NEWS TO SHIPS BY NEWS ACCESS INDIA – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2018
- AFTER HOLDING FIRM, GOVERNMENT GIVES IN, CUTS FUEL RATES
With global crude prices surging and the rupee weakening, the Centre stepped in Thursday, announcing a cut of Rs 2.50 per litre for petrol and diesel effective midnight, and urging states to match the price reduction. Of the Rs 2.50 per litre reduction, Rs 1.50 per litre of excise duty cut would be borne by the central government and the impact of the remaining Re 1 per litre cut would be absorbed by oil marketing companies.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley appealed to state governments to match the Centre’s cut in fuel prices, following which BJP-ruled states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Chhattisgarh, Goa and Jammu and Kashmir which is under Governor’s rule — also announced relief of another Rs 2.50 per litre, taking the total price cut to Rs 5.00 per litre.
The move to make state-owned oil firms absorb Re 1 per litre was seen as a return of government control over pricing, and stocks of IOC, BPCL and HPCL tanked.
The decision to cut excise duty by Rs 1.50 per litre, Jaitley said, will cost the Centre Rs 10,500 crore this financial year. He, however, said that the government remained committed to meeting the fiscal deficit target of 3.3 per cent of the GDP for this financial year.
Jaitley said states have gained with the rise in global crude prices as their levies are ad valorem, while the Centre’s levy is a fixed levy. “When crude price rises, Centre’s revenue remains fixed per litre. However, states revenue rises because they levy average 29 per cent VAT on the increased prices. So I am writing to all state governments, saying like the Centre is absorbing 2.50 rupees per litre through revenue and OMCs, an equivalent amount should also be absorbed by state governments through VAT,” he said.
In June this year, Jaitley had said that with higher revenues, the government had been able to spend more on infrastructure, rural India and social sector schemes while maintaining fiscal prudence and keeping the fiscal deficit on the downward glide path. “Relief to consumers can only be given by a fiscally responsible and a financially sound central government, and the states which are earning extra due to abnormal increase in oil prices,” he said in a blog.
On the suggestion of a cut in tax on oil by Rs 25 per litre, Jaitley had called it a “Trap” suggestion. “It is intended to push India into an unmanageable debt — something which the UPA government left as its legacy. We must remember that the economy and the markets reward structural reforms, fiscal prudence, and macro-economic stability. They punish fiscal indiscipline and irresponsibility,” he had said.
- PM MODI, VLADIMIR PUTIN DISCUSS STRATEGIC ISSUES OVER ONE-ON-ONE DINNER
Carrying forward the Sochi spirit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday had a one-on-one dinner meeting with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin, accompanied only by interpreters. The meeting comes four-and-a-half months after the informal summit between the two leaders in the Russian city of Sochi.
Putin arrived in New Delhi on Thursday evening for a two-day official visit, and was received by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. “Welcome to India, President Putin. Looking forward to our deliberations, which will further enhance India-Russia friendship,” the PM tweeted in Russian and English.
- ‘BSP’S UNREASONABLE DEMAND IN MADHYA PRADESH LED TO TALKS BREAKING DOWN’
Even though the BSP had already announced candidates for 22 seats, the Congress had kept its hopes up about stitching up an alliance in some seats of Madhya Pradesh. Now, Mayawati’s decision that the BSP will go it alone has jolted the Congress. A top Congress leader Thursday said the BSP’s demand was for 50 seats, while the Congress was ready to give around 15 seats.
Senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi said that the BSP’s “unreasonable demand” was the reason for talks breaking down. He said the BSP has been contesting elections in MP and winning around 4 to 5 seats in the last four-five Assembly elections. “When Mayawati is in power in UP, the BSP impact in MP used to be a bit more…now she is weak in UP too,” he said.
“The Dalits of Madhya Pradesh have realised that the BSP will never be in a position to form government in MP….despite that we told the BSP that you take 10-15 seats…you won four seats last time. Take 10-11 more….They were demanding 50 seats. Jin ki haisiyat 3-4 seat ki bi nahin hain, wo pachaas maange tho kaise de de…that is not possible…if they want to fight alone they can…we are not much bothered,” he said.
He said the Congress, keeping in view the “national politics and larger interest”, wanted an understanding and alliance with non-NDA parties. “The effort of the Congress and its leadership was in that direction. If a grand alliance could be stitched together on the basis of some practical give-and-take…even if that did not have much significance in state-level politics….but it would have played a bigger role at the national level…We were trying to stitch something of this sort.”
- CONG PETITIONS CAG AGAIN, WANTS FORENSIC AUDIT OF RAFALE DEAL
The Congress on Thursday petitioned CAG for the second time in 15 days, demanding forensic audit of the Rafale deal while reiterating its demand for a joint parliamentary probe in the matter.
A delegation of Congress leaders comprising Ahmed Patel, Anand Sharma, Jairam Ramesh, Randeep Surjewala, RPN Singh and Vivek Tankha met the CAG and urged him to “discharge his constitutional duty” of probing the matter.
- MINISTER SHOULD’VE BEEN MORE SENSITIVE: PAK FM
Pakistan cabinet minister Noor-ul-Haq Qadri “should have been more sensitive” while sharing the dais with 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, the country’s Foreign Minister has said as he promised that he would ask his ministerial colleague the reason behind his move.
Qadri, the Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, was seen seated near banned Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) founder Saeed as he addressed an All Parties Conference organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council, a coalition of over 40 political and religious parties, on Sunday in Islamabad. A banner in the background said the conference was in “defence of Pakistan”, and mentioned “Kashmir” as well as “threats from India”.
“I think he (Qadri) should’ve been more sensitive, but it wasn’t that he subscribes to his (Saeed’s) point of view,” the Pakistani Foreign Minister, who’s on a visit to US, said.
The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
- GOING EXTRA LENGTH TO GET INDIA SUBSTITUTE OIL SELLER: US
The United States is going an extra length for countries like India and Iraq to find substitute for Iranian oil, the White House said.
The White House said Thursday as it reiterated its warning to all purchasers of Iranian oil to bring it down to zero by November 4 or face imminent sanctions from the United States.
“I’ve had conversations (with Indian officials on purchase of Iranian oil). Others in the administration have had conversations with senior Indian officials,” the US National Security Advisor John Bolton told reporters at a White House news conference.
“One of the things I think that’s important, whether it’s for Iraq or India or anyone else — particularly that’s been a purchaser of Iranian oil — we’ve gone to really extra lengths to try and find substitute sellers of oil so that there would be alternative supplies at market rates,” Bolton said. “That will help. This is something, obviously, the Obama administration wasn’t doing at all. And I think this will help toward our effort of persuading companies and governments, particularly in Asia, that there are alternatives to Iran that they can pursue,” he said in response to a question.
- UK, DUTCH ACCUSE RUSSIA OF HACKING CHEMICAL WATCHDOG
Britain and the Netherlands accused Russia of running a global campaign of cyber attacks to undermine democracies, including a thwarted attempt to hack into the chemical weapons watchdog while it was analysing a Russian poison used to attack a spy. In some of the strongest language used by the West since the Cold War, Britain said Russia was acting like a “pariah state”.
The accusations were backed by other Western countries including the United States, which said Moscow must pay a price.
Russia denied what its Foreign Ministry spokeswoman called a “diabolical perfume cocktail” of allegations by someone with a “rich imagination”. But the accusations deepen Moscow’s isolation at a time when its diplomatic ties with the West have been downgraded over the poisoning of an ex-spy in England and it is under US and EU sanctions over its actions in Ukraine.
The British and Dutch accusations were unveiled as NATO defence ministers gathered in Brussels to present a united front to their Cold War-era foe. “This is not the actions of a great power, these are the actions of a pariah state,” British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told reporters.
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said he agreed with the British and Dutch assessments. Russia must pay a price and a number of response options were available, he said.
- TO FIGHT BJP, NAIDU OFFERS TO ANCHOR ALTERNATIVE FRONT
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has offered to be an anchor in forging a third front for the formation of a non-BJP, non-Congress government at the Centre.
Ruling out his own possibility of taking a lead role for himself in Delhi, Naidu said he would fulfil his moral responsibility of bringing together a formidable opposition. “People are disappointed with the current government so it’s natural that an alternative will emerge,” he added.
Naidu said as of now he could not reveal the details of this alliance as these efforts could be sabotaged.
“The BJP government has failed on all fronts and there is disappointment on all counts. Like every citizen even I had a lot of expectations from the Prime Minister, but now there are only disappointments — from demonetisation to bad implementation of GST, people’s loss in faith in the Indian economy and distrust in banks. When such a situation prevails, alternatives automatically emerge,” he added.
- ON SABARIMALA, CONG & BJP STAND WITH TRADITION; SLAM STATE GOVT
The Congress and BJP on Thursday intensified their attack on the CPM government even as protests against the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala temple gathered momentum.
The state government and the Travancore Devaswom Board have made it clear that the apex court order — lifting the age restriction on entry of women into the hill shrine — would be implemented.
After convening a meeting of pro-Congress former devaswom board presidents, Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala questioned the government’s move. “The government and board are showing undue haste in implementing the verdict. The government is against the interest of the devotees. The Congress will stand with the devotees, who are hurt over the approach of the board and the government,” he said.
State BJP president PS Sreedharan Pillai said the party would protest against the government’s stand. “The CPM government should avoid its obdurate stand against filing a review petition against the verdict. The impulsiveness of the government will make Sabarimala a battleground. The government has hurt the sentiments of devotees. We will go to any extent to protect the traditions at Sabarimala,” he said.
Upper-caste Hindu outfit Nair Service Society (NSS) also expressed disappointment and said it would file a revision petition in the Supreme Court.
- KALBURGI KILLED FOR REMARK ON IDOLS, SUSPECT TELLS POLICE
Kannada scholar and writer M M Kalburgi, who was killed outside his home in Dharwad in North Karnataka on August 30, 2015, was reportedly targeted for a remark he made in June 2014, when he quoted Jnanpith awardee U R Ananthamurthy to say that urinating on idols would not attract divine retribution.
Ganesh Miskin (27), one of two suspects arrested by the Karnataka Police CID for Kalburgi’s murder, has said that the 77-year-old scholar’s statement, made during a discussion on an anti-superstition Bill, was perceived as “anti-Hindu”, and triggered the attack on him. Miskin and Amit Baddi (28), both linked to a radical Hindu outfit, were arrested by the CID on September 15, after a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Karnataka Police probing the September 5, 2017 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh indicated their possible involvement in the Kalburgi case.
- CHANDA KOCHHAR QUITS ICICI BANK; SANDEEP BAKHSHI TO BE NEW MD
Facing inquiry over charges of nepotism and conflict of interest, ICICI Bank Managing Director and CEO Chanda Kochhar today quit the bank, six months before her current tenure was to end.
Kochhar, 57, has also resigned from all subsidiaries of the bank, including ICICI Securities where she had sought reappointment as the chairperson.
The board elevated Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sandeep Bakhshi as the new MD and CEO for five years.
The bank said the external inquiry instituted by the board against Kochhar in May would continue and the benefits to her would be subject to its outcome.
Following the board’s decision to institute an inquiry by retired Supreme Court Judge BN Srikrishna, Kochhar had gone on leave in May.
- NO EARLY RELEASE FOR MANU, SANTOSH, SUSHIL SHARMNA
The Delhi Sentence Review Board yesterday rejected pleas for the early release of convicts in the Jessica Lall, Priyadarshini Mattoo and “tandoor” murder cases.
The board, at a meeting chaired by state Health Minister Satyendra Jain, recommended the premature release of 22 life convicts, but rejected applications of 86, including Manu Sharma (serving a life sentence for murdering model Jessica Lall in 1999), Santosh Singh (convicted in the Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case of 1996) and Sushil Sharma (convicted in “tandoor” murder case of 1995).
Manu Sharma is the son of former Congress leader and Haryana minister Venod Sharma. Santosh Singh is the son of a retired IPS officer, while Sushil Sharma is a former Congress MLA. Set up in 2004, the board takes up cases of prisoners who have spent at least 14 years in jail.
Jessica’s sister Sabrina Lall’s recent communication to the Tihar authorities had kindled a hope of premature release in Manu’s heart. In March this year, she had said that she did not have any objection to Manu’s release as she had “moved on”. “It was a baggage that I carried for years and now it is almost two decades. Time is a great healer. The loss remains, but we need to move on,” said Sabrina.
- TERRIBLE THURSDAY ON D-STREET
The equity benchmark Sensex today hit its lowest level in three months, crashing over 806 points to close below the 35,200-level as concerns over weakening rupee and rising crude oil prices spooked investors.
The rupee plunged to an all-time low (intra-day) of 73.81 to the US dollar and global crude oil prices touched a four-year high of $86 a barrel, triggering worries for India on the macro-economic front.
The weakness in other Asian markets and a lower opening of the European shares also added to negative sentiments on the domestic bourses. “The strongest of businesses and the bluest of blue chips have cracked in the last couple of sessions, which highlights the prevailing negative sentiment and environment of pessimism. With the rupee hitting record low, crude prices moving northwards, increasing fears of a broadening current account deficit along with the liquidity worries led to another major fall in the indices…” Devang Mehta, Head – Equity Advisory, Centrum Wealth Management, said.
- RAJKOT TEST, DAY 1: INDIAN DOMINATE, PRITHVI SHAW SCORES TON ON DEBUT
Teenage sensation Prithvi Shaw announced his arrival in top-flight cricket by becoming the youngest Indian to score a Test century on debut, headlining the home team’s march to 364/4 against West Indies on Day 1 of the series-opener here today. Shaw (134 off 154) and Cheteshwar Pujara (86 off 130) laid the foundation for a big total with a 206-run partnership after the loss of KL Rahul for a duck.
Skipper Virat Kohli (72 no off 137) and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane (41 off 92) then took the innings forward with a 105-run stand in the final session, putting India in the driver’s seat before the latter was caught behind off spinner Roston Chase.
The West Indian attack, hamstrung by the last minute withdrawal of skipper Jason Holder, was far from threatening but credit must be given to Shaw who batted like a seasoned campaigner in his first match for India. His back-foot play off the pacers was a treat to the eyes and when spinners were deployed, he was not afraid to use the long handle. He reached the hundred off 99 balls, adding to a host of records he holds in his blossoming career.
Shaw falls in the free-scoring, game-changing opener mould Kohli has been desperate for. For a while, Shikhar Dhawan seemed the solution, and like Shaw, he began his Test career racking up the fastest hundred by a debutant before his weaknesses unravelled, one after the other. Shaw, Kohli would believe, is cut of a different cloth. Tougher test of character, technique and temperament surely await Shaw, but one thing he has promised, besides the sparkling stroke-play, is that he would keep the audience away from yawning in the post-lunch session if he’s still around. A Sehwag redux, at least he was in Rajkot on Thursday.
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GBP 0.77 /US$, Euro 0.86 /US$, Jap.Yen 114.10 /US$, Aus$ 1.41 /US$, Sing 1.38 /US$, Bang Taka 83.28 /US$, Can$ 1.28 /US$, Mal Ring 4.14 /US$,
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Bitcoin – USD 6,556
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Gold world Spot Price USD/aoz 1,199 India (Rs. per gm 24k/22k) 3060 / 2972, Silver (Rs. Per KG) 41,600
- THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Wealth is the ability to fully experience life. – Henry David Thoreau
- OFF TRACK
A retiree was given a set of golf clubs by his co-workers. Thinking he’d try the game, he asked the local pro for lessons, explaining that he knew nothing whatever of the game.
The pro showed him the stance and swing, then said, “Just hit the ball toward the flag on the first green.”
The novice teed up and smacked the ball straight down the fairway and onto the green, where it stopped inches from the hole. “Now what?” the fellow asked the speechless pro.
“Uh… you’re supposed to hit the ball into the cup.” the pro finally said, regaining his composure.
“Oh great! NOW you tell me.” said the beginner in a disgusted tone.