With dividend income lower this year, all eyes on Coal India

Debabrata Das Surabhi New Delhi | Updated on January 19, 2018

In January, the Finance Ministry had asked public sector entities to pay 10 per cent higher dividend than prescribed in earlier guidelines. But, given the muted performance the companies may not be able to comply.

Oil major ONGC has indicated its inability to pay any further dividend for the fiscal year. A look at the data of some of the major players shows that dividend income from IOC, ONGC, NTPC Ltd, GAIL and NMDC so far in 2015-16 has been nearly 6 per cent lower at ₹10,717.5 crore compared to ₹11,382.28 crore in the previous financial year.

For the current fiscal year, the Centre has targeted ₹36,174 crore as dividend from PSUs, 27 per cent over the Revised Estimate of ₹28,423 crore last year.

All eyes are on Coal India’s decision on dividend for 2015-16, as the government’s income from some of the largest public sector enterprises remains lower than 2014-15 till now. The mining behemoth is yet to announce its interim dividend for 2015-16. In the previous fiscal it had announced an interim dividend of ₹20.7 per share, which helped the government get ₹10,414.10 crore.

On its part, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has called for a review of the dividend policy of PSUs.

“PSUs are sitting on large idle cash reserves and most are not even investing. If they are performing better, they should share it with shareholders,” said a senior government official.

However, PSUs say their hands are tied when it comes to dividends. “Dividends are a function of profits. The government keeps demanding higher dividends just like we keep demanding a better price for natural gas. Unfortunately, not all demands are met,” a senior ONGC official said.

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry on Monday said that it has received ₹2 lakh crore from non-tax receipts, of which the largest flows are from dividends paid by PSUs and the RBI.

The government had budgeted for over ₹2.21 lakh crore for the fiscal year from non-tax receipts, which include dividends, profits and interests receipts.

Published on February 15, 2016

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