Hit by wage hike, CIL may hike coal prices

Coal India Ltd (CIL), the world's largest producer which meets 82 per cent of the country's coal requirements, is considering raising the commodity's prices early next fiscal next quarter.

The aim is to help offset the financial impact of a 25-per cent wage rise announced for its mammoth workforce in January after an agreement with the unions, leading to an extra outgo of RsRs6,500 crore.

''Coal India may revise prices in the first quarter of next financial year (2012-13),'' coal secretary Alok Perti said on the sidelines of sector event in New Delhi, without giving details.

''It will first have an assessment on prices (which were rolled back earlier this year). The hike, if any, will also take into account the new pricing mechanism," he said.

The government had earlier ruled out any possibility of a hike in prices saying that the upward wage revision will not have any bearing on coal prices. Coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal had also expressed the confidence that the public sector company would absorb the wage increase.

The company under a new mechanism had increased prices from 1 January, based on the calorific value of the coal as is done internationally, but rolled back the hike following protests by consumers. The rollback has eroded CIL's ability to take the impact of the wage hike for its 363,000 workers.