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RBI accountable to government, says reserves panel chairman

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New Delhi: The Reserve Bank of India is accountable to the government and should make policies within the framework set by the government, according to a former central bank chief now heading a panel tasked with framing guidelines for the transfer of the RBI’s surplus funds to the government.

Bimal Jalan, the 77-year-old ex-bureaucrat, was appointed to chair the panel late last month, just weeks after a fierce row over central bank independence led to a change at the top of the RBI.

Having clashed with the government over policy issues for several months, Urjit Patel resigned as governor on Dec. 10, and was swiftly replaced by a former finance ministry official, Shaktikanta Das.

 

One of the most contentious issues between the RBI and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government was how much of the profit made from central bank’s trading in bonds and currencies should be transferred to the government, and how much should be retained to build up reserves.

Modi faces an election by May and his government is urgently seeking extra funds to finance populist measures like financial aid to farmers and tax cuts for small businesses and the middle class.

Speaking to Reuters, Jalan, who was the RBI’s governor between 1997 to 2003, declined to comment on his committee’s recommendations, but he set out his view on the relationship between the government and the central bank.

“The RBI is accountable to the government for executing the kind of monetary policy that has been announced,” Jalan said in his first interview since being appointed chairman of the six-member Expert Committee on Economic Capital Framework.

“There may be differences of views between the autonomous institution and the government. In this case, the government should take a larger view depending on what the political situation is, what is actually happening on the ground.

“On the other hand, the autonomous institution has to deliver the services that the government has approved as part of policy framework.”

Jalan went on to voice hope that differences with the government would be settled, now that the central bank was under new management.

“Now we have a new RBI governor who is from the government,” Jalan said. “I hope the RBI will work well under his leadership. Differences in views are fine, but these have to be resolved internally in the country’s interest.”

The RBI said it had no immediate comment on Jalan’s remarks.

Soon after taking office on Dec. 12, Das said he would consult more closely with the government on policy issues.

Under Das, the central bank is likely to transfer an interim dividend of 300-400 billion rupees ($4.32 billion-$5.8 billion) to the government by March, Reuters reported earlier this week citing three sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Das has also struck a dovish tone on prospects for inflation and the economy, hinting that the RBI might adopt a more growth-friendly monetary framework under his watch, as desired by the government.

The government also wants the RBI to release more liquidity to the shadow banking sector and relax its provisioning norms for banks.

Das has said the RBI was open to infusing “need-based” liquidity into the financial system, noting that the shadow banking sector was facing a funding crunch.


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Business

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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