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DoT seeks Niti Aayog’s views on BSNL-MTNL 4G spectrum proposals

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New Delhi: The department of telecom (DoT) has sought government think ta­nk Niti Aayog’s views on the 4G spectrum allocation proposals of it PSUs — BSNL and MTNL — th­at can cost the exchequer about Rs 13,000 crore.

The DoT proposal ba­s­ed on the individual board DPRs (detailed projects re­p­orts) of BSNL and MT­NL — both declared incipient sick PSUs by the dep­a­rtment of public enterp­r­ises — seeks to allocate 4G spectrum to them to ma­tch private competition and be in the fray amid cut-throat competition. Go­­v­ernment owned entities do not participate in auction but they match the highest bid for the band they seek to buy.

An internal DoT note said a draft cabinet note after taking approval of the minister has been sent to various ministries and the Niti Aayog for inter-ministerial consultations.

 

Usually ministry views are sought while preparing a cabinet note but to broadbase the consultations, the DoT has also wr­i­tten to the consulting arm of the government on this. If it supports the DoT proposal, rhe Niti Aayog’s entry at the consultation stage, could mean it will suggest some revival mea­s­u­res to these two loss-making PSUs and how can they utilise funds.

The Aayog has made its presence felt in some of the previous major gover­nm­ent schemes like MSP hike for farmers where it had suggested three worka­ble models and in the Ay­u­shman Bharat healthca­re, in which it had recomm­­ended a new model to in­volve private companies in providing healthcare se­r­­vices as part of the sch­e­me.

Surprisingly, the think ta­nk has not given any roadmap so far for BSNL, which reported a loss of Rs 4,786 crore in 2016-17 and cut down its loss by ju­st Rs 1 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 4,785 crore while its inc­o­me stood at Rs 32,411 cr­ore (FY16), Rs 31,533 crore (FY17) and Rs 27,818 crore (FY18) . MT­NL, the other state-run te­lecom firm, reported a loss of Rs 2,971 crore in FY18. This was against a similar amount in FY17 and Rs 2,006 crore in FY16.

For MTNL, the Aayog, in May this year, suggested hiving off its towers into a separate company and sel­l­i­ng it off. But it did not pr­o­pose any outright stake sale due to presence of hu­ge premium real estates.

While BSNL has sou­ght Rs 6,652 crore as equity infusion from the gover­n­ment to fund its spect­r­um purchase worth about Rs 13,885 crore, MTNL has requested the government to grant it 4G spectrum in lieu of equity worth around Rs 6,500-7,000 crore and extend its mobile licence which is expiring in 2019 till 2021.


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RBI needs to ensure stability: Shaktikanta Das

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New Delhi: The head of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said he would take the steps necessary to maintain financial stability in the country and help create favourable conditions for growth.

India’s economy has grown because of measures such as the nationwide goods and services tax and the insolvency and bankruptcy code that prevents wilful defaulters from bidding for stressed assets, Shaktikanta Das said in his address to an investor roundtable.

The country’s growth story is backed by its strong domestic fundamentals, he said, citing lower inflation.

 

Annual retail inflation rate dropped to an 18-month low of 2.19 per cent in December, strengthening the views of some economists that the central bank could ease monetary policy next month.

India’s top business groups on Thursday urged the central bank to cut its benchmark interest rate by at least half a percentage point and lower the cash reserve ratio it imposes on banks.

The country also needs to watch out for any sudden turbulence in the gloal financial market, Das said.

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Centre removes two PNB executive directors for lapses in Rs 13,500-cr fraud

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Chennai:The Central government has removed two Punjab National Bank (PNB) Executive Directors — Sanjiv Sharan and K.Veera Brahmaji Rao — for the lapses in the Rs 13,500 crore fraud allegedly perpetrated by absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi.

The PNB has intimated the action to the stock exchanges.

“We welcome the Central government’s action to dismiss the two Executive Directors. The scam of such proportions could not have happened without the knowledge of the top management,” C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA), told IANS.

 

“Perhaps for the first time, the Centra has removed the Executive Directors of a nationalised bank under the Nationalised Banks (Management and Miscellaneous Provision) Scheme, 1970. All these days it was said the top management of government-owned banks — Chairman, Managing Director, Executive Directors — are governed only by the contract of appointment.

“It is also good that the central government has followed the due process of giving the two PNB Executive Directors opportunity to put forth their views before dismissing them,” Venkatachalam added.

According to the Central government’s notification, on July 3, 2018, Sharan and Rao were issued a show cause notice as to why they could not be removed from office for having failed to exercise proper control over the functioning of PNB, thus enabling the fraud through the misuse of SWIFT at the bank’s Brady House branch in Mumbai.

After considering Sharan and Rao’s replies and the comments of the bank’s Board, the Centre removed them from office as it found it was expedient in the interests of PNB.

According to the notification, the dismissal of Rao is subject to the outcome of a plea in the Delhi High Court.

“We are happy to see some action being taken. Whether it is only the two Executive Directors and other officials are also involved in the scam has to be probed in full,” Venkatachalam said.

According to him, in the past, low-level officers would have been the scapegoats for such massive scams.

“With the action taken on the top management, people will be satisfied that public sector bank officials are answerable for their lapses,” Venkatachalam added.

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In this new world, data is the new wealth: Ambani

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Mumbai: Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps against ‘data colonisation’, specially by global corporations, stating that Indian data must be owned by Indians.

Invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s movement against political colonisation, Ambani said India now needs a new movement against data colonisation.

“Gandhiji led India’s movement against political colonisation. Today, we have to collectively launch a new movement against data colonisation,” he said Gandhinagar at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit.

 

Stressing that, in this new world, data is the new wealth, Ambani said, “India’s data must be controlled and owned by Indian people and not by corporate, especially global corporations.”

He further said, “For India to succeed in this data driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India. In other words, give Indian wealth back to every Indian.”

Stating that the “entire world has come to recognise” Modi “as a man of action”, Ambani said, “Honorable Prime Minister, am sure you will make this one of the principal goals of your digital India mission.”

Later in the day, countering Ambani’s call, Governor – Commonwealth of Kentucky, Matthew Griswold, asked Modi “to think in the opposite” in order to realise the tremendous opportunity that lies in Indo-US partnership.

“Honorable prime minister you have been asked from this stage to think about limiting the amount of competition, limiting the exchange of ideas, information and goods. I would encourage you to think in the opposite,” he said.

While stating that it is important to put the people of India first, Griswold said, “It is also important to put their opportunity and our opportunity as citizens of the world to trade with one another and exchange ideas because iron sharpens iron.”

The greatest possibility comes from the exchange of these idea, he added.

“If we can cut the regulations, cut the bureaucracy, cut the red tape, the opportunity is enormous between our nations,” he added that India is now the 10th largest trading partner for the US and “climbing quickly”.

“The opportunity before us between India and the United States is incredible, but responsibility falls on each of one us, those of us in elected positions, those of you in the industry, those of you who represent various constituencies, we have much work to do…we must do this, ” Griswold said.

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