Naik sends Jaswant Singh wish list for oil ministry

Vol 6, PW 12 (14 Aug 02) People & Policy

WHATEVER HIS FAULTS, Naik can't be accused of lacking commitment to his job.

Barely days after new finance minister Jaswant Singh had settled in, Naik wrote a two-page letter on 16th July reminding him of some key oil industry demands. Top of the list are two incentives to boost the nascent LNG sector.

In India LNG import and regassification projects are charged 35% customs duty. In the last budget Naik wanted this figure cut to 5% but former finance minister Yashwant Sinha refused.

Also ignored was Naik's plea to reclassify LNG projects with the "infrastructure" label so they can benefit from associated tax breaks. Naik wants the minimum possible import duties on equipment toupgrade refineries to produce cleaner fuel.

This was also part of his unfulfilled budget wish list. He also mentions his pet project to promote ethanol blending with petrol.

"No formal orders have yet been issued," he reveals. Naik wants to know what's happened to his request that ethanol produced and supplied to oil companies to blend with petrol should be exempt from excise duty.

Finally, he's unhappy that Numaligarh Refinery's 100% excise duty concession was slashed to 50% in the last budget. "Keeping in view the high interest and depreciation burden, heavy loan repayment commitment and the sensitivity of the north east region the concession needs to be restored to 100%." Naik wants a personal meeting with Jaswant Singh.

Unclear though is if hell be around much longer to get a meeting.