The gains are likely to continue in the Indian market following positive signals from across the globe. Wall Street settled higher overnight as firm economic data increased risk appetite. Markets in the Asian region were trading in the green on speculations that consumer spending in the US will lead to growth in global economies. The SGX Nifty was 16.50 points up at 6,042 against its previous close of 6,025.50 on Thursday.
The market opened strong on Thursday on the back of supportive cues from across the globe with the key indices breaching their crucial levels on the bell. Mid-cap and small-cap stocks supported early gains. In the noon session, the indices gave up some gains and traded in a narrow range despite the Asian and European benchmarks trading with decent gains. Side-ways movement continued till the end of the session with no major triggers, except for the sharp fall in weekly inflation figures that failed to enthuse investors. The Sensex settled 142.70 points (0.72%) higher at 19,992.70, a tad below the 20,000 mark. The Nifty gained 50.80 points (0.85%) at 6,011.70, above its psychological level of 6,000.
The US markets settled in positive territory for the second day in a row as positive data kept pouring in. Pending sales of US existing houses jumped by a record 10% in October, which followed a 1.8% drop in September, the National Association of Realtors said. The number of applications for jobless benefits averaged 431,000 a week over the month ended 27th November, the lowest level since August 2008, Labor Department figures showed. Retail sales at chain stores rose 6% in November, above the estimated growth of 3.6% and the year-ago gain of 0.6%.
The Dow surged 106.63 points (0.95%) to 11,362.41. The S&P 500 added 15.46 points (1.28%) to 1,221.53. The Nasdaq rose 29.92 points (1.17%) to 2,579.35.
Buoyed by strong economic data from the US, markets in Asia were trading with gains in early trade on Friday. Investor sentiment also received a boost from the European Central Bank’s decision to keep interest rates unchanged at a record low of 1%.
The Shanghai Composite was up 0.08%, the Hang Seng gained 0.38%, the Jakarta Composite surged 0.54%, the KLSE Composite was up 0.18%, the Nikkei 225 gained 0.14%, the Straits Times rose 0.45%, the Seoul Composite advanced 0.09% and the Taiwan Weighted was up 0.61%. . The SGX Nifty was 16.50 points up at 6,042 against its previous close of 6,025.50 on Thursday.
The Supreme Court has upheld a 1998 notification of the Union government unshackling the country's sugar industry from ‘licence raj'.
A Bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra scrapped the Allahabad High Court order, agreeing with petitioner Bajaj Hindustan Ltd’s contention that it virtually forced the sugar industry back to ‘licence raj’ during which a sugar plant, in fact any industrial plant, had to be opened only with government’s prior permission, involving a lot of red tapism and often corruption.
New Delhi: The government has approved a 10% hike in price of natural gas that state-owned firms like Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) sell to consumers in non-priority sectors such as steel and petrochemicals, reports PTI.
"Effective 1st December, ONGC and Oil India Ltd (OIL) have been allowed to charge up to $5.25 per million British thermal unit (mmBtu) for 7-8 million standard cubic meters per day (mmscmd) of gas that is sold to non-power and non-fertilizer sector," a senior government official said.
The rates set would be excluding cess, transportation charge, marketing margin/service charge and taxes.
Natural gas produced by ONGC and OIL from fields given to them on nomination basis is sold at government controlled price, called APM (Administered Pricing Mechanism) rate.
The APM price for priority sectors like power and fertiliser was in June more than doubled to $4.2 per mmBtu, but users in other sectors continued get the fuel at 2005 price of up to $4.75 per mmBtu.
"The anomaly has now been corrected," the official said.
The decision would result in ONGC's revenues going up by about Rs200 crore annually.
As per the oil ministry order, consumers in western and northern part (states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and other states covered by GAIL's Hazira-Vijaipur-Jagdishpur and Dahej-Vijaipur pipeline such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi) will pay $5.25 per mmBtu.
Users in Rajasthan, south Gujarat and isolated customers in Gujarat, which are getting gas from identified onshore fields, would be charged $5 per mmBtu while the same in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh would pay $4.75 per mmBtu and $4.5 per mmBtu respectively. Consumers in North-East region would pay $4.2 per mmBtu.
The official said the government had in 2005 decided that APM gas will be sold only to power, fertilizer and small users. But some non-priority users not connected to any other source were allowed to continue using the gas subject to paying a market price.
So, users in western region paid $4.75 per mmBtu, a rate equivalent to the then prevalent price of gas from privately-operated Panna/Mukta and Tapti fields. Consumers on the east coast paid $4.3 per mmBtu, the same price as charged by Cairn India for gas from Ravva fields.
Naturally, these rates should have also been increased when Panna/Mukta and Tapti field gas price was revised to $5.73 per mmBtu. But this did not happen.
The government had from 1st June raised APM gas price for core consumers to $4.2 per mmBtu, at par with the rate at which Reliance Industries sells gas from its KG-D6 fields.
APM gas, prior to 1st June, was sold at Rs3,200 per thousand cubic metres or $1.79 per mmBtu.
In the absence of strong legal provisions, top bank officials are allowed to go unchallenged even as murky dealings and irregularities surface. Is the present system really so hapless in nabbing the white-collar culprits, or is it a case of conveniently sweeping the dirt under the carpet?
Openly flouting established guidelines, indulging in favouritism in awarding promotions and contracts, even accepting bribes for sanctioning big-ticket loans... these are just some of the irregularities that have emerged of late, with top honchos of some banks involved in a big way. Although this murky picture has come to the fore only recently, these practices have been going on for some time. The shocking fact is that the government appears ill-equipped to deal with this menace, allowing top honchos of banks and other institutions to run free. The reason for this ineptitude, sources tell us, is the alarming absence of a robust legal framework to nab the wrongdoers.
In an environment where ethics appear to have taken a backseat, it is bewildering to know that very little can be done to arrest this problem. The shocking instance of the Centre's inability to initiate proceedings against former Central Bank of India chairman and managing director H D Daruwala, accused of violating several guidelines, is indicative of the rot in the system.
Although the charges levelled against Ms Daruwala by a whistle-blower have been proved, she is hardly breaking any sweat, having since retired from her post. Apparently, the case was beyond the ambit of the finance ministry, as current provisions do not provide for disciplinary proceedings against CMDs of nationalised banks. Ms Daruwala only earned a mere displeasure note from the ministry for all her shenanigans, according to a report in The Times of India.
A communication from the ministry of finance (vigilance division), which Moneylife has access to, clearly states, "These provisions do not have any provision for initiation of disciplinary proceedings against CMDs and EDs, who are Presidential appointees, except removal from the service of the bank after following due procedure. In case an officer is found guilty of any misconduct and in the meantime he retires from the Board, Department has no option but to issue a 'displeasure' which may not serve any purpose." This has clearly exposed a gaping hole in the legal system as it stands today.
The case with the Central Bank of India CMD is not a one-off; there have been several other instances where bank heads have committed white-collar crimes, only to be let off without as much as a rap on the knuckles. Another top official from Punjab National Bank was also served a displeasure note for certain misdeeds, sources have informed us. But the real question here is, whether this is actually an inability stemming from a lack of legal recourse or a deliberate attempt to hide deep-rooted corruption from the public?
The ministry is apparently in the process of framing new rules and regulations that would be applicable to full-time board level appointees in all public sector enterprises. It is only now that the Centre is waking up to the increasing instances of irregularities in the top institutions of the country and trying to come up with tougher laws against corrupt officers. Even then, it is alarming how the rot has been allowed to take root. How is it that no legal action can be initiated against such high-ranking officials, who are dealing with public money every day?
Commenting on the existing legal provisions, Subhash Sawant, general secretary, Indian National Bank Employees' Federation said, "The present system allows corrupt high-level bank officials to go scot-free. There is absolutely nothing that can bring them to book. Up to the level of general manager, the particular bank's service regulations come into force, where provisions for disciplinary action are available. However, positions of CMD and executive director do not fall under these rules, as they are appointed by the president of India. Even if investigations are carried out, these officials escape during court proceedings, due to lacunae in the regulations. It is my firm opinion that these people be brought under the purview of some law."
Dr Anil K Khandelwal, former chairman, Bank of Baroda, confirmed that current provisions do not permit any action against the CMD. However, if a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry leads to a prosecution, then the court can hand out a punishment at its discretion. It was under these circumstances that former chairmen of UCO Bank and Indian Bank were booked several years ago.
CH Venkatachalam, general secretary, All India Bank Employees' Association, believes that more transparency is needed. "The chairman and executive directors are equally employees and pubic servants. If any guilt has been proved against them, there must be tougher provisions to prosecute them. These people are dealing with huge sums of money and are drawing salaries, at the same time taking money through some underhanded means. It is important that such high positions of power be made more transparent," he said.