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Confusion over India's demand for gas-V: The government has no idea
Jun 28: Given that India's official gas demand estimates are so completely off track, there is a genuine need to build institutional forecasting resources.
8An agency to do so is the PPAC but a perusal of its reports will show a near-complete lack of depth
8A comparison of the handful of monthly reports brought out by the PPAC with those published by the US Energy Information Agency (IEA) points to the pathetic state of affairs in India
8The Indian official mindset is not to disclose any information at all in "national interest" and arrest those who try to invade its hallowed ramparts to prise open the data which is otherwise easily made available by most countries in the world.
8Sections of the Official Secrets Act, or punitive provisions of the IPC are imposed on anyone brave enough to try.
8The attempt is to hide rather than disclose information. The government has recently stopped providing daily port-wise commodity import data in violation of WTO conditionalities. This data is a valuable price setting tool for Indian suppliers and buyers and its unavailability now will lead to price distortions.
8There is little or no understanding amongst the powers that be of how that lack of data and the consequent inability to run analytics on that data impedes economic development.
8Availability of a larger dataset would enable a better estimation of demand, for example, of gas, which in turn would help the creation of necessary infrastructure. On the other hand, the inability to read how demand is going to behave in the future means investors are putting in their money in LNG terminals on good faith rather than on hard data. This is risky by any yardstick.
8For those who are interested, the website carries here newly issued guidelines by the PPAC on the engagement of experts and professionals. These guidelines do not generate any comfort, however, for those who believe that the government will take steps to plug this credibility gap.
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