PSUs ready to invest more; want govt to address coal issue

ntpc 1NEW DELHI: Heads of infrastructure sector Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) on Wednesday met India’s Finance Minister P Chidambaram and committed to step up investments, while suggesting to the government that it address the issues related to project clearances and availability of coal.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Arup Roy Choudhury said the company plans to invest Rs 20,000 crore in the current fiscal and was confident of the capex plan.

“Discussion (was) on speedy achievement on capex and (we) are confident of achieving capex commitment,” he added.

Roy Choudhury said, “We also discussed problems related to coal in the presence of coal Secretary.” He also expressed the hope that there could be some direction from the Finance Minister after this meeting on the fuel linkage.

According to Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) Chairman and Managing Director B Prasada Rao, “Order book at the end of Q1 is at Rs 1.35 lakh crore. Our basic trouble is the various problems plaguing the power sector. Our investments are connected to the power sector. Clearances and also coal linkages continues to be a problem.”

The meeting was called by Chidambaram to nudge bluechip PSUs – sitting on cash pile of about Rs 1.8 lakh crore – to expedite investment plans. It was attended by Secretaries of different ministries dealing with the infrastructure sector.

Coal India CMD S Narsing Rao said the company was committed to invest Rs 40,000 crore in 2012-13, provided certain conditions were met. . “Capital investment plan for the current and next 5 year plan was discussed. We have a plan for our Rs 25,400 crore (investment) for the current five year plan, plus another Rs 14,500 crore if certain conditions are made. So that takes us to Rs 40,000 crore total,” Rao said.

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Chairman Sudhir Vasudeva said that he explained the company’s investment strategy to Chidambaram.

“We have explained our stand on capex to the Finance Minister. For the 12th five year (plan period), the company plans to make an investment of Rs 1.64 lakh crore. Current year capex plan stands at Rs 33,650 crore,” he added.

Steel Authority of India (SAIL) chairman C S Verma said the steel giant was proposing an investment Rs 45,000 crore in the 12th Five Year Plan, besides looking at additional outlay of Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 crore.

“There is no slowdown in the steel sector currently”, he added.

Heads of other state-owned companies such as National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), MMTC and Oil India attended the meeting which sought to chart out investment timeframe and discuss impediments hampering business sentiments.

The exercise being undertaken by the Finance Ministry is aimed pushing manufacturing sector and overall economic growth which declined to nine-year low of 6.5 per cent during 2011-12.

According to the economic data for April-June 2012-13, the quarterly growth declined to 5.5 per cent from 8 per cent in the corresponding quarter last fiscal, mainly on account of poor performance of manufacturing sector.

The manufacturing sector growth during the first quarter dipped to meager 0.2 per cent compared to 7.3 per cent in the same period last fiscal. -PTI