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FACT plans second round of VRS

Our Bureau

Kochi , April 29

FERTILISERS and Chemicals Travancore Ltd (FACT) has said it is planning to introduce another round of voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to reduce its workforce by a 1,000 as the ailing public sector company hopes for a turnaround next year.

``We are looking at another round of VRS for another 1,000 people,'' said Mr S. Balan, Chairman and Managing Director, at a press conference here.

Mr Balan said FACT would save Rs 28-30 crore in its wage bill because of its previous round of VRS, which pared about 900 employees. FACT currently has about 4,500 employees on its rolls.

The company is also in the process of recasting its loans of Rs 600 crore in order to cut down the interest cost. ``We are negotiating with the Central Government to reduce the interest. The Government is considering converting the annual interest of about Rs 50 crore into a loan,'' he said.

Another proposal, which the company is considering, is to sell off the surplus land. FACT has about 2,000 acres of land, of which only 500 acres are being used for the plant.

FACT, which made a loss of Rs 287.73 crore in 2002-03, is hopeful that it would be able to turnaround by end of this fiscal, Mr Balan said, adding that new marketing strategies are also being put in place.

A plan is to source urea from Oman India Fertiliser Company when India starts buying back the chemical as per an agreement. FACT proposes to buy 1.5 lakh tonnes of urea from this company and market it under its brand.

Sustained operation of the plants at their maximum capacity would result in considerable reduction in the cost of production. The Government of Kerala has also given a positive response to FACT's request for certain tax concessions.

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