Pranab blames global volatility for pressure on rupee

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, who will assume chairmanship of ADB, said the global issues which have a bearing on the Asian economies would be discussed at the meeting

Manila: With the Indian rupee fast losing value against the US dollar, Indian finance minister Pranab Mukherjee blamed volatility in global commodity prices for currency depreciation and said deteriorating balance of payment (BoP) situation in several Asian countries also put stress on currencies, reports PTI.

“In several Asian countries, except China, the BoP is under stress which leads to currency depreciation,” Mr Mukherjee told reporters.

Mr Mukherjee, who is attending the 45th annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Board of Governors said certain fundamentals in the Indian economy have to be corrected against the backdrop of the rating agency Standard and Poor’s downgrading outlook for the country’s sovereign rating.  However, he did not elaborate.

Mr Mukherjee, who will assume chairmanship of ADB, said the global issues which have a bearing on the Asian economies would be discussed at the meeting.

Although the meeting began on 2 May 2012, Philippine president Benigno Aquino III formally inaugurated the plenary marked by impressive ballets by the local artists.

India’s currency has suffered sharp losses by over 15% in the last few months, leaving a bruising impact on the country’s imports, which mainly comprise crude oil. The rupee depreciation has resulted in the higher landed cost of the crude oil by the state-owned oil marketing companies, which have not been able to pass on the price increase to the consumers.

With the prospect of the subsidy bill shooting the budgeted target of Rs1.8 lakh crore, global rating agency Standard and Poor’s has downgraded the country’s sovereign rating outlook.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has expressed concern over the worsening current account deficit, which is likely to be 3.5% to 4% of the GDP for 2011-12.

Asked about the rating outlook downgrades of the India’s sovereign rating, Mr Mukherjee said that the fundamentals of the economy have to be corrected. “Fundamentals...we shall have to correct...” he said without elaborating what action the government was mulling.

He said the domestic issues cannot be discussed since Parliament is in session.

The main areas of concern for Mr Mukherjee were Eurozone and Japan, as they provide a big market to the merchandise from the developing world.

The Indian finance minister who will assume chairmanship of the ADB Board of Governors for a year, said the Asian region is still doing better than the developed countries.

“We will review the world economy... the (Asian) region is one of the important contributors to the world economy,” he said. India will be hosting the ADB annual meeting next year in New Delhi.

According to ADB Bank president Haruhiko Kuroda, Asia’s economy this year is set to grow by 6.9% and 7.3% next year. It is the internal demand within the region that is driving the Asian growth.


All-time high of 252 million tonne grain production in 2011-12

“Production of wheat, rice and cotton has broken the 60-year record,” agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said

New Delhi: India will have an all-time high foodgrain production of over 252 million tonnes in 2011-12 with a record output of wheat, rice and cotton, reports PTI quoting agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.

Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, he said the record foodgrain production of 252.56 million tonnes would be higher than 235.88 million tonnes output in 2010-11.

“Production of wheat, rice and cotton has broken the 60-year record,” he said.

Wheat production is expected to be a record 90.23 million tonnes against 84.27 million tonnes last year, while rice output is likely to be 103.41 million tonnes compared to 94.11 million tonnes in 2010-11.

Cotton production at 35.2 million bales (of 170 kg each) will be higher than 33.9 million bales last year.

Mr Pawar said a committee of eminent industrialists like Mukesh Ambani, Jamshyd Godrej and M S Banga had given 15 recommendations including liberalising agri-procurement, streamlining norms for private investment in agriculture supply chain and revisiting Minimum Support Price (MSP) norms.

While it is argued that the involvement of private sector was expected to give fillip to the agri sector, he said the government is opposed to private companies taking land ownership for cultivation.

“It is the endeavour of the government to protect ownership interest of farmers,” he said adding the government would not support suggestions like giving agriculture land on lease to private firms for cultivation of cash crops.

The committee of industrialists had also suggested linking agri-credit with crop insurance, increasing competition in rural banking, promoting R&D investments in high-yielding hybrids, promoting sustainable agricultural practices, leveraging and promoting technical innovations, conducting land reforms in a phased manner and setting up of agricultural parks.


TDSAT restrains Etisalat from taking telecom equipments at RInfra

Etisalat DB signed an agreement with RInfra for sharing telecom infrastructure on a 10-year lease. However, following the recent Supreme Court decision cancelling the licences of Etisalat and winding up petition filed by Etisalat Mauritius Ltd, RInfra moved to TDSAT for recovery of Rs1,270 crore

New Delhi: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) on Friday restrained Etisalat DB from transferring its equipment that is lying with the Anil Ambani group company Reliance Infrastructure Ltd (RInfra), which has claimed dues of Rs1,270 crore from the operator.

Passing an interim order on RInfra's plea, the telecom tribunal held that Etisalat DB is 'restrained from disturbing the possession' of its transmission equipment installed on the towers of the ADAG group company.

The tribunal did not agreed with the submissions of the Etisalat DB that it should not pass any order as the matter related to the recovery was pending before various forums.

"Petitioner (RInfra) cannot be put to any disadvantage only because other creditors of the Respondent (Etisalat DB) have approached the other forums," said the TDSAT bench headed by Justice SB Sinha.

However, it would apply for the equipment, which is not hypothecated to banks, said the TDSAT.

"We are of the opinion that interest of justice will be sub-served if in respect of the equipments of the Etisalat DB, which are in possession and control of the RInfra in terms of the agreement, it is restrained from interfering with the possession or transferring the said equipments," TDSAT said.

One Viom Network has already taken Etislat DB before the Delhi High Court and Standard Chartered Bank, which is a secured creditor, has approached the Debt Recovery Tribunal.

Moreover, an application for winding up has also been filed at the Bombay High Court by Etisalat Mauritius Ltd to liquidate Etisalat DB.

The DRT has already appointed a receiver to take the possession of Etisalat DB's inventory.

However, in its order TDSAT has said that if the DRT asks receiver to take possession of the equipment installed on RInfra towers, "it must give access to the Receiver with regard thereto".

Etisalat DB, a JV between UAE-based telecom major Etisalat and DB group, had entered into an agreement with the RInfra for sharing telecom infrastructure on a 10-year lease in 2009.

However, following the recent Supreme Court decision cancelling the licences of Etisalat along with other new entrants, RInfra moved TDSAT for recovery of its dues.

TDSAT's directions came over a petition filed by RInfra against Etisalat DB claiming Rs1,270 crore in dues for the use of its telecom infrastructure.


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