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Modi’s assertion to help alleviate negative perception: India Inc

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertion that he was not afraid of being seen with industrialists playing a key role in India’s development is a shot in the arm for the industry at a time when it is dealing with a strong negative perception, India Inc said today.
“A much-needed vote of confidence at a time when only one unfortunate face of industry was being perceived…”, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra tweeted.
Industry chamber Ficci said it hails PM Modi’s recognition of the industry’s contribution in the country’s growth and his strong refusal to accept any ill-treatment to the industrialists just because a few of them have indulged in illegal activities.
“Along with the assurance to work closely with the industry, the Prime Minister’s strong message to the industrialists opting for illegal means to harm the nation and its economy that they will not be spared, will certainly help in removing any negative opinion in the public against industry in general, and will rejuvenate the private sector,” Ficci President Rashesh Shah said.
The prime minister has strengthened industry’s resolve to actively participate in the revival of the economy, he added.
“While there should be no leniency in dealing with the erring industrialists, the pre-dominant approach of the industrialists has always been to take a lead in nation-building. Reforms like IBC, RERA and GST, have shown that the government is keen to help industry in this objective,” Shah noted.
The prime minister has given a strong vote of confidence to industry and emphasised that industry plays a vital role in nation-building. This offers huge comfort to industry as it validates our efforts to invest, create jobs and contribute to development, CII President Rakesh Bharti Mittal said.
The prime minister in Lucknow yesterday said he was not afraid of being seen with industrialists playing a key role in the nation’s development as he slammed the opposition parties for the “mistakes” made during 70 years after India’s independence.
Attacking them for calling industrialists “chor and luterey”, Modi said that he did not hesitate in standing with the business community as his “intentions” are clear.
“We are not those who are scared of standing next to businessmen,” he said, adding like farmers, bankers, government employees and labourers, industrialists also contributed to the development of the country.
Modi’s retort came against the backdrop of the repeated attacks by the Congress, which has been alleging that the prime minister had links with “corrupt” industrialists and has been accusing him of neglecting the farmers and the underprivileged.


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Lenders propose to revive Jet Airways by management change: Sources

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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.

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Sebi asks exchanges dealing in agri-commodity derivatives to create fund for farmers

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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.

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Telecom subscriber base crosses 120 cr; Jio, BSNL, Airtel add customers

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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.

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