No consensus at all-party meet on FDI

The government had taken the decision to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail in November last year but put it on hold following strong objections from parties, including the then UPA constituent Trinamool Congress

New Delhi: Consensus eluded an all-party meeting called on the foreign direct investment (FDI) issue on Monday even as Samajwadi Party and BSP provided comfort to the government by not insisting on voting and Trinamool Congress sprang a surprise by speaking in a similar tone, reports PTI.


However, UPA (Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre) ally DMK kept the suspense over its position on voting while conveying its concerns over allowing 51% FDI in multi-brand retail.


Opposition parties, including NDA, AIADMK, BJD, Left parties, TDP and JD(S) insisted on a discussion under rules entailing voting, making it clear that trouble will continue in Parliament which failed to transact any business for the third straight day on Monday over the issue.


“There will be no compromise on (discussion under Rule) 184 (which entails voting),” said leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj after the two-and-a-half hour-long meeting.


Asked if the BJP would not allow Parliament to function, she replied, “no compromise at all... When I said no compromise, it means something.”


Highlighting the fact that there was no meeting ground between the government and opposition over voting issue, Shiv Sena leader Anant Geete said, “There was a discussion but no decision.”


The government got comfort as its outside supporters SP and BSP made it clear that they would be willing for discussion under any rule. They did not press for voting and left the decision to the presiding officers of both the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the Indian Parliament) and the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of the Indian Parliament).


Trinamool Congress, which only last week moved a no-confidence motion over the FDI issue, sprang a surprise as it also did not insist on voting and said the chair should decide the rule under which discussion could take place.


“When our no-confidence motion was refused, now let the Speaker decide under which section discussion can take place,” Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhyay told reporters after the meeting chaired by leader of the Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde.


“Opposition is moving with begging bowl in hand for Rule 184,” he said.


Insisting that Trinamool is “totally against” introduction of FDI in retail and capping of subsidised LPG cylinders at six per year, Bandopadhyay said, “Let the opposition bring another no-confidence motion, we will support them. We had given them the golden opportunity to no-confidence motion and not just (rule) 184 or 193.”


Rule 184 entails voting while Rule 193 does not.


At the meeting, DMK leader TR Baalu conveyed his party’s concerns over allowing 51% FDI in retail. But he remained vague on whether or not his party would want voting on the issue.


AIADMK insisted on voting as did JD (U), BJD and some other parties.


Finance minister P Chidambaram and commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma justified the decision by citing the difficult economic situation.


Sharma sought to reject the opposition charge that the FDI decision was taken in haste and without proper consultations. He said the government had discussed the issue with all stake-holders before the decision.


The government had taken the decision to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail in November last year but put it on hold following strong objections from parties, including the then UPA constituent Trinamool Congress. The hold was removed in September this year.


BJD leader B Mahtab said his party has already given notice under Rule 184 as it feels the FDI in multi-brand retail will ruin the agriculture and manufacturing sector.


RJD chief Lalu Prasad said the hue and cry is being raised as elections are not far away. He said former NDA (BJP-led National Democratic Alliance) government had spoken about allowing 100% FDI in retail. He said the decision on the format under which discussion could be held should be left to presiding officers of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.


Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath later appealed to those wanting discussion with voting to reconsider their views and hoped that a solution will be found out.


“I have appealed to those who want discussion under Rule 184 to reconsider their views. I heard everybody's views. I will discuss the matter with presiding officers of both the Houses to see how Parliament gets to work. We will find a way out,” he told reporters.


The meeting was also attended by BJP leader LK Advani, BSP chief Mayawati, BJD’s Arjun Charan Sethi and SP's Ram Gopal Yadav among others.


Describing the meeting as “very useful”, Nath said, “All political parties have given their views that House must run.


Political parties are unanimous that the House should run.”


On the differences of opinions at the meeting, he said, “Some political parties expressed their opinions that they want discussion with voting. Many others have said they want discussion and it does not matter under which rule... It should be left to Presiding Officers of both Houses.”


Asked whether the government is shying away from voting, Nath replied in negative.


“We are not shying away from the vote but we have to respect the feeling of other political parties also,” he said.


RTI Judgement Series: You can get information about assets of a public servant

This CIC ruling could help to get citizens to monitor assets of public servants and also expose those who may not be making a truthful declaration of their assets. This is the second in a series of important judgements given by Shailesh Gandhi, former CIC that can be used in an RTI application

The public information officer (PIO) cannot deny information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by claiming exemption under Section 8(1)(j) and is bound to provide information about assets of a public servant, ruled the Central Information Commission. This was one of the most important decisions given by Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner (CIC).


“...disclosure of information such as assets of a public servant, which is routinely collected by the public authority and routinely provided by the public servants, cannot be construed as an invasion on the privacy of an individual. There will only be a few exceptions to this rule which might relate to information which is obtained by a public authority while using extraordinary powers such as in the case of a raid or phone-tapping. Any other exceptions would have to be specifically justified,” the Commission said in its order issued on 23 July 2009.


Delhi-based Sat Prakash Tyagi sought information about assets and properties acquired by Anil Tyagi, a junior engineer (JE) with the Delhi Jal Board after his appointment. However, the PIO denied the specific information citing exemption under Section 8(1)(j).


The PIO stated that the information on the assets of JE Anil Tyagi demanded in queries (7 & 8) should not be disclosed since “the property returns submitted by the official are confidential documents and disclosure of this personal information has no relationship to the public activity or interest and hence denied under Section 8(1)(j).” 


The third party, Anil Tyagi stated, “My personal property details and other allied details should not be given to the appellant (Sat Prakash Tyagi), who is already having many property dispute cases in different courts in Delhi with me. Such documents will be misused against me in the courts affecting the fair decisions in the court. Moreover we and all my family members are facing acute mental agony and fear of life from the appellant. Such matters have already being informed to the police also.”


The Commission said the Supreme Court has clearly ruled that even people who aspire to be public servants by getting elected have to declare their property details. “If people who aspire to be public servants must declare their property details it is only logical that the details of assets of those who are public servants must be considered to be disclosable. Hence the exemption under Section 8(1) (j) cannot be applied in the instant case.”


While denying the PIO and the third party’s claim for exemption of the information, the CIC in its order on 23 July 2009, asked the PIO to provide information about assets and properties of Anil Tyagi to the applicant before 10 August 2009.




Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001436/4247

( )


Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001436



Appellant                                            :Sat Prakash Tyagi,

                                                          S/o Bishamber Dayal Tyagi,

                                                          H.No.38, Tyagi Mohalla

                                                          Chhatter Pur,

                                                          New Delhi-110074.


Respondent                                        : Vipin Behari


                                                          Delhi Jal Board,

                                                          Govt. of N.C.T. of Delhi,

                                                          O/o the Secretary, Varunalaya Ph-II,

                                                          Karol Bagh, New Delhi-110005.


R*Shares CNX 100 Fund: Another first from Reliance MF, but would investors buy?

Reliance is looking to create a significant presence in the exchange traded fund (ETF) space as in just two months it has filed three draft offer documents for new ETF schemes. Would the new scheme be able to lure investors?

Reliance Mutual Fund plans to launch another open-ended exchange traded fund (ETF)—R*Shares CNX 100 Fund. Last month the fund house filed its draft offer document to launch two ETFs— R*Shares Consumption Fund and R*Shares Dividend Opportunity Fund (Read: R*Shares ETFs: Should you invest in R*Shares Consumption Fund and R*Shares Dividend Opportunity Fund?). These would be the first schemes based on the respective index in the ETF space. The new schemes of Reliance MF which have been recently filed will be the first ETFs to be based on the CNX 100 index. Reliance presently has only one equity ETF scheme in the market—R* Shares Banking ETF (based on the CNX Bank Nifty index). This scheme, launched in June 2008, has been able to accumulate a corpus of just Rs11.43 crore despite having a low expense ratio of just 0.35%.

Would the returns of the CNX 100 index be any different from other diversified indices? Our analysis of the BSE Sensex, S&P Nifty, and CNX 100 has shown the returns have been similar over the long-term. We took a five-year rolling period with a quarterly frequency over the last 20 quarters. The returns of all three indices delivered a compounded annualised of around 16%. Not surprising as the top part of the portfolio is constituted by the same set of heavy weight stocks such as ITC, Reliance Industries, Infosys, ICICI Bank, and HDFC. If we take a three-year rolling period the returns of the CNX 100 is slightly lower but the standard deviation is lower as well, signifying lower risk. Therefore, as the CNX 100 is a much more diversified in terms of number of stocks, the lower volatility would be beneficial to investors who would like to take a lower risk. But then again, there are lot of drawbacks in investing in ETFs pre se.

One of the biggest negatives is precisely that you have to buy them through an exchange—and, therefore, you are at the mercy of the market’s liquidity. Low trading volumes and settlement concerns are major factors leading to low liquidity. If the market is not as efficient as it should be, it may also take time to match an ETF seller with a buyer and/or the bid-ask spread will be wide. ETFs are structured in such a way that you could end up buying it at a premium to the portfolio’s value and selling it at a discount. Unless these ETFs are widely traded, liquidity will always be an issue.

The other ETFs of Reliance have done well in the past. Over the quarterly periods from June 2008 to September 2012 the R*Shares Banking ETF delivered an annualised return of 24.61% compared to its benchmark—CNX bank Nifty—which delivered an annualised return of 23.40%. It managed to beat the benchmark on eight of the 17 occasions. The Gold ETF delivered 20.26% compared to prices of gold which delivered a return of 21.86%, beating the benchmark on just six out of the 17 periods. Considering that ETFs are allowed to charge an expense ratio of up to 1.50%, both the schemes have done relatively well to their benchmarks.

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