Companies & Sectors
Delayed incentives for sugar export are useless

The government must dole out incentives at the earliest, else the farmer may be forced to reconsider if it is worthwhile for him to continue with producing sugarcane or go in for other crops

The Indian sugar industry has carried over a large stock of 85 lakh tonnes from the last season. With an estimated production of 245-250 lakh tonnes this season, coupled with a consumption of about 230 lakh tonnes in the domestic market, there is too much sugar around in the country. This needs to find a way to be exported!


In fact, not long ago, Rohit Shah, president of Bombay Sugar Merchants Association stated that the industry was heading towards a truly excessive glut situation, as the international market was also in similar shape. The sugar price has fallen down to a three year low of 15.13 US cents per pound! He is hoping that the government realise the seriousness of the situation and offer some subsidy for exports, to overcome the crisis.


The white refined sugar price was hovering around $450 a tonne, but has begun to fall and is currently trading within the range of $425 to $430 a tonne. Because of the increased production from Brazil, Thailand and India, sugar price may fall further.


It may be recalled that the government made a sensible move couple of years ago by making use of 5% ethanol for blending, so that the sugar mills can take this advantage and at the same time help reduce our oil bill. The ethanol requirement of Indian Oil (58.81 crore litres), Bharat Petroleum (38.19 crore litres) and Hindustan Petroleum (36.32 crore litres) for the year 2013-14 was covered when they called for a tender in July last year. Sadly, however, against this, bids were only received for 62 crore litres from the sugar mills, and these oil marketing companies carried four rounds of negotiations before arriving at a benchmark rate of Rs44 per litre! This looks like a cartel approach. Sugar mills, supplying ethanol, were probably helpless. Perhaps, it would be better if the regulator were to fix the price for ethanol which is fair to both sugar mills and OMCs.


Yet, these OMCs (oil marketing companies) have so far issued letter of intent (LoI) to procure only 24 crore litres of ethanol to cover the mandatory 5% blending programme. They are yet to place the orders, while the sugarcane crushing season had already begun in several states. Stocks are piling up all over the place!


It would be obvious that if timely procurement was planned and executed it could have helped the farmers just as it would have done to sugar mills, so that payments and settlement, easy movement of stocks could have been achieved. After all the representations made, food minister KV Thomas told the press that to promote raw sugar export, the government will give incentives for shipping out four million tonnes, covering two seasons, at the rate of Rs2,000 per tonne (though this has to be approved by the Cabinet). It appears that the mills had worked out an incentive need of Rs3,500 (based on the 3 year low price of 15.13 US cents per pound), while food ministry had arrived at Rs2,390. We do not know the basis for this. So, even this indication of Rs2,000 is not final and binding, and by the time, the rate is approved, chances are the international market may as well go down, instead of up, because of increased supplies from our other competitors!


The fact of the case is: against the production cost of Rs26,500 per tonne, export price of raw sugar ranges between Rs22,500 and Rs23,500, leading to the sugar industry asking for Rs3,500 as export subsidy. However, with the Indian rupee taking a beating in the international market, the foreign exchange realisation will vary. In the meantime, some of the mills have already exported both raw and while sugar to the tune of 5.7 lakh tonnes and one way for the government to come to the rescue of the industry is to seriously consider if they should raise the ethanol mix from 5% to 15% for blending.


They must also direct the OMCs to ensure that they must lift the quantity required from the sugar mills without delay (or have them delivered). Lifting should also be made obligatory, so that both the parties are bound to keep their side of the bargain!


If such moves are not taken quickly, the farmer may be forced to reconsider if it is worthwhile for him to continue with sugarcane or go in for other crops. Either way, it will affect the country and it is the responsibility of Ministry of Agriculture to act more efficiently and speedily on such matters.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)


FAQ about NSA’s interest in Angry Birds and other ‘leaky apps’

ProPublica lay out more from its story about how the NSA and its British counterpart have been scouring smartphone apps

As we detailed on Monday, documents show the NSA and its British counterpart have been probing advertiser data on smartphone apps, which can include your gender, income, and even whether you’re a “swinger.”

Do you have questions? Post them in comments or tweet us.

What’s new here?

This article reveals how U.S. and British spy agencies have sought to intercept the information transmitted by the games and other apps that users download onto their smartphones. Previous stories have detailed how U.S. and British spies have been intercepting massive quantities of cellphone text messages and gathering the location of cellphones around the world.

How does it work?

Many people don’t realize that when they use a smartphone app – to play a game or listen to music – the app may transmit information back to the app maker and may contain tracking technology placed by advertisers.

The spy agencies call these “leaky apps.” The spies collect information from among others, Google Maps, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo's Flickr, which in turn can transmit location, buddy lists, browsing history and more, according to a 2010 NSA document.

A 2010 Wall Street Journal survey of 101 iPhone and Android apps showed that the majority of apps were transmitting the phone’s unique ID – a type of serial number assigned to the device – and the user’s location to advertisers.

Since then, advertisers have been building even more detailed profiles of app users.

By using the phone’s identifier, advertisers can often monitor the user’s behavior in multiple apps and when the user browses the Web from their smartphone. Advertisers can tie the information together in a dossier that can include a user’s location, income and preferences such as sexual orientation and political leanings.

How does the NSA get it?

The agencies can pick up much of this information as it travels through private cellphone networks around the world. And because the data includes a tag from your phone, the agencies may have the ability to know who you are.

Does this mean the NSA is watching me while I play Angry Birds?

It’s not clear. The documents show that spies have collected data from Google’s AdMob, which is largest mobile advertising network and is one of many advertisers whose ads have appeared in Angry Birds.

The agencies say that even if they collect the data, they don’t look at it unless it is relevant to an investigation.

The NSA also says that it “minimizes”– or throws away - the data it intercepts from people who live in the United States. However, its minimization rules allow it to keep information about U.S. residents if it is deemed suspicious or could be relevant to an investigation.

Do they really know if I’m a “swinger”?

Documents show that analysts at GCHQ in 2012 studied the possibility of collecting traffic from Millennial Media, which included advertising profiles that identified users by ‘sexual orientation’ including the category of swingers.

However, it is unclear whether the data has been used for intelligence purposes.

It is also not clear what type of app usage or Web browsing behavior would lead Millennial Media to characterize someone as a swinger. Millennial declined our request for comment.

Can I stop leaky apps from sending out data about me?

No, but you can make it harder for advertisers to track you on your phone.

Apple’s latest iPhone software, iOS 7, offers two options to limit ad tracking.

  • In privacy settings, users can turn on “limit ad tracking,” which prevents apps from using the phone’s unique ID – which Apple calls an “Advertising Identifier” – to deliver targeted ads within apps. But this setting does not prevent apps from collecting your information.
  • In privacy settings, users can also reset their Advertising Identifier, which can make it more difficult but not impossible for advertisers to correlate the user’s behavior to the advertising profile associated with the old identifier.

Google’s Android also offers users two options to limit ad tracking.




Sensex, Nifty resist getting pulled down on RBI move: Tuesday closing report

Nifty was surprisingly resilient after the RBI move to raise rates but may meet with more selling after a slow rise

Against market’s anticipation of a policy of “no change”, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) surprised everyone by raising its main lending rate viz. the repo rate by 25 basis points to 8% in its quarterly review of monetary policy. Indian stock market which opened in the positive on Tuesday despite a weak US and Asian markets, crashed the moment the RBI announced a rate hike. NSE Nifty fell from 6150 to 6086 in two minutes when massive buying emerged pulling the market almost to the green. The indices closed in the negative for the third consecutive session.


BSE Sensex opened at 20,721 while Nifty opened at 6,132. Both the indices hit a high of 20,795 and 6,164, respectively. From where the straight plunge into the negative is where the indices hit the day’s low at 20,554 and 6,086. The Sensex closed at 20,684 (down 24 points or 0.12%), its lowest since 17 December 2013. The Nifty closed at 6,126 (down 10 points or 0.16%). The NSE recorded a volume of 61.69 crore shares.


Among the other indices on the NSE the top five gainers were Metal (1.86%); Realty (1.32%); Commodities (0.52%); FMCG (0.43%) and Auto (0.23%) while the top five losers were MNC (1.05%); IT (1.01%); Pharma (1%); Service (0.58%) and Consumption (0.34%).


Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 30 ended in the green. The top five gainers were Tata Steel (3.46%); Ranbaxy (2.68%); Sesa Sterlite (2.28%); Hindalco (2.21%) and Jaiprakash Associates (2.12%). The top five losers were Maruti (9.33%); Axis Bank (3.58%); Lupin (2.39%); Sun Pharma (2.34%) and Cipla (1.49%).


Of the 1,470 companies on the NSE, 706 companies closed in the green, 671 companies closed in the red while 93 companies closed flat.


The reverse repo rate under the LAF stands adjusted at 7% and the marginal standing facility rate and the Bank Rate at 9%, the RBI said. The central bank kept the cash reserve ratio of scheduled banks unchanged at 4% of net demand and time liability.


If policy actions succeed in delivering the desired inflation outcome, real GDP growth can be expected to firm up from a little below 5% in 2013-14 to a range of 5% to 6% in 2014-15, with risks balanced around the central estimate of 5.5%, the RBI said.


US indices closed in the negative on Monday. Sales of new single-family homes fell in December, but the whole of 2013 saw the highest sales level in five years, the US government reported Monday, 27 January 2014. Sales of new single-family homes dropped 7% in December due to harsh winter weather. The median price of new homes ticked up in December and for 2013, the median price hit $265,800, up 8.4% from the prior year, the strongest annual growth since 2005.


Asian indices had a mixed performance. Straits Times was the top gainer which rose 0.66% while Taiwan Weighted was the top loser which fell 1.58%.


Profit at China's industrial companies increased 6% in December from a year earlier, after rising 9.7% in the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics said today.


Thailand's manufacturing production decreased 6.2% in December from a year earlier, according to a report today, 28 January 2014.


European indices were trading in the green. In Turkey, the country's central bank said it will "take the necessary policy measures for price stability" at a meeting on Tuesday. The policy measures may show whether it could salvage the lira. US Futures were trading in the green.


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