Companies & Sectors
UK Serious Fraud Office probes Tata Steel's British plants
Mumbai : Britain's Serious Fraud Office has opened a criminal investigation into Tata Steel's UK operations, which the company is looking to sell, according to reports appearing in the British media.
 
The Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday that authorities have launched a criminal investigation into charges that Tata Steel staff, at its Yorkshire's site, may have tampered with certificates on the composition of steel products before its sale.
 
At least nine employees have been suspended and around 500 clients, including Rolls-Royce and BAE, are affected, the paper said citing sources.
 
Having suffered nearly 3 billion dollars in losses on the British operations, Tata Steel last week said it will explore the options to put its entire portfolio there up for sale, some 10 years after it forayed into Europe by acquiring the Anglo-Dutch Corus for over 8.1 billion dollars.
 
The company said the move was to cut its heavy losses from high manufacturing costs, competition with China and a global steel glut. 
 
Former chairman Ratan Tata has described the UK steel operations as "underinvested and overmanned".
 
British Business Secretary Sajid Javid flew into this city earlier this week to specifically hold talks with the Tata Group top brass led by chairman Cyrus Mistry, in a bid to avert over 40,000 job losses at Tata Steel UK.
 
The Tata Group on Wednesday sought the British government's help in finding a suitable buyer for its floundering steel assets in Britain, while also exploring the possibility of a third-party independent auditor to oversee the transition, sources here said.
 
Speaking to reporters here following the meeting, Javid called it "constructive and positive" and said the Tata Group was a "responsible company". He added that it had told him that a "reasonable amount of time" would be allowed for the sale process.
 
Javid also tweeted that Tata Steel will begin the formal process to sell its UK units by coming Monday.
 
Among the parties that have shown interest in purchasing the Tata assets, the British business secretary only named Liberty Steel.
 
India-born, London-based businessman Sanjiv Kumar Gupta, founder of the UK-based Liberty House, is touted as a strong contender to take over Tata Steel's British assets. He was one of the potential buyers Javid met in London before flying out to Mumbai.
 
Earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron held emergency talks in London with his colleagues to tackle the crisis, amid warnings that the firm has just weeks for a rescue deal.
 
The Labour Party has termed it a national crisis and wants the UK steel industry to be nationalised.
 
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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Ensuring Safe Transactions: Mobile, Internet, ATMs, Ecommerce
Explaining best practices for making online transactions safe and secure, Yogesh Sapkale, emphasised that unless you follow certain rules and are learn to be vigilant, no software or mobile app can protect you
 
"Online transactions and shopping through mobile or personal computer (PC) or laptop are fast becoming way of life. No doubt it makes like easy. However, if you want to take advantage of technology, you need to follow certain rules," said Yogesh Sapkale, Deputy Editor of Moneylife. He was speaking on "How to be Safe & Smart in Digital Financial Transactions" at Moneylife Foundation which explained how some basic safeguards could allow people to benefit from technological advances without falling prey to scams, viruses and malware.
 
He said, "No software or mobile app can protect you if you are not careful. Whether you are using Internet for browsing, checking emails or online transactions you need to follow certain rules. It applies while using mobile phones and ATMs as well." 
 
Mr Sapkale started the session with mobile security, what apps to download or install, how to save contacts and the importance of having an emergency (ICE) contact number in the mobile. "This (the ICE number) will help in case something happens with you and your near and dear ones needed to be contacted. You can save number with ICE prefix, like ICE Rahul, ICE Pankaj and so on."
 
Mr Sapkale offered an interesting solution to those who keep their phones locked.  "Locking your mobile is a good thing to prevent unauthorised usage. But it becomes problem in case of emergency, especially if you are knocked out in an accident. A person who wants to assist you or contact your kin is unable to access details from a locked phone". His solution was this: Almost all mobile devices allow you to post owner information on the locked screen. Instead of posting your name under this, add the mobile number of the person who should be contacted in case of emergency. Use the prefix 'ICE' (in case of emergency) or 'Emergency' followed by the mobile number of the person. You can add the name of the person if you wish. You can also add more than one number, but use mobile numbers instead of landlines: ICE 9876543210 or Emergency 1234567890. This will help others to help you."
 
 
He then told the audience how one could block spam or unwanted calls and messages using apps like TrueCaller. Such apps would get access to your contact list, but it also helps in identifying the caller, he said, adding, for this, TrueCaller needs to have access to internet or you need to keep the data connection, preferably 3G and above on.
 
Mr Sapkale also informed the audience about precautions to take while handing over you mobile for repairing or while selling it to someone else. Emphasising on regular backups, he advised the audience to sell or dispose of mobile only after taking all back up and resetting the device to factory setting.
 
He then offered some safety tips for using internet banking and financial transactions. He said, "Do check the encryption level of the URL which you may be accessing, especially for financial transactions. There should be an additional 's' in the address bar, like https. Also check for the lock icon in the address bar. This denotes the security level and should display the website's security certificate after clicking on the lock icon."
 
Since several banks provide virtual keyboard for online banking, one should use it, especially if you are accessing it from a public PC, to avoid user ID and password from being stolen through key loggers. Same thing applies when you are using a free Wi-Fi connection, which makes your data vulnerable and one should avoid it, he added.
 
For financial transactions, Mr Sapkale said, "Avoid clicking on any link, icon like 'submit' button on screen, unless you have initiated the session."
 
He went on to explain safe practices for using emails, precautions while downloading attachments, and how to identify spam or phishing mails. "For a safer side, check if your email service provider allows you to opt in for double check-in. Here one check is your password, and the other could be a one-time password (code) as SMS or conveyed through a phone call," he advised. 
 
Talking about security for personal computer (PC) or laptop, he said, "You need to have a robust anti-virus and an anti-malware software. Several free softwares perform similar to or even better than the paid ones. Also do opt for software updates and, especially for Windows, install patches. Regular software updates ensure you get the best performance, better life and new, useful features. Most importantly, they increase the security of your device by patching the bugs or holes that may make your device vulnerable to attacks or virus and malware."
 
Passwords play an important role in online transactions and thus we need to pay extra attention for creating and keeping it as a secret. "You should create passwords and codes or PINs that are hard to guess but easy to remember (only for you). For general sites, which do not affect you personally or financially, use simple, memorable phrases, to create passwords. Reserve your strongest, most distinct passwords for critical services-like your bank account, your computer, personal e-mail and social media sites."
 
"Never share your passwords with anyone. Create passwords using memorable phrases; mix it with numbers, special characters. Never use a word from a dictionary, either as base or password. Feel free to mix languages. For financial transactions, I would suggest a password with a length of at least 13 characters," Mr Sapkale advised.
 
He also explained, how using the keypad of old mobiles, one can create combination of PIN for ATN, debit or credit card. Talking about safe practices for using such cards, he said, "Never reveal you PIN to anyone. Also cover the keypad with your hands while entering your PIN, either at any shop or at ATM centre. Do not let your card out of your sight. If at a merchant site, the payment machine is elsewhere, either accompany the retailer or request they bring it to you. Check your credit card statements and contact your bank if anything looks suspicious."
 
Mr Sapkale, then took the audience through online shopping transactions. "Shop only based on your needs and not on impulse. If you are planning to buy an item, then bookmark or add it to cart instead of direct buying as it may save you some money later through an offer or special sale period. Also opt for cash on delivery (COD) and open the package in the presence of the delivery person to check if it is same as you ordered. In addition, while ordering an item do check its total price, including delivery charges. Sometimes, your neighbourhood shop may be selling this item at much lower price compared with the total cost of online ordering," he said.
 
In his concluding remark, Mr Sapkale said, "Never reveal mobile numbers, credit or debit card number and its security code or any other personal detail related with your financials, especially over phone. Never click on any unfamiliar link received either through social media or chat programs or via email. Do check the encryption level of the URL which you may be accessing and do not share your mobile number or email ID in public forums."

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State finances display worsening of fiscal consolidation and quality
Out of the 849 state level public enterprises, 30% are estimated to be incurring losses, and hurting state finances. Improvement in their performance is a prerequisite to improve state public finances, says a research report
 
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) released a report "State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2015-16", which is the primary source for disaggregated state wise fiscal data. The central bank says expenditure quality at the sub-national level in India has somewhat improved with the implementation of fiscal responsibility and budget management (FRBM) rules. However, while quality of spending is improving post FRBM, the fiscal positions of states have been worsening of late, says a research report.
 
In the note, Religare Capital Services Ltd, said, "There are 849 state level public enterprises (SLPEs) operating in India. Of these about 30% are estimated to be incurring losses, and hurting state finances. Thus, an improvement in their performance is a prerequisite to improve state public finances. Besides, an improvement in financial health of state power distribution companies (discoms) and rationalisation of centrally sponsored schemes would also help improve the situation."
 
The RBI had stated that the existing levels of high revenue and non-development expenditure in states' total spending is of concern as it can inhibit growth at the state level.
 
As per the RBI report, states have managed to contain growth in spending post the FRBM and the aggregate expenditure-to-gross state domestic product (GSDP) ratio has declined by 70 basis points (bps) to 17.1% post the FRBM, with as many as 13 of the 17 non-special category states being able to reduce the ratio. More importantly, the quality of spending by states has improved slightly over the last decade. Post the implementation of the FRBM, the aggregate capital outlay of states has risen to 2.4% of GSDP from 1.8% earlier, while revex has fallen by 100bps to 14.3% of GSDP. The improvement in capital outlay-to-GSDP ratio has been more stark in the low income category states of Uttar Pradesh (240bps), Bihar (190bps) and Madhya Pradesh (100bps).
 
Religare says, the fiscal positions of state finance have been continuously deteriorating over the past five years and the fiscal deficit has risen to 2.9% in FY2015 (revised estimate) from 1.9% in FY2012. "This has led to a sharp rise in market borrowings by states to Rs2.3 lakh crore in FY15 from Rs9000 crore in FY11. The fiscal deficit is budgeted to improve by 50bps to 2.4% in FY16. However, it may be noted that the report only considers the budgeted numbers for FY16 - the revised estimates of some states suggest that this improvement is unlikely to materialize. For instance, Rajasthan’s revised estimates for FY16 put the fiscal deficit number at 3.6% of GSDP (vs. a budget estimate-BE of 3%). If we include the impact of Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY), the ratio is much worse at 10%. Similarly, Bihar, UP, MP and Maharashtra’s revised estimates are also much higher than the budgeted number," it added.
 
Expressing concern over the quality of fiscal consolidation in recent years, the report says, as per the budgeted numbers for FY16, 50bps reduction in states fiscal deficit ratio is to be achieved primarily by a cut in developmental expenditures to 11.4% in FY16 from 12.2% of GSDP in FY15, even as non-developmental expenditures increase to 4.9% from 4.8% of GSDP during the same period.
 
The Central Government has eased the fiscal deficit cap for states for the remaining XIV Finance Commission award period (FY17-FY19) by up to 50bps from the current level of 3% of GSDP subject to the condition that the debt-to-GSDP ratio is less than 25% and the interest payments to revenue receipts ratio is less than 10% in the past two years. If the states meet only one of these two conditions, then they can exceed the fiscal cap by 25bps. Moreover, if a state is not able to fully utilise its sanctioned fiscal deficit of 3% of GSDP in any particular year, it can carry it forward to the next year. Similarly, if a state overshoots the upper limit in a year, then the following year the cap is reduced by the same amount. The move is in line with the 14th Finance Commission’s recommendation and is expected aid the fiscally better placed states to focus on capital expenditure, which are often lumpy. Among the states, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa satisfy both the conditions and would be able to raise the fiscal deficit-to-GSDP ratios by 50bps over the 3% cap, the report concluded.

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