TRAI gets 24 lakh comments on differential pricing paper
New Delhi : Indian telecom regulator TRAI has received 24 lakh comments from stakeholders on its consultation paper on "Differential Pricing for Data Services" where operators said pricing flexibility is a core tenet of marketing and innovation, an official statement said here on Friday.
 
The last date of submission of comments was on January 7 and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) will come out with counter-comments by January 14.
 
"Majority of the comments received are template responses and many of which do not address the specific questions that were raised in the consultation paper. In view of the fact that there is quite a large number of responses and also that many of these are repetitive template responses, no useful purpose would be served by publishing all such responses," the regulator said in the statement said.
 
"Therefore, it has been decided to publish only sample copies of responses which contain identical or similar subjects/ source or contents," it added.
 
The regulator on December 9 said differential pricing of data services, an important aspect of net neutrality, by various operators might potentially go against the principle of non-discriminatory tariff and sought comments or opinions from stakeholders.
 
The regulator received comments from service providers like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Reliance Communications, Aircel, Idea Cellular, Sistema Shyam Teleservices, Tata Teleservices, Telewings Communications Services, Videocon and state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.
 
"Pricing flexibility is a core tenet of marketing and innovation. The differential pricing or marketing innovation is critical for the growth of data services. 
 
Customers find differential offerings, a great value proposition as these enable them to use various products or services of their choice at a much lower price. Thus, TSPs (telecom service providers) should continue to have the flexibility to offer a variety of packages to consumers," Bharti Airtel said in its comments.
 
British telecom major Vodafone India said: "The content provider may like to enter into commercial arrangements with the service providers to offer a differential tariff for its content. 
 
"Such arrangements will be a win-win for the customers, the telecom operators and content or app developers as it will help defray the costs of infrastructure build-out, ensure affordable services and high quality experience to end users, which in turn will fuel development and growth of the market."
 
Industrialist Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications (RCOM) said: "The Authority should allow the offering of differential pricings within the scope of the existing regulations itself. Imposition of any further regulations on data services will only distort the market and could be to the detriment of the end users." 
 
The regulator said more than 13.5 lakh were comments received through [email protected]
 
"About 5.44 lakh comments have been received through [email protected]'. Most of these responses are in support of a specific product, that is, 'Free basics', even though the consultation paper had not raised any issue on such specific product without addressing the questions raised in the consultation paper," it said.
 
RCOM, the only telecom service provider offering Free Basics in India, on December 23 said its commercial launch has been put on hold after the regulator said it should not come till the ruling on differential pricing is out.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Aircel-Maxis: ED charge sheets Dayanidhi Maran, others
New Delhi : Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday filed a charge sheet against former communications minister Dayanidhi Maran and five others involved in a money laundering case related to the Aircel-Maxis deal.
 
The charge sheet was filed before Special Judge O.P. Saini, who has fixed January 18 for further hearing.
 
ED has named Maran, his brothers Kalanithi Maran, Kalanithi's wife Kavery Kalanithi, company South Asia FM Ltd. (SAFL) and its managing director K. Shanmugam and firm Sun Direct TV Pvt. Ltd. (SDTPL) for money laundering of Rs.742.58 crore.
 
It was alleged that Dayanidhi Maran influenced a Malaysian businessman to buy Aircel by coercing its owner Sivasankaran to part with his stake.
 
The ED has booked the accused under various charges dealing with money laundering.
 
The investigation has revealed that Rs.742.58 crore was paid to Dayanidhi Maran by Mauritius based companies.
 
The money was paid to SDTPL and SAFL, both of which are owned and controlled by Kalanithi Maran.
 
The money was utilised by the two companies in their business, ED said.
 
The probe revealed that promoters of the SDTPL are Kalanithi Maran and Kavery Kalanithi.
 
"Dayanidhi Maran obtained the proceeds of crime to the tune of Rs.742.58 crore through the companies of his relatives by camouflaging the proceeds of crime as capital contribution in SDTPL and SAFL and has committed the offence of money laundering in receiving the said proceeds of crime in the said companies owned and controlled by his brother, Kalanithi Maran and Kavery Kalanithi," the investigation report said.
 
It added that Shanmugam was responsible for managing affairs of SAFL as managing director who assisted in money laundering process.
 
In this case of illegal gratification to Dayanidhi Maran, investigation under PMLA of Maxis, Berhad Malaysia, T. Ananda Krishnan, Augustus Ralph Marshall, South Asia Entertainment Holding Ltd (SAEHL), Mauritius, South Asia Software Technology Ltd (SASTL), Mauritius, South Asia Multimedia Technology Ltd, Mauritius (SAMTL) and Astro All Asia Networks Plc, Britain (Astro) is being carried out by sending Letter of Request to Mauritius and Malaysia, the ED stated.
 
The execution reports are awaited from these countries, it added.
 
Investigation pertaining to involvement of the foreign nationals and others was still being carried out, while further investigation was also being conducted related to Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval in Aircel-Maxis feal and other issues, it said.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Nifty, Sensex may record a minor bounce – Weekly Closing Report
Nifty has to close above 7,670 for the first sign of a bullish trend
 
We had mentioned in last week’s closing report that Nifty, Sensex are in no man’s land as we enter 2016 and that Nifty has to stay above 7,850 for the uptrend to continue. The major indices in the Indian stock markets suffered a sharp correction and went below 7850 on the first day itself, that is, Monday and continued to head lower in line with the global cues – plunge in Chinese stock markets and geo-political tensions. On Friday, there was a minor recovery with the indices improving by 0.33%-0.44% over Thursday’s close due to value buying by investors. The trends of the major indices in India during the course of the week’s trading are given in the table below:
 
 
European shares fell on Monday on the first trading day of 2016 after weak Chinese data rekindled global growth worries, while oil prices jumped and bond yields dropped on rising tensions in the Middle East, reports Reuters. Chinese manufacturing surveys showed that any hopes for a recovery in the sector were premature. Adding to the worries, China's central bank fixed the yuan at a 4-1/2 year low. Chinese shares fell sharply, prompting the stock exchange to halt trading. European stocks followed Asia's lead. Germany's DAX dropped 3.4%. Investors were wondering how much further the U.S. Federal Reserve would raise rates this year after its first rate hike in almost a decade last month. 
 
Negative global cues, coupled with disappointing macro-data, subdued Indian equity markets on Tuesday. This led the Indian equity markets provisionally closing the day's trade in the red a day after it plunged to a new four-month low. Initially, the bellwether indices opened on a firm note in sync with their Asian peers. However, they soon receded on the back of negative international cues from the US, rising geo-political tensions in the Middle East and disappointing macro-data. Besides, investors were seen cautious regarding the upcoming macro-data on industrial output, retail inflation and the third-quarter earnings results which start from January 14. Nevertheless, some value buying and mildly positive Asian markets soothed investors' nerves.
 
Geo-political tensions, coupled with caution over upcoming macro-data and quarterly results, depressed Indian equity markets on Wednesday. Initially, the bellwether indices opened on a flat-to-negative range in the wake of two days of consecutive falls, disappointing domestic macro-data and global uncertainties. Nevertheless, both the indices soon pared their losses on the back of short-covering, value-buying and positive Asian markets' close. 
 
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's comments on Tuesday regarding further reforms in the infrastructure sector also buoyed sentiments. However, the benchmarks soon receded, as investors were spooked over the rising geo-political tensions in the Far East following North Korea's reported testing of a thermo-nuclear device. In addition, volatility was stoked by the upcoming US non-farm payroll figures scheduled for release on late Thursday India time, along with minutes of latest FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting. Both the events could provide indications on future US rate hikes. Besides, caution prevailed over the upcoming domestic macro-data on industrial output, retail inflation and the third-quarter earnings results which start coming in from 12th January.
 
The Indian cabinet on Wednesday approved setting up of a credit guarantee fund for loans of Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd or MUDRA Bank. The fund is expected to guarantee loans worth more than Rs1 lakh crore to micro and small units in the first instance, the government said. The cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi also gave its nod to covert MUDRA Ltd to MUDRA Small Industries Development Bank of India (MUDRA SIDBI Bank), a wholly owned subsidiary of SIDBI.
 
Panic selling triggered by a plunge in Chinese markets, coupled with rising geo-political tensions and upcoming US macro-economic data, dented Indian equity markets on Thursday. This led to the S & P BSE Sensex receding close to its 52-week low on a closing basis. The bellwether indices opened on a negative note following a rout in the Asian markets which was triggered by accelerated devaluation of the Chinese yuan, disappointing domestic macro-data and global uncertainties. Commodity prices, too, plunged as the economy of the world's largest consumer namely China struggled. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index declined 7% within just 29 minutes, which led to a halt in trading, as the circuit breaker mechanism was triggered. The Chinese markets' fall impacted other global bellwethers, including the Japanese and Australian indices, which reacted negatively.
 
A weak rupee and increase in selling activity by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) also subdued sentiment on Thursday. According to data with stock exchanges, FPIs had divested Rs242.48 crore on Wednesday. Market observers pointed out that volumes continued to rise in the sell-off, affirming the weak sentiment. Geo-political tensions in the Middle East and North Korea testing a thermo-nuclear device on Wednesday eroded investors' confidence. Besides, caution prevailed over the upcoming domestic macro-data on industrial output, retail inflation and the third-quarter earnings results which start coming in from January 12. The markets seemed to have ignored the positives, especially the release of latest FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting minutes which indicated that the US Fed might delay another round of rate hike.
 
The S&P BSE market breadth favoured the bears on Thursday -- with 2,189 declines and 636 advances. Sector-wise, automobile, capital goods, banking, healthcare and oil and gas indices stocks came under selling pressure.
 
A minimum dividend of 30%, declaration of special dividend and issue of bonus shares were the new guidelines from the central government as the owner for central public sector enterprises (CPSE) on Thursday. The department of economic affairs under the union ministry of finance in its office memorandum on 5 January 2016, said as a majority owner of CPSEs, the central government has decided on the new dividend policy. According to the new policy, a CPSE would declare an annual dividend of 30% of profit after tax (PAT) or 30% percent of the central government's equity whichever is higher; declaration of special dividend as a return for its equity investments; and issue of bonus shares by companies having large cash reserves. According to the department, the companies would have to look at market borrowings for capital investments so as to leverage the favourable debt-equity ratio. The economic affairs department also said market borrowing for capex would enforce more professionalism in the CPSEs. The new dividend policy seeks to increase the dividend income for the central government from the earlier rates of 20% of PAT or 20% of equity whichever is higher.
 
Positive Asian indices, and hopes of political consensus over key economic legislations, buoyed Indian equity markets on Friday. This resulted in the S &P BSE Sensex ending the day's trade up 83 points, a day after it touched a new 52-week low. On Friday, the bellwether indices opened on a positive note in sync with their Asian peers. Asian markets gained after China decided to put quick-fixes to its falling markets such as the suspension of the circuit-breaker system which halted trading twice this week. The Chinese administration raised the guidance rate for the yuan and asked state-controlled funds to buy equities. The major indices closed marginally higher in the Indian stock markets over Thursday’s close. On Friday, the S&P BSE market breadth favoured the bulls -- with 1,945 advances and 814 declines.

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