Troubled Galaxy Destroyed Dreams, Chapter: 827
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Corporate lobbying is now institutional in India thanks to committed corporate governance! As the Parliament heads for another logjam over Walmart, India Inc is worried. The fate of some crucial economic legislation is hanging in the balance.The pressure button is already on as India faces one-in-three chance of rating downgrade in the next two years in case the government fails to push reforms in view of the political gridlock and ensuing general election in 2014, Standard & Poor's said today. The hardcore lobbying for the reforms has created a situation in which as the issue of Walmart lobbying for access to Indian markets paralysed the Lok Sabha for the second day, the government Tuesday said it was ready for an inquiry.The opposition parties have demanded a probe either by a Joint Parliamentary Committee or a judicial commission to find out if "bribes" were paid in India. The parties seeking an inquiry included the RLD of Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh as well as the Samajwadi Party, which also supports the government. The SP advocated a time-bound judicial inquiry. The BJP, JD(U), AIADMK, Trinamool Congress, RJD and CPI called for a JPC probe.The present financial crisis in Europe and other countries is affecting Asian economies not just through trade or slower Asian exports, but through financial channels and can be compared to the Lehman shock of 2008, a senior ADB economist said here today.
In a bid to break the deadlock over a bill to amend banking laws, finance minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday reached out to the principal opposition BJP to discuss the issues on which it is objecting to the proposed legislation. Chidambaram met Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma
Swaraj and later her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley to discuss the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2011. BJP is objecting to the inclusion of some provisions in the Bill which were not recommended by Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance.
Sources said the BJP leaders pointed out that the inclusion of forward trading under the banking laws is not acceptable to it as this would affect the small traders.
"BJP's apprehension is that prima facie forward trading being brought under the ambit of banking laws would harm the small traders," the sources said.
The government has reportedly included this provision as the Food Processing and Consumer Affairs Standing Committee had made this recommendation.
BJP has objections to some other provisions in the Bill and is demanding that it be sent back to the Standing Committee on Finance to discuss in detail the ramifications of the new clauses.
The Left parties have alleged that BJP and Congress seem to have struck a deal on the banking law bill.
With the two major parties sticking to their stand, the impasse is far from over, the sources said.
The Walmart lobbying row rocked the Parliament for the second day in a row. The government said today that it is ready for a probe into the matter . The Opposition said that lobbying is illegal in India and the Government officials have been bribed by Walmart.The Opposition demanded an independent probe into Walmart spending USD 25 million in lobbying in India for retail FDI. Parliamentary affairs minister, Kamal Nath said on the floor of the house that the government is not running away and that it is ready for a probe.However, as the Parliament heads for another logjam over Walmart, India Inc is worried. The fate of some crucial economic legislation is hanging in the balance. Captains of India Inc urged the government to get on with business, urging the Opposition to get on with reforms like the goods and services tax (GST) is pending.
Meanwhie ,Hours after petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily announced Tuesday that the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders would be raised to nine from six per household, the Election Commission took strong exception of the move and dashed off a stern letter to him and his ministry, seeking an explanation and directing that the decision be put on hold immediately. Setting vote bank equation right,the government will raise the cap on supply of subsidised cooking gas (LPG) to nine cylinders per household in a year from current restriction of six, Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily said. "I think it is likely to go up definitely from six (cylinders) to 9 (cylinders)," he told reporters here. The government had in September capped supply of subsidised LPG to six cylinders per household in a year. Any additional requirement is to be bought at market price of Rs 931 per 14.2-kg bottle.Subsidised LPG costs Rs 410.50 per cylinder at present. Moily said the decision to raise the cap will be taken by the Cabinet "very shortly". The original decision to cap supply at 6 cylinders was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs on September 13 and the decision to raise it would also have to be taken by the Cabinet panel, he said. "I think as early as possible," he added. Moily said he has had two rounds of discussions with Finance Minister P Chidambaram on the impact of the decision to raise the cap. The government will have to provide an additional Rs 9,000 crore annually if the cap is raised. "We are working on that," he said on ways to mitigate the additional subsidy requirement. "We are working on certain formula to neutralise it."
The EC wrote to Moily asking him to give his explanation by 11 am Wednesday.
Last week, the poll body had also taken exception to the government's announcement on direct cash transfers, saying that it could have been avoided. It had also directed the government to put on hold decisions relating to the scheme in six districts of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
Adi Godrej, President, CII, Chairman, Godrej Consumer said, "Lobbying is like advocacy. If it is done legitimately without any corruption is perfectly acceptable. The main reform, which will help India restore its growth, is the goods and the services tax. That's a huge reform. It will add 1.5-2 percentage points to India's GDP growth other things being equal. That to my mind is the most important reform. There are of course several other reforms, which are important, but by far I would put emphasis on the goods and services."
Rahul Bajaj, Chairman, Bajaj Auto said, "I want infrastructure and national investment growth. I want the GST. The direct taxes code (DTC), and all will come, there is no issue. GST should come, where Opposition must cooperate, goods and services tax, and infrastructure. Third, they will not do it, but it is very important for industry and that's labour legislation."
India faces one-in-three chance of rating downgrade in the next two years in case the government fails to push reforms in view of the political gridlock and ensuing general election in 2014, Standard & Poor's said today.
The problems being faced by the economy include soaring fiscal deficit and high inflation, S&P said while retaining India's rating at 'BBB-', lowest in the investment grade. Any further downgrade will push India's rating to the junk status, making it difficult and costlier for Indian entities to borrow funds overseas.
"The negative outlook signals at least a one-in-three likelihood of a downgrade within the next 24 months. A downgrade is likely if India's economic growth prospects dim, its external position deteriorates, its political climate worsens, or fiscal reforms slow," S&P said.
High fiscal deficit and a heavy debt burden would remain the most significant rating constraints, it said, adding that things could improve with government initiatives to reduce the deficit and improve investment climate.
"Given the political cycle -- with the next elections to be held by May 2014 -- and the current political gridlock, we expect only modest progress in fiscal and public sector reforms. Such reforms include reducing fuel and fertiliser subsidies, introducing a nationwide goods and services tax, and easing of restrictions on foreign ownership in various sectors such as banking, insurance, and retail," S&P said.
However, another rating agency Moody's showed optimism by stating that India's growth prospect should be better in 2013 following withdrawal of support to government by an 'obstinate coalition partner' (Trinamool Congress) and flurry of reforms initiated by new Finance Minister P Chidambaram.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told the Lok Sabha: "We have learnt from press reports of the reported disclosure by Walmart under the US laws of amounts spent by them on lobbying in various countries including India... The government views this with as much concern as all sections of the House and has no hesitation in having an inquiry (into) this inasmuch as it concerns India to get to the facts of the matter... We would announce further steps on this in the House."
The Lower Houses met on a stormy note with the BSP, Trinamool Congress and Left members trooping into the well. Seeing the scale of disorder, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House within three minutes. The Lok Sabha was adjourned four times before it was adjourned for the day.
The BJP accused the BSP of helping the Congress and trying to ensure that there was no discussion on Walmart by trooping into the well in protest against the coal scam.
"Our findings show this (the financial crisis) is quite significant compared to the Lehman shock. There is the spillover affect (which is)statistically quite significant in some Asian countries," Iwan Azis, the head of Asian Development Bank (ADB) Office of Regional Economic Integration said.
It may be recalled the 158-year-old Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008 after losing billions of dollars in the real-estate market,
"The spillover effect of the American slowdown and the European crisis on the Asian financial markets is significant in some countries, including on Chinese bonds, he said.
Azis, who also teaches at Cornwell University in the US, said these latest findings come from an ADB study titled "Decoupling or Spillover? Capital Flows Volatility and Financial Contagion in Asia" which was discussed at a seminar in Singapore last week.
Cautioning the Asian economies, Azis, said they should build strong financial safety net at regional level against the spillover impact from the European and US financial crisis, which are significantly coming through capital flows and bond markets.
He also noted the increase in European and US capital flow to Asian markets was due to better yields as a result of virtually nil returns in their home markets.
But again, he called for a better management of the capital flow, especially regulatory measures to ensure such capital flow was held for a period of six months to nine months to protect the Asian markets.
A sudden stop and reversal of capital flow or hot money would hurt the Asian markets, he said.
ADB economist Sabyasachi Mitra pointed out Indonesia had already set up regulatory mechanisms years ago to hold capital flow for a period of six months to nine months for maintaining capital stability.
Such measures were now supported by the International Monetary Fund for economic stability though it had not done so in the past for freer economies, he said.
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