MUMBAI: Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said the government is open to discuss the issues that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had raised recently over the lack of powers in regulating state-run lenders.
Amidst criticism that the apex bank had failed in its regulatory oversight over government-owned banks following the ₹13,500-crore PNB scam, RBI governor Urjit Patel had recently blamed it on the lack of powers to control them.
“The government is open to discuss with the RBI all the issues it has on regulating state-run banks,” Mr. Goyal told an industry event here. The minister also ruled out government paring its stake in public sector banks (PSBs), saying there is no proposal with the government to lower its ownership in state-run banks to under 51% in 20 of them.
The statement comes amid strong opposition from banking and LIC unions to the government plans to sell its majority stake in the crippled IDBI Bank to LIC.
Admitting that the banking system had failed to meet the public’s high expectations, Mr. Goyal said bankers had failed to live up to the high standards and ethics expected of them. He also said the government will back all the state-run banks with enough capital.
While PSBs had faced political interference in the past, Mr. Goyal said under the present government no minister was interfering in the operational matters of lenders.
A day after accepting the Sunil Mehta panel recommendation to set up an asset management company to resolve smaller loan defaults of up to ₹500 crore, Mr. Goyal said liquidation can’t be the panacea for all NPAs as there are genuine business failures which need to be resolved.
Lenders propose to revive Jet Airways by management change: Sources
New Delhi: Lenders, led by the SBI, are trying to revive debt-laden Jet Airways by change in management as they feel collapse of the airline will not be good for consumers and competition, a source said after the SBI chief met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday.
With Jet flying just about a third of its fleet, defaulting on interest payments and delaying salaries to pilot, State Bank of India Chairman Rajnish Kumar along with Aviation Secretary Pradip Singh Kharola and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Nripendra Misra met Jaitley Wednesday afternoon.
Kumar said the meeting was to apprise the government, which is an important stakeholder, about the happenings in what was once India’s second-biggest airline, and not to discuss a bailout package.
He, however, emphatically stated that it was in the interest of the lenders and consumers to keep Jet Airways flying, and dragging the debt-ridden firm under bankruptcy proceedings is the last option.
Jet Airways has a debt of over Rs 8,200 crore and needs to make repayments of up to Rs 1,700 crore by the end of March. In case the airline collapses, 23,000 jobs would be at stake.
Though Kumar refused to share details of the lenders’ resolution plan, the source said that the lenders have proposed to change the management of the beleaguered air carrier as they feel it is not possible to run the company with present management. Jet Airways is headed by Naresh Goyal, who currently holds 51 per cent stake.
Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways has 24 per cent. There were media reports that Etihad has approached the SBI to purchase its 24 per cent stake in the airline. On getting a new player in Jet Airways, Kumar said, “No possibility is ruled out”.
“The dialogue with Etihad is on. It is not that they have conclusively decided that they will go out. But there are certain conditions which they want to be fulfilled and it is nothing but that the airline should be professionally managed and without any interference,” he said.
Lenders of Jet Airways have been working on a resolution plan for last five months and it is almost ready, Kumar said, adding “We will make every effort to keep Jet Airways flying and in no manner it is a bailout for any individual or any promoter whatsoever”.
The SBI chief said that resolution of a service industry, like airline, is nearly impossible under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and is the last option.
“IBC means that we are grounding the airline. We will keep trying till such time we believe that all hope is lost. But as on date, I can say that not all hope is lost. We have not reached that decision point where we say enough is enough and nothing can be done,” Kumar said.
Chairman of the country’s largest bank said that the government is the most important stakeholder and it is the duty of the lenders to keep the government informed.
“It is in the lender’s Interest, the country’s interest, the aviation sector’s interest that Jet Airways continues to fly,” Kumar added. The pilots union of Jet Airways had on Tuesday threatened to stop flying from April 1 if their salaries are not paid by March 31.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said only 41 aircraft of the Jet Airways were currently available for operation and there may be “further attrition” of flights “in coming weeks”. 41 aircraft is just one-third of Jet’s fleet of 119 planes.
Sebi asks exchanges dealing in agri-commodity derivatives to create fund for farmers
New Delhi: Sebi on Wednesday asked the exchanges dealing with agri-commodity derivatives to create a fund for farmers and FPOs in which the regulatory fee forgone by the regulator would be deposited.
Besides, it has issued framework including action plan and guiding principles for the utilisation of fund. In September last year, the regulator had decided to levy a nominal fee of Rs 1 lakh per exchange instead of levying charges based on turnover slab rates and proposed to set up a fund with the fee foregone by it.
Sebi on Wednesday said, “it has been decided that the stock exchanges dealing with agricultural commodity derivatives shall create a separate fund earmarked for the benefit of farmers/FPOs (farmers producer organisations) in which the regulatory fee forgone by Sebi shall be deposited.”
For the fund, Sebi said the exchange needs to draw an action plan for full utilisation of foregone fee in any financial year to be utilised during the succeeding financial year. Such action plan shall be drawn up by the 10th of April of the year in which the fund has to be utilised, it added.
The exchanges would be required to disseminate the details of the action plan on their websites under intimation to Sebi.
The earmarked fund shall not be clubbed with any other funds such as Investor Protection Fund, Investor Services Fund, and Corporate Social Responsibility Funds, Sebi said.
Factors like waiver or subsidy in warehousing charges, reimbursement of cost of bags provided to farmers and FPOs for deposits on exchange platform, and subsidising of broker fee for farmers, amongothers, should be considered by exchanges for preparing action plan.
Telecom subscriber base crosses 120 cr; Jio, BSNL, Airtel add customers
New Delhi: The country’s telecom subscriber base for the third time crossed 120-crore mark with Reliance Jio, BSNL and Airtel adding new customers in January, according to a report released by telecom regulator Trai.
“The number of telephone subscribers in India increased from 1,197.87 million at the end of December 2018 to 1,203.77 million at the end of January 2019, thereby showing a monthly growth rate of 0.49 per cent,” the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said in monthly subscriber report for January 2019.
Earlier, the subscriber base crossed the 120-crore mark in July 2017 and May 2018. The mobile customer base grew to 118 crore in January from 117 crore in December.
The wireline connection in the country slid to 2.17 crore in January from 2.18 crore in December. Reliance Jio dominated growth by adding over 93 lakh new mobile customers.
State-run telecom firm BSNL followed Jio by adding 9.82 lakh mobile subscribers. Bharti Airtel returned to growth track, after losing mobile customer in December, by adding over 1 lakh new customers.
The net increase of telecom subscriber in January was 59 lakh, compared to over 1 crore subscribers added by the three players. However, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices jointly lost close to 44 lakh mobile customers.
The country’s biggest telecom operator Vodafone Idea lost 35.8 lakh mobile customers, Tata Teleservices 8.4 lakh and state-run MTNL 4,927 mobile customers. The wireline connections declined mainly because of BSNL losing 90 thousand connections.
Private operators Bharti Airtel and Vodafone added 29,930 and 6,386 connections. Broadband connections in the country grew 4.15 per cent to 54 crore in January from 51.8 crore in December.
The mobile devices-based broadband connections accounted for over 96 per cent of total base with over 52.1 crore subscribers while wireline connections reached 1.82 crore.
Top-five service providers constituted 98.63 per cent market share of the total broadband subscribers at the end of January.
Reliance Jio led the market with 28.94 crore broadband subscribers. It was followed by Bharti Airtel with 11 crore connections, Vodafone Idea 10.98 crore, BSNL 2 crore and and Tata Teleservices Group 22.6 lakh connections.
BSNL maintained lead in the wireline broadband segment with 91.7 lakh connection. It was followed by Airtel with 23 lakh connections, Atria Convergence 14 lakh, Hathway Cable & Datacom 7.9 connection and MTNL 7.7 lakh connections.