Oman (Muscat): Oman and India on Sunday agreed to deepen their trade and investment partnership, including investing about $3 billion by Muscat for revival of fertilisers plants in India, reports PTI.
Oman has agreed in-principle to invest in India $3 billion for revival of a few closed plants of Fertiliser Corporation of India, Hindustan Fertiliser Corporation Ltd and the expansion in Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers (RCF), this was done in the sixth Session of the India Oman Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) held by India and Oman here.
The sixth session of the India Oman Joint Commission Meeting was led by minister of commerce & industry Anand Sharma while Omani side was led by their minister of commerce & industry Maqbool Ali Sultan.
The meeting reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral economic relations and means enhancing bilateral trade, which rose to $4.5 billion last year, even in face of severe recessionary pressure.
"This initiative is expected to function as a catalyst to promote trade and partnership between the private sectors of the two countries and enhance investment between the two countries," Mr Sharma said.
Mr Sharma also stressed on the need for the fund to be operationalised and augmented immediately.
Both the sides agreed to form a senior level working group representing the government of India, RCF, Krishak Bharati Cooperative Limited (KRIBHCO), from Indian side and Oman Oil Company from Oman side for initiating the due diligence.
Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Oman Oil Marketing Company agreed to collaborate and jointly study the possibility of setting up a lube blending plant in Oman and marketing in neighbour countries.
The government of India and Oman agreed to work on various verticals including agriculture, airports, sea ports, and railways, hospitals, power including nuclear power.
In November 2008, the India-Oman Joint Investment Fund was set-up with a seed capital of $100 million, to be increased up to $1.5 billion, through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the two sides.
The government of Oman has also expressed its keenness for setting up super-speciality hospitals in India and diagnostic facilities in the form of joint-venture, for which Oman delegation would go to India shortly.
Both the sides also identified sectors for investment co-operation such as agriculture, airports, sea ports, and railways, hospitals, power including nuclear power, renewable energy including solar and wind energy, mining, oil and gas, educations and skill development, tourism, health care, infrastructure and chemical fertilisers.
They have also agreed to pursue cooperation in field of human resources development especially skill development in the fields of technology, management and information technology (IT) including in small and medium enterprise sector.
Investments in agro processing specially in Indian special economic zones (SEZs) were also discussed.
Oman has strategic location, and has entered into free trade agreements with several countries like USA, which offers huge opportunities which offers huge opportunities for Indian products to these markets apart from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the larger Middle East and Northern Africa region.
Oman has also agreed to expand the capacity of Oman India Fertiliser Company SAOC (OMIFCO), which is currently producing 1.6 lakh tonnes of fertilisers in the country, to about 20 lakh tonnes.
The Oman India Fertiliser Company SAOC is owned 50% by Oman Oil Company SAOC, 25% by Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited and 25% by Krishak Bharati Cooperative Limited.
OMIFCO has been established, as the result of an initiative by the governments of Oman & India in order to construct, own and operate a modern world scale two-train ammonia - urea fertiliser manufacturing plant at the Sur Industrial Estate in the Sultanate of Oman.
The total amount of investment between Oman and India is around $7.5 billion, out of which $4.5 billion investment is from India to Oman and $3 billion is from Oman to India.
India has also offered to provide training and consultancy services to Oman Refineries and Petrochemicals Company (ORPC).
The Indian side would provide information on potential investment opportunities in the area of chemicals and speciality chemicals and speciality chemicals to Oman side for possible consideration.
The government of Oman has requested India to activate the MoU signed between the two countries in the field of higher education that is to allow the Indian universities instructors to teach at the colleges of applied sciences for two years as academic visitors.
Here are two reports on rural India from MNC brokerages, with almost converging views. Agriculture is getting increasingly mechanised, farm incomes are rising and supportive government policies are helping
Reports from brokerages Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan last week focused on rural India. Morgan Stanley concluded that a bulk of Indian farmers still continue to be poor. JP Morgan's survey concluded that agriculture is getting increasingly mechanised, given diversification of migrant labour to nonfarm activities, rising farm incomes, and supportive government policies - all these are important catalysts for driving sales of tractors/agri-equipment.
Morgan Stanley conducted a survey of 500 crop farmers across India and concluded that within their aggregate sample, 26% were poor (annual income was less than Rs50,000) and 17% were rich (more than Rs150,000). Others were in between. Rich farmers had a 75% revenue share of the aggregate sample revenue, while poor farmers had just 5% share.
Here are a few other observations from the report:
* Rich farmers prefer to grow cereals while poor farmers prefer oilseeds. The first preference of crop is rice for both. Rainfall is still important for both but irrigation is the second most important factor while for 2/3rd of the rich farmers, return on crop is the second-most important factor. For rich farmers, electricity is a big concern, also credit availability is a bigger concern for rich farmers than poor.
*Around 70% of the rich farmers sell their produce to institutional agents, getting better bargaining power, while about 50% of poor farmers sell in mandis (marketplaces).
* The choice of second income for rich farmers seemed to be dairy.
* Most of the rich farmers were from Punjab and MP.
* Around 70% of the poor farmers owned 3-4 acres of land while most rich farmers owned more than 8 acres.
* 99% of the rich farmers are literate vs. 92% of the poor farmers.
JP Morgan says it visited the key agricultural producing zones across India. Its report quotes a farmer in the south as saying, "the young labourers are moving to cities, while older members are taking to NREGA". The report explains that the government's successful implementation of NREGA and rising industrialisation in urban centres is providing migrant labour with options to move away from fields.
NREGA provides employment to over 45 million households (up from 21 million households in FY07) and under the scheme average daily wages have risen by 35% over FY07-10. Even smaller farmers are using equipment to substitute manual labour, reflected in sales of tillers and sub-20 HP tractors. Mahindra & Mahindra has launched the 15 HP small tractor - 'Yuvraj' - JP Morgan believes it will benefit from growing tractor sales. The report also looks at VST Tillers Tractors, which is benefiting from small equipment sales - but JP Morgan has no rating on the stock.
Here are a few other observations from the report:
* Quote from farmers in Haryana: The labour cost has increased considerably. Sometimes, even though we pay higher wages, labour is not available. The influx of migrant labour has reduced.
* In farm households (especially large farmers), the second generation is keen to migrate to cities as they want to diversify away from agriculture.
* Tractor penetration in India is still low and set to grow at a 12% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) over FY10-12E.
* There is growing use of drip irrigation, which has improved farm yields by over 30%. This form of irrigation is prevalent in southern/western India.
Tata Teleservices ignores scamsters using its SMS services to offer bumper lotteries
Mobile phone users have, for a long time now, suffered the scourge of unsolicited calls/SMSs. Recently, Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was interrupted during a debate in Parliament by one of these calls. But today, ingenious Nigerian scamsters have also started using SMSs to dupe gullible phone users through fraudulent bumper lotteries.
One Moneylife reader shared with us this experience. “I received an SMS from TD-demo account informing that I had won £50,000 in a lottery. I know this is a scam. Many of my friends have received such an SMS. After searching on the Internet, I found that many others have received similar messages from a TD account. TD is the operator code for Tata Teleservices, Delhi. I believe the Tata Tele account is being misused to send SMSs for scam activities. I have complained to Tata Teleservices on their website and also sent an email to the Cyber Cell of the Mumbai Police to take action against the account holder.”
As the SMS originates from the Tata Teleservices’ account, the operator would have a record that could help trace the culprits. A Tata Teleservices spokesperson advised that we send them the details so they could make inquiries.
The spokesperson described SMS marketing and spam as two different issues, saying, “SMS marketing is completely within the regulatory provisions set out by the authorities. Furthermore, if it is creating any trouble for any customer, it is the responsibility of each operator to protect its subscribers from unsolicited calls and SMSs under the DND (Do Not Disturb) provision.” However, the spokesperson did not say what measures Tata Teleservices was taking to stop the misuse of its services.
Only the other day, Mr Mukherjee was in the middle of a discussion in Parliament when he received a call on his mobile phone, with the caller offering him a loan. The minister was understandably irritated. The Indian government subsequently advised telecom operators to ban such unnecessary marketing calls and messages to mobile phones. The direction against unsolicited calls was issued through notices by the Supreme Court to companies such as Bharti Airtel, COAI and ICICI Bank and American Express.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has also imposed a financial disincentive on eight service providers for non-compliance under the Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications Regulation, 2007. These companies are Vodafone Essar, Reliance Communications, Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices, Spice, BPL, MTNL and Aircel.
But this hasn’t helped, yet, to curb the harassment suffered by mobile phone users due to unsolicited commercial communication. (This is the term the TRAI uses for unwanted calls/SMSs.) For, it seems that the mobile phone operators are more interested in earning revenues.
The Tata Teleservices spokesperson told Moneylife, “Indian telecom operators have received acclaim for reworking the costs of telecom to reach out to the masses, and for becoming a driver of economic growth. A farmer in a village, or a fisherman, is today happy to receive SMSs about crop prices and information on the weather. Any other form of disbursement of information to the public would have cost a 100 times more.” There is no doubt about the benefits of telecommunications. But that doesn’t allow operators to flood customers’ handsets with unwanted, unnecessary messages.
The writer is a subscriber of Tata Indicom for seven years and has also been a victim of such unwanted SMSs and calls. Complaints were made on numerous occasions to Tata Indicom’s customer care department, the nodal officer, the national services head, even managing director Anil Sardana. Each time the complaint was made, Tata Indicom called saying that an inquiry was initiated into the matter and that notices had been sent to the operators involved. The company made no mention about calls and messages originating from Tata Indicom numbers or having its tags. Then every time, the calls/SMSs resumed with a vengeance.
One proposal to curb the menace is to make mobile operators pay for each marketing call/SMS. Vir Sanghvi, editorial director of the Hindustan Times, wrote recently that the customer must be compensated for receiving these commercial calls/SMSs. He suggested a payment of Rs10 for each call/SMS to customers within the country and a minimum of Rs50 for each call/SMS on international roaming.
The Tata Teleservices spokesperson appreciated the sentiment. “SMS marketing has been there since the very inception of the industry. It is unsolicited spam that is the scourge. Being a Tata Group company, we are totally committed to help curb spam and we propose that commercial penalties be levied on operators for unsolicited spam.”
(For more information on unwanted SMS/calls read Call Stall http://www.moneylife.in/article/76/2735.html)