New Delhi, Oct 8 : The Congress on Thursday targeted the Narendra Modi government, accusing it of working for its corporate ‘friends’. The party said that after coming to power in 2014, the Centre has tweaked all the rules to favour private companies to export iron ore, robbing the exchequer of Rs 12,000 crore as duty fee.
The Congress demanded a thorough probe in the issue.
Addressing a press conference here, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said, “The Central government led by Prime Minister Modi has time and again openly exhibited its love for its corporate well-wishers. It has once again violated all principles to help some private players in the mining industry.”
Citing the rules, Khera said that the export of iron ore by India is met with a 30 per cent export duty and prior to 2014 only Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India (MMTC) was allowed to export Iron ore. Even MMTC was only allowed to export iron ore with 64 per cent concentration of Iron (Fe). And any export that exceeded this cap, the MMTC, in which the government has an 89 per cent share, had to take permission from the government.
Targeting the Modi government, Khera said, “After the Modi government came to power in 2014 all these rules and laws were changed. In 2014, the Steel Ministry removed the 64 per cent Fe concentration cap on iron ore and along with that gave Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL) the permission to export iron ore to countries like China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, etc.”
“However, if the same iron ore is made into pellets and exported as pellets, then there would be no duty on these exports. Despite KIOCL being the only company that had permission to export iron ore, since 2014 several private firms have indulged in the export of iron ore pellets, escaping duty on these exports and earning immeasurable profits,” he alleged.
Khera claimed that it is estimated that private firms have exported iron ore worth “Rs 40,000 crore” since 2014 after violating the law as they did not have the license to export the ore.
He said that all this happened under the nose of the Central government or in complete knowledge of the government.
“This time the government has allowed the theft of essential national resources. By not paying the export duty, the private players have robbed the government of around Rs 12,000 crore in duty fee,” he alleged.
He further said that under the Foreign Trade Development and Regulation Act 1992, these private players are liable to a penalty of Rs two lakh crore for this gross illegality. Khera also showed a government order dated September 10 by the Ministry of Law and Justice that clearly specified that the permission to export iron ore pellets was only given to KIOCL.
“We demand that an investigation must be initiated to expose the corruption since 2014 and how officials in the Steel Ministry allowed theft in broad daylight,” he said.
Khera also demanded the names of the private firms that have exported iron ore without permission since 2014. “Has any private entity been questioned by the government regarding their illegal dealings vis a vis iron ore export since 2014? What action has been initiated? Was the change in policy of removing export duty for iron ore pellets done in consultation with all stakeholders?” he asked.