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Centre approves Rs 45-billion financial package for sugar industry for FY19

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi :The government on Wednesday approved a Rs 45 billion package for the sugar industry that includes over two-fold jump in production assistance to cane growers and transport subsidy to mills for export up to 5 million tonnes in the marketing year 2018-19, sources said.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the food ministry’s proposal that seeks to address the surplus domestic stock of sugar and help mills in clearing huge cane arrears of around Rs 130 billion.
With assembly elections due in some states and upcoming general polls in mid-2019, the government wants to address cane growers payment issue.
This is the second financial package to bail out the sugar industry after Rs 85 billion in June. The industry is facing a glut-like situation because of record production of 32 million tonnes (MT) in the 2017-18 marketing year (October-September), resulting in a closing stock of 10 MT at the end of this month.
Under its ‘Comprehensive policy to deal with excess sugar production in the country’, the ministry has recommended offsetting cost of sugarcane to sugar mills by increasing the production assistance paid to growers at Rs 13.88 per quintal for the 2018-19 marketing year from Rs 5.50 per quintal for this year.
With low global prices, the ministry has suggested helping mills to export 5 million tonnes of sugar under the Minimum Indicative Export Quota (MIEQ) during 2018-19 by compensating expenses towards internal transport, freight, handling and other charges.
Sources said the ministry has proposed a transport subsidy of Rs 1,000 per tonne for the mills located within 100 km from ports, Rs 2,500 per tonne for a mill located beyond 100 km from the port in coastal states and Rs 3,000 tonnes per tonne for mill located in other than coastal states.
Like in the current year, the production assistance will directly be credited into the sugarcane farmers’ account on behalf of the mills as part of the government’s measures to clear more than Rs 135 billion in arrears sugar mills have towards farmers.
These steps will enable mills to boost sugar exports and clear cane arrears, which currently stand at Rs 135.67 billion. Mills in Uttar Pradesh owe the maximum at Rs 98.17 billion to cane farmers.
India’s sugar output is set to increase further to 35 MT in the next marketing year from 32 MT in 2017-18. The annual domestic demand stands at 26 MT.
The government has taken a slew of measures to bail out sugar mills as well as cane farmers in the last one year.
First, it doubled the import duty on sugar to 100 per cent and then scrapped the export duty on it. It also made it compulsory for millers to export two million tonnes of sugar even as global prices were low.
In June, the government had announced a Rs 85 billion package for the industry, which included soft loans of Rs 44.4 billion to mills for creating ethanol capacity. It will bear an interest subvention of Rs 13.31 billion for this.
The Centre had also announced assistance of Rs 5.50 per quintal of cane crushed, amounting to Rs 15.40 billion to mills. Around Rs 12 billion was allocated for the creation of 3 MT buffer stock of sugar. The minimum selling price of the sweetener has been fixed at Rs 29 per kg.
Early this month, the government had approved an over 25 per cent hike in the price of ethanol produced directly from sugarcane juice for blending in petrol, in a bid to cut surplus sugar production and reduce oil imports.
The CCEA raised the procurement price of ethanol derived from 100 per cent sugarcane juice to Rs 59.13 per litre from the current rate of Rs 47.13.
The price for ethanol produced from B-heavy molasses (also called intermediary molasses) was hiked to Rs 52.43 a litre from the current Rs 47.13, but that for ethanol produced from C-heavy molasses was reduced marginally to Rs 43.46 from Rs 43.70.


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Customer complaints against banks surge 25% in FY18: RBI report

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Mumbai: More people are complaining about banking services than before even as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) claims to have increased its efficiency in resolving plaints.

The 21 offices of the banking ombudsman received 163,590 complaints in 2017-18 (FY18), marking an increase of 24.9 per cent over the previous year. Most of the complaints were against nationalised banks, followed by State Bank of India and its associates (now merged). This is not surprising, considering these bans also account for 70 per cent of the banking industry.

Disposal rate was 96.5 per cent, compared to 92 per cent in the previous year, according to the annual report of the banking ombudsman scheme of the central bank. This is also the first ombudsman report that takes into account complaints against mobile banking and electronic banking services, with the services being brought into ambit under the scheme in July 2017.

 

The central bank now plans to float a separate ombudsman for digital banking. It has already started an ombudsman scheme for deposit taking non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) in February 2018 that would be extended to other NBFCs as well, said RBI’s Deputy Governor and appellate authority M K Jain in the foreword of the report.

RBI’s financial year runs from July 1 to June 30. In FY18, the RBI doubled the award that an ombudsman office can offer to Rs 20 lakh, and allowed a compensation of Rs 1 lakh towards “harassment and mental anguish.” Earlier, this provision was available only for credit card complaints. Importantly, 65.8 per cent of the complaints were resolved by agreement and through mediation, compared with 42.4 per cent a year ago. The report said that 148 awards were issued in the year, compared to 31 awards issued in the previous year.

“The major grounds of complaints received during the year were non-observance of fair practices code (22.1 per cent), automated teller machine and debit card issues (15.1 per cent), credit card issues (7.7 per cent), failure to meet commitments (6.8 per cent), mobile and electronic banking (5.2 per cent),” according to a statement attached with the report.

Complaints received on grounds such as problems relating to ‘Pension’, ‘Levy of Charges without Notice’, ‘Loans and Advances’, ‘Remittance’, ‘DSA and Recovery Agents’ and ‘Mis-selling’ each accounted for 5 per cent or less of the total complaints received.

The most complaints came from New Delhi and Mumbai. Zone-wise, North recorded 44 per cent of the complaints, while East accounted for only 15 per cent of the complaints. Half of the complaints came from urban areas, the report showed.

With increased expansion of grounds on which appeal can be filed against the decision of the ombudsman, the appellate authority received 125 appeals, a sharp rise from previous year’s 15 appeals. Awareness was also built up due to campaigns and outreach activities in rural and semi-urban areas, the RBI said.

“RBI’s SMS handle ‘RBISAY’ was extensively used for sending text messages on topics such as fictitious offers of money, secured use of electronic banking facilities, banking ombudsman scheme, etc. An integrated voice recognition service facility (by giving a missed call on 14440) was also made available to the public by the RBI for getting more information on the above,” the central bank said.

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Voda Idea rights issue receives bids for 1109 crore shares: NSE data

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New Delhi: Vodafone Idea’s rights issue entailing 2,000 crore shares received bids for 1,109 crore shares, according to data available on the NSE.

The country’s largest telecom operator through the rights issue, which ran between April 10 and April 24, offered 2,000 crore new shares at Rs 12.50 apiece.

As per the data, the rights issue had received bids for 11,09,28,57,339 shares at 2000 hours and showed the status as “active”.

 

When contacted, the company remained tight-lipped about the final numbers saying it is bound by applicable compliance norms and guidelines.

To a separate query, the company said its interactions with investors suggest there is a “strong demand for the rights issue”.

“Axiata’s renunciation has been fully taken up with a strong demand. Hence, we have good reason to believe that the issue will be fully subscribed,” Vodafone Idea said in an e-mail response.

The company added that it expects allotment to be made on or around May 6, 2019, as mentioned in the offer document.

Data on the BSE showed that 492 crore bids were received as on 2000 hours.

The company had earlier said its rights issue entitlement worth about Rs 2,000 crore renounced by Malaysia-based Axiata Group was fully subscribed on strong demand.

Promoter shareholders — Vodafone Group and Aditya Birla Group — have reiterated to the board that they intend to contribute up to Rs 11,000 crore and up to Rs 7,250 crore, respectively, amounting to a total of Rs 18,250 crore, as part of the Rs 25,000-crore rights issue.

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Boeing suffers $1 billion hit from 737 Max crisis, abandons 2019 financial outlook

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London: Boeing Co abandoned its 2019 financial outlook, halted share buybacks and said lowered production due to the grounding of its fastest-selling 737 MAX jet after two fatal plane crashes in five months had cost it at least $1 billion so far.

The world`s largest planemaker is facing one of the biggest crises in its 103-year history following the disasters on Lion Air in Indonesia on Oct. 29 and another on Ethiopian Airlines on March 10, which together killed all 346 on board.

Chicago-based Boeing is now reckoning with a blow to its reputation and the financial cost of getting the planes back in the air. It met sharply lowered Wall Street profit estimates for the first quarter, largely due to stopping deliveries of the money-spinning 737 MAX jets and a slowdown in production.

 

The production dip alone has cost it $1 billion so far, the company said, because the lower rate means the planemaker has to pay more for parts, which are priced according to the volume Boeing buys.

Boeing also booked unspecified charges related to developing a software fix for an anti-stall system that Boeing has acknowledged played a role in both crashes, and pilot training.

Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg told analysts on a conference call that Boeing has confidence in its software fix and expects a certification flight with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in the “near term” after completing more than 135 test and production flights.

He did not give a timeline for when the MAX would fly again commercially, saying the timing “will continue to be paced” by global regulators and airlines. He defended the company`s aircraft development process but indicated he was open to improvements.

“If there`s something that we can do to make airplane development programs or the certification process better and safer, we will pursue it,” Muilenburg said.

Reuters reported that Boeing told some 737 MAX owners it was targeting FAA approval of its software as early as the third week of May, and the ending of the grounding around mid-July, when it could resume building 52 aircraft per month.

A fuller picture of how much the grounding will cost Boeing and how it plans to repair its image with the flying public will not emerge until the end of the second-quarter as 737 production cuts did not begin until mid-April.

“Boeing had little new to provide on how exactly the 737 MAX situation is likely to pan out,” said Vertical Research Partners analyst Robert Stallard. “We think a return to flight in August is probably optimistic, but September is possible.”

Muilenburg said the company did not see any changes to the underlying certification process for its all-new 777X twin-aisle jetliner in light of the MAX crashes and said the programme remained on track for delivery in 2020. Boeing continues to work “in parallel” on plans for a potential new mid-sized airplane, although Muilenburg stressed the 737`s return was a higher priority.

He also defended his role as both CEO and chairman of Boeing after calls from some shareholders that the jobs be divided.

Boeing shares closed up 0.4 percent at $375.46. They are still down about 10 percent since the Ethiopian Airlines crash, wiping almost $25 billion off the company`s market value.

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