Will not close down Kingfisher: Mallya

“With the accounts frozen, the problem started then and there. We didn’t have time to notify anyone. It was only subsequently that we notified the DGCA. We conveyed to DGCA defining the circumstances we were having to suffer,” Kingfisher Airlines’ promoter Vijay Mallya said

New Delhi: Beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines’ promoter Vijay Mallya Monday night said he will not shut down the private carrier which struggled to stay afloat after further large-scale flight disruptions and resignation of pilots, reports PTI.

“Closing down is not an option. It will not happen.

Government does not want it to happen. It is not in national interest,” Mr Mallya said in his first public reaction to the latest crisis that has gripped his cash-strapped airline.

“Why should we give up as long as we get help. Help is not bailout. We have asked banks to consider our proposal to provide more working capital,” he said, making it clear that the airline has never asked for a bailout from the Indian government.

In the context of getting help, the liquor baron referred to the government’s decision to allow direct jet fuel imports by the airlines and permit foreign carriers to pick up stake in them. He had lobbied hard with the government on both these issues.

Mr Mallya claimed that the entire issue of bailout was of “media making”.

Asked about sudden disruption in Kingfisher flights, the UB Group chief said the bank accounts of the airline were frozen “very suddenly” by the Income Tax authorities over non-payment of tax dues.

“The abrupt disruption was unfortunate because our bank accounts were suddenly frozen by tax authorities. I don’t deny we have taxes due. .... The bottomline is we requested for time to pay these dues,” Mr Mallya said.

“It was the very sudden attachment of our accounts that obviously crippled us,” he said.

Kingfisher, which suffered a loss of Rs1,027 crore in 2010-11 and has a debt of Rs7,057.08 crore, posted a Rs444 crore loss in third quarter this fiscal.

Maintaining that Kingfisher’s financial crunch was reflective of the prevailing state of the aviation industry, Mr Mallya said “we have to make payments every day. Payments are to be made for spare parts, to customs, fuel dues, airport dues. So the ability to operate the bank account is critical”.

“Once we are choked, we obviously have problems. I tried to resolve and negotiate with the tax authorities and tried to agree on a payment plan which is comfortable for both. Our accounts should be de-frozen so that we can continue normal operations. We have the money in the accounts and money is flowing in,” Mallya said.

Asked why the airline did not inform aviation regulator DGCA about flight cancellations, he said “if your bank account is frozen suddenly, obviously you don’t have advance notice by which to notify DGCA. It is self-explanatory.

“With the accounts frozen, the problem started then and there. We didn’t have time to notify anyone. It was only subsequently that we notified the DGCA. We conveyed to DGCA defining the circumstances we were having to suffer,” he said.

Almost 40 flights were cancelled by the airline, including those to Bangkok, Singapore, Kathmandu and Dhaka, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded at various airports across the country. The cancellations included 14 flights from Mumbai, seven from Kolkata and six from Delhi.

 

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Black money: I-T may get to re-open returns beyond 6 years

The I-T department needs these powers to pursue the ongoing cases where funds were found to be stashed abroad and these came to light after India received a classified list of bank account holders which include those in HSBC Bank Geneva and LGT Bank of Liechtenstein

New Delhi: The government may grant the Income Tax (I-T) department powers to re-open tax returns of beyond six years in specific cases of black money where “foreign assets” are involved, reports PTI.

The I-T department needs these powers to pursue the ongoing cases where funds were found to be stashed abroad and these came to light after India received a classified list of bank account holders which include those in HSBC bank Geneva and LGT Bank of Liechtenstein.

The department, according to current rules, can only open I-T returns for the past six years if they need to probe hidden income and assets.

The recommendation on extending the period was also made by the committee on black money headed by the chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is expected to take into account this issue before he presents his Budget next month.

“This specific clause is being seriously thought.

Numerous instances in the department's on-going probe in black money cases warrant such a clause as unreported investments date back to many years. The I-T investigations have also asked for such a clause in the I-T Act,” a senior finance ministry official said.

The clause, however, is needed in cases where foreign assets are traced as in these cases we need to prepare a tight case before we approach a foreign country for help under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) or other relevant treaty, the official said.

The official said the time frame that I-T authorities want to go back is about 12 years but the limit can only be decided by the finance ministry and Mr Mukherjee’s office after consulting all stakeholders.

While Germany had last year provided the names of some Indians having secret accounts in Liechtenstein’s LGT Bank, many other such classified data is now with India.

Officials of the probe wings of the I-T department have carried out a number of searches and visits in the last four months on various entities based in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and few other cities of people who have admitted to holding accounts and stashing funds in the foreign bank after their names figured in the classified lists.

In cases where the individuals have denied holding secret foreign bank accounts, the department has already decided to re-open their past tax returns.

 

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Global steel demand to go up by 5.4% in 2012, says WSA

Global steel demand is expected to register a 5.4% growth in the current year to around 1,500 million tonnes on higher consumption from developing nations, according to the World Steel Association

New Delhi: The global steel demand is expected to register a 5.4% growth in the current year to around 1,500 million tonnes (MT) on higher consumption from developing nations, reports PTI quoting the World Steel Association (WSA).

WSA’s director general Edwin Basson in a presentation said the steel consumption will grow from 1,397 MT last year as consumption in developing regions is higher. WSA members represent around 85% of the world steel production.

Mr Basson said the demand for steel is expected to grow by 2.5% in the European Union to 159 MT over the last year.

The demand of steel may grow by 5.7% and 4.9% in the Commonwealth of Independent States and countries signatory to North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to 60 MT and 121 MT, respectively, he said.

Countries in Central & North America and Africa are expected to register 9.8% and 11% growth in steel demand in the current year to 52.4 MT and 23.8 MT, respectively, over the last year.

“The exceptionally high growth rate for Africa is partly the result of weak steel consumption at the start of 2011 owing to the political uncertainty in the region for a large part of 2011,” Mr Basson said.

The growth in steel demand would be 7.9% and 5.4% in the Middle East and Asia & Oceania in 2012 to 15 MT and 963.1 MT, respectively.

India’s steel consumption was around 68 MT in 2011, the third-highest steel consuming country in the world after China and the US.

Mr Basson said the demand for steel in China is likely to be its lowest level over the last three years to 6% in the current year to 682 MT.

However, he added: “This does not mean that China is becoming less important as a steel consumer. It only means that China is growing larger at a slower pace”.

 

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