The CAG report on allocation of coal blocks between 2004 and 2009 without auction is expected to peg the value of 'undue benefits' that the government extended to private entities alone at more than Rs1.8 lakh crore
New Delhi: The much awaited report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on allocation of coal blocks and GMR-run Delhi Airport will be tabled in Parliament during the current session, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Wednesday, reports PTI.
"The CAG reports were received in the Ministry of Finance on 11th, 12th and 13th May were Saturday (Sunday), so it was put up to the Finance Minister on 14th May and we approved sending of the reports to the President," he told reporters.
"The reports were sent on 16th May, it was received back from the office of the President on 26th May at 2:30 pm, by that time the House was in the process of being adjourned, therefore it was not laid on the table of the House at the end of the last session," he said.
On being asked whether these reports will be tabled in this session, "Yes", he said.
"This morning we have issued notice to both Lok Sabha (Lower House of Indian Parliament) and Rajya Sabha (Upper House) requesting the Speaker and the Chairman to fix a date to lay the reports on the table of both the houses simultaneously, once they give us a date we will lay all the three reports. There is no delay at all," he added.
The CAG report on allocation of coal blocks between 2004 and 2009 without auction is expected to peg the value of "undue benefits" that the government extended to private entities alone at more than Rs1.8 lakh crore.
The draft CAG report on coal allocation has alleged undue benefits of Rs15,849 crore to Reliance Power, by way of surplus coal allocation for two of its Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPPs).
The draft report pegs benefit to Reliance Power from surplus allocation for the Sasan UMPP at Rs4,875 crore.
CAG has found that Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), which operates the Delhi's airport in partnership with the Airports Authority of India, is losing vast amounts of revenue through under-utilisation of land granted to it at concessional rates.
The need of the hour is arriving at just and equitable solutions for the revival of viable borrowers when both the lenders and borrowers share losses in equal measure and not resort to one-upmanship
The present condition of sky-rocketing food prices driven hyperinflation goes way back to 2006 through 2008 following rapid-fire economic cycles of boom, recession and stimulus-driven revival bringing it now to sheer stagflation accentuated by total policy paralysis, utterly bad governance coupled with trust deficit at the national level.To blame the slowdown in the West and coalition compulsions at home is absolutely fallacious and ridiculous. The United Progressive Alliance’s (UPA) flawed policies are the root cause for the current malaise.
The so-called heady boom of that period gave a kick-start to the demand for risk equity capital when investment and merchant bankers had field day raising initial public offerings, follow-up on public offers, qualified institutional placements, private equity investments and foreign institutional investors that flooded eastwards from the Western financial markets consequent upon the Western meltdown. Our markets were deluged with funds of all hues and colours, legitimate and illegitimate irrespective of enterprise valuations (EVs) which invariably appeared many a times astronomical!
Following the post-Lehman crisis, beginning 2009 the markets lost their euphoria and sheen. Raising equity at high EVs became difficult and capital-intensive industries in engineering, procurement, reality, infrastructure and power had to go in for large-scale debt-funding via term borrowings from commercial banks and developmental finance institutions, increasingly present NBFCs and also external commercial borrowings.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), concerned with high inflation resorted to raising the key repo and reverse repo rates a record 13 times since March 2010 only to slow down now! This made debt servicing for the industries more expensive. Suffocated with high interest rates, defaults in interest and installments began to become the order of the day. The heady boom having come to an abrupt end, the focus has now shifted to numbers of bad loans or distressed assets as they are termed in the West.
This brought in an era of corporate debt restructuring (CDR), now denoted Greening of loans (!) It seeks to recognize impairment by allowing the reorganization of outstanding debt obligations by bringing about reductions in the burden of the mounting/compounding debts—lessening in the interest rates and rescheduling the installments by extending the term of repayment. This enables increase in the ability of the borrower to meet debt obligations by letting the lender waive in part or forgive or convert a part of debt into equity.
To prevent abuse by delinquent borrowers, the RBI-appointed Mahapatra Committee in its fairly comprehensive report, quoting best practices across the globe, has rightly stipulated that the CDR request be approved by at least 75% of total exposure and consent of 60% of the total creditors. As per the recommendations, the promoter-directors are mandatorily required to infuse 15% of their own additional equity upfront to enhance their personal stake in the restructuring exercise. To revive the entities it is absolutely imperative that both the lenders and borrowers sacrifice in equal measure. The promoter-directors cannot be allowed to walk away in gay abandon with the cream of past malpractices when the lenders have to bear the brunt of write-off burden. This avenue has been unfairly exploited by a private airline to get its massive debt converted into equity at inflated valuations by at least half a dozen large commercial banks! So much for implementing and enforcing the rule of the law by the banking and market regulators!
According to the CDR Cell, during fiscal 2012 banks have restructured Rs 64,500 crore—an increase of 156% over the previous year— when the banks filed 84 cases. This makes restructuring the highest since its launch in 2001. It has helped revive the macro-economic conditions for both the banks by promptly recognizing and providing for the impairment of their non-performing assets well in time. The borrowers are also able to reduce their interest and principal debt burdens by providing for sufficient breathing space to genuinely viable units to enable them to bring about a turnaround without having to resort to tedious DRT and court procedures or end in winding up proceedings.
The Hindu Business Line in a front page report said: “Wockhardt ready to exit debt recast process”. It reports that the company had first sought the CDR lifeline through ICICI Bank in 2009 when it defaulted on the $110 million FCCB (foreign currency convertible bond) that made worst its outstanding debts of Rs3,400 crore and Rs1,300cr under CDR. According to chairman Habil Khorakiwala all loans had been restructured and it would settle with the banks that do not want to continue with the CDR process. The company had to close a Rs1,600 crore deal to sell its nutrition business to Danone to repay the debts. It had already exited its non-core businesses as part of regaining financial health.
The Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) has sought the finance minister’s help in restructuring loans —out of total outstanding debts of the textile sector of Rs1,55,809 crore, debts of Rs35,000 crore needed restructuring. Its chairman has requested the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) and the Department of Financial Services to give directions for the restructuring move.
The CDR route for debt mitigation has also been found to be unfairly exploited by Kingfisher, a private airline, by getting a part of its massive debt to banks converted into equity at inflated valuations. So much for implementing and enforcing the rule of the law by the banking and market regulators!
The need of the hour is arriving at just and equitable solutions for the revival of viable borrowers when both the lenders and borrowers share losses in equal measure and not resort to one-upmanship—the borrower enjoying on misused/misapplied bank funds on the one hand and on the other, a vindictive lending bank seeking to squeeze the hapless borrower, more often than not small traders, SMEs, householders, vehicle loan or even a delinquent credit card defaulters who may have valid reasons and only seek additional time and concessions. There is no reason why the concessions are not extended to these small time borrowers where banks resort to extortionist recovery and attachment proceedings while dealing with big ticket chronic delinquent defaulters with kid gloves by bending backwards with concessions.
Rightly put by a veteran banker—when a small man owes a few thousands to a bank, he is in deep trouble but when a big tycoon has outstandings running into crores with the bank, it is the bank that faces the music!
(Nagesh Kini is a Mumbai based chartered accountant turned activist.)
Why couldn’t outgoing President Pratibha Patil follow the norms like other VVIPs and buy the gifts she received officially, instead of getting them loaned to her proposed museum?
Gifts which VVIPs including President of India receive during their official foreign tours are the property of the nation and are deposited in the government treasury called the Toshakhana. They can be purchased at market value by the VVIPs, if they so wish. In fact, according to the ministry of external affairs, “the total amount collected by the government by allowing retention of gifts by VVIPs during past three years and the current year is Rs62,000.” So, why couldn’t outgoing President Pratibha Patil follow the ministry’s norms and buy whichever gifts she received officially instead of having them free of cost?
The notification of the ministry of home affairs dated22 June 1978 does not mention anything about giving away such gifts on loans to the respective VVIPs. However, around 155 gift items which Pratibha Patil received during her tenure as President of India have now been ‘loaned’ to the collector of Amravati, where Ms Patil’s family trust is building a museum to showcase her political journey.
Earlier VVIPs which include presidents, vice-presidents and ministers, could retain gifts that they receive on foreign trips which are valued at Rs1,000 and that too can take home only one such gift in case they receive more than one on a particular tour. In an amendment made by the ministry of home affairs in 1999, the amount has been increased to Rs5,000 and the VVIP can purchase the gift item as per the market value of the “country of origin” over and above that amount. This means that the VVIP can retain any gift he or she receives during official tours abroad free of cost in case the value is Rs5,000 and below. However, if he or she wishes to possess any other gift which is beyond this amount then, he or she will have to pay the market price as valued by the ministry of external affairs.
In a written agreement signed between the Presidential Estate and the Collector of Amravati, the 155 gifts out of the 2,500 gifts that Pratibha Patil received in her tenure as the President of India, have been ‘loaned’ to her trust for a museum under-construction, in her hometown in Amravati, without any time frame for returning them to the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s ‘Toshakhana’ (treasury).
Ms Patil, who courted controversy and impropriety in terms of grabbing a sprawling 2,42,000 sq ft defence land for her luxurious post-retirement home in Pune (which she abandoned after a series of articles in Moneylife) and for having spent Rs200 crore on her foreign trips with an entourage of family members in practically every trip, is now all set for another bad precedence, where propriety too is being questioned.
As per the last notification of the ministry of home affairs dated 27 January 1999, “In regulation of the foreign contribution (acceptance or retention of gifts or presentation regulation 1978 in sub-regulation (1) the following proviso shall be inserted namely: provided that a minister my retain a gift or presentation made to him/her provided the value of the gift assessed under sub-regulation 5 does not exceed Rs5,000.” There is no mention of loaning out of these gifts to the individual after retirement which are received in the official capacity of the VVIP, on behalf of the entire nation.
The above reply was given in the Lok Sabha on 2 May 2012 by Praneet Kaur, minister of state in the ministry of external affairs (MEA), to a series of questions asked by Members of Parliament DB Chandre Gowde, Karnataka and Abdul Rahman, Tamil Nadu, in the Lok Sabha. The questions posed by these two MPs were:
While most of the information for the above questions are still being compiled, as stated by Ms Kaur in her reply: “the information is being compiled and will be laid on the Table of the House as soon as it is available and that, none of the gifts deposited in Toshakhana by the VVIPs was sold. The total amount collected by government by allowing retention of gifts by VVIPs during past three years and the current year is Rs 62,000.”
This writer has invoked the RTI (Right to Information) Act and sent off an application under Section 6 of the RTI Act to the Central Public Information Officer in the President of India’s office on 3rd August. While reply is awaited, I request each one of you who reads this article to independently send a similar RTI query which will ensure citizen pressure, enough to compel the CPIO to reveal the required information from the august office.
Central Public Information Officer
Shri Saurabh Vijay,
Central Public Information Officer
Telephones: 011-23015321 Extn: 4685(O)
Full name of the applicant:
Vinita Vishwas Deshmukh
123/8, Mira Society
Date: August 3, 2011
Subject matter of information:
President of India’s gift articles loaned for display
Details of information:
Period of information:
1990 to 2012
Whether information is required by post or in person:
By registered post at the above address
Simultaneously please scan and email all the certified documents at email@example.com.
Thanking you in advance and requesting you to send me the information as early as possible.
123/8, Mira Society
Rules when VVIPs receive gifts from abroad on official visits (ministry of home affairs notification, 22 June 1978)
Provided that in case where such person received such gift or presentation while he is visiting any foreign country or territory outside India such intimation may be made by him within 30 days from the date of his return of India.
2. Every gift or presentation received by such persons for any foreign source shall be deposited by him with the secretary to Government of India in a ministry or the department which has sponsored that delegation of which he was the member within 30 days from the date of intimation by him of such receipt under sub-regulation (2).
3. The secretary to the Government of India, referred to in sub-regulation 3 shall forward every such gift or presentation deposited with him to the Toshakhana in the ministry of external affairs for assessment of its market value in India.
4. Such assessment shall be made within 30 days from the date of receipt of the gift or presentation in the Toshakhana in accordance with the rules applicable, for the time being in force to the valuation of articles in the Toshakhana and such persons shall be intimated in writing of such assessment forthwith.
5. The assessment so made under sub-regulation 5 shall be final and shall not be called in question by such person.
6. Every such gift or presentation the market value in India of which as assessed under sub-regulation 5 does not exceed Rs1,000 (now it is Rs 5,000) shall be returned to such person for retention by him;
8. Every such gift or presentation the market value in India of which (now it is market value of the country of origin), as assessed under sub-regulation 5 exceeds Rs1,000 shall be retained in the Toshakhana;
Provided such person shall have the option that exercised by him within 30 days from the date of receipt by him of the intimation under sub-regulation 5 to purchase such gift or presentation on payment of the difference between the market value in India of such gift or presentation as assessed under sub-regulation 5 and Rs1,000 (now Rs5,000); provided further that the option once exercised under this sub-regulation SHALL be final.
(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)