No EGoM meet on fuel price hike tomorrow

While no EGoM on fuel price was scheduled for 9th June, even the ministerial panel on deciding users of natural gas produced from fields like Reliance Industries' eastern offshore KG-D6 was cancelled

New Delhi: Belying expectations, a meeting of a panel of ministers headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee to decide on raising diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene rates has not yet been scheduled, reports PTI.

The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on fuel prices was previously said to meet on 9th June but no such meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow, an official said here today.

"A top official of the oil ministry had on 26th May briefed reporters about the impending EGoM meeting taking place on 9th June. But the official perhaps may have mixed up issues as a separate EGoM on natural gas allocation was the one that was scheduled for 9th June," he said.

While no EGoM on fuel price was scheduled for 9th June, even the ministerial panel on deciding users of natural gas produced from fields like Reliance Industries' eastern offshore KG-D6 was cancelled.

Oil minister S Jaipal Reddy is pushing for a hike in diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene rates to cover for rise in crude oil cost. A decision on the issue can be taken only by the EGoM which has representation from all key allies of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

The official said Mamata Banerjee was part of the EGoM but she has since relinquished her railway portfolio in the central government for chief ministership of West Bengal. Her replacement on the EGoM is yet to be announced.

State-owned oil firms had last month hiked petrol price by a steep Rs5 per litre and the oil ministry was pushing for a Rs4 per litre increase in diesel and at least Rs20-Rs25 per 14.2-kg cylinder hike in domestic cooking gas (LPG) rates.

Kerosene price hike too was on the cards.

EGoM on fuel price was originally scheduled to meet on 11th May, a day after elections in West Bengal ended but the panel meeting was postponed.

"Public sector oil companies are losing close to Rs465 crore per day on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene at government controlled rates. We cannot continue with this for long," an oil ministry official said.

Oil companies are losing Rs14.22 on sale of every litre of diesel at current price of Rs37.75 per litre in Delhi.

Besides, state oil firms lose Rs27.47 a litre on kerosene and Rs381.14 per 14.2-kg domestic LPG cylinder.

The rates of the three products were last hiked in June 2010 when crude was ruling at $72 per barrel. The basket of crude oil India buys averaged $110 a barrel this month.

The government had on 25th June hiked prices of diesel by Rs2 a litre, LPG by Rs35 a cylinder and the poor man's cooking fuel kerosene by Rs3 a litre. This hike was only a fraction of the desired increase to bring domestic price on par with international rates.


BSE resolves 222 investor complaints against 144 companies in May; 1,437 cases still pending

Non-receipt of equity shares, corporate benefits and entitlements tops list of complaints

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) has resolved 222 investor complaints in May 2011. These complaints were against 144 companies listed on the exchange, the BSE stated today.

While some of these complaints were from previous periods, the BSE received 216 fresh complaints against 159 companies during the month.

The type of complaints received by the BSE range from non-receipt of money, equity shares, debt securities, corporate benefits and entitlements, or interest on delayed payments to non-adherence of corporate governance.

The maximum number of complaints concerned non-receipt of equity shares and 102 such matters were resolved in May, the BSE stated. Issues over corporate benefits and entitlements were the next big lot and 73 cases were resolved in this category.

The company that tops the list with the maximum number of complaints pending against it as of 31 May is Vatsa Corporation, with a total number of 1,060 complaints. There are 59 complaints pending against Arihant Industries, 55 against Montari Industries and 52 cases against Enkay Texfoods.

Some of the other companies on the list are Eastern Mining and Allied Limited, Montari Leather, Mukerian Papers, Pentafour Products, Padmini Technologies and Lan Eseda Industries.

A total of 1,437 complaints are pending against various companies on the BSE as of the end of May and the stock exchange has suspended trading in the securities of these companies.


Can UID help to make card payment systems more secure and future proof?

According to a report published by the RBI, technically this is possible, but the acceptance of biometrics in payment authentication has not been proved anywhere else yet

Card present transactions at point of sales (POS) and automated teller machines (ATMs) constitute the major proportion of card-based transactions in India. However, the present operating systems using magnetic strip cards (MSDs) and personal identification numbers (PIN) may be replaced in the not too distant future, due to skimming and counterfeit frauds.

According to a report of the "Working Group on Securing Card Present Transactions" of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), there is a need to put in place a series of measures to strengthen the payments infrastructure and ecosystem in the country. It says, inferences drawn from case studies clearly indicate the need to have a much stronger authentication mechanism and reiterate the need for a second factor (2FA) for card present transactions. (Skimming is the illegal copying of information from the magnetic strip of a credit or debit card.)

The report discusses some systems like Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV), chip cards with PIN that has been adopted in many countries, and enhancing the existing MSD card system with the biometric identification.

The report says, "Aadhaar (issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India - UIDAI) authentication using biometrics provides a strong 'who you are' factor of authentication. This can be combined with a second 'what you have' or 'what you know' factor to achieve strong customer identification at the point of sale."

While technically, the option to use biometrics from the UIDAI database looks good, in practice, due to insufficient feasibility tests, it may not be a viable option.

"The working committee considered biometric or UID as the second factor in one of the solution sets; however the decision to adopt this would depend on various factors like number of UIDs issued to the population which transacts on cards, the error rates, authentication network capability to handle transaction volumes, network capability to handle enhanced transaction size and acquiring infrastructure," the report states.

It has been seen from international experience that EMV chip card and PIN migration typically takes more than five years, depending on the market size. In addition, the migration from MSD and PIN to a more secure EMV chip and PIN is costly, compared with MSD and biometrics, according to the study.

solution set comparison 

The RBI report states, "Magnetic Stripe Card and Biometric (Aadhaar finger print) protect against both domestic counterfeit (skimming) and lost and stolen card fraud. Biometric (finger print) captured by UIDAI can be used as authentication for protection against both domestic counterfeit and lost and stolen card fraud, as the cardholder has to be physically present at the POS terminal/ATM to authenticate the transaction. Even if the card is counterfeited, the fraudster will not be able to use the card as biometric of the customer would be required."

Bhavin Mody, Senior Product Manager, ElectraCard Services, said, "We need to wait and see how UID program is shaping up. Till such time MSD and PIN is a short term solution which can be implemented. If UID takes off successfully, MSD and biometric should be adopted. Else, the industry will have to shift to EMV chip & PIN mechanism. However, the chip and PIN cards would surely be required for the international transactions."
However, biometric (fingerprint) identification is not foolproof. Especially in some merchant categories like fuel stations and restaurants, there are execution challenges in adopting PIN or biometric as an additional factor of authentication. In addition, it is well known that finger prints and irises can be faked, and one way to fix that problem could be to use finger-print readers that detect live finger prints, and iris readers that detect live irises.

According to JT D'Souza, who analysed the pilot study conducted by the UIDAI, given the well-known lacunae in our infrastructure and massive demographics, biometrics as an ID will be a guaranteed failure and result in denial of service. He said, "The sum of false acceptance rate and false rejection rate (EER) reveals only part of the problem, which is rejection or acceptance within a short duration of enrolment. The bigger problem is ageing, including health and environment factors, which causes sufficient change to make biometrics completely unusable and requires very frequent re-enrolment."

Therefore, on paper, the use of biometrics as 2FA may sound feasible, but its use would be limited at specific locations. In this situation, EMV chip cards and PIN look like the future proof system, despite the higher costs for the card-based transactions. Nevertheless, this may not be the last in payment transaction systems. 
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6 years ago

Having been part of one of the best biometric solution providors in the world, and having been through the gamut of payment processing industries as well as other potential customers multiple times, I have seen - every time - that our technology would simply not work in the payment processing industry. For multiple reasons too complex to go into here.

Suffice it to say that biometrics work well in preventive defence and other restricted industries, but seem to come apart the moment they are dove-tailed into the financial industry, mainly because you can not beat the crooks - come what may.

Good luck to UIDAI. One year, maybe two, before there will be the sound of huge burps digesting xx thousand crores in Delhi and environs.

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