Dec 172012

No CBI influence exerted on SP chief, says Congress New Delhi: The Congress Monday rejected the Samajwadi Party’s charge that the CBI was used to influence its decision in the foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail and jobs quota bill.

“There is no question of any influence. There is no proof of it,” Congress spokesperson PC Chacko told reporters.

No CBI influence exerted on SP chief, says Congress

The Samajwadi Party Sunday alleged that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was being used to trap its chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The SP’s remark came ahead of the crucial vote on a bill Monday evening that promises reservation to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) in job promotions.

No CBI influence exerted on SP chief, says Congress

Both the SP and the BSP had helped the ruling UPA win the parliament vote on FDI in retail.

“The SP and the BSP took their positions on FDI on their own. I don’t think a leader of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s stature would be afraid of CBI,” said Chacko.


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First Published: Monday, December 17, 2012, 23:39

Dec 162012

The author has posted comments on this articleAgencies | Dec 17, 2012, 06.47AM IST
WASHINGTON: According to the quarterly lobbying disclosure reports filed with the US Senate and the House of Representatives , at least three organizations— Financial Services Forum, Business Roundtable and Financial Executives International—have lobbied on issues related to taxation and other proposals of the finance bill presented in Parliament early this year. ` Giants like Boeing, AT&T, Starbucks, Lockheed Martin, Eli Lilly and GE have also lobbied earlier with US lawmakers on “specific lobbying issues” related to India, which include discussions on market opening initiatives and support for their sales and business opportunities in the country.

Besides, Qualcomm has lobbied on issues related to spectrum licences, Alcatel-Lucent on preferential market access regulations and Pfizer on “issues related to a Supreme Court decision on generic medicine pricing” and certain patent cancellation matter in India.

One of the most active entities with India-related lobbying issues this year has been the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers with its opposition to the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions in the US until India along with China and Russia implement similar reductions.

Besides, insurance major Prudential Financial has been lobbying for “Indian financial market access and equity ownership issues”. Like the government decision to open FDI in retail, a proposal to increase FDI cap in insurance sector is also being vehemently opposed by various political parties.

So far in 2012, Prudential Financial has spent more than $6 million on various lobbying issues in the US, including those related to India, while the lobbying bill for Morgan Stanley has crossed $2 million.

Among others, Business Roundtable has spent $6.6 million , Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers about $8 million , Dell close to $2 million, HP about $1.5 million, Cargill $1 million and Aerospace Industries Association of America around $2 million.

The disclosure about Walmart having spent $25 million on its lobbying activities in the US since 2008 on various issues including those related to opening of retail FDI in India generated a high-decibel political debate last week and the government finally agreed for an enquiry into the matter.

Lobbying is a legal activity in the US, but the lobby firms hired by the corporate entities need to make quarterly disclosures about their activities and payments. However, there are no specific regulations about lobbying in India.

The Indian government itself has a lobby firm presenting its case with the American lawmakers, while a number of Indian companies and entities also indulge in lobbying activities in the US through their respective lobbyists.

The Congressional records show that a number of other global giants have also paid their lobbyists in 2011 or prior years to present their issues related to India before the US lawmakers.

These include telecom major AT&T, whose specific lobbying issues in the past have included “telecom trade in India ,”, while the lobbyists for the world’s largest coffee retail chain operator Starbucks have discussed “market opening initiatives in India” with the US lawmakers.

After years of waiting on the wings, Starbucks recently opened its first retail outlet in India through a partnership with Tata group.

Dec 152012

FDI will push country towards economic slavery: Baba Ramdev Lucknow: Firing a fresh salvo on Congress, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev on Saturday alleged that the decision of Centre to allow FDI in multi-brand retail will ruin the future of country’s farmers and push India towards economic slavery.

“They are playing with the future of five crore retail traders, 25 crore people associated with them and around 75 crore farmers.

They are not even ashamed,” he alleged while speaking at a function here.

FDI will push country towards economic slavery: Baba Ramdev

Alleging that FDI was brought under US pressure, Ramdev accused Congress of taking the country towards economic slavery.

“Earlier Congress used to give slogans that ‘Congress ka haath aam aadmi ke saath’, Now I say Congress ka haath Walmart ke saath, with foreign companies. They have no love for country and are taking it towards economic slavery,” he alleged.

“US expressed happiness the moment FDI came here. They will, because their people are sitting here,” he said.

FDI will push country towards economic slavery: Baba Ramdev

He claimed voting in favour of FDI in both Houses of Parliament was not the victory of FDI, but “the victory of CBI”.

On the issue of black money, Ramdev said the huge sum lying in foreign banks can bridge country’s financial deficits if brought back to the country.

He also praised CAG Vinod Rai for “exposing scams”. On his future strategy, Ramdev said he will tell about it “when time comes”, and insisted that they are “fully prepared” to play an “important role”.

He urged people to ensure that not a single Congress candidate wins in Lok Sabha elections.

“This time vote where Baba says,” he said. On quota issue, Ramdev said time has come when emphasis should be given on representation instead of reservation.


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First Published: Saturday, December 15, 2012, 21:29

Dec 142012

The author has posted comments on this articleTNN | Dec 15, 2012, 04.53AM IST

NEW DELHI: Nearly bankrupt Kingfisher Airlines is preparing the ground for getting FDI by capping FII investment at 3%. The decision was taken at the grounded airline’s board meeting on Wednesday as it talks to various foreign investors and airlines for a possible stake sale.

In a filing to BSE on Thursday, the airline said it has barred qualified foreign investors or other non-strategic foreign investment (excluding investment by NRI) with immediate effect “beyond its current level of 3% or such other percentage that may be decided from time to time under intimation to the stock exchanges”.

This is being done with a “view to keeping the company’s capital structure in readiness for transactions that may be identified in the future for benefit of all stakeholders”.

At the end of the September quarter, the stake of overseas investors in the airline was 2.5%. Foreign direct investment in Indian carriers is capped at 49% and recently the government allowed foreign airlines to pick stake up to that level too.

The airline’s scrip gained almost 5% on BSE on Wednesday. The airline’s shares prices have been constantly rising for past eight days, a rally that gathered pace after it admitted being in talks with Etihad.

Incidentally, Jet Airways is also in talks with Etihad but a high price being sought by the airline is said to have tilted the balance in Kingfisher’s favour.

The filing said: “In this connection, it has been advised that a fresh infusion of capital by a financial or strategic, Indian or non-resident investor is a possible alternative.” On Tuesday, the airline had said it was in “discussions with various investors, including Etihad Airways, for equity investments.” While there were reports that Kingfisher was trying for a 48% stake sale to the Gulf carrier, the airline said: “No agreement has been reached either with Etihad or any other airline and the matters are merely at negotiation stages.”

Dec 132012

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Thursday assured the state legislature that the state will not allow foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail sector .

Chandy made the announcement in response to notice for an adjournment motion given by the opposition Left Democratic Front in the assembly. He said he had received nod from Congress high command for taking such a decision in the issue.

Chandy said it was true that MPs of Congress and allies from Kerala had voted in Parliament for allowing FDI in retailing . But this was following whip from party leadership.

He said Congress MPs from the state will follow party leadership’s decisions. But we had got exemption regarding implementing it in the state, he added. The current decision won’t be revoked even during the remaining years of UDF government in the state, the Chief Minister asserted.

The opposition had given notice for discussing the problems faced by traditional industries in Kerala including coir, cashew, fisheries, textiles and beedi in the light of nod for FDI in retailing. CPI (M) MLA P.K Gurudasan served the notice.

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition V S Achuthanandan demanded that it should be investigated if any MP from Kerala had received benefits for allowing FDI in retailing in the country. He raised this allegation in the light of the disclosure of Walmart that it had spent a huge sum for lobbying for enhanced market access in India.

Achuthanandan’s remarks created uproarious scenes in the assembly and later he withdrew it.

Dec 122012

The author has posted comments on this articlePTI | Dec 12, 2012, 01.30PM IST
MUMBAI: Markets watchdog Sebi said on Wednesday that guidelines to prevent flash markets crash like what happened on the NSE in October and protect the interests of investors will be in place within a few days.

“I expect the final guidelines to safeguard the interests of investors due to flash crashes in a few days,” Sebi chairman UK Sinha told reporters at a CII-organised capital markets summit here, without elaborating further.

It can be recalled on October 5, there was a massive 900-point flash crash of the benchmark Nifty which wiped out nearly Rs 10 trillion of investor wealth.

Following the flash crash, trading was halted for about 15 minutes. A report of Sebi ordered probe is awaited.

The NSE claimed there was no technical glitch in its system and blamed the crash on erroneous orders worth over Rs 650 crore for multiple trades by broker Emkay Global in various stocks at low prices on behalf of an “institutional client”.

The incident occurred on a day when expectations were high for an upward rally on bourses, following some big-ticket reform measures approved by the government the previous evening, including on FDI in sectors like insurance and pension.

Dec 112012

The demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into disclosures by retail giant Walmart on lobbying in India was made by several members in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

SP, which had bailed out the government during the vote on a motion against FDI in multi-brand retail , also pressed for a judicial probe into the issue.

RJD, which also supported the government on FDI issue, demanded a JPC probe into WalMart’s disclosure .

Terming as shameful the company’s disclosure before the US Senate that it had spent Rs 125 crore for lobbying in India, members said only an independent probe can find out who actually took the money from the retail giant.

While several members demanded setting up a JPC, some others favoured a judicial probe which is time-bound.

Yashwant Sinha (BJP), who demanded a time-bound judicial probe, said the government should announce on Tuesday itself whether it wanted to set up a JPC or order a judicial probe.

Demanding an early response from the government, members from BJP, Trinamool Congress, Left parties, AIADMK and JD(U) trooped into the Well forcing adjournment of the House for 30 minutes and later for the day.

SP members did not join the protest in the Well but were on their feet demanding a probe. BSP members were not seen in the House.

“Lobbying is not illegal in the US, but it is called ‘commission’ here. It is illegal. It is bribery,” Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) said.