Lokpal Bill to come up in Rajya Sabha during Budget session

The Lokpal Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha during the winter session but later a political war broke out between the government and the opposition as the Bill could not be passed in the Upper House, with both sides accusing each other of carrying out a “well choreographed” chaos to scuttle it

New Delhi: The much talked about Lokpal Bill is expected to be brought again for consideration in the Rajya Sabha during the second phase of the Budget session of Parliament, reports PTI.

“The Bill is on the live register of the Rajya Sabha and it will now be taken up only in the second phase of the Budget session,” an official said.

The Budget session begins on 12th March with president Pratibha Patil addressing the joint sitting of members of both the Houses of Parliament and its second part will be held from 24th April to 22nd May.

The Lokpal Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha during the winter session but later a political war broke out between the government and the opposition as the Bill could not be passed in the Upper House, with both sides accusing each other of carrying out a “well choreographed” chaos to scuttle it.

The opposition had charged the government with running away from a vote because of lack of majority in the House.

The government had then stated that the Bill was ‘alive’ and would be taken up in the Budget session for passage.

In all its charges and counter charges, the government had ensured that it does not in any way annoy its ally Trinamool Congress, which had ganged up with the opposition and declared that it would vote against the provisions relating to Lokayuktas.

By May this year, the strength of the Congress and its allies is expected to rise slightly in the Upper House after biennial elections in several seats. The UPA does not have a majority in the House.

The Bill was the culmination of a spirited battle between government and Team Anna which raised the pitch for a strong anti-corruption ombudsman.

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Sovereign debt sustainability a political issue: RBI governor

“How much debt the government raises and how they raise that debt, are a political issue and once central bank starts entering into that area, there is a risk not only that they might fail, but also crossing that line between apolitical central bank and a political function of raising debt,” RBI governor D Subbarao said

Mumbai: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor D Subbarao on Tuesday said sovereign debt is primarily a political issue and not that of the central bank whose remit is to ensure price and financial stability in the economy, reports PTI.

“Sovereign debt sustainability is not like price stability. It is a political issue. How much debt the government raises and how they raise that debt, are a political issue and once central bank starts entering into that area, there is a risk not only that they might fail, but also crossing that line between apolitical central bank and a political function of raising debt,” Mr Subbarao said.

He was speaking at the ninth convocation ceremony of the Indira Gandhi Institute for Development Research here.

Talking in the context of the lingering European sovereign debt crisis, he said the European Central Bank (ECB) is now asked to go beyond its usual mandate of maintaining price stability and financial stability.

“Now, the ECB has been told that you must bend and stretch your mandate... not only to look after price stability, not only to look after financial stability, but also it must be mindful of the sovereign debt concerns,” he noted.

The governor also said the role of central banks has become challenging in the last 18 months due to the ongoing debt crisis in Europe.

“There is big enough challenge for central banks to balance price stability, growth and financial stability. This challenge becomes bigger because of sovereign debt crisis in Europe,” Mr Subbarao said.

The 17-nation Eurozone is currently reeling under sovereign debt crisis, with many of the nation countries having more than 100% debt to gross domestic product (GDP).

While some of the countries like Greece are at the verge of a sovereign debt default due to lack of a political consensus within the member-states to provide a big enough rescue fund, the ECB is being asked to go beyond its usual mandate and work towards sovereign debt sustainability.

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Basix seeks Rs800 crore CDR; Rs500 crore in fresh funding

Basix or Bhartiya Samruddhi Finance has sought Rs800 crore of CDR from its principal lender Sidbi. Out of this, Rs500 crore will be in the form of equity infusion and restructuring of Rs300 crore into long-term debt

Mumbai: Leading microfinance firm Basix, which has failed to rope in foreign investors so far as it is neck-deep in debt, on Tuesday said that it has formally approached its principal lender Small Industries Development Bank (Sidbi) with an Rs800-crore debt recast proposal and expects the plan to be ready early next month, reports PTI.

“In the second week of January, we have formally sought an Rs800 crore corporate debt restructuring (CDR) from our lenders led by Sidbi.

Out of this, we are looking at Rs500 crore equity infusion and restructuring of Rs300 crore into long-term debt,” Basix or Bhartiya Samruddhi Finance chief executive Vijay Mahajan told PTI here on the sidelines of an event organised by Edelweiss Capital.

When asked whether the proposal has crossed the RBI hurdle, he said this does not require an RBI approval as the company is not seeking any special dispensation from the regulator under the proposed CDR.

“Apart from that, we are also seeking fresh working capital funding of around Rs500 crore from the lenders. The proposal is being thrashed out at the CDR Cell of Sidbi and I expect a positive response by next month,” he added.

Early last year, Basix had opted out of an industry-wide CDR where many a lender came together and revamped around Rs6,000 crore of MFI debts. And when he sought fresh loans, banks had sought personal guarantee from Mr Mahajan as a perquisite for extending fresh loans to his company.

Leading players like Trident Microfin, Share Microfin, Asmitha Microfin and Spandana Sphoorty Financial and Future Financial Services had recast their loans worth Rs6,000 crore to the banks mid last year.

Under a CDR, banks typically extend the repayment term, cut loan rates and offer a moratorium on repayment among other things.

Sidbi has an exposure of Rs250 crore to the company, apart from a Rs75 crore worth NCD it subscribed from Basix, and Axis Bank, its second largest lender, has around Rs80 crore exposure to the company. The remaining 18 lenders such as Corporation Bank, IDBI Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, etc have under Rs50 crore each exposure to the company, Mr Mahajan said.

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