Arunendra Kumar is the new chairman of Railway Board

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet cleared Arunendra Kumar’s name for the post of Railway Board chairman

Ending a three-month wait and intense lobbying for the crucial post, the Railways on Wednesday appointed Arunendra Kumar as chairman of Railway Board.


Kumar, the member for mechanical on the Board, was holding additional charge as chairman of the Railway Board after retirement of Vinay Mittal on 30th June.


The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) had cleared Kumar’s name for the post of Board chairman and a formal order to this effect was signed by Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge.


However, after becoming chairman, Kumar will still hold the charge of member mechanical (MM) for some time as a decision for selecting the new incumbent for the post is yet to be taken.


The final selection of the chairman's post witnessed intense lobbying and infighting among the aspirants in Railways.


There were several representations from aspirants to the railway minister and finally the ACC took the decision on the basis of recommendations of Kharge after getting CVC clearance.


Appointments at higher posts in the Railways are in focus, particularly after the alleged cash-for-job scam unearthed by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in May.


Member for Staff Mahesh Kumar was arrested by the CBI for allegedly trying to become Member Electrical by giving a bribe.


Kumar was later suspended by the Railways and the post of Member Staff has been lying vacant since then.


Currently, the Railway Board is facing a peculiar situation with as many as three vacant posts waiting to be filled up. The posts of Member Mechanical, Member Staff and Financial Commissioner have been lying vacant for months and a decision has to be taken by the authorities.


Besides, nine posts of general managers are also vacant and 15 to 20 divisional railway managers (DRMs) are due for replacement.


Bajaj Auto Q2 net profit up to Rs837 crore on better op margins

Despite selling fewer vehicles, the company reported a profitable quarter with net profit and sales both increasing as it focuses more on high margin business

Bajaj Auto Ltd, the country’s second largest two-wheeler maker reported a 13% higher net profit during the second quarter on robust operating margins. The company claimed that this is its highest ever net profit earned during a quarter.

For the quarter to end-September, the Bajaj group company said its net profit rose to Rs837 crore from Rs741 crore while total revenues, including sales, increased to Rs5,062 crore from Rs4,817 crore, same quarter last year. Its operating profit stood at 20% during the second quarter.

According to the automaker, its operating margins are nearly three times the average operating margins of the auto industry and nearly double the operating margins of the nearest competitor.

The results were driven by improvement in international business, favourable rupee, focus on higher margin products and variable cost structure to weather downturns. It said, 75% of its total revenues are generated by business verticals which operate on EBITDA margins in excess of 20%. Bajaj Auto operates on an essentially variable cost structure. Fixed cost, including depreciation, interest and even employee cost, is under 8%. Bajaj Auto declared an all-time high operating EBITDA margin of 23.1% in Q2FY14 as against 18.7% in Q2FY13.

The company sold 8% fewer vehicles at 9.61 lakh units during the quarter when compared to a higher 10.5 lakh units for the September 2012 quarter.

As on 30th June 2013, surplus cash and cash equivalents stood at Rs6,391 crore.

On Tuesday, Bajaj Auto closed marginally down at Rs2,124 on the BSE, while the 30-share benchmark also ended marginally lower at 20,547.


FinMin asks other ministries, departments not to buy tickets from agents

All ministries and departments are asked to avoid using service of travel agents to book tickets unless in exceptional condition

The Finance Ministry has asked all ministries and departments to buy air tickets directly from Air India counters or the official web site of the state-run carrier to save on payment of commission to agents.


In a circular, it said, “All Ministries/Departments are again advised that, as far as possible, air tickets on government account may be obtained directly from Air India/Airlines (booking counters/offices/website)”.


However, it said, if it is not possible to obtain tickets directly from Air India or Airlines counters, they may obtain the services of three authorised travel agents — Balmer Lawrie & Company, Ashok Travels & Tours and Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corp (IRCTC).


The state-run travel agents are allowed to levy facilitation fee of Rs100 per ticket for domestic sector and Rs300 per ticket for international sector to book tickets on behalf of the government.


Earlier, the Ministry had asked all the government departments not to pay agency commission or charges to Balmer Lawrie & Company in their bills till a final decision is taken in the matter, it said.


The move is part of the government’s austerity measure to restrict the fiscal deficit to the budgeted figure of 4.8% of GDP in 2013-14.


The Finance Ministry had earlier also directed that the size of delegations going abroad should be kept at “absolute minimum”.


The government has been employing austerity measures since 2008-09. These measures had helped the Government contain the fiscal deficit at 4.9% of GDP in the previous financial year, against the budgeted target of 5.1%.


The government has also put a freeze on fresh appointments, banning holding of its conferences in 5-star hotels and barring officials from executive class air travel so as to check fiscal deficit from going out of control.


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