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Petrol and diesel prices set to break all-time high levels

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New Delhi: Consumers may have to burn a larger hole in their pockets to keep their vehicles running as retail prices of petrol and diesel are set to hit all-time high levels all over again soon. Rising oil prices and the reluctance on the part of the government to cut taxes are two factors responsible for the certain spike in auto fuel prices.
Retail price of petrol in Delhi is Rs 76.61 a litre now. Going by the price rise of up to 20 paisa per day over the last week, petrol would breach record high level of Rs 78.43, touched on May 29, in about 10 days.
Diesel is within the sniffing distance of all-time high of Rs 69.31 a litre, again recorded on May 29. Diesel is retailing at Rs 68.61 a litre in Delhi.
Uncertainty in global oil markets has increased post US sanctions on Iran and call for its strict compliance by president Donald Trump. The price of benchmark Brent crude was hovering over $75 a barrel, while the Indian basket was just a tad lower at $73 a barrel last month.
“But prices are rising now with expectation that it could even breach $100 a barrel post-November 24 when energy sanctions on Iran kick in. This could take petrol and diesel prices to new highs with the auto fuel even breaching Rs 100 a litre mark,” said an oil sector analyst, who did not wish to be named as he was still completing his calculations.
The government’s reluctance to cut excise duty on petrol and diesel has become a bigger worry for auto fuel consumers. This has made retail prices higher even with lower levels of crude oil prices.
Petrol breached its previous all-time high level recorded on September 14, 2013 (when it stood at Rs 76.06 a litre in Delhi) in May this year when crude oil prices were around $80 a barrel. Interestingly, crude oil was at $109.47 a barrel level in September 2013.
With crude reaching closer to $100 a barrel mark soon, retail price of petrol, which has already reached Rs 84.33 a litre in Mumbai, would easily cross Rs 100 a litre mark, making history.
“This is insane as the government is letting consumers suffer even though it has pocketed higher revenue from the sector with the understanding that this will come to their rescue when oil prices rise. If this is not the right time for excise duty cut on petrol and diesel, then one fails to understand what would be one,” said a former oil secretary asking not to be named.
The government’s fiscal concerns have prevented any duty cuts on petrol and diesel. With rising inflation and slowing factory output, revenue from the oil sector is key for the centre and states. This is also probably the reason why petroleum products have yet not been included in GST.
Prices of petrol and diesel rose to all-time high levels in the last week of May this year after oil companies resumed daily price hikes of the two products post Karnataka assembly elections. During elections, oil marketing companies kept petrol and diesel prices untouched for a record 19 days.
The daily increase in petrol and diesel prices again is higher now as OMCs are regularly holding the price line for few days under government instructions to prevent a public backlash.
Even though crude oil prices are rising again, they are still well off the highs of September 2013, when retail prices were at all-time highs. At that time, the price of the Indian basket of crude oil had shot up to $110 per barrel, almost 44 per cent more than what it is today.
“The need of the hour is to immediately cut excise duty on petrol and diesel not by mere Rs 2 per litre as was done on October 3, but to provide full relief to consumers by effecting a Rs 4 per litre cut in duties. This would rob the government of over Rs 50,000 crore in revenue but would save the country from higher inflation and demand squeeze,” said another oil sector expert who wished not to be named.
As per government estimates, India’s import bill could rise by up to $50 billion, impacting the current account deficit severely, if the present surge in oil is maintained. This would take oil import bill to about $140 billion in FY19, up from $88 billion in FY18.
The expectation for continuation of higher oil price this year has gained ground due a series of global developments, including continuing production cut by Opec and Russia, and forthcoming public offer proposed by world’s largest oil producer Saudi Aramco.


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India can’t achieve 9-10 per cent GDP growth without agri-revolution: Kant

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New Delhi: India cannot achieve 9-10 per cent GDP growth without revolution in the farm sector, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said.


Addressing Mahindra Samriddhi Agri awards, he said there is a need to boost investment in the agriculture sector as well as to introduce new technology and market reforms.


Kant also stressed on scrapping Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee and some old laws like Essential Commodites Act, which restrict movement of farm produces.

 


However, he said agriculture is a state subject and the central government has limited role in it.


“In India 50 per cent of our population is dependent on agriculture. If India’s GDP has to grow at 9-10 per cent for the next 30 years, then it cannot be without bringing revolution in the agri sector,” Kant said.


He also emphasised on eliminating middlemen in marketing of farm produces to boost farmers’ income.


Kant expressed confidence that farmer income will be doubled by 2022.
He said there is a need to spread good agriculture practice and success stories of farmers across the country.


“The second revolution in agriculture will come from technology and marketing,” Kant said.


Pawan Goenka, Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd,, said: “The contribution made by our farming community is a manifestation of this new age of farming which we celebrate through our annual awards”.


As part of Mahindra Agri Village (MAV) programme, he said the company has worked closely with more than 50 villages.


“Our Prerna initative has empowered nearly 2,000 women farmers over 40 villages, through the introduction of gender-neutral farm tools for reducing farm drudgery, and dissemination of knowledge and essential capabilities,” Goenka said.


Mahindra Samriddhi Krishi Shiromani Samman (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2019 was conferred upon E A Siddiq for his immense contribution to Indian agriculture. The award was handed over to recognise his contribution of enhancing productivity of paddy (Both Basmati & Non Basmati).


The group gave awards in total 11 categories.

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Mukesh Ambani bails out Anil in Ericsson payout case day before SC deadline

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Mumbai: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani stepped in to bail out younger brother Anil Ambani by helping him repay Reliance Communications’ (RCom’s) dues to Ericsson. The last-minute rescue spares the younger Ambani a three-month jail term for contempt of court.


RCom cleared the entire dues to Ericsson India to purge the contempt of a Supreme Court order. The debt-ridden company had already paid Rs 118 crore of the Rs 550-crore dues. In addition, the company had paid around Rs 3 crore in penalties to Ericsson.


“My sincere and heartfelt thanks to my respected elder brother, Mukesh, and Nita for standing by me during these trying times and demonstrating the importance of staying true to our strong family values by extending this timely support,” said Anil Ambani in a media statement. RCom had time until Tuesday to make the payment, failing which Anil Ambani, its chairman, would have had to serve a three-month jail term, according to the court’s order.

 
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Probing Amazon, Flipkart for alleged violation of foreign exchange law: ED

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi : Investigation has been initiated against e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart for alleged violation of foreign exchange law, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Monday informed the Delhi High Court.


A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani noted the submissions of the ED that a case has been registered under provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) against the two companies and disposed of a PIL which has alleged that the e-commerce giants were violating foreign direct investment (FDI) norms.


The court had earlier sought response of the central government, Amazon and Flipkart to the plea which has sought a probe into the alleged FDI violations.

 


The ED, in its reply filed through central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, has said the “department has already registered and initiated investigation under the provisions of FEMA against the two companies to ascertain whether they have been contravening any provisions of FEMA or contravening any rule, regulations, notification, direction or order issued in exercise of the powers under FEMA….”
The agency also sought dismissal of the petition.


The petition by an NGO, Telecom Watchdog, also asked for initiation of legal proceedings against the two e-commerce companies under the FEMA for alleged violation and circumvention of FDI norms.


The plea, filed through advocate Pranav Sachdeva, has claimed that Amazon and Flipkart have created multiple entities to circumvent the FDI norms and route the hot-selling stock at cheaper rates.


The petition has contended that according to Press Note 3 of 2016, which regulates FDI in e-commerce, entities like Amazon and Flipkart are not to exercise ownership over stock, nor directly or indirectly influence price of goods and services sold on their marketplace.


It claimed that by creating name lending companies, Amazon and Flipkart buy branded goods in bulk at discounts from manufacturers and render small sellers uncompetitive by a wide margin, thus influencing the prices in violation of the FDI norms.


“As a consequence of this FDI norms violation, smaller sellers are unable to participate in the fast growing e-commerce sector,” the plea has contended, adding that due to subsidised prices on such platforms, small sellers are unable to sell in the brick-n-mortar world too.


Besides, the plea has also claimed that the two e-commerce firms have created several other group companies in the chain to divide discounts and losses.


“Exchange offers, EMI costs and bank offers are funded completely or substantially by Amazon and Flipkart and constitute a clear influence on price in violation of FDI norms,” it has alleged.

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