The RBI has directed that with effect from 1 April 2012, banks should not make payments against cheques, drafts, pay orders or banker’s cheques if they are presented after the period of three months from date of issue
New Delhi: Come 1st April and cheques and bank drafts will be valid only for three months, a development that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) thinks will help mitigate frauds related to such instruments, reports PTI.
The RBI has directed that with effect from 1 April 2012, banks should not make payments against cheques, drafts, pay orders or banker’s cheques if they are presented after the period of three months from date of issue.
It has been brought to its notice by the government that some persons were taking undue advantage of the six month validity of cheques, drafts, pay orders, banker’s cheques by circulating them like cash for this period, the RBI had said in a notification earlier.
According to a senior banker, the three-month validity period is a good enough time for instrument conciliation.
It was reported to the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau that some persons are taking undue advantage of the practice of banks of making payment of cheques or draft presented within a period of six months from the date of the instrument as these instruments are being circulated in the market like cash for six months.
“RBI is satisfied that in public interest and in the interest of the banking policy, it is necessary to reduce the period within which cheques/drafts/pay orders/banker’s cheques are presented for payment from six months to three months from the date of such instrument,” it had said.
Audi will start selling the car from June this year
German luxury carmaker Audi has launched its sports car TT in India, priced at Rs48.36 lakh (ex-showroom). The company will start selling the car from June this year and it will be sold as a completely built unit (CBU).
“We are already a major player in the premium sports segment and I am confident that the introduction of the Audi TT will further help us consolidate our leadership position in the sports car segment in the country,” Audi India head Michael Perschke told PTI.
The company has announced the price taking into consideration of the 15% hike in customs duty in the Budget for 2012-13, he added.
“As this segment is a very niche one, so we are not expecting a very large volume. The total size of this premium sports car market is 200-250 units per year. As we will start despatching the car in the middle of this year, we are hopeful of selling 25-35 units in 2012,” Mr Perschke said.
The company is expecting to sell over 50 units of the TT Coupe in the next year, he added.
The company is present in the premium sports car category with models like R8, R8 Spyder and RS5. The new TT is powered by a 2.0 TFSI engine that can touch a speed of 100 km per hour in just 5.6 seconds.
Early this week, Audi India has raised prices of its entire range of products in India by up to 14% due to hike in excise and customs duties in the Budget. In February this year, the company's sales in India increased by 33.33% to 600 units from 450 units in the same month last year. The company had earlier announced a sales target of 8,000 units for India for 2012 compared to 5,511 units that it had sold in 2011.
Audi India, a part of the European auto major Volkswagen Group, sells various models in India such as premium sedans A4, A6 and A8, sports utility vehicles Q5 and Q7, and sports cars RS5 Coupe, R8 and R8 Spyder.
State-run telecom giant BSNL was unable to report a single new subscriber in February. Unless, those in power stop its deterioration, the once undisputed king of telecom sector will be sold out or die unnatural death sooner than later
I still remember the days when one had to wait years to get a telephone, LPG connection or even the ‘Hamara Bajaj’. However, supportive policy changes and the desire to move ahead prompted both Bajaj and LPG providers to reach higher levels in their business. On the other hand, telephone service provider, especially, state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL), are still living on their past glory and may succumb to outside pressures.
In fact, in February, BSNL could not even report a single new subscriber in its mobile telephony business, while MTNL just managed to get 39,000 new users, says a release from Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). It still is good news for MTNL because during February last year, it added just 23,000 new subscribers. There are others like STel and Etisalat, who also scored a big zero in February, which is not surprising as their licenses have been cancelled and they do not wish to apply for new ones. But for BSNL, this kind of performance raises a big question on its survival. In the numbers game, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone and Idea are already ahead of BSNL in mobile segment.
It must be noted that there still are some people who are eager to get hold of all the properties and machineries of the state-run telco at any cost. In the past, many people, including top corporates and politicians along with some top officials have tried, but could not grab BSNL. There were even talks about listing BSNL on the stock exchanges, but in 2010, the Department of Telecom (DoT) clarified that unless the financial performance of the telecom major improves, it cannot be listed. Over the years the ‘system’ has successfully 'restricted' and cut the wings of BSNL so that it can either be sold out or left to die an ‘unnatural’ death.
Just last month, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a case against former officials of BSNL and a private company for illegally awarding leased service area (LSA) contracts for wi-max services in six telecom circles. The officials from BSNL include its former chairman and managing director, Kuldeep Goyal, RK Aggarwal, Pradeep Nagpal and Anil Kumar. Rajesh Kumar and S Manoharan, both directors of Kolkata-based Starnet Communication have also been charged.
Here is how the interested parties are playing their games. Before the third generation (3G) and broadband and wireless auction (BWA) it was agreed that both BSNL and MTNL would have to pay similar charges as per the winning bids. After the auction, BSNL got a bill of Rs18,500 crore, while MTNL got for Rs11,098 crore. For FY2010-11, BSNL’s losses widened to Rs5,997 crore from Rs1,823 crore in the year-ago period.
But that’s not all. An independent report by IndiaSpend, a non-profit alternative journalism initiative, said, “…like state-owned Air-India, BSNL too appears to be in terminal decline with sales shrinking at an alarming pace and costs, including a staggering employee bill, still rising.”
Similar to other public sector units (PSUs), BSNL is also facing huge costs on employee salaries and other benefits. As of end-March 2011, the state run telecom company had staff of 2.25 lakh and 56,113 executives. On the other hand, Vodafone, the most successfully running telecom operator in India had about 84,000 employees, while Reliance Communications employs around 28,000 people. This explains why BSNL continues to make losses, year after year. The biggest chunk from revenues it earns is being spent on employees. That too when they rarely show any interest either in running or promoting BSNL’s business or services.
A few days back, I visited one of the offices of BSNL for making an enquiry. The scene there was of a typical ‘sarkari’ office. I was told to visit another office as my enquiry did not fall within their purview. So I went to the other office, about 2-3 km away from the first one I visited. The scene in this office was ‘sarkari’ as well as; more like a 'ladies club'. There were 5-6 women employees busy discussing shopping and family issues. The lone male employee had no other option but to listen. The person Mr X (the in-charge of that wing) I was supposed to meet was not in office. I waited for 10 minutes and nobody even bothered to ask me why I was there. Finally, I took the initiative and asked where Mr X was and when he would be back. I received standard answer, they don't know.
BSNL has not kept itself updated with the world, in fact they seems to have kept themselves insulated from the rest of the world. A majority of its employees are past their prime, there is no (or less) young blood, no new ideas in the organisation. In addition, I doubt if they have even heard the word “customer service”. Even the security guards in BSNL speak as if they are doing a great service to you, the common customer. And they had plenty of them (the subscribers), so one less (if you decide to leave) does not make any difference in their salaries.
Now let’s see the numbers. According to a latest report from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), in wireless segment, including GSM, CDMA and fixed wireless phones (FWP), private operators hold 88.56% market share while both state-run BSNL and MTNL hold just 11.4% together, as of January 2012. In the wireline (telephone) segment, BSNL holds 70.2% market share followed by MTNL at 10.7% and Bharti Airtel at 10.1%. Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communications hold 4.4% and 3.9% share, respectively in the wireline telephone business. As of January end, there were 3.23 crore subscribers across the country who use wireline phone services.
In the broadband service segment, again BSNL with its wide network, reach and last mile connectivity, is the leader with 64.6% market share with 86.8 lakh subscribers. Bharti Airtel holds 10.1% in broadband services, while MTNL and other service providers hold 7.6% and 17.6% market share, respectively, the report from TRAI said.
While there is no doubt that both BSNL and MTNL offer cheapest services in terms of price, in wireline, mobile and broadband, majority of their subscribers face issues all the time. You will not find a single subscriber who will say that he gets good signal strength, clear voice and reception on either BSNL or MTNL networks. No wonder, several subscribers from MTNL moved to other operators like Vodafone, Idea and Bharti Airtel as soon as the mobile number portability (MNP) started.
In an open market environment, I really have no sympathy for BSNL or MTNL. But their mere presence makes other operators to behave or be subscriber friendly. Both, BSNL and MTNL have the last mile connectivity and power to offer cheaper tariffs for their services. In addition, both the companies have been funded, time and again, with your and my (the taxpayer’s) money. There are many ways, the telecom giant can become the king again, provided the rulers take some harsh decisions, like reducing unnecessary employees and asking it to improve service quality and fend for itself, instead of asking funds from the public exchequer.