sources said.
The decision to release the compensation was taken in the Cabinet meet. There is a provision in the Budget for CST compensation in the revised estimates of 2014-15.
“This will be used to release payment to states,” sources said. Government has already taken the permission of Lok Sabha to release about Rs 11,000 crore as CST compensation.
As part of the roll-out of proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, the CST is being phased out and has been reduced to 2 per cent, from the earlier 4 per cent. The Centre collects CST and distributes it among states. PTI
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