Sources said the two blocks on which CCEA may give some kind of a conditional approval, are inconsequential in the whole transaction as there has not been any hydrocarbon discovery so far
New Delhi: More than four months after UK's BP agreed to buy stake in 23 oil and gas blocks of Reliance Industries (RIL) for $7.2 billion, the government may give unconditional approval for stake sale in only 21 blocks, reports PTI.
Approval for sale of 30% interest in deepwater block NEC-DWN-2002/1 in Bay of Bengal and Assam onland block AS-ONN-2000/1 may be conditional as oil regulator Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) has not agreed on the status of exploration in two acreages, sources privy to the development said.
BP had in February announced buying 30% stake in 23 blocks of RIL, including prolific KG Basin block D6 and gas discovery block NEC-25. While RIL made an application for transfer of interest on 25th February, the oil ministry earlier this month sent the proposal to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for approval.
Sources said law ministry in its comments on the Cabinet note raised the issue of the two blocks, where DGH and RIL are in disagreement over exploration status.
In NEC-DWN-2002/1, RIL had taken an extension of Phase-I of its exploration campaign. In the meanwhile, the government recently announced rig moratorium, allowing firms more time to fulfil their drilling commitments which they had previously not met due to global shortage of drilling rigs.
Since NEC-DWN-2002/1 was covered by rig moratorium, Reliance sought to withdraw the exploration extension it had availed as per the exploration extension policy of the government but DGH and oil ministry said no to it, sources said adding it is not clear if the block in now under Phase-1 or Phase-II of the exploration phase.
In Assam block AS-ONN-2000/1, there is disagreement if RIL had completed its Phase-I work programme and entered Phase-II.
While Reliance had drilled a well on NEC-DWN-2002/1, it was planning to do so on Assam block shortly. The well on NEC-DWN-2002/1 was dry i.e. did not lead to any oil or gas find.
Sources said finance ministry has opined that approval to the Reliance-BP deal may be given unconditionally while the comments of the home ministry are awaited.
If home ministry responds by Monday, the oil ministry will the following day send a detailed cabinet note complying view of ministries of finance, law and home. The deal may then come up for deliberation of the CCEA on 21st July, they said.
The home ministry had previously given a security clearance to the $7.2 billion deal.
Sources said the two blocks on which CCEA may give some kind of a conditional approval, are inconsequential in the whole transaction as there has not been any hydrocarbon discovery so far.
Although the oil ministry has the authority to decide on Reliance selling 30% interest to BP in 23 exploration blocks, including the prize eastern offshore KG-D6 gas fields, the ministry earlier this month decided to refer the deal to the CCEA, sources said.
The decision to refer the deal to CCEA came more than a month after the ministry of home affairs gave security clearance to the BP stake acquisition. The $7.2 billion deal is the single largest foreign direct investment in the country.
At present, 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) is permitted in the oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) sector under the automatic route (without going through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board or CCEA).
RIL wants to leverage the worldwide experience of BP to resolve sub-surface technical issues at its KG-D6 gas fields, where production has fallen from 61.5 million metric standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd) to about 48 mmscmd, instead of rising to the planned 69 mmscmd.
The Mukesh Ambani-led firm hopes BP will be able to fix reservoir issues at the Dhirubhai-1 and 3 gas fields in the KG-D6 block to rapidly raise output to the planned peak of 80 mmscmd and also to help formulate viable plans to bring other finds in the block and in other areas on to production.
BP will pay $7.2 billion for a 30% stake in 23 exploration blocks held by RIL and a performance payment of up to $1.8 billion if the tie-up leads to the development of commercial discoveries.
RIL and BP will also form an equal joint venture for the import, marketing and transportation of natural gas.
Sources said after the CCEA nod, amendments to the Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) of the 23 blocks would be effected to induct BP as a partner. Reliance will retain operatorship of all 23 blocks.
We, the aam aadmi, are involved in corruption or contribute to furthering corrupt practices. And what should each one of us must do to end this malaise?
Due to the on-going movement against corruption, the government and government employees (about 40 lakh-45 lakh across country) are now perceived to be the only corrupt citizens in the country. But this is not true. It would imply that the rest of the 120 crore Indians, are honest and above board, which is absolutely not true. No country can become corruption-free if the citizens themselves indulge in corrupt practices in day-to-day affairs, hurting their own fellow countrymen. There has not been any appeal by any civil society leader/opposition leader to the general public to shun corrupt practices (and perhaps never will be). Government employees and citizens together, can very effectively contribute to the movement by following certain parameters.
1. Traffic policemen: The next time when traffic police detain someone for violating traffic rules and he wants bribe the police, rather than pay the fine, the policeman should make him shout in public, "I support Anna's movement, but I am a hypocrite". That way the public will know the originator of corruption.
2. Wholesalers/retailers/hoarders of essential commodities: Even when a farmer gets Rs10/15 a kg for his onion/dal/other produce, crores of fellow Indians may end up paying Rs70 to Rs100, due to rigging by these middlemen (our fellow citizens). Hundreds of crores of profit thus get converted into black money. Is it corruption or is it fleecing of fellow countrymen, or both? The government should fix the ratio (say 100%) of wholesale/retail prices to 'farmers' price of sensitive commodities (vegetables, grains, fruits, pulses, etc). The moment that 'cut-off' price is breached, the income-tax (IT) department should simply start raiding them. They will earn blessings of crores of fellow Indians.
3. Adulterators: Water/chemicals in milk, kerosene in petrol, stones in grains, hooch in liquor, duplicate products, are all common corrupt practices committed purely by the aam aadmi which may result in the death of fellow citizens. A government official, Mr Sonawane, was burned in public in Maharashtra recently. His fault, he was trying to catch a kerosene adulterator. The sale of PDS items-meant for the poor-in the open market; sub-standard roads, flyovers, bridges; meter tinkering/overcharging by autos/taxis, etc, is quite common-all this again by the common citizens.
4. Builder/estate agents: Another very well-known segment where the aam aadmi generates and uses the cash in a very big way is property dealings. Scan as many deals as possible; use Stamp Duty data to identify the receiver/payer of cash. Use agents/dummy customers/actual user/bank network.
5. Jewellers: Individual purchases of Rs5 lakh/Rs10 lakh/Rs20 lakh of gold/diamond/jewellery in cash is quite common; obviously from money got through corruption by the aam aadmi. Go wholeheartedly after this segment. Put the informers; send dummy customers; track crores of cash being deposited in banks, confront such customers in showrooms, use camera recordings, etc. If there is any resistance, call Anna's local soldiers/recognised civil society leaders.
6. Manufacturers/traders/importers/contractors: Inflated project costs/over invoicing/under invoicing of receipts and payments/cash purchases and sales/ fake bills, by these 'common people' are very normal practices across segments. Use their lenders/bankers/CAs /employee network to expose the evasion.
7. Doctors/lawyers/tutors/stock brokers: Again, it a known fact that these 'common people' hardly provide receipts for services rendered, and consequently they pay a fraction of the taxes that are due. Make it compulsory to issue proper receipts for every transaction; ensure that stickers/labels are put up in their offices announcing the practice of providing stamped receipts. The differential charging by doctors and hospitals for insured/non-insured treatment is again quite a common practice. Is this just exploitation, or corruption?
8. CAs/consultants: When IT/customs/excise/sales tax/revenue/other officials come to negotiate genuine dues, they must be reminded that the eradication of corruption requires 'compliance' and not 'evasion' and that they should honestly pay what is due. They would certainly appreciate your anti-corruption spirit. Use them to catch evaders.
9. Civil society leaders/supporters of the anti-corruption movement: The public has a right to assure itself that leaders and participants in the anti-corruption movement themselves do not indulge in corrupt practices. The rules of transparency and accountability apply equally to them. Conduct a compulsory financial audit of all those who are in the forefront. Use the TV/press/Internet to identify such persons and share the findings with the public. Ask for voluntary disclosures.
10. Housewives: Very happy with buying gold/diamonds/jewellery valued at lakhs of rupees, all in cash, without batting an eyelid or inquiring from the husband about the source of such large amounts of cash. The husband may participate in a hunger protest and the kids in a candle-light march against corruption, simultaneously. There would be enough leads through access to cameras in jewellers/high-end product showrooms.
11. Students/youth: This is a very vocal and active segment in the movement against corruption. Capitation fees of Rs15 lakh/Rs20 lakh for seats in medical/engineering/MBA courses, even nursery, and all paid in cash, at the cost of deserving poor students, without any qualms. No issues with paying bribes for various certificates. Not disturbed at family members evading taxes. Youth must stop the malpractices within their own families/offices. This might take care of much of the corruption issues and would be their real contribution to the cause.
12. Salaried: Just leave them alone. By and large, they can't contribute much to the corruption pool. They constitute the largest chunk of the three crore tax-payers in the country of 120 crore people. But they are the most-affected lot due to the cancer of corruption practiced by the fellow aam aadmi-whether it is adulteration of milk, grains or fuel; rigging by of prices by middlemen; or being fleeced by lawyers/agents/builders/doctors/contractors/auto or taxi drivers, and so on. They voice their frustration by criticising the government/government employees/the system, without realising that day-to-day life has been made difficult because of the malpractices by fellow 'common people'. And with no support from civil leaders, they will be left to fight this battle on their own.
In conclusion, even the most ideal Lokpal Bill is unlikely to address these issues, on a day-to-day level. Government employees, along with genuine anti-corruption crusaders, should go all out to give invaluable impetus to the anti-corruption movement to rid the country of this evil. The icing on the cake: the incremental revenues would turn out to be beyond anybody's wildest dreams-the various scams may pale in comparison.
While 300 people attended the whole-day session at Bengaluru, 4,000 people watched it live on the Web
Moneylife Foundation held its first seminar at Bengaluru on 16th July on "Investor, Empower Yourself." Around 300 people attended the whole-day session, and watched with rapt attention. This seminar was a big leap for the Foundation-it was the first time that it was being beamed live across the country. Almost 4,000 people across the nation watched the session live.
Congratulatory comments have been pouring in after the success of the seminar. PV Subramanian, author of several bestsellers and financial planner commented: "Even with not too great net connectivity, I watched it like it was on TV." This is just one of the several comments that we have received. Another participant (MR Suryaprakash) has sent Moneylife an email: "Congratulations. The seminar was interesting, educative and thought-provoking. Please inform me whenever you are conducting programmes at Bengaluru."
The live coverage beamed from Bengaluru is part of the Foundation's quest to spread financial literacy and promote consumer advocacy across the length and breadth of the country. The live streaming of the event was done by http://webtv.in/, founded by Anju Maudgal Kadam and Ketav Kadam. They and their team worked tirelessly for Moneylife Foundation's first such live event. "At WebTV.in, we believe that live streaming is an excellent platform for building focused communities. It is a medium that is clutter free of the commerce being transacted in other communication mediums and yet cost effective. A tool which was leveraged to its best by Moneylife Foundation, to take its message beyond geographical barriers, when they broadcasted the seminar-live from Bengaluru to the world. (This is) relevant messaging, to an ecosystem that is eager to gain a collective voice without compromising on ethics," Anju Maudgal Kadam told Moneylife.
The event was generously supported by Indiabulls. Moneylife Foundation has previously held such investor education programmes in Kolkata, Delhi, Pune and Mumbai. Stay tuned to this space for more such events!
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