The nodal bank, a stronghold of the Congress-NCP combine, is in deep financial trouble due to its suspicious loan distribution to some of its favoured co-operative banks as well as some loss-making sugar co-operative factories
Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank Ltd (MSCB), the nodal bank for all co-operative banks in the state, is in deep financial trouble due to its suspicious loan distribution to some of its favoured co-operative banks as well as some loss-making sugar co-operative factories.
The apex co-operative bank is scheduled to celebrate its centenary year next month in Pune in the presence of president Pratibhatai Patil and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar. The majority of the directors on the bank's 'jumbo' board (44 elected and 33 appointed, a total of 77 directors) belong to the Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Some ministers from the ruling Congress-NCP combine like Ajit Pawar, Rajendra Shingane, Diliprao Deshmukh, Madan Patil, Hasan Mushrif and powerful leaders such as Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, Sadashivrao Mandlik, Yashwantrao Gadakh, Prasad Tanpure, Jaywantrao Awale and Dilip Sopal are directors of MSCB.
For FY10, the bank's auditors, Joshi Nair and Associates, have given a 'D' grade to MSCB as it could score only 31 marks out of 100 based on various parameters. As per the provisional figures provided on the bank's site, for FY10, its gross non-performing assets (NPA) are 20.9%. However, while converting the same into net NPAs, the bank has shown the figure at 7.7%.
Although the auditors refused to share the audit report with Moneylife, according to some media reports, politicians are pressing hard to change MSCB's audit grade to 'C' from 'D' as a damage control measure. The bank has shown deposits of Rs21,500 crore and a net profit of Rs2.83 crore. However, according to the audit report, the bank had to suffer a loss of Rs1,070 crore, mainly due to NPAs.
The bank had to make a provision of Rs768 crore for the NPAs, but it failed to do so. In addition, for the NPAs, it made a provision of around Rs144 crore from its cash reserve instead of showing the same in the profit & loss account.
Banks in India are required to maintain a Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) of 9%; however, MSCB's CAR is 8.66%. In the audit report, the bank was able to score just one mark out of 48 marks that are assigned to CAR, loan worthiness, management and income, together. This was the main reason why the bank scored a 'D' grade in the auditor's report.
The MSCB is the apex co-operative bank in the state since 1954 and has initiated major schemes for the co-operative banking sector in India. It has been helping agricultural credit co-operatives and agricultural processing co-operatives. The bank provides re-finance facility to District Central Co-operative Banks, which cater to the agricultural sector.
It also promotes finance to artisans and agro-industrial co-operatives - especially sugar factories and spinning mills by providing them medium-term loans as well as interim loans.
Traditionally, MSCB has been a stronghold of the Congress-NCP. Even the efforts of the then ruling Shiv Sena-BJP combine in 1998 to take control of the apex co-operative bank had failed. The combine's effort to appoint an administrator for MSCB did not materialise at that time.
Earlier, in March, all parties in Maharashtra joined hands for the MSCB elections and got their representatives elected by a seat-sharing formula. This shows why despite very strong 'strictures' from the auditors, no one, including the opposition parties, is willing to speak about it. Given the political pressure and involvement of all parties, one should not be surprised if the Maharashtra government bails out MSCB from this financial mess.
A proposal approved by the cabinet will constitute a statutory authority to be called the National Identification Authority of India. It’s the new name for UIDAI.
The Union Cabinet on Friday approved a proposal to introduce the National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill 2010 in Parliament.
The bill proposes to constitute a statutory authority to be called the National Identification Authority of India and lay down the powers and functions of the Authority, the framework for issuing unique identification (UID) numbers (Aadhaar numbers), major penalties and other related matters through an Act of Parliament. The proposal by the government is not new, apart from a new name for the controversial Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
"After the bill is passed in Parliament, the name UIDAI would be changed to NIAI. The rest of the functioning and job of the authority would remain the same," said Awadhesh Kumar Pandey, assistant director general for media, UIDAI.
According to a statement released by the government, the setting up will involve an expenditure of Rs3023.01 crore, which includes project components for issue of UID numbers (called Aadhaar numbers) by March 2011, and recurring establishment costs for the entire project phase, over five years ending March 2014.
The statement tries to provide more information about Aadhaar, but creates more confusion. It says, "The UID project is primarily aimed at ensuing inclusive growth, by providing a form of identity to those who do not have any identity." Does this mean that those who have an identity will not get the Aadhaar numbers? In addition, what about the inclusive growth of other people who already have some kind of identification? There are hardly any answers to these questions.
The statement also talks about strengthening of equity among marginalised sections of society. It is not clear how the Aadhaar numbers would be able to do this. The government claims that apart from providing an identity, the Aadhaar numbers would enable better delivery of services and effective governance. Would this imply that someone from Tembhali village in north Maharashtra's Nandurbar district will automatically receive food under the public distribution system (PDS), when the middlemen have looted the food before it can even reach the shop?
What's more serious is that the government does not say anywhere that the Aadhaar numbers will be issued to the citizens of India. Instead, it mentions that the Aadhaar numbers will be issued to "individuals residing in India and to certain other classes of individuals". This means that immigrants from neighbouring countries, residing illegally in India, would be able to procure such numbers too, akin to the ration card (PDS Card), and become citizens of the country.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate the ambitious UID project at Tembhali village in north Maharashtra's Nandurbar district this month-end. According to a report from the Press Trust of India, the 12-digit Aadhaar number will be mandatory for all government schemes and will serve as a unique identification number for citizens.
To get the number, citizens are required to produce any of 29 listed documents as proof of domicile. If no document is produced, the district collector in rural areas and municipal commissioners in the urban areas will be authorised to issue an identity certificate to the individual.
The know-your-distributor norms introduced by SEBI are making distributors see red; some feel that the mandatory biometric verification is stretching things a bit too far
At a time when the assets under management (AUM) of mutual fund companies are dwindling rapidly, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India's (SEBI) tough stand on in-person verification of distributors may just tighten the noose around the struggling mutual fund industry. The new know-your-distributor (KYD) requirements have not gone down too well with some distributors, who question the extent of verification as demanded by SEBI.
The KYD requirements have been introduced by the Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) under SEBI's diktat. It is mandatory to comply with the KYD procedure (with effect from 1 September 2010) before applying for fresh ARN Registration/ARN Renewal. Existing ARN holders are required to comply with KYD norms by the end of February 2011, failing which payment of commission will be suspended till ARN holders comply with KYD requirements.
The requirement of biometric verification seems to have irked the sensibilities of distributors the most. They find the requirement for biometric verification rather excessive and invasive of their privacy. One such distributor told Moneylife, "It is an insult to the integrity of a person who is in this field for more than 20 years and doing his job with the utmost sincerity. It is quite disgusting to learn that after all these years you have been treated like a criminal."
Why the distributors are complaining is because they feel singled out as a threat to security. While they are aware that the step has been taken as a counter against a few ARN holders who have misguided investors for their own benefit, they question why other unscrupulous entities that are known to defraud investors are not given the same treatment by regulators.
"Why is there no biometric process for doctors, lawyers, CAs, dentists and other professionals who can do more harm to an individual than an ARN holder? If AMFI and SEBI think that there are cheats in financial markets then why are the stock brokers not compelled to have this biometric process?" asked a distributor. He added, "If the distributor is required to undergo this insulting process then why not the fund manager who has an opportunity to play mischief with investors' money? The ARN holder can only misguide the client but cannot play mischief with investors' funds, whereas the fund manager has an opportunity to do monkey business with investors' funds. Then why is there no biometric process for fund managers?"
The entire procedure of verification is also quite lengthy and cumbersome. Distributors are required to visit the nearest Point of Service (POS) with duly completed KYD application, self-attested photocopies of relevant documents and two self-attested (passport size) colour photographs. They are then required to produce, in person, the original documents for over-the-counter verification at the time of submission of their applications along with self-attested photocopies of the same. The biometric process is to be completed at the POS, at the time of submission of applications for registration or renewal of ARN along with the KYD application form. Distributors will then obtain the acknowledgement from the POS confirming completion of KYD process. Existing ARN holders are required to send a photocopy of the acknowledgement to the AMCs/RTAs confirming KYD completion.
While most distributors are agreeable to the concept of KYD, they have frowned upon the call for biometric verification. Earlier, Ramesh Bhatt, an advisor, told Moneylife, "People who wish to do business in a straightforward way will not hesitate to give KYC details. The biometric issue needs to be reconsidered." Another planner had quipped, "Investor education is still lacking. I don't know how biometric (checking) will curb the intention of mis-selling. I am not averse to KYD but they should come up with simple and practical solutions."