Sunday, September 9, 2012

Captive Competitiveness

It has been uttered, noted, depicted and even analyzed that the domestic economy is really dented by the recession and its negative effects are now palpable across the industries. The results are: Flat corporate earnings, weak top and bottom line, plummet in exports and expanding twin deficits. In short a hard recession hit financials are really worrisome. But still in this tough financial environment where nothing seems to be soaring up except the Inflation, there is one financial value which is growing at an abnormal speed. 

From some few thousands of crore of rupees to lakhs of crore of rupees (and its recession proof too) that is the financial value of scams in our country. From 2G to Coalgate - Indian National Rupee amounting to – 1860000000000 (don’t get astonished by the zeros added to the figure because that is the reality) is what our exchequer lost because of the Coal allocation scam which was unearthed by the CAG report a fortnight back. We as the citizens are now so much used to these gargantuan monetary figures that indifference has seeped deep within us.

But one peculiar thing which was highlighted by the CAG is that the Coal mining scam is even bigger and shoddier than the infamous 2G scam, where at least some of the benefits were passed on to the final consumers in the form of increased competition and lower call charges. But that was not the case with unused coal blocks, which did not increase availability of coal, or lower the price of power or steel.
The CAG report narrates how the government favored and benefitted private players through its policies. The report says that coal fields in the period 2004-2009 were allocated to private entities instead of being auctioned. The Prime Minister’s Office has also been bought under scrutiny as it delayed introducing the process of competitive bidding, though cleared by the Law and Justice Ministry. The report also states that mining was undertaken only in 28 out of the 86 captive coal blocks that were scheduled to take up production, and they failed to produce even half of what was targeted from those blocks.

There are many questions which comes to my mind after reading about the issue – Why was the competitive bidding policy was wrapped in obscurity? Why did the end users’ benefits were not considered while allocating captive blocks? And even if nepotism was at peak during allocation, still there was no fundamental change in the authentic usage of blocks, why? When the democratic process is brutally murdered it endangers the sovereignty of the state and this is what is happening today and not only the sovereignty is at risk but the Mother Nature’s appalling misuse is also a major concern.

Lastly, in order to restore the democratic fundamentals of the states these blocks and captive mines should be re-allocated only through the process of transparent competitive bidding. Or simply it should be handed over to Coal India. The government has been pushed to the limits, having even considered a vote of confidence, as the Opposition stalls the proceedings of Parliament. The mood of the nation inclines towards a mid-term poll, and the ruling coalition is well aware of this fact. Many key UPA allies can be seen actively preparing for mid-term polls and may even be ready to ditch the Congress and form a Third Front should the NDA fail to produce substantial numbers in the polls.

Excerpts from news-opinion and Indian

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