Govt unveils new trade policy aimed at boosting exports

India would be able to sustain 20% export growth in the current fiscal and to encourage exports the government had announced an interest subvention scheme which would give 2% interest subsidy to handlooms, handicrafts, carpets and SME sector

New Delhi: Amid global economic problems, the Indian government on Tuesday unveiled seven-point strategy to boost exports which include extension of interest subsidy scheme by one year till March 2013, reports PTI.

“We have now decided to extend the scheme (interest subvention) for another year till March 2013 and expand its coverage to include other labour-intensive sectors namely toys, sports goods, processed agricultural products and readymade garments”, commerce minister Anand Sharma said while releasing annual supplement to the Foreign Trade Policy in the capital.

“The underline philosophy of this year’s supplement is based on seven broad principles”, he said, adding these would include added thrust on employment-intensive industry and continuation of market diversification strategy.

The minister also exuded confidence that India would be able to sustain 20% export growth in the current fiscal. “It is our expectation that with these measures, we shall be able to sustain an annual export growth of 20% this fiscal,” he said.

India’s exports grew by 21% in 2011-12 to touch $303 billion.

To encourage exports, the government came out with an interest subvention scheme under which 2% interest subsidy was given to handlooms, handicrafts, carpets and SME sector.

The scheme, which has been extended by a year, was to end on March 2012.

The seven-pillars to boost exports, Mr Sharma said, would also include efforts to increase exports from the north-east region and provide incentive for manufacturing of green goods.

Besides, he said, there would be an “endeavour to reduce transaction cost through procedural simplification and reduction of human interface.”

Efforts, the minister said, would be made to promote technological upgradation of exports to retain a competitive edge in global markets and encourage domestic manufacturing for inputs to export industry, thus reducing dependence on imports.

On market diversification, Mr Sharma said, market-linked focus product scheme has been extended till the end of the current fiscal for exports to the US and European Union, in respect of apparel sector.

As regards the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), he said, “we will come out with new guidelines to make the operation of the SEZ policy more buoyant.”

Besides, the minister said the government would revamp the 100% Export Oriented Unit (EOU) scheme in the next few months.

In order to boost value-added exports and encourage technology upgradation, Mr Sharma said, the zero-duty EPCG (Export Promotion Credit Guarantee) scheme would be extended by an year to 31 March 2013.

The benefits under the scheme, he said, would also be available to those units which had taken benefits under the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS).

The EPCG scheme will also be available for those who had surrendered their benefits under the Status Holder Incentive Scrip (SHIS) scheme.

Following are the highlights of the supplementary annual Foreign Trade Policy:

* Government aiming 20% export growth in 2012-13
* 2% interest subsidy scheme extended till March 2013
* 0% duty EPCG scheme for technology up-gradation extended till March 2013
* Incentives for exports from north-eastern states
* Shipments from Delhi, Mumbai through post, courier or e-commerce to get export benefits
* Single revolving bank guarantee for different export deals
* Seven new markets added to Focus Market Scheme
* Market linked focus product scheme extended till March 2013 for apparel export to US and EU
* Ahmedabad, Kolhapur and Shaharanpur new Towns of Export Excellence
* Govt to come out with new guidelines to promote SEZs
* Focus on market diversification to continue
* Steps announced to reduce transaction cost of exports
* Foreign Trade Policy document made more user friendly
* 13 shows abroad to promote Brand India


Monsoon hits Kerala, finally

As of now the monsoonal flow is strong and Kerala and parts of South Karnataka will continue to get rains for the next two to three days

New Delhi: South-west monsoon, the key to the agriculture driven trillion-dollar Indian economy, on Tuesday brought showers to Kerala in South India bringing much-needed relief to farmers, reports PTI.

"Monsoon has reached Kerala," a top India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.

Kerala usually receives monsoon showers by 1st June, but scientists said there was no need to paint a gloomy picture as the progress of the seasonal rainfall phenomenon was well with the forecast limits which have a model error of four days.

"As of now the monsoonal flow is strong and Kerala and parts of South Karnataka will continue to get rains for the next two to three days," D Sivananda Pai, Director, National Climate Centre and lead forecaster for monsoon, told PTI.

Pai said conditions were favourable for further advance of monsoon.

Monsoon watchers attribute the slight delay in the onset of monsoon to Typhoon Mawar which was active in western Pacific Ocean off the Philippines and sucking away moisture and wind currents to power itself.

The IMD declares the onset of monsoon over Kerala when 50% of the 14 observation stations in the state and Lakshadweep islands report rainfall for 48 hours.

Monsoon rains are crucial for agriculture as only 40% of the cultivable area is under irrigation. The farm sector contributes about only 15% to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but it employs about 60 per cent of India's population.

On the back of good monsoon in 2010 and 2011, the country harvested a record foodgrains production of 245 million tonnes and 252.56 million tonnes, respectively.


How Bank of America execs hid losses: In their own words

A suit reveals how Bank of America knew about big losses at Merrill Lynch before the companies merged but didn't tell shareholders

When Bank of America announced it was buying Merrill Lynch in September 2008, bank execs told their shareholders that the merger might hurt earnings a touch. It didn't turn out that way. Losses at Merrill piled up over the next two months, before the deal even closed. Yet the execs kept painting a prettier picture to shareholders — even though it turns out they knew better.

As the New York Times detailed this morning, a brief in a new lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan recounts sworn testimony and internal emails in which execs admitted to giving bad information to shareholders and that they had worried about the legal ramifications of doing so.
According to the filing, Bank of America's then-CEO Kenneth Lewis admitted in a deposition that what he told shareholders about the financials of the merger was "no longer accurate" on the day they approved it.

We've pulled out the most revealing parts of the suit, which tell the story of how the deal went down.
On Sept. 15, 2008, Bank of America announced its agreement to buy Merrill Lynch. In the press release announcing the deal and other presentations, Bank of America said it would cause a 3 percent decrease in earnings in 2009, and that by 2010 the deal would break even or do better.
In October, concerns started to emerge about Merrill's financials. As it became clear the company was going to lose $7.5 billion that month, one exec emailed another the numbers with the message "read and weep."

Merrill kept losing money in November. Late that month, Bank of America ordered Merrill to sell off assets to try to stabilize its finances:
Forcing Merrill to down-size (p. 18)

After current Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan admitted in a deposition that this sale meant the deal was less valuable to shareholders:
Impact of Merrill's down-sizing (p. 21)

On Dec. 1, Bank of America issued a $9 billion debt offering. Publicly, they said this was "for general corporate purposes." But private communications showed that they were trying to raise money to cover Merrill's losses:

Bank of America's then-treasurer, Jeffrey Brown, wrote in emails just before the shareholder meeting that they needed to disclose that the Merrill losses were behind the debt offering. He also testified that he told other execs they could be committing a criminal offense by not disclosing the losses:

On Dec. 5, Bank of America shareholders met to decide whether to approve the merger. They questioned Lewis about the financial impact of the deal, and he reassured them: 

That day, shareholders voted to approve the merger.
In his deposition for the lawsuit, Lewis said that what he told them was not accurate. Bank of America had already revised their numbers to reflect Merrill's losses:

Just days after the deal was approved, on Dec. 12, a law firm for Bank of America prepared documents making the case that they could back out of the merger, based on Merrill's new financial woes:

On the 17th, Lewis took that argument to then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who, according to the lawsuit, were stunned by Merrill's losses:

According to the suit, Lewis raised the possibility of a bailout then:

But it wasn't until January that shareholders - and the public - learned how bad things were. Bank of America stock dropped precipitously, and taxpayers ultimately padded the bank's bailout funds with an extra $20 billion to cover the losses. The SEC has actually already settled its own charges against Bank of America over misleading shareholders on the deal. The bank paid $150 million - and didn't admit any wrongdoing.

Bank of America didn't comment to the Times on the new lawsuit, and didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from us.

Courtesy: http://www.propublica.org/


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