Oil ministry, DGH bent rules for RIL in KG-D6: CAG

The CAG was asked to audit the accounts of Reliance after allegations of 'gold-plating', or artificially inflating the cost of development of gas field costs were levied by the Anil Ambani Group

New Delhi: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said the oil ministry and its technical arm, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), bent rules for Reliance Industries (RIL), but did not conclusively say if the Mukesh Ambani firm overbilled the government on its KG-D6 gas fields to adversely impact government revenues, reports PTI.

In a draft audit report on the KG-DWN-98/3, or KG-D6, block, the CAG said the DGH allowed RIL to hike capital expenditure for developing Dhirubhai-1 and 3, the largest of 18 gas finds in the block, by 117%.

"The increase in cost from $2.39 billion in the Initial Development Plan (IDP) to $5.196 billion in the Addendum to the Initial Development Plan is likely to have a significant impact on the government of India's financial take.

"However, at this stage, based on the information provided, we are unable to comment on the reasonableness, or otherwise, of the increase in cost, both overall and in respect of individual line items," the CAG said in a draft report sent to the oil ministry for comments.

An operator like Reliance is allowed to recover all capital costs on developing a field from revenues earned from the sale of oil or gas before profits are split between the stakeholders, including the government.

The CAG was asked to audit the accounts of Reliance after allegations of 'gold-plating', or artificially inflating the cost of development of gas field costs were levied by the Anil Ambani Group.

The premier auditor, whose report will be tabled in Parliament after incorporating comments from the oil ministry, said RIL never had the intention of developing the KG-D6 gas fields as per the initial cost estimates as it did not initiate tendering for equipment as per the original plan.

"Most procurement activities were undertaken late, in line with the schedules of the IDP of May 2004, clearly evidencing that the operator had no intention of complying with these timelines," the draft report said.

"By contrast, activities in respect of items in the AIDP were initiated even before the submission/approval of the AIDP," it said.

The CAG said the submission of an addendum to the IDP instead of a revised comprehensive development plan, as well as lack of adequate details with regard to the Phase-II development cost of $3.3 billion, made it virtually certain that the operator will submit more addendums.

"The DGH also approved the AIDP, without questioning why the operator did not take action in line with the already approved IDP," it said.

The report has also said that the ministry and DGH allowed RIL to enter successive exploration phases without the stipulated relinquishment of area and then allowed it to declare the entire contract area as "discovery area".


Center Fresh: Goes mad… a good sign

The makers of Center Fresh have finally done what they ought to have been doing from the start. Which is to go mad. And this time, it’s a dhamaal commercial

One significant change that has happened in Indian advertising in the last decade or so is that unlike in the past, advertising for candies has gone madder and madder. And that's a good thing. I recall the 90s (and earlier) when advertisers used to rationalise with the consumers in their ads, by selling 'benefits' like freshness, taste, quality, etc. And that approach was really silly, to be honest. A candy is a floozy product, a time-pass item… one needs to have fun with it, and that's what the ads should also be: nonsensical fun.

However, for some strange reasons, Center Fresh slipped into the serious mode and ran ads that reminded one of the solemn 90s. They tried to plug in a social message if you please, which preached that Indians must talk less and work more. Guess that idea must have been a disaster (unsurprisingly). The makers of Center Fresh have finally done what they ought to have been doing from the start. Which is to go mad. And this time, it's a dhamaal commercial.

The situation is a bank robbery. A masked man arrives at the cashier's window, flashes a gun, and demands that all cash be handed over to him. And he also threatens the rest of the staffers, who naturally panic and freeze. The robber collects the money bag and escapes through the front door. Then, a lady officer calls out for the security. And the thief promptly returns. Basically, it was the bank's security guard who had turned into a thief, but because of the force of habit, he could not resist answering to the call of 'Security'. The voice over says: 'Phisal gayee zubaan?' Suggesting that had the man been consuming Center Fresh, he would have been tongue-tied. And would have made off with the loot. As in, 'Zubaan pe rakhe lagaam'.

Yes, the ad is insane. And that's what I like about it. Forget offering tangible benefits, there's not even a single shot of the brand being consumed. That would have been unthinkable till even a few years ago. Also, the commercial is shot well. The treatment, the casting, the editing… all done quite slickly. It keeps you in, and has a cute ending. Brand recall should not be a problem.

Now let's hope Center Fresh does not get mucho serious all over again. And its managers, er, think less and learn to enjoy more!


India’s growth drivers intact; govt committed to reforms: FM

Although industrial growth slowed down to 6.3% in April 2011, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee held an optimistic view saying that the medium-term growth prospects for the economy remain buoyant

New Delhi: Dismissing fears of a slowdown, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today said India's growth drivers are intact and the Centre is committed to policy reforms, reports PTI.

"Though there is some slowdown in industrial growth, partly due to the base effect from the previous year, the growth drivers of the Indian economy remain broadly intact," Mr Mukherjee said at a seminar organised by his ministry and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Factory output slowed down to 6.3% (vis-à-vis a 2004-05 base) in April 2011, from 13.1% in the corresponding month of the previous year.

Mr Mukherjee said the medium-term growth prospects for the economy remain buoyant.

"I am confident that we are in a position to sustain high economic growth in the coming years and create a more inclusive outcome of our society," he said.

India aims to grow at 9%-9.5% during the XIIth Five-Year Plan, starting April 2012.

"It would imply raising the average growth rate by at least one percentage point from 8.2%, likely to be realised in the XIth Plan," he said.

Mr Mukherjee further said that the government was committed to policy reforms.

"Major steps have been taken to simplify and place the administrative procedures concerning taxation, trade and traffic and social transfers on electronic interface, free of discretion and bureaucratic delays," he said.

The Direct Taxes Code (DTC) is scheduled to become operational from 1 April 2012, while a constitutional amendment bill on Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced in Parliament earlier this year.


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