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BPCL privatisation roadshows to begin overseas from Friday

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Bharat Petroleum Disinvestment

New Delhi, Dec 12 : The privatisation process of state-run BPCL will start this week with roadshows for its strategic stake sale scheduled from Friday in London, the US and Dubai led by DIPAM and oil ministry officials.

The officials will meet the prospective investors and will try to sell BPCL as an entity, which will give them an entry into the lucrative oil refinery as well as retail fuel market in India which are touted to be highly remunerative.

The investors’ feedback and concerns will be used to prepare the expression of interest for BPCL sale, said sources.

Though it still not has been made public, government sources say the world’s largest oil company, Aramco, may make up its mind to participate in the disinvestment of BPCL where government intends to sell its entire 53.29 per cent stake to a strategic investor now that its listing is over. Saudi Aramco tops with $2 trillion in valuation after the listing.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has indicated that BPCL disinvestment may be completed in the current financial year.

Any company eyeing BPCL will have to pump in close to Rs 1 lakh crore (about Rs 60,000 crore for the government’s stake and the balance for open offer), said market sources.

The government’s stake is worth over Rs 60,000 crore at prevailing price of BPCL shares on the BSE. If the buyer has to further acquire a 25 per cent share in an open offer as per the takeover code, the total amount will rise close to Rs 1 lakh crore which will be very high for any investor.

On its part, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) is working out a plan to offload the entire government equity to a strategic partner, possibly a large overseas oil entity like Saudi Aramco, Total, ExxonMobil or Shell.

However, with oil market globally facing a slowdown with demand not picking up despite supply squeeze, the appetite for a large acquisition becomes difficult.

BPCL operates four refineries at Mumbai, Kochi, Bina in Madhya Pradesh and Numaligarh in Assam with a combined capacity to convert 38.3 million tonnes of crude oil into fuel.

It has 15,078 petrol pumps and 6,004 LPG distributors across the country. The government proposes to raise Rs 1.05 lakh crore from disinvestment in the current financial year. It had exceeded asset-sale targets of Rs 1 lakh crore in FY18 and Rs 80,000 crore in FY19.

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BSNL employees plan hunger strike on Monday

Due to the delay in the 4G spectrum allotment and non-availability of funds, BSNL was unlikely to launch 4G services by the end of 2020, it said and added it was quite grim situation for employees.

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BSNL Building

New Delhi, Feb 22 : The All Unions and Associations of BSNL (AUAB) has decided to organise a country-wide hunger strike on February 24 for early implementation of the cabinet decisions on the Bharat Sanchar Nigam’s revival.

The strike is also aimed at putting pressure for the expeditious settlement of employees’ grievances, according to an AUAB statement here on Saturday.

Last year the cabinet approved a Rs 69,000 crore revival package for both BSNL and MTNL. The salient features of the package included allotment of 4G spectrum, issuing sovereign guarantee for raising Rs 15,000 crore (Rs 8,500 for BSNL and Rs 6,500 for MTNL) funds via long-term bonds, monetisation of assets and implementation of voluntary retirement scheme.

Of these, only the VRS has been implemented and 78,569 BSNL employees have been sent home. The BSNL has not been allotted 4G spectrum. Similarly, the sovereign guarantee is awaited. The process of monetisation of BSNL’s assets is also moving slowly, according to the statement.

The Supreme Court’s recent judgement on the AGR calculation had created uncertainties in the telecom sector, due to which banks were unwilling to extend loans to BSNL, the AUAB said.

Due to the delay in the 4G spectrum allotment and non-availability of funds, BSNL was unlikely to launch 4G services by the end of 2020, it said and added it was quite grim situation for employees.

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OYO announces bug bounty programme to strengthen security

OYO has accordingly developed an improved responsible disclosure policy to encourage honest and responsible reporting of any potential risks.

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New Delhi, Feb 22 : Hospitality unicorn OYO has said that it will introduce a bug bounty programme towards ensuring that there is a credible and continuous flow of positive feedback from independent security groups and individual researchers to mitigate against any bug or shortfall in the company’s systems.

This is in line with the established practice of recognition and reward for ethical hackers who help responsibly investigate shortfalls within the tech architecture of several tech companies including the likes of Facebook, Google etc., OYO said in a statement this week.

OYO has accordingly developed an improved responsible disclosure policy to encourage honest and responsible reporting of any potential risks.

Additionally, OYO has partnered with a specialised cybersecurity startup, AppSecure/Hackerhive, that connects companies and ethical hackers to help the former discover and fix security vulnerabilities.

“In today’s digital world, a cyberattack is a real concern. Hence, in line with our efforts to continually improve, we are investing in ethical hacking programmes as well,” said Anil Goel, Group Chief Technology and Product Officer at OYO.

OYO said it has also joined hands with other technology companies to address the issue of increasing online frauds and save guests from cybercrimes.

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Fiscal deficit as GDP percentage touched 4.56% in Dec: Finance Ministry data

Out of total government expenditure of Rs 21.09 lakh crore, which is 76 per cent of the BE, revenue expenditure was Rs 18.54 lakh crore and capital expenditure Rs 2.55 lakh crore.

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National debt under Modi govt surges

New Delhi, Feb 21 : Fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP touched 4.56 per cent as of December 2019 with total receipts pegged at Rs 11.77 lakh crore against a higher expenditure of Rs 21.09 lakh crore, data of government accounts showed.

For the fiscal 2019-20 (till March 31, 2020), the fiscal deficit has been revised to 3.8 per cent now.

Gross tax collection was Rs 13.83 lakh crore (53 per cent of the Budget estimates). The net tax revenue of the Central government was at Rs 9.04 lakh crore which was 55 per cent of the BE, after deducting devolution to the states to the tune of Rs 4.76 lakh crore and Rs 2,480 crore towards NDRF.

The non-tax revenue accrued to the Centre was Rs 2.41 lakh crore whereas other receipts were pegged at Rs 31,000 crore. The government released Rs 54,621.14 crore to the states as their share in central taxes and duties as well as Rs 6,989.38 crore as recommended by the Finance Commission in January.

In December 2019, the states received Rs 7,499.89 crore as recommended by the Finance Commission and the government released Rs 2,714.03 crore towards various schemes. In January 2020, the states received much lower Rs 101.29 crore.

Out of total government expenditure of Rs 21.09 lakh crore, which is 76 per cent of the BE, revenue expenditure was Rs 18.54 lakh crore and capital expenditure Rs 2.55 lakh crore.

Fiscal deficit was pegged at Rs 8.07 lakh crore, which was 11 per cent of BE.

“As a percentage of the GDP, fiscal deficit is 4.56 per cent. The revenue receipts are sufficient to cover only 56 per cent of the expenditure,” the Accounts Review Report of the Finance Ministry said.

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