Nation
Parliament fails to transact business for sixth day

Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha witnessed scenes of the last five days, with BJP members starting slogan shouting as soon as the Houses met, leading to adjournments

New Delhi: The Indian Parliament failed to transact any business for the sixth straight day today as  Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continued to create ruckus by pressing its demand for resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh even as other Opposition parties wanted to take up debate on Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report and other business, reports PTI.

 

With BJP being adamant on disrupting Parliament, Congress President Sonia Gandhi went into a combative mode as she told the party MPs to take on the main Opposition "aggressively" and herself led them in the Lok Sabha in doing so.

 

Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha witnessed scenes of the last five days, with BJP members starting slogan shouting as soon as the Houses met, leading to adjournments.

 

In the Lok Sabha, BJP members trooped into the Well, chanting slogans against the government and demanding resignation of the Prime Minister over the CAG report on coal block allocation.

 

However, their colleagues from NDA allies Shiv Sena, JD-U and Akali Dal did not join them in the Well but raised slogans from their seats.

 

Displaying determination to aggressively take on BJP, Gandhi led from the front by egging on her members to counter opposition's sloganeering on coal allocation issue.

 

Earlier in the morning, she had told a meeting of party MPs not to be deflected by the "intemperate Congress bashing" by the opposition and hit back.

 

Even before the Question Hour began, she was seen engaged in an animated conversation with leaders of key UPA allies -- NCP chief Sharad Pawar and NC head Farooq Abdullah.

 

Then, she walked up to Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav's seat and sat with him for a chat. She wished Yadav with a "namaste" and left with a "shukriya" (thank you).

 

Gandhi's pro-activeness was visible later when the Lok Sabha met again at noon after the Question Hour was adjourned.

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Not much joy in spectrum auctions guidelines, says Nomura

Spectrum re-farming is flagged once again and the government has stated that additional spectrum will only be made available after reserving spectrum for re-farming

 
Nomura Equity Research says that it is hard to see many positives in the spectrum auction guidelines and the only respite would be if the auctions fail altogether, which it thinks is not entirely likely. It recommends avoiding Indian telecoms altogether for now in the equity market.
 
The Department of Telecom has released the spectrum auction info-memo (information memorandum) providing key details on pricing and the process. The reserve price is Rs140 billion for 5Mhz (on 1800Mhz), and only 10Mhz of spectrum will be initially made available (in 1.25Mhz blocks). The bidding is open to existing operators (they can only bid for 2x1.25Mhz). New players who are eligible for a unified license, and operators whose licenses were recently cancelled, are also eligible and the bidding is open to them as well.
 
Importantly, spectrum re-farming is flagged once again and the government has stated that additional spectrum will only be made available after reserving spectrum for re-farming.
 
The deferred payment structure option also exists, which could likely see more competition/operators bidding in the auction, and the spectrum usage charge ranges from 3% to 8%.
 
Nomura further says that the key items to note in the auction system are as follows:
 
• Auctions will commence on 12 November 2012 for the 1800Mhz band, and the 800Mhz        
   auctions will commence two days after the completion of the 1800Mhz auctions.
 
• Competition is likely to be intense, as a minimum eight blocks of 1.25Mhz (10Mhz in    
   total) or about two licenses (for new entrants) will be auctioned in each circle. The    
   existing operators, or companies that are eligible for a unified license, and the operators
   whose licenses were recently cancelled are all eligible to bid in these auctions. The
   existing operators, however, will only be allowed to take a maximum 2x1.25Mhz each  
   (in each circle). 
 
Nomura says that re-farming is likely to be a key risk for telecom operators. The info-memo makes references to re-farming, suggesting that the government is quite serious about this proposal. Incremental spectrum (over and above 10Mhz) is made available for bidding only after reserving spectrum for re-farming against allocation in the 900 MHz band for licences expiring during 2014 to 2016.
 
Deferred payment structure also applies whereby the bidders will only have to pay 33% of the amount upfront (for 1800Mhz and 25% for 800Mhz spectrum), and then a two-year moratorium, and then the balance over 10 annual instalments, including interest.
 
Spectrum usage charge ranges from 3% (for 4.4Mhz) to 8% (for 15.2Mhz).
 
There are no restrictions on the technology to be adopted for providing services within the scope of the service license.
 
Moneylife readers may also read “SC asks Government to complete 2G spectrum auction by January 2013” (http://www.moneylife.in/article/sc-asks-government-to-complete-2g-spectrum-auction-by-january-2013/28082.html) for the initial report on the subject.
 
According to ictregulationtoolkit.org, the efficient use of wireless requires government action in the form of spectrum re-farming, the clearing of frequencies from low-value (by economic and/or social criteria) and reassignment to high-value applications. This is a complex and difficult task in that the occupants of the frequencies to be reassigned are unlikely to be pleased by the change, because of disruptions to their activities.
 

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SEC aims to shut down $600 million Ponzi scheme

The US watchdog, the Securities Exchange Commission, announced its intention to clamp down and virtually shut out a $600 million Ponzi scheme called ZeekRewards. Will our regulators and law enforcers learn?

United States market watchdog, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), announced its intention to clamp down and virtually shut out a $600 million Ponzi scheme called ZeekRewards. Such proactive action is rarely taken by the US regulators and law enforcers. Stephen Cohen, an associate director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement said, “ZeekRewards misused the power of the Internet and lured investors by making them believe they were getting an opportunity to cash in on the next big thing. In reality, their cash was just going to the earlier investor”.

 

According to the SEC press release, it is believed that Paul Burks, the founder of ZeekRewards, has agreed to settle the SEC’s charges against him without admitting or denying the allegations, and agreed to cooperate with a court-appointed receiver. Burks has agreed to relinquish his interest in the company and its assets plus pay a $4 million penalty. Additionally, the court has appointed a receiver to collect, marshal, manage and distribute remaining assets for return to harmed investors.

 

The premise of the scheme was to recruit investors or “qualified affiliates”. Qualified affiliates have no role in the organisation except to recruit more helpless individuals and sign up as investors or qualified affiliates”. It is alleged that Burks withdrew approximately $11 million of investors’ (qualified affiliates) money and distributed $1 million to family members. According to SEC’s court complaint, which seeks to shut down the company, ZeekRewards employs a pyramid ‘Matrix’ to reward its investors for recruiting others to join the scheme. The company places each newly recruited affiliate into a “2x5 forced-fill matrix,” which is a multi-level marketing pyramid with 63 positions that pools new investors’ money. Basically, the success of the scheme depends how many people are ‘recruited’. These are the classic makings of the Ponzi and multi-level marketing scheme.

 

At some point of time, there will be far too many investors, or too few new investors to ‘pay’ the older ones, to sustain the pyramid scheme and is bound to collapse. And this is precisely what SEC thinks will happen. It said in the complaint, “ZeekRewards” current investor payouts are approaching, and may soon exceed, total incoming revenue. In July 2012, total revenue for ZeekRewards was approximately $162 million, while total investor cash pay-outs were approximately $160 million. Further more, it is believed that owners of ZeekRewards hold approximately $225 million in investor funds in approximately 15 financial institutions. These funds are in danger of rapid depletion. What is more pertinent is that vast majority of the funds are being held by payment processors as reserves against potential credit card “charge-backs”.

 

Ponzi Schemes are nothing new to the world. Their recurrence keeps happening, often right below regulators’ noses, especially in India. We, at Moneylife, had written about it at length and recently over here: (http://moneylife.in/article/mlms-now-want-to-invest-money-in-india-really/27968.html). Will our regulators and law enforcers take notice?

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