The ports sector is categorised under essential services and kept away from the lockdown directives, but a dip in demand and disruptions in cargo movement, coupled with reduction in cashflows and revenues, are posing challenges for the sector
Ruias-led private ports operator, Essar Ports Ltd, said it is expecting to sustain a reasonable performance in the current fiscal, despite the ongoing crisis.
Rajiv Agarwal, MD & CEO, Essar Ports Ltd, said the company posted 23.5 per cent growth in cargo handling during 2019-20, and “with all our terminals operational, we expect to sustain a reasonable level of performance in the ongoing financial year".. Essar Ports has four terminals with a combined handling capacity of 110 million tonnes per annum.
The company has its key customers in steel, oil and power industries, which manufacture products under the essential services category. “Given that we facilitate the cargo requirements of these businesses, we have sustained operations even during this crisis,” said Agarwal adding that the company faced some lockdown-related issues in operations and manpower availability but the supply chain and operations remained unaffected.
In an e-mail response to BusinessLine queries, Agarwal said that on account of lower throughput following disruptions in cargo movement, the ports sector was facing liquidity and cashflow issues, loss of business/ revenue and delay in projects and commissioning of new facilities.
“The revival is also expected to be gradual. To overcome the challenges, the Centre needs to look at several measures which will not only boost demand but also provide relief for the industry players to function in smooth manner,” Agarwal said.
Pointing to measures like reduction in interest rates, moratorium from repayment of principal and interest, waiver on payment of royalty & licence fees by concessionaires, and waiver of fixed energy charges, he expressed hope that these would help in overcoming the problems plaguing the sector.
On the measures announced by the government Agarwal said, “through different Ministries and the RBI, the government has been prompt in introducing measures time and again to boost the economy, and to ensure the industry is running with minimal impact.”
Source: The Hindu Business Line