Govt owes Rs110 crore to Air India for VVIP flights

 

The national carrier, which is facing financial crunch, has pending bills of 12 special flights for the president, the vice-president and the prime minister which amount to over Rs110 crore, a Right to Information reply from the carrier said

New Delhi: The government owes over Rs110 crore ($21.3 million) to cash-strapped Air India for its special flights which ferry VVIPs including the president and the prime minister on their visits abroad which it is trying hard to realise, reports PTI.

The national carrier, which is facing financial crunch, has pending bills of 12 special flights for the president, the vice-president and the prime minister which amount to over Rs110 crore, a Right to Information reply from the carrier said.

It said during July last year, the total outstanding bills were Rs291 crore ($56.4 million).

“Out of the above amount, recently the government has paid Rs181.30 crore ($35 million) leaving a balance outstanding amount of Rs110.60 crore,” the reply said.

The records show that two bills are pending with the defence ministry for the abroad travel of the president to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Damascus and Aleppo during 20-30 November 2010, which is Rs14.5 crore ($2.8mn) and another to Paro via Bagdogra which is Rs4.45 crore ($0.9 million). The bill to Paro, Bhutan is nearly three years old; the reply dated 28 December 2011 said.

Five bills worth Rs55.81 crore ($11million) are pending with the Cabinet Secretariat for the travel of the prime minister to Huahin, Thailand during 23-25 October 2009, to Paro, Bhutan during 27-30 April, to Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Hanoi during 23-30 October 2010, to Seoul during 9-12 November 2010 and to Brussels and Berlin during 8-12 December 2010.

The external affairs ministry which is responsible for organising the tours of the vice-president owes Rs35.79 crore ($7 million) towards the Air India for five tours abroad.

One outstanding bill for the travel of the vice-president to Male, Maldives is pending since November 2008. The total bill for this trip was Rs2.77 crore ($0.5 million) of which part payment was done leaving an outstanding of Rs39 lakh ($75,686).

The desperation of the Air India to recover the outstanding amount from the government is visible from a communication exchanged between the civil aviation ministry and Air India which has been accessed by PTI.

In an email on 8th July last year the then Air India executive director S Venkat wrote to the civil aviation ministry, “As you are aware our request for the Rs105 crore ($20 million) towards release of VVIP dues has been taken up by MoCA (ministry of civil aviation) with the ministry of finance and the file is presently pending with them for approval.

“Since we have to pay the oil companies on ‘cash and carry’ basis and due to liquidity crisis, we are unable to meet the commitments on a daily basis to them unless these amounts are paid.” 

He wanted MoCA to issue a letter on the same day, stating ministry has taken up VVIP dues for approval, which could be used for getting an advance of Rs105 crore against dues from Standard Chartered bank so that payment for oil companies can be made next morning.

But despite such a desperate cry for settlement of dues of VVIPs, the ministry replied, “these ministries have conveyed their inability to make the payments immediately due to paucity of funds in their current year budget allocations.” 

“As you are aware a similar constraint had been expressed by ministry of home affairs for making the payment towards VVIP operations and with the approval of ministry of finance, payment of Rs250 crore had been made by this ministry to Air India in June 2011,” it said.

The ministry said it had sought approval of the finance ministry for release of Rs105 crore from out of equity allocation of Rs1,200 crore available in this year’s budget which would be released as and when approval is received.

Soon after this communication, government had paid Rs181.30 crore leaving an outstanding of Rs110.60 crore.

 

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Buyback timeline cut to 34-44 days; may help disinvestment

As per the earlier norms, in case of buyback the company was required to accept the shares tendered by the shareholders in proportion to the shares tendered by the shareholder and not in proportion to the shares held

New Delhi: Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has reduced the timeline for completion of buyback of shares by companies to 34-44 days, a decision which could facilitate the government in getting closer to its ambitious disinvestment target of Rs40,000 crore for the current fiscal, reports PTI.

Earlier, the buyback process could take anywhere between 63 to 114 days.

These changes form a part of amendments made by the regulator in the SEBI (Buyback of Securities) Regulations, 1998. They have come into effect from 3rd January.

“The timeline for various activities involved in the buyback process have been revised which shall result in substantial reduction of time taken for completion of buyback,” SEBI had said while announcing the changes.

The government has fixed a mammoth Rs40,000 crore disinvestment target for the fiscal, but till date it has only managed to raise Rs1,145 crore by selling its shares in the Power Finance Corporation (PFC). The state-owned companies had to put their public issues on hold in view of volatile stock markets.

But with time running out to meet the target, the government has been exploring other routes, including the buyback mode, to raise funds through disinvestment.

Under the buyback mode, the government can raise money by selling its equity in the company to the PSU itself.

The Department of Disinvestment (DoD) has sought Cabinet approval to use the buyback mode for disinvestment. The government, however, could not take any decision due to inter-ministerial differences and the reluctance of PSUs to part with cash.

The DoD had also pointed out to the SEBI that the current buyback norms are not in line with the principle of equitable treatment to shareholders in the acceptance of shares through tender offer.

The regulator has also effected changes in buyback through tender offer.

As per the earlier norms, in case of buyback the company was required to accept the shares tendered by the shareholders in proportion to the shares tendered by the shareholder and not in proportion to the shares held.

However, this has been modified.

SEBI has also made changes in the ‘record date’ and requirement of public notice and public announcement norms in the buyback regulations.

 

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India Inc recovers 20% of market value lost in 2011

While markets have appreciated by only about 5% in the 10 days of trading so far in 2012, the total gain in valuation for this period stands at about Rs4 lakh crore

New Delhi: The New Year seems to have begun on a good note for India Inc in the stock market, as just 10 days of trading in 2012 has helped them recover one-fifth of the total loss suffered in its valuation during entire 2011, reports PTI.

It is the large corporate houses like Ambanis and financial conglomerates like ICICI and HDFC groups that are leading the gains in stock markets, after taking a huge beating in the previous year.

All listed companies together lost nearly Rs19.5 lakh crore worth valuation in 2011, when the stock market tanked by nearly 25% amid global headwinds.

While markets have appreciated by only about 5% in the 10 days of trading so far in 2012, the total gain in valuation for this period stands at about Rs4 lakh crore.

Out of this, 10 leading business houses together account for nearly one-fourth or over Rs1 lakh crore of the gain.

As per the BSE data, the cumulative market value of all listed firms in the country stands at Rs57,40,194 crore currently, as against Rs53,48,645 crore at the end of 2011.

The market benchmark Sensex has gained nearly 700 points or about 5% so far in 2012, after falling by more than 5,000 points during 2011.

The stock market data shows that market valuations have improved significantly for almost all the large corporate houses so far in 2012, barring a few like Bharti group, Infosys and HUL, and the experts are optimistic about a rebound on these counters as well.

Among the large business houses, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries group has gained over Rs13,000 crore in its valuation, while Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group has seen its market value surging by about Rs12,500 crore.

The net gain for Tatas is comparatively lower at about Rs8,000 crore, largely due to a sharp plunge of about Rs15,000 crore in the value of IT giant TCS.

Otherwise, only four Tata group firms—Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Power and Titan—have registered a gain of close to Rs20,000 crore in their cumulative valuation.

Financial services conglomerate HDFC group has gained Rs15,000 crore of valuation so far in 2012, while ICICI group has also added over Rs12,000 crore to its market value.

Aditya Birla group has gained about Rs5,000 crore, Adanis have added over Rs9,000 crore, L&T about Rs12,000 crore, ITC about Rs4,000 crore and Mahindras about Rs2,000 crore.

The Vijay Mallya-led UB group, whose shares were heavily battered in 2011 mostly because of debt troubles at Kingfisher Airlines, has also gained about Rs3,400 crore of value, which accounts for about 20% of gain.

In percentage terms, the gain is the highest for Anil Ambani Reliance group at about 25% among these business houses, while groups like ICICI, L&T and Adani have also gained over 10% each.

The Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta group has also gained about 10%, while Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance group has added about 6% to its valuation; HDFC group has gained about 8%, Mahindras about 3%, Birlas about 5% and Tatas about 2%.

Tatas are the country’s most valued group with a total valuation of close to Rs4 lakh crore, while other leading corporate houses include Reliance Industries group (Rs2.4 lakh crore), HDFC Group (Rs2.1 lakh crore), Vedanta (Rs1.7 lakh crore) and ITC (Rs1.6 lakh crore).

Most of these groups had lost heavily during 2011 and the continuing weak cues from global markets and on domestic economic front, marketmen are wary of some short-term headwinds across the market.

However, experts are generally optimistic about the longer-term gains across the market, including in the shares of those groups also that have already registered smart gains in the first two weeks of 2012.

 

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