Companies & Sectors
BSNL to invest Rs.6,000 crore for 40,000 Wi-Fi hotspots: Chairman
State-run telecom service provider Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will invest Rs.6,000 crore over the next three years to set up some 40,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, its chairman-cum-managing director Anupam Shrivastava has said.
"We are now thinking of rolling out wi-fi hotspot through capital expenditure model also. We are in the process of having our tender ready. We will be floating our tender and put our own equipment. We will be doing everything," Shrivastava told IANS in an interview.
"We have a targeted to have 40,000 wi-fi hotspots in course of next three years. We will be investing Rs.6,000 crore for that," he said, adding: "For our initiative with the private sector, we have set a target of 250 locations in 2015-16 with 2,500 hotspots."
A Wi-Fi hotspot offers clients access to the Internet over a wireless local area network.
The company has already rolled out Wi-Fi hotspots in 70-75 locations in the country. But these have not been fully deployed by BSNL. The state-run firm has roped in private players for the majority of the work.
"When we did an analysis of BSNL, we found that we neither have 4G licence nor the money to buy spectrum. Yet we knew that 4G will be the in-thing for the future generation. We also realised that our biggest strength is the landline structure that we have," Shrivastava said.
"But we have optical fibre network almost to the tune of 700,000 kilometres countrywide. The natural thing that comes to us is to utilise these resources. Then we found wi-fi is the new technology that is coming and taking on 4G area," he added.
"So Wi-Fi became our obvious choice."
The chairman explained that earlier the company was not investing on wi-fi roll-out and opting, instead, for a revenue sharing model with private players. 
"We floated expression of interest through which we asked private parties to install the wi-fi hotspots, maintain it for five years and manage the sales and marketing functions as well. We at BSNL provide the back-haul connectivity through optic fibre -- at 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps," he said.
The ballpark investment to construct five wi-fi hotspots in one place is around Rs.10 lakh.
Shrivastava also expressed optimism that capital employed on wi-fi operations will be realised soon. "But for that, we have to reach certain threshold. The moment we complete this year's target of 250 locations, the revenue stream will start ploughing the investments back."
Talking about BSNL's inherent strengths, notably as a landline service, Shrivastava said in the next two-three years even rural exchanges will become next generation network NGN) exchanges.


At latest count, Haryana's ambitious expressway falls back by 9 years
The silver lining is that the cost of the project is being brought down by Rs.183 crore (nearly $29 million) from its original estimated cost of Rs 1,863 crore
Intended to free the national capital New Delhi from traffic congestion, an ambitious 136-km expressway project in Haryana is unlikely to be completed even nine years beyond its original deadline.
The construction work of the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) expressway, which has courted controversies ever since it was allotted in January 2006, has now been given a new deadline - August 2018.
But the silver lining is that the cost of the project is being brought down by Rs.183 crore (nearly $29 million) from its original estimated cost of Rs 1,863 crore.
"The project involves the construction of a six-lane expressway, instead of the earlier proposed four-lane road. The project cost would come to Rs 1,680 crore, which is less than the estimated project cost of Rs.1,863 crore," Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) managing director Vineet Garg told IANS.
The original deadline for the KMP expressway was July 2009 but the project got mired in controversies and litigation with deadlines being continuously extended.
The project, touted to help ease traffic flow, especially of heavy vehicles, through New Delhi, has itself been crawling for the past over six years. It will pass through five districts in Haryana - Sonipat, Jhajjar, Gurgaon, Mewat and Palwal.
The significance of the expressway is that it will not only connect four major national highways (NHs) - NH-1 (Delhi-Ambala-Amritsar), NH-2 (Delhi-Agra-Varanasi-Dankuni), NH-8 (Delhi-Jaipur-Ahmedabad-Mumbai) and NH-10 (Delhi-Hisar-Fazilka-Indo-Pak border), but will significantly reduce the traffic from north Indian states to central, western and southen India and vice versa.
The Haryana government, under Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, had earlier this year decided to re-allot the work after this was halted due to acquisition issues and litigation.
"The company which had been awarded the work of KMP Expressway has been halting the project for long," Khattar had said earlier.
The Manesar-Palwal section of the expressway is likely to be completed by January 2016 while the Kundli-Manesar section is likely to be completed by August 2018.
The earlier concessionaire, KMP Expressway Limited, failed to complete the work even up to December 2014, despite warnings from the Haryana government.
The Supreme Court had on January 30 directed the state government to award the contract to a new concessionaire. Thereafter, the agreement of KMP Expressway Limited was terminated on March 19.
The previous Congress government of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, which had launched the project, had claimed that "work on the expressway was going on a war footing".
"The matter got into litigation and was pending before the Supreme Court, leading to delays," Hooda told IANS.


RBI’s master circulars, frequent notifications unsettling NBFCs
Just when companies have started to settle down with the revised framework, the master circular issued by RBI on 1 July 2015 has confused them again
For several years now, RBI has been issuing master circulars covering non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) on 1st July every year, consolidating all the regulatory amendments for ease of reference. The master circular comes with a sunset clause and is being issued every year. Usually, the process of issuing the master circulars is that they are a mere consolidation of all RBI notifications and circulars issued since the last master circular. Users do not have to hence go searching for various circulars that may have come during the year.
However, this year, the master circulars for NBFCs bring about some key changes. Either it is due to the major overhaul in the regulatory framework that happened via the regulatory pronouncements on 27 March 2015 or something else, master circulars have come out twice or thrice, affecting NBFCs badly. 
First of all, breaking from its tradition, the RBI issued master circulars for NBFCs on 11 June 2015 or before 1st July. Then the master circulars were issued as usual on 1 July 2015. However, on 6 July 2015, some “corrected” versions of master circulars were released.
The most significant change introduced by way of master circular is with regard to aggregation of assets of all NBFCs in the group to determine whether they are systematically important or not. The provisions with regard to multiple NBFCs and aggregation of assets were introduced in the circular introducing revised regulatory framework  issued on 10 November 2014 (November Framework). This was, however given a miss in the final framework introduced on 27 March 2015 (March Framework). 
The general understanding of the NBFCs was since the provisions on multiple NBFCs did not feature in the March Framework, it has been dropped by RBI. However, this now features in the master circular on Miscellaneous Instructions to all NBFCs issued on 1 July 2015. 
Before we get into decoding the implication of the changes that have been coyly or inadvertently introduced in the master circulars, it is pertinent to set the context on how the regulations have unfolded over the period. 

Transition to Revised Regulatory Framework 

The revised regulatory framework was a by-product of the recommendations of Usha Thorat Committee Report and the Nachiket More Committee Report. The revised framework was first circulated by way of the November Framework, which mentioned that the notifications detailing the November Framework will follow. 
The industry waited for good four months for the final notifications to be issued by RBI, to get clarity on what was to come by. The non-issuance of the final notification kept industry and practitioners guessing whether the November Framework was the regulation to be complied with. Or, was RBI to issue some notifications which will then have to be followed?
On 27 March 2015, RBI issued prudential norms for systematically important NBFCs and non-systematically important NBFCs apart from others. The notifications mentioned that they were applicable to the NBFCs with immediate effect, that is, from the date of issuance. This obviously meant that the companies had four days in hand to comply with the regulations. 
The initial view that came from the regulators and the market was that the circular (November Framework) was the notification itself. In fact, seemingly, the view was that there was no need for a notification to be issued at all, as the circular itself was the law!
Section 45L of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934 empowers the central bank to issue directions. Pursuant to this power, two set of directions were issued – one on 27 March 2015 and another on 10 April 2015. If such is the case, then in what way can we say that the circular dated 10th November was a direction? In any case, the last para of the November Framework stated –“The Notifications in this regard shall follow”.
Even if we were to disregard the dichotomy on the understanding of sanctity of the circular and the notification, the notification of March 2015 itself raised more questions. The first reaction on March 2015 notifications was also split. Whether the March Framework was to be read in line with the November Framework or was it to be read, as sacrosanct, ignoring the items that did not feature in the March 2015 notification or are the two to be read together. 
There is one more noteworthy thing that we found in the notification - the last line of the notification read as “It may be emphasised that the changes made vide above notifications/ amending notifications are only that corresponding to the circular”. 
To be on the safer side of the law, NBFCs decided to take heed of the November Framework notification as well, which most importantly meant compliance with corporate governance norms on adoption of fit and proper policy, signing of deed of covenants between the Directors and the company, obtaining disclosures from the Directors in the manner provided in the circular and the making quarterly disclosures with respect to the change in the composition of the Board of Directors of the Company.
Thereafter, the notification with regard to Corporate Governance was issued on 10 April 2015. 
Just around time, when companies had started to settle with the revised framework, the master circular issued by RBI on 1 July 2015 is quite unsettling.
Change is the only thing that should be permanent rest everything else is ephemeral. However, this philosophy does not go down well, especially when we talk about the regulatory regime governing the financial markets in the country. 

Multiple NBFCs issue


Para 29 of the master circular on miscellaneous instructions states that all NBFCs that are a part of corporate group and floated by a common set of promoters will not be viewed on standalone basis. The total assets of all the NBFCs in the group including deposit taking NBFCs will be aggregated to determine whether the NBFCs are systematically important or otherwise. The aggregate asset size will determine the regulations applicable on all NBFCs in the group.
For aggregation purposes, all NBFCs in the group are to be considered. The term ‘group’ is the same as provided for the in accounting standards. Para 5.4 of the Accounting Standard 21 on Consolidation provides for the definition of group as – 
5.4 A group is a parent and all its subsidiaries
Another master circular on miscellaneous instructions to Systemically Important non-deposit taking NBFC (NBFC-ND-SI) issued on 1 July 2015 has a para on Determination of NBFC-ND-SI states that – 
(i) Determination of NBFC – ND – SI
All NBFCs – ND with an asset size of Rs500 crore and more as per the last audited balance sheet will be considered as a systemically important NBFC – ND (NBFC-ND-SI).
There is no reference being made to multiple NBFCs in the master circular here. 
Further the definition of Systematically Important non-deposit taking non-banking financial companies as defined in the master circular on “Systemically Important Non-Banking Financial (Non-Deposit Accepting or Holding) Companies Prudential Norms (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2015” is as below:
‘Systemically important non-deposit taking non-banking financial company', means a non-banking financial company not accepting / holding public deposits and having total assets of Rs500 crore and above as shown in the last audited balance sheet’
Here again the definition of NBFC-ND-SI does not include multiple NBFCs or aggregation of assets for determining whether it is systematically important or not. 
It is difficult to decipher whether the provisions with regard to multiple NBFCs got erroneously consolidated in the miscellaneous instructions or the intent was to actually include the provisions.

Reporting requirements


Along with above change, the Master Circular on Returns to be submitted by NBFCs issued on 1 July 2015, also laid some addition quarterly filing requirement for all NBFCs-ND having an asset size between Rs50 to Rs100 crore and above Rs100 crore. The details to be provided in such return include the following:
a. Source and application of funds;
b. Profit and loss account;
c. Sectoral deployment of funds. 
The same is to be filed within 15 days of the month preceding the relevant quarter.  However, it is to be noted in this regard that the NBFC-ND having asset size of Rs100 crore or more are already required to file the above mentioned details on a monthly basis. 
Thus, NBFC-ND, having asset size of Rs100 crores or more are required to file the above mentioned details both quarterly and monthly. As evident there seems no logic for reporting details on a quarterly basis when the same is already subjected to monthly reporting, the same may be an error, which should be rectified/ clarified in near future. However, this will create enough confusion amongst the companies.
(Nidhi Bothra is executive vice president at Vinod Kothari Consultants Pvt Ltd).




1 year ago

In today’s larger context and broad national spectrum, if mindfully considered and delved into, in one’s individual well-founded altruistic perspective, no such proactive measures, such as in the form of ‘master circulars’ could be expected to work ; not to speak of wonders, and bring about any marked improvement. RBI as the semi regulatory authority has been obliged to come out with ‘frequent notifications’, certainly no more or less frequent than a parallel authority such as, SEBI has been doing lately, day-in-day-out. It is undeniable that is so, even granting but not conceding that despite all odds and lately developing/developed forces motivated and working against, the authority is still left with a few teeth, not barring the most important wisdom tooth, strong enough to bite into. Without going into the pros and cons of its consequences, intended or otherwise, the fait accompli is, and goes to bear on its sleeves, the reality that every one or all previous notifications have failed to pass muster, if not tragically failed, to change the world/ mindset of the section of the humanity determined to see to it that any improvement, howsoever devoutly aspired for, is negated and continue to remain a pipe dream, to the unfathomable end of the horizon.
Not without contextual relevance, tempted to invite attention to the following oft repeated words of wisdom, of a towering legal legend, in the person of no less stature than the fondly known ‘nani’ (Palkhivala), which sound valid any day in life history of humanity:
In the words of a great jurist, it is not permissible to enact a law (or a rule or regulation)which, in effect, spreads an all inclusive net for the feat of everybody upon the chance that, while the innocent will surely be entangled in its meshes, some wrong doers-doers also may be caught.
The moment of truth has arrived. The era of chicanery and dis-ingenuousness, of obfuscation and slogan-mongering, is over. Reality has at last overtaken us-shattering our illusions, exposing our outdated ideologies and leaving us with no option but to tread the path of pragmatism, in retreat from populism.
Time and again the Government has to make those hard decisions which are essential for the maintenance of order. The making of such decisions cannot be avoided by shifting the responsibility to the judiciary.
The hydra-headed bureaucracy of India contains some exceptionally able individuals, but they too get swallowed up by the system. Lord Curzon referred t the Indian administrative service as the strongest bureaucratic machine in the free world-so strong that even powerful viceroys found it difficult to correct or control it. The bureaucracy is impervious to all suggestions which come from outside sources. Their utter self-complacency resembles that of Mussolini who said, ‘Often I would like to be wrong, but so far it has not happened’.

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