Citizens' Issues
In Rajya Sabha 140 MPs fail to disclose financial info

As per the reply received from the Rajya Sabha, Congress MP Manu Singhvi and Kingfisher chief Vijay Mallya earned maximum annual remuneration, while another Congressman, Subbarami Reddy has declared assets worth Rs258.25 crore

Rajya Sabha secretariat has made the ‘register of interest’ of its members (MPs) available to an activist forum in response to an RTI application.  However, out of 232 MPs, only 92 have given various pecuniary details. The rest apparently do not have any such interests.

Interestingly, many of the members who declared high assets to the Election Commission as part of their affidavit have also declared that they do not have any other financial interest as per the Register of Members’ Interest form. The top three such MPs who have high assets with no declaration of pecuniary interest are Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh Subbarami Reddy (Rs258.25 crore) followed by another Congressman Karan Singh (Rs57.89 crore) and Shiv Sena’s Rajkumar Dhoot from Maharashtra with Rs 29.53 crore as assets.

Among the top 20 MPs without any pecuniary interests include Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni (Rs17.59 crore), opposition leader Venkaiah Naidu(Rs7.72 crore), former Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh (Rs5.93 crore), former sports minister MS Gill (Rs4.53 crore) and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh (Rs 4.30 crore).

MPs who have declared their interests include UB group chief Vijay Mallya, actress Hema Malini, lyricist Javed Akhtar, TDP leader YS Chowdhary, mining big shot Anil H Lad, Jagran Prakashan CMD Mahendra Mohan Gupta and Amar Singh. Highest declarations per annum have been made by Abhishek Manu Singhvi (Rs50 crore) followed by Vijay Mallya (Rs41.30 crore) and Arun Jaitley (Rs10 crore).

Rajya Sabha MPs have to declare their pecuniary interest under Rule 293 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States. Although the rules specifically allow this information to be given to public, the Rajya Sabha secretariat has been denying this information as it has been asked by the ethics committee to not disclose the information. The chief information commission (CIC) under the RTI Act had to issue a non-compliance notice to CPIO on 3rd October after which the information was given to the organisation.

The document, accessed by Association of Democratic Forum, lists the engagements Rajya Sabha members have with corporates in different capacities, and the (financial) benefits they derive from that. The register shows that 140 MPs have just put ‘n/a’ or nil across all the required fields; which ask for details of remunerative directorship or shares held with companies, acts of paid consultancy and regular remunerations received from other activities.

Around 28 MPs have declared that they get regular remuneration, seven have financial interests in the form of paid consultancy and 43 have professional engagements.

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DoT to send notices on 35 licences facing cancellation by March

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had asked the DoT to impose a penalty and cancel as many as 65 new licences over operators’ failure to roll out services within the stipulated timeframe. DoT secretary R Chandrashekhar today said, “The process of issuing notices to 35 licences for missing out roll-out obligations will be completed by March”

New Delhi: The telecom ministry, which has sought a legal opinion on cancellation of some telecom licences for failure to meet roll-out deadlines, today said the process of issuing notices over 35 licenses will be completed by March next year, reports PTI.

“The process of issuing notices to 35 licences for missing out roll-out obligations will be completed by March,” Department of Telecom (DoT) secretary R Chandrashekhar told reporters on the sidelines of a CII event here.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had asked the DoT to impose a penalty and cancel as many as 65 new licences over operators’ failure to roll out services within the stipulated timeframe.

On the New Telecom Policy (NTP), Mr Chandrashekhar said the policy is expected to be unveiled in January.

Under the NTP, operators may be allowed to share airwaves and there may be more liberal merger and acquisition (M&A) norms as suggested by the draft released in October. This is expected to provide respite to the crowded Indian telecom market, which has 12-13 players operating in some circles.

The telecom ministry has been issuing notices to firms on two issues—ineligibility to get licences and missing roll-out obligations.

The DoT has already issued 15 notices to new telecom companies out of the 65 recommended by TRAI. All of these were among the 122 licences that were identified by TRAI with respect to missing roll-out obligations and ineligibility of the operator to get a licence.

The cancellations pertain to licences issued in 2008 by former telecom minister A Raja, who was sacked when his ministry was accused of selling licences and spectrum at cheaper rates, allegedly costing the government billions of dollars in revenue.

The DoT has already collected over Rs300 crore in liquidated damages from various new operators for not rolling out services within the time stipulated as per licence conditions.

According to the conditions, the operators have to cover 10% of district headquarters within a telecom circle within the first year of allotment of spectrum. After expiry of another 52 weeks, after claiming liquidated damages, the licences can be cancelled in case the services are not rolled out as per licence conditions.

A final decision on this issue will be taken by the DoT.

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Govt to stick to Rs40,000 crore disinvestment target: FM

Seven months of the ongoing fiscal are over, but the government has been only able to raise Rs1,145 crore through a stake sale in Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and there are apprehensions that it may miss the mammoth Rs40,000 crore target for 2011-12

New Delhi: The government today said it will stick to its disinvestment target of Rs40,000 crore for the 2011-12 financial year, but achieving this goal will hinge on many other factors, reports PTI.

“I am not revising it (the target) right now. We have fixed the target and we will try to achieve it, but it depends on many other situations, particularly the economic health conditions,” finance minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here.

Seven months of the ongoing fiscal are over, but the government has been only able to raise Rs1,145 crore through a stake sale in Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and there are apprehensions that it may miss the mammoth Rs40,000 crore target for 2011-12.
Volatile stock market conditions have forced the government to delay proposed stake sales in PSUs. Global equity markets have been on a downslide on fears over the spiralling debt crisis in the Eurozone, as well as the credit crunch in the US.

“All these aspects have to be taken into account and the government will take a decision at the appropriate time,” Mr Mukherjee said.

In view of uncertain market conditions, companies like SAIL and Hindustan Copper (HCL) have deferred planned issues of fresh equity issue, though the government may still go ahead with its proposal to offload stake.

It also plans to divest its stake in ONGC, BHEL, RINL, Hindustan Aeronautics and NBCC, among other companies.

Last fiscal, the government raised Rs22,763 crore through the sale of equity in public sector enterprises.

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