Murli Deora seeks Rs15k cr to make up losses of oil companies

New Delhi: Oil minister Murli Deora today met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to seek cash compensation for state-run oil companies which have lost over Rs31,000 crore on selling fuel below cost in the first half of the current fiscal, reports PTI.

"We asked the finance minister to meet at least 50% of the under recoveries (revenue loss)," Mr Deora said after the meeting.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) lost Rs31,367 crore in revenues during the April-September quarter on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene below cost. This includes Rs2,227 crore they lost on selling petrol below cost till 25th June when its pricing was freed from government control.

Of this revenue loss, upstream oil companies Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), GAIL India and Oil India (OIL) will make up for Rs10,456 crore and about Rs10,000 crore has so far been committed by the government by way of cash compensation.

"We want the government compensation to be at least Rs15,000 crore," Mr Deora said. "Mr Mukherjee was positive on our demand and we hope he will oblige us."

The government on 25th June freed petrol price from its control resulting in a hike of Rs3.50 per litre. Rates have subsequently been raised twice by almost a rupee, in step with rise in international rates. Petrol now costs Rs52.55 a litre in Delhi.

Diesel prices were raised by Rs2 per litre on 25th June and it was stated then that they will be gradually freed. But deregulation of diesel prices has been put off for now as the move would mean a further increase in the price by Rs2.87 a litre. Diesel currently costs Rs37.71 a litre in Delhi.

In June, the government had also raised domestic LPG price by Rs35 per 14.2-kg cylinder and kerosene rates by Rs3 per litre. Despite these hikes, state fuel retailers lose Rs16 on sale of every litre of kerosene, and Rs188 per LPG cylinder.


India's ad spend growth highest in AsiaPac, touches $6.7 bn

New Delhi: Advertising spend in India in the 12- month period ended June this year stood at $6.7 billion (around Rs29,727 crore) across mainstream media, posting the highest annual growth rate of 28% in the Asia Pacific region, reports PTI quoting a survey.

The Nielsen Company's survey that covered a dozen countries in the region, estimated that ad spends across television, newspaper and magazine in India witnessed 32% growth in the second quarter (ended June) of this calendar with total ad spend of $1.92 billion (around Rs8,520 crore).

"...The largest proportion of India's media spend was garnered by newspapers, growing at 32% year-on-year (Y-O-Y)," the survey said. The newspaper segment grossed a total of $3.9 billion (around Rs17,300 crore) during the period.

Television followed newspapers in ad spend growth at 24% Y-O-Y in India and stood at $2.4 billion (around Rs10,648 crore). Magazines saw an 8% increase Y-O-Y at $393 million (about Rs1740 crore).

Over and above the mainstream media ad spend, other media such as radio, outdoor, pay TV, cinema combined showed a growth of 31% in the twelve months up to June 2010 in India totalling $1.2 billion (about Rs5,320 crore).

The top ten categories, including services, personal care and food & beverages represented 51% of all mainstream media ad spend in India.

Commenting on the advertising spend trend, The Nielsen Company president Piyush Mathur said: "The 'recessionary mindset' is fast becoming a thing of the past and marketers are using advertising strategies to reinvigorate brands by strengthening their visibility in mainstream media resulting in accelerated growth in media spends."

According to the survey, advertising spend was highest on television during the year across the region that includes China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Australia, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and New Zealand besides India.

The second highest overall growth in ad spend across the region after India was seen in Indonesia at 24%, followed by Hong Kong at 18% during the 12-month period ended June.


RBI panel to examine recovery mechanism of MFIs

Mumbai: A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) appointed sub-committee will examine recovery the mechanism of microfinance institutions (MFIs) and their interest rate practices, amid criticism of these lenders charging exorbitant loans rates and using strong arm tactics for recovery, reports PTI.

 "To examine the prevalent practices of MFIs regarding interest rates, lending and recovery practices, to identify trends that impinge on borrowers' interest," RBI said in a notification.

 Earlier this month, RBI had appointed a sub-panel, under the chairmanship of YH Malegam to look into the functioning of MFIs. The committee will submit its report in three months.

 RBI will examine the conditions under which loans to MFIs could be classified as priority sector lending and give appropriate recommendations.

 Currently, MFIs charge up to 34% interest rate per year on loans.

 At present, RBI regulates only those MFIs which are registered with it as non-banking finance companies (NBFCs). Others are regulated by sectoral norms under which these MFIs fall.

 Although the companies registered with RBI cover over 80% of the microfinance business, in terms of numbers of MFI, they constitute only a small percentage.

 The finance ministry is preparing a bill on regulating MFIs and has finished consultations with stakeholders to table the bill in the winter session.

 But this has been delayed now, since the whole issue came under a lot of controversy after a number of suicide cases were reported in Andhra Pradesh, allegedly due to coercive methods adopted by these lenders to recover their money from poor borrowers.

 This prompted the state to promulgate an ordinance to rein in MFIs and the RBI to constitute a sub-committee to look into the functioning of these lenders.

 The RBI said that the sub-committee would "examine and make appropriate recommendations regarding the applicability of money lending legislation of the states and other laws to NBFCs/ MFIs."

 The sub-committee would also detail out "the objectives and scope of regulations of NBFCs undertaking microfinance by the RBI and the regulatory framework needed to achieve those objectives," RBI said.



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