Citizens' Issues
Delhi government spent Rs.22.33 crore on ads, HC told
The Delhi government on Monday told the Delhi High Court that since the May 13 order of the Supreme Court ruling that taxpayers' money cannot be spent to build the image of political leaders, it has spent Rs.22.33 crore on advertisements related to its policies.
 
Filing an affidavit before a division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath, Delhi government counsel Raman Duggal denied the allegation that huge amounts were being spent on advertisements glorifying Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Aarty (AAP).
 
The government said it was spending Rs.8 crore per month on advertisements to spread "awareness about government policies, programmes, activities, achievements, services and initiatives amongst the public since the public has a right to such information".
 
The bench had earlier asked the Kejriwal government to file a status report with details of money spent by it on advertisements following the Supreme Court direction.
 
The affidavit of the Delhi government said the total budget for Delhi was Rs.40,000 crore, out of which Rs.523 crore was earmarked for information and publicity -- which comes to 1.518 percent.
 
From the date of the Supreme Court judgement, a sum of Rs.22,33,24,659 has been spent on print, electronic media as well as outdoor publicity, which works out to approximately Rs.8 crore per month, which was a "very meagre amount" compared to the budget of Rs.523 crore.
 
The city government's response came on a bunch of PILs, including a plea by Congress leader Ajay Maken, seeking restraint on advertisements allegedly glorifying Kejriwal and the AAP.
 
Maken, who heads the Delhi unit of the Congress, also sought direction to restrain the Delhi government from publishing Kejriwal's name in any of its current or future advertisements.
 
The plea said the act of the government was contrary to the ruling of the Supreme Court which called the development of personality cult of political functionaries at the cost of public money as an "antithesis to democracy".
 
The court posted the matter for August 5.
 
Meanwhile, another bench of the high court also sought the Delhi government's response on a similar plea by August 6.

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Over Rs.350 crore recovered from RIL for gas output shortfall
The government has recovered over a quarter of the penalty imposed on Reliance Industries Ltd for shortfall in gas production from the RIL consortium-operated KG basin fields in the eastern offshore, parliament was told on Monday
 
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told the Lok Sabha in a written reply that of the more than Rs.1,200 crore additional profit petroleum due from RIL, his ministry has recovered over Rs.350 crore.
 
"As a result of disallowance of a portion of contract cost,,contract is liable to pay additional profit petroleum of,$195.34 million (Rs.1,211.1 crore) to the government for the period up to the year 2013-14," Pradhan said.
 
He said that as per the mechanism for recovery, state-run GAIL has "despited Rs.367.86 crore towards the additional profit petroleum with Government of India till June 2015".
 
"Government has directed GAIL on March 2, 2015 to deposit the amount being credited to the gas pool account maintained by GAIL with effect from November 1, 2014, to the government's exchequer towards the additional profit petroleum of $195.34 million due and payable by the contractor," he added.
 
The government has effected recovery of the additional profit by disallowing the RIL consortium an increase in the new domestic gas price announced last November.
 
RIL has initiated arbitration against the government for the penalty imposed on the company, disputing the grounds of fall in output.
 
The arbitration is about allegedly failing to meet output targets from the Reliance-led consortium's specific offshore blocks. The government wanted the company to make good this shortfall vis-a-vis the terms of contract.
 
In response to another question, Pradhan said the foreign direct investment (FDI) in the petroleum and natural gas sector witnessed an almost 10-fold rise in 2014-15 as compared to the preceding fiscal, touching Rs.6,473.22 crore.
 
"There is highest investment in exploration and production of oil and natural gas, followed by refineries and marketing including pipelines network and LNG re-gasification infrastructure," the minister said.
 
In the petroleum sector, 100 percent FDI is allowed in exploration and production, refining by the private companies and marketing of petroleum products.

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Government does not intend curbing RBI powers: Official
A day before the Reserve Bank of India's scheduled monetary policy review, the government on Monday clarified it was not trying to curtail the central bank's powers on this issue.
 
"We are in discussion with RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on the form and manner of the monetary policy committee," Finance Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi told reporters here.
 
Noting out that the draft Indian Financial Code (IFC) is still under the government's consideration, he said it was incorrect to conclude on the basis of the draft bill that the government was trying to curtail the RBI's autonomy.
 
"The government's views will be revealed at the time of presentation of the draft Indian Financial Code Bill," he said.
 
The draft IFC, circulated last month as a discussion paper, proposes to remove the RBI governor's veto right in the monetary policy committee.
 
Besides taking away the RBI governor's authority to veto interest rate decisions, the draft also proposed that the monetary policy committee would have four representatives of the government and only three from the central bank, including the RBI "chairperson".
 
American research firm Moody's Analytics, in a report on Thursday, warned against the NDA government's moves to tamper with the autonomy of the Reserve Bank of India in deciding on interest rates, as being potentially damaging for the economy.
 
In the original draft, the RBI "chairperson" had power to "supersede the decision" of the committee in "exceptional and unusual circumstances".
 
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley last week said the government will decide on the draft IFC only after comments from stakeholders.
 
"Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission has made its recommendations, which have been made public for comments. Only after the comments are received that the government will take a view," he said.
 
Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha also told reporters here on last week that the government will consult the RBI before taking a decision on the formation of the monetary policy committee.
 
Jaitley, in his February budget, had announced a monetary policy committee pact earlier with the RBI that will reduce the governor's power to act alone.
 
However in May, Jaitley backtracked, withdrawing from the Finance Bill the clauses pertaining to setting up of a public debt management agency (PDMA) and the amendments to the RBI Act that would have taken away its powers to regulate government securities.
 
The United Forum of Reserve Bank Officers Employees had earlier written to MPs and various chief ministers that the changes, if implemented, would cripple the functions of the central bank. It said the proposed changes would curtail the authority of the RBI and render it totally ineffective in discharging its responsibilities on monetary policy, financial stability and targeting inflation.

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

2 years ago

Again, as in the land bill, Modi govt had taken on more than it could handle. The BJP govt should realize that it has lost the trust of the people, political and ordinary citizens, with its poorly thought out policies. Now the govt will have to assure the stakeholders that it is not doing the bidding of a few industrialists but is working for the country at large. What a shame that the goodwill is being squandered by the current govt.

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