India, China responsible for deadlock in Doha talks: US official

"Since the 2008 breakdown in Doha negotiations, the US has put forward a number of ideas in an effort to achieve a breakthrough. However, the reticence of a number of our negotiating partners has left us with very little to show for those efforts," deputy US trade representative Michael Punke stated before the US Senate Finance Committee

Washington: A top US official on Monday blamed the stalemate in the Doha trade talks on India, China and other emerging nations, asserting they were unwilling to shoulder responsibilities reflecting their dramatic rise in the global economic hierarchy, reports PTI.

Since the Doha negotiations began in 2001, the world has changed dramatically, deputy US trade representative Michael Punke stated before the US Senate Finance Committee.

"Above all, we've watched the dramatic rise of emerging economies such as China, Brazil and India," he said.

"The Obama administration, with the strong support of Congress, believes that China and other emerging economies must shoulder new responsibilities to reflect this change. So far, they have been unwilling to do so," Mr Punke told the lawmakers.

It is no secret that the Doha Round of WTO negotiations is floundering, he said, adding that as of next month, WTO members will have been engaged in Doha negotiations for a decade, with no end in sight.

"Since the 2008 breakdown in Doha negotiations, the United States has put forward a number of procedural and substantive ideas in an effort to achieve a breakthrough in the negotiations.

"Speaking bluntly, the reticence of a number of our negotiating partners has left us with very little to show for those efforts," Mr Punke said.

"As we approach a biennial WTO ministerial meeting this December, the time has come for both an honest assessment of where we stand and realistic guidance about where we should go. The WTO operates by consensus, so it will be vital for all WTO members to participate in this effort," the deputy US trade representative said.

"One thing is clear: what we are doing today in the Doha negotiations is not working. That is not a value statement, but a simple assessment of the facts. After ten years, we're deadlocked," he told the Senate Finance Committee.

"The ability of the WTO's collective membership to acknowledge the reality of our situation will be the first test of whether we can devise a credible path forward that will expand market access and strengthen the institution.

"This is important for the Doha negotiations, but also for the broader credibility of the WTO as a forum for trade negations," Mr Punke said.

Islam A Siddiqui, the United States' chief agricultural negotiator, said the Doha negotiations are facing a difficult moment and the gaps on issues related to agriculture, non-agricultural market access (NAMA) and services are wide.

"We are being asked to make significant concessions in the first two pillars of the agricultural negotiations-domestic support and export competition," he said.

"To balance these concessions, a final agreement would have to provide new market access for US products under the third pillar of an agricultural agreement," he asserted.

"Whatever the future direction of the Doha negotiations, I will be a strong advocate for achieving new market opportunities for US agricultural products, including in the markets of emerging economies," he added.

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Top executive of Maxis questioned by CBI

Former aides of ex-telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran had also told that Ralph Marshall, the CEO of Astro which invested in Sun TV and also a board member of Malaysia-based Maxis, had held a number of meetings with the telecom minister in office between 2005 and 2006 on two to three occasions

New Delhi: A top executive of the Maxis group was on Monday questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with alleged irregularities in spectrum allotment during the tenure of former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran, reports PTI.

Ralph Marshall, CEO of Astro which invested in Sun TV and also a board member of Malaysia-based Maxis, appeared before the agency officials for clarifying on allegations that the company was favoured by the minister in the takeover of Aircel and in return investments were made in Sun TV owned by the Maran family.

Sources in the agency said that Dayanidhi Maran may soon be questioned in the matter.

The CBI in its recent status report to the Supreme Court had said that during Mr Maran’s tenure there was ‘deliberate delay’ to provide letter of intent to the promoter of Aircel.

The agency had said after Aircel was sold to the Maxis Group, investments were made by the Malaysian firm into the family business of the Marans.

Former aides of ex-telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran had reportedly told CBI that the processing of the files of former Aircel chief owner C Sivasankaran was delayed allegedly at the direction of the minister, sources in the agency claimed.

They had also told that Ralph Marshall had held a number of meetings with the telecom minister in office between 2005 and 06 on two to three occasions, the sources claimed.

Mr Sivasankaran had alleged that his applications for licences were rejected when Mr Maran was the telecom minister in 2006, forcing him to sell his company to Maxis, whose owner is considered to be close to Mr Maran and his brother Kalanidhi, who owns Sun TV.

Later, Mr Maran is alleged to have granted 14 licences to Dishnet Wireless (Aircel) during his tenure as the telecom minister.

The allegations have been refuted by Dayanidhi Maran.

The CBI is looking into investments of Maxis in Sun TV which are alleged to have been done with Astro group. Besides, it is also looking into various aspects of takeover of Aircel by Maxis group, agency sources said.

The probe agency has already registered a preliminary inquiry on issues in second generation (2G) spectrum allocation between 2001-07 and is actively looking into the matter.

The preliminary inquiry was registered against ‘unknown persons’ following a Supreme Court directive to detect any alleged anomaly in ‘first-come-first-serve’ during the spectrum allocation between 2001-07.

Maxis has 74% stake in Aircel which has presence in 23 telecom circles.

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New UCBs should open branches in unbanked areas: RBI panel

UCBs play a useful role and there is need for a greater presence of UCBs in unbanked districts and in centres having population less than 5 lakh, an RBI panel headed by YH Malegam said in the report

Mumbai: Acknowledging the importance of urban co-operative banks (UCBs) for financial inclusion, a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) panel on Monday suggested that new entrants should be encouraged to open banks and branches in unbanked or inadequately banked area, reports PTI.

UCBs play a useful role and there is need for a greater presence of UCBs in unbanked districts and in centres having population less than 5 lakh, a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) panel headed by YH Malegam said in the report.

“It is necessary to encourage new entrants to open banks and branches in states and districts which are unbanked or inadequately banked,” it said.

It is equally necessary to discourage new entrants from opening branches in districts and population centres which are already adequately banked, it said.

The panel also emphasised that the existing well managed co-operative credit societies meeting certain financial criteria like profits, capital adequacy, NPAs’ proportion, etc should be given priority for granting licences as urban co-operative banks particularly in unbanked or inadequately banked centres.

As far as capital requirement is concerned, the panel suggested minimum paid-up capital of Rs 5 crore, up from Rs50 lakh depending on the area of operation.

UCBs which wish to operate in more than one state after five years of successful operations, the panel recommended a minimum paid-up capital of Rs5 crore.

It also suggested that there should be segregation of the ownership of the UCB as a co-operative society from its functioning as a bank.

The new organisation structure shall consist of a board of management (BoM) in addition to the board of directors (BoD), it said, adding, the BoD would be elected in accordance with the provisions of the respective Co-operative Societies Acts.

The BoD will establish a BoM, consisting of persons with professional skills, which shall be entrusted with the responsibility for the control and direction of the affairs of the bank assisted by a CEO who shall have the responsibility for the management of the bank, it said.

The CEO shall be responsible for the management of the whole or substantially the whole of the affairs of the UCB but shall be subject to the control and direction of the BoM. The appointment of the CEO shall be subject to the prior approval of RBI, it said.

It also suggested that there should be two separate umbrella organisations, viz a national-level organisation which provides payments and settlement services and other services normally provided by central banks as also liquidity support to its members; and one or more organisations which provide the management and IT which the UCB sector needs.

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