Finance ministry flays rating agencies for creating crisis

Crisil in its report on Wednesday said the health of lenders to the power sector is under scrutiny, given the rising stress in the sector. “These lenders, including Indian banks, Power Finance Corporation, and Rural Electrification Corporation—have so far shown resilient performance, but urgently need strong policy actions to reform the sector, if they are to maintain their health,” it had said

New Delhi: The government on Thursday took strong exception to reports by rating agencies on bank finance to the power sector and the downgrading of State Bank of India (SBI), saying such reports are ‘uncalled for’ and ‘create a crisis of confidence’, reports PTI.

“How did they reach the figure of Rs56,000 crore. I don’t find reasons for saying.... these kinds of unsubstantiated reports create a crisis of confidence and which is something uncalled for,” Department of Financial Services secretary DK Mittal said.

On Wednesday a Crisil report had said that Rs56,000 crore loans given by banks and financial institutions to the power sector are potentially at risk.

Commenting on the report, Mr Mittal said the finance ministry strongly objects to these kinds of reports at a time when economy is passing through a crucial phase.

“They are (Crisil top honchos) are coming to meet us tomorrow and we are going to take it up with them,” he said.

All funding that has been done is supported by the government guarantees. So, does it mean questioning government guarantee? There are no loans without guarantees, he said, adding, “If there is a loan and there is a guarantee of the Government of India that is the sovereign guarantee.”

Crisil in its report said the health of lenders to the power sector is under scrutiny, given the rising stress in the sector. “These lenders, including Indian banks, Power Finance Corporation, and Rural Electrification Corporation—have so far shown resilient performance, but urgently need strong policy actions to reform the sector, if they are to maintain their health,” it had said.

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Ashok Chawla is new CCI chairman

A Gujarat-cadre IAS bureaucrat of 1973 batch, Ashok Chawla retired as finance secretary on 31st January. He was heading a committee on allocation, pricing and utilisation of natural resources till recently

New Delhi: Former finance secretary Ashok Chawla Friday sworn in as new chairman of the Competition Commission of India (CCI), filling up the key post that was lying vacant for over four months, reports PTI.

Mr Chawla was sworn in by corporate affairs minister Veerappa Moily in the presence of members of the CCI and MCA officials.

When asked about his mandate after taking charge, Mr Chawla said, “It is difficult for me to prioritise any matter right now as I am yet to take a stock of the Commission.”

Last week, the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) approved the appointment of Mr Chawla as head of the anti-trust body—Competition Commission of India.

Other contenders for the post were Anurag Goel, a member in the Commission, and Vijay Sharma, former secretary in the environment and forests ministry.

The appointment assumes significance as after 1st June, all high-value merger and acquisition (M&A) deals have come under the CCI purview.

A Gujarat-cadre IAS bureaucrat of 1973 batch, Mr Chawla retired as finance secretary on 31st January. He was heading a committee on allocation, pricing and utilisation of natural resources till recently.

The Commission was established in 2003 to replace the erstwhile Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission. Dhanendra Kumar was appointed its first chairman in February 2009 and his term ended on 5th June this year.

The commission draws its power from the Competition Act, 2002, to keep check on unfair practices including M&As that abuse dominant position by market players.

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Pesky calls: Tele-marketers outdo government

“You know that people are very smart now they are using the Internet to send such messages. Now, we do not have any control on the Internet. We have no jurisdiction over it. We do not even know who the person is... at the moment I do not have any solution...,” telecom minister Kapil Sibal told the media

New Delhi: Smart tele-marketers have outsmarted the government machinery by resorting to Internet-based SMSes and call services on which regulators have no control, reports PTI.

Telecom minister Kapil Sibal expressed his helplessness in controlling such Internet-based pesky calls but claimed that such communication has reduced significantly.

Replying to a question why users are still receiving such messages and calls from the Internet, he said, “Well, you know that people are very smart now they are using the Internet to send such messages. Now, we do not have any control on the Internet.”

“The Internet is a difficult thing to regulate because the server may be somewhere outside the country, you may put your calls or message through that server how will we deal with that server. We have no jurisdiction over it. We do not even know who the person is... at the moment I do not have any solution...,” he said while addressing the Economic Editors Conference here.

On the issue of restricting SMSes to 100 per day per SIM, the minister said he got representations from a few young persons from Mumbai and also from private employers and expressed concerns.

“...I conveyed that to the chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) that some people have complained. I think we have to evolve... TRAI will have to evolve this policy in the context of the experience of users. So I am sure TRAI will look at it,” he said.

It is in TRAI’s jurisdiction to look at it and come to (conclusion), Sibal said. He added that there are some glitches in the implementation of regulations and “I am sure TRAI will look into this.”

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