Public Interest

Vijay Mallya cannot be trusted

In all my posts on the airlines industry, I have stated that the government should not help Vijay Mallya or listen to him because he cannot be trusted. After getting the benefit of delayed payments (savings of crores of rupees on interest) to the oil companies and oil prices coming down, he is refusing to bring down the prices. He is using delaying tactics so that he can recover huge amount of money in the meantime. I think the government should withdraw the benefits given to Kingfisher and Jet Airlines. They should be made to pay their oil bills and Airport Authority charges immediately.

Bizarre reason for seeking bail

Ansal is asking for bail on humantarian in the Uphaaar case. I think the reasoning is bizzare. His reasons are as follows:

We don’t learn from our mistakes

Government has been putting pressure on banks to reduce the interest rates through the Finance Minster (FM) Chidabaram. Public sector banks seccumbed to the pressure and agreed but private banks were reluctant. It is surprising that FM has not learnt that it was politician’s pressure that pushed the two US housing companies to give credit for home loans which were risky and landed everybody in financial trouble and global recession. We should push any bank to lend more by assuming risk that they do not want to assume. The government can create conditions like lowering of CRR etc. which will encourage the banks to reduce interest rates and start lending. I am sure competitive forces will come into play and one of the banks will see the opportunity and will reduce rates. Once this happens other will follow or lose business.

Government should not approve Unitech’s deal.

I read in Mint today that the telecom ministry came out with a press release to respond to the flak it is facing for selling spectrum so cheap. I believe there is an attempt to cover up a planned effort to favour a group of companies. Since none of the ministers like the finance ministers are saying anything, it means that they all knew what was going on. How it is possible that a number opf people applied just before the government decided to allot spectrum on first come first serve basis and that too at 2001 prices. I also cannot believe that this scam has happened without the UPA government knowing about it. If Minister Raja has done this without the other people in the cabinet knowing about then it is a fit case for Minister Raja to be sacked. This clearly suggests that he is incapable of handling the complex issue of the spectrum and where government assets which huge value is involved.

Finally, Economic Times gets it right as well as wrong

Finally, Economic Times (ET) gets it right as well as wrong. What did it get right?

Govt gives spectrum for peanuts. Unitech hits jackpot.

I normally read the business papers in the morning and the general newspapers in the evening. Yesterday, in the morning I read about Unitech selling 60% stake in its telecom venture for $1 billion to Telenor ASA and I started writing this post in the evening. Yesterday, none of the business newspapers had commented on the this story from the perspective of the tremendous loss to the government and the profit that Unitech made from this sale. So I started writing my post to comment on this yesterday evening but didn’t complete it. However, when I went home I found an interesting articles in Times of India by Shalini Singh on the similar lines that I was writing this post. I must praise Shalini for hitting the nail on the head. But what I still find surprising that none of the business papers have discussed the issue and none of the newspapers have made a hue and cry about the profit that Unitech has made at the expense of the government. Let me explain what I am talking about.

World Class

I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired to hearing people say we are building “world class” this or the other and that we will take over the world shortly. If you have heard about the sorry state of affair at the Gurgaon Tollway, then you can understand why I have started hating the words “world class.” How can we lead the world if we can’t organize a simple toll operation. And its not that we have discovered or invented something new. All we have to do is to just copy what others are successfully doing all over the world. I grew up listening to the Ludhiana joke which implied that we can copy anything but it seems that we are even lousy at that.

Do we walk our talk?

Recently, Prime Minister manmohan Singh said that “the economic reforms of 1991 unleashed a new era of entrepreneurial growth in India.” The subtitle of Mint’s article “India’s entrepreneurs have helped make the country what it is today” says it all. The article also suggests that the contribution of India’s entrepreneur has been ignored in making the country what it is today. The article also draws a parallel with the American economy and quotes a survey which found that during the period 1980 to 2001, firms less than 5 years old contributed to the net growth in employment whereas established firms lost jobs.

SEZs – a dumb idea

This topic was in the news quite a bit. Various arguments, for and against, were given. However, I was disappointed as I didn’t come across a single article which addressed all the issues related to this controversy. S Narayan, former finance secretary and advisor to Prime Minister of India came close in his article in Mint. So I would like to take a shot at doing so from a layman’s perspective.

Numbers portability – Why the delay?

I have been hearing about government bringing in number portability so that we can change our telecom service provider without changing our numbers for a long time now. I cannot understand the delay. Even though, TRAI has recommended the same long time back, it seems that nothing is happening. It seems that the issue is on the back burner with the Ministry of Telecom for reasons unknown. The latest update is that it may take more than a year. I am not sure if it will happen in one year now.