CII seeks incentive package for lockdown-hit mining and metals sector

Topics CII | Mining industry | Coronavirus

The association is also seeking waiver on fixed charges pertaining to electricity and PNG accrued during the period of lockdown | Photo: PTI
Industry body Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has approached the Centre seeking an incentive package for the mining and metals sector which has been hit by the coronavirus lockdown.

The demand ranges from financial support to tide over liquidity issues to logistics and trade policy support.

In terms of financial assistance, CII has sought an extension on concession interest rate free additional working capital credit lines from the banks considering the nil margin to meet the shortfall in cash flows due to national lockdown. It has sought a relaxation on Aggregate Sanctioned Credit Limit (ASCL) norms for the fiscal year 2019-20 till further notice or exclusion of up to 25 per cent of incremental borrowing from banking sector in ASCL computation. Deferred payment of Mining Levies (Royalty, DMF & NMET) for the period up to 30 Jun 2020 over the next 3 months has also been asked for.

“Liquidity issues have always been there but it has become more acute now as companies weren’t able to earn any revenue during the lockdown period while fixed costs, including wages could not be controlled," a CII official said.

On the GST front, CII has asked for waiver of GST Compensation Cess of Rs 400 per million tonne for power, aluminum and coking coal import dependent sector like pig iron and steel for the COVID-19 period or 6 months, whichever is later. It reasoned that it will help coal consuming domestic manufacturing industries remain in business and also reduce cost of operation.

The official said these apart, the association is also seeking waiver on fixed charges pertaining to electricity and PNG accrued during the period of lockdown.

“Logistics is another key area where companies are facing major challenges. We have taken up logistics issues with some of the state governments but have also approached the Centre for relief as it decides on national policy issues," the CII official said.

On the logistics front, the association has sought reduction in coal freight rates by 25 per cent for the next six months and re-introduction of concession in freight rates for Short Lead Goods Traffic. It is also seeking reduction in warfage and port charges as well till the situation normalizes.

While asking for maximization of operationalization of private & public rail sidings to move raw materials and goods to distribution points in stockyards, CII has also sought re-classification of critical commodities to rationalize the freight charges.

On the trade policy front, CII has primarily stressed on increasing import duties and imposition of Minimum Import Price (MIP) for all commodities to safeguard the domestic manufacturers from the vagaries of cheap imports.

This apart, additional fiscal incentives to exports, at least for a period of 6 months has been sought while it has asked for preference for domestically produced metal products and imports to be restricted by way of increasing import duty on metals and scrap, quantitative restrictions and others to boost domestic production and sales. 

According to CII, the mining sector contributes around 1.5 per cent of India’s GDP (excluding oil & gas), which has a potential to grow to 3 per cent by 2024-25. 

Having high employment elasticity of 0.52, this sector has the potential of generating additional 50 million jobs, directly and indirectly, by 2025.

The mining and quarrying sector, after the negative 5.8 per cent growth registered in FY18-19, is expected to achieve only 2.8 per cent growth while manufacturing is likely to grow by mere 0.9 per cent in FY19-20. 

CII said the ongoing pandemic has created an unprecedented uncertainty in global economic prospects, including India.

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