Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Date: May 21, 2013
Vinod Rai, the present CAG, retires tomorrow. On 23rdMay at 1 pm, the new CAG would take oath.
Shri Shashi Kant Sharma, IAS (1976 – Bihar Cadre) has been selected as the new CAG. Presently, he is the Defence Secretary from July 2011 onwards (now on extension in service). He was Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary and DG (Acquisition) in the Defence Ministry between 2003 and 2010. Therefore, he has worked in the Defence Ministry for almost 10 years when all important Defence acquisitions were made. This is concurrent to UPA’s tenure. Such long period for a bureaucrat in the same ministry is unusual. UPA has even granted him an extension after retirement. This indicates his proximity to UPA bosses.
How was he selected? An RTI was filed in this regard. Department of Economic Affairs and Cabinet Secretariat kept tossing this RTI application for almost three months, before finally replying just a few days back.
(Response is attached. Since RTI was filed by some government servant, who does not wish his name to be disclosed, the name of the applicant has been blacked out in attachment.)
In its reply dated 16.05.2013, the Department of Economic Affairs has admitted to the following four broad things:
i. That there is no formal system for appointment/selection of the CAG of India, and the selection of the CAG is done only in terms of 'past conventions and practices'.
ii. That no Selection Committee/Collegium is constituted by the Government for the purpose of appointment/selection of the CAG of India.
iii. That on a Note moved by the Ministry of Finance, the Government makes recommendations to the President of India for the appointment of the CAG.
iv. There are no Eligibility Criteria for appointment of a person as the CAG of India.
This shows that the selection of CAG is completely in government’s hands and the process completely in-transparent and arbitrary. Government can appoint any person as CAG. Given the fact that Vinod Rai had given sleepless nights to the governments of almost all political parties and to some of the biggest corporates in the country, the absence of any procedure for selection of CAG and government’s complete discretion in this regard creates a scope for the government, in collusion with those corporates, to select a completely pliable (and maybe dishonest) person as successor.
The appointment of a person as CAG through such an arbitrary and non transparent process, especially someone who will have serious conflict of interest in his job, since a major part of the CAGs job is to audit defense purchases, which Mr. Sharma has been involved in for so many years, compromises the principle of 'institutional integrity' which the Supreme Court had laid down while quashing the appointment of the previous CVC who was appointed in similar circumstances. This makes Mr. Sharma's appointment illegal and liable to be struck down.
Interestingly, the whole process of selection of Vinod Rai’s successor took place in complete secrecy. Yet, none of the political parties raised this issue. Why?
Because huge stakes are involved. Reliance’s KG Basin is being audited by CAG. Right from beginning, Reliance has been reluctant in getting itself audited. They put all kinds of obstacles and did not provide records to the audit team. The electricity companies in Delhi have resisted CAG audit and have gone to the court in this regard. All these companies could be waiting for the new CAG to be appointed. If the new CAG is a pliable person, one won’t be surprised if all of them agree to get themselves audited.
A weak and pliable CAG is in the interest of all political parties and some corporates who are corrupt.

Vodafone has earned Rs 2,000 crore from data in the last fiscal, a 50% jump to the last year period.
Indian arm of Vodafone plan to go for a pan-India 3G network thus shown keen interested to buy airwaves on this platform from other mobile service providers companies, Marten Pieters MD of the company said.

Vodafone's 3G airwaves in 11 circles,offers nationwide high-end data services through roaming pacts with Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, has been restrained from adding new data customers in circles where it does not own 3G bandwidth."The purchase price Vodafone will settle for (3G spectrum) will be based on a "commercial negotiation and depends on how desperately they (other telecom companies) are to sell," Vodafone India's managing director Marten Pieters told media after the company had reported a three-fold increase in profit for the year ended March 31, 2013.

Vodafone's adjusted operating profit rose to £221 million (Rs 1,854 crore) in FY13, higher from £60 million (Rs 503 crore) in the previous financial year. For the Q4 ended March 31 this year, Vodafone earned Rs 9,276 crore as revenue, which is 7.2% higher than the Q4 the previous fiscal.

Vodafone's Service revenue is Rs 35,610 crore in FY13, 10.6% higher than Rs 32,564 crore a with respect to comparing its year ago. Vodafone earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization climbed 24.5% to Rs 10,640 crore from Rs 8,549 crore in the same period. 

The telecom company's annual income, in turn, rose roughly 15% to Rs 22,457 crore.

Vodafone's Pieters briefing the media said that clarity on the spectrum pricing over the next two years and renewal of its licenses in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata in the 900-MHz band that are due next year would be critical for the company's future.These issues would have to be addressed before the company could go ahead with its proposed initial public offer (IPO). "It is impossible to do the IPO if we do not have more certainty around spectrum pricing for next two years because many of our licenses are up for renewal next year and the year after. That has such a big impact on our numbers that it is impossible to do the IPO if we do not have clarity on these two issues," he added. 

Vodafone asked for extension of its licenses in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata as are due for renewal in 2014,  the government has rejected its demand.Government persist  that the telco to pay a market price. Pieters said, Vodafone willing to pay for license extension, at an 'economically feasible' price.

 Marten Pieters said the telco sellers  may be  companies like Aircel and Tata Teleservices, who are in a financial straits.  India's merger and acquisition policy forces any buyer to pay a market price for airwaves to the government in case of an acquisition and return any surplus spectrum stipulated by the Department of Telecommunications.

"We would like to have nationwide 3G services, so overtime we will have to get there one way or the other," he said speaking at the sidelines of the company's annual financial result announcement and buying spectrum from other operators would be based on 'commercial negotiations'.

Vodafone with  strength of 37 million data customers on its network, only 3.3 million use 3G services. Vodafone plans to get a pan india coverage through roaming agreements with Bharti Airtel and Idea have been deemed illegal by the telecom department and the matter is before the Supreme Court.

Double digit revenue growth, significant margin improvement resulting in robust cash flows
  • Revenues at INR 356 billion, up by 10.6%
  • Data (Browsing) Revenues at INR 20 billion, up by 50.5%
  • EBITDA margin at 29.7%, grows by 3.4ppt
  • Operating Free Cash Flow at INR 63 billion, up by 58.3%
Vodafone India, one of India’s leading telecommunication service providers announces its Full Year IFRS results for the financial year ended March 31, 2013
  • Consistent revenue growth; Service revenue of INR 356,101 million in FY13 vs. INR 321,844 million in FY12, a growth of 10.6%
  • Revenue performance driven by strong growth in voice minutes and data revenues; partially offset by the effect of regulatory changes
  • EBITDA at INR 106,406 million in FY 13 vs. INR 85,493 million in FY12 , a significant margin improvement of 3.4 ppt from 26.3% to 29.7%
  • Healthy Operating Free Cash Flow (OFCF) at INR 62,951 million in FY13 vs. INR 39,776 million in FY12, growth by 58.3%
  • Margin improvement and OFCF driven by scale benefits, operating efficiencies and lower acquisition costs
  • Capex spend of INR 47,301 million in FY13 with focus on future growth areas including 3G and data.

Heavens Portfolio appoints Branch Head


Heavens Portfolio appoints Branch Head – New Delhi

India – 21st May 2013 Heavens Portfolio is pleased to announce the appointment of Vani Singh as Branch Head of Heavens Portfolio, Delhi. The increasing volume of business from the North India market for luxury properties represented by Heavens Portfolio has warranted the need for enhanced presence in this market. Vani is joining the existing team, Hita Almeida and Lubna Mukhi who have been on the Indian market for over 5 years representing Heavens Portfolio’s clients.
Based in New Delhi, Vani’s role will be to develop sales and assist in marketing strategies from Northern India. Having spent more than two decades in the travel trade, her experience started in Inbound Tours, and then moved to Outbound. She has worked in companies such as Star Cruises and Macau Tourism. Her last assignment was with Om Tourism as Country Manager, Visit Indonesia Country Office.

Heavens Portfolio is a representative of unique travel experiences. With offices in Hong Kong, Macau,China, Taiwan, India and Singapore, Heavens Portfolio is an active sales, public relations and marketing representative company with an elite clientele of award winning properties and travel products. Since 2001, the group of businesses include: Chiva-Som, Song Saa Private Island, Viceroy Maldives, Yas Viceroy, Anahita The Resort Mauritius, Wilderness Safaris, Silolona, and Hotel Sezz Paris & St. Tropez.
For more details, please contact:
Lubna Mukhi - PR & Marketing Manager (India), M: (91) 9930625105

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