The regulator will be empowered to resolve only disputes

Settling the issue of fixing coal prices, a Group of Ministers (GoM), on Tuesday, decided that the proposed regulator would not determine fuel rates, a job that would continue to be vested with the producers.

The regulator, however, would be empowered to resolve disputes, including disputes arising out of fuel supply agreements (FSAs).

“There is an agreement that pricing must be left to the producer of coal but the regulator will have powers to adjudicate on disputes relating to price, quality, supplies.

All disputes will be adjudicated with the regulator and then there will be an appellate authority,” Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters after the meeting of the GoM on setting up of the coal regulator.

Mr. Chidambaram said an agreement had been arrived upon on the contents of the Coal Regulatory Authority Bill to set up the regulator and the Law Ministry had been asked to redraft some sections of the Bill.

“All the sections are examined carefully. Now the Law Ministry has been asked to redraft some sections. The redrafted bill will come back to the GoM for formal approval and then it will go to the Cabinet. Discussions are over. There is complete agreement on what the contents of the Bill should be,” he said.

“They (the Law ministry) will take a few days to redraft it. If they can do it by Monday next, we can have the meeting early next week,” the Finance Minister, who heads the GoM, said.

The proposal for setting up an independent regulatory authority for coal sector was submitted for consideration of the Cabinet, which referred it to the GoM.

Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal also said the proposal was in final stages. “There may be a meeting next week in which it is likely that the things would be finalised.”

The last meeting of GoM remained inconclusive as there were differences in opinion among members on certain issues, including the pricing of coal.

While the Power Ministry wanted the regulator to fix prices, the Coal Ministry was not in favour, according to sources.

An independent regulator for the sector is considered important for fixing guidelines for price revision, improving competitiveness in the e-auctions, setting trading margins and increasing transparency in the allocation of reserves.

The GoM includes Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Mr. Jaiswal.

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