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China’s One Belt One Road worsens fiscal woes in host nation: US

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New Delhi/Washington, May 23 : The US in its vision document on China, has warned against the Xi Jinping regime’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, saying it will create and worsen fiscal problems in host nations and extract political concessions to exact retributions against other countries.

In a litany of charges against Beijing, ‘The United States Strategic Approach To The People’s Republic of China’ report released by the White House, has said that the OBOR projects frequently operate well outside of international standards and “are characterized by poor quality, corruption, environmental degradation, a lack of public oversight or community involvement, opaque loans, and contracts generating or exacerbating governance and fiscal problems in host nations”.

Incidentally, last week, an inquiry committee constituted by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to examine the losses in the Power sector, discovered corruption worth 100 billion Pakistani rupees by the Chinese private power producers. This has led to the bloating of Pakistan’s debt, the inquiry committee report said.

The committee attributed the losses incurred by the Pakistani government due to “violation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that include the cost of the installation of Independent Power Producers (IPPs), government agreements, alleged embezzlement in fuel consumption, power tariff, guaranteed profit in dollars, and certain conditions of power purchase”.

Though the White House vision document did not mention Pakistan but it said that given China’s “increasing use of economic leverage to extract political concessions from or exact retribution against other countries, the United States judges that Beijing will attempt to convert OBOR projects into undue political influence and military access”.

Many of the OBOR projects, the US outlook paper said, appear designed to reshape international norms, standards, and networks to advance Beijing’s global interests and vision, while also serving China’s domestic economic requirements.

Through OBOR and other initiatives, China is expanding the use of Chinese industrial standards in key technology sectors, part of an effort to strengthen its own companies’ position in the global marketplace at the expense of non-Chinese firms, the report said.

The OBOR projects which include transportation, information and communications technology and energy infrastructure; industrial parks; media collaboration; science and technology exchanges; programs on culture and religion; and even military and security cooperation, frequently operate well outside international standards, the White House said.

President Xi Jinping’s ambitious projects, the US government said, “are characterized by poor quality, corruption, environmental degradation, a lack of public oversight or community involvement, opaque loans, and contracts generating or exacerbating governance and fiscal problems in host nations”.

Beijing, the White House said, uses a combination of threat and inducement to pressure governments, elites, corporations, think tanks, and others – often in an opaque manner – to toe the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) line and censor free expression.

Accusing the CCP of repression, the US said, Beijing has restricted trade and tourism with Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Norway, the Philippines, and others, and has detained Canadian citizens, in an effort to interfere in their countries’ internal political and judicial processes.

After the Dalai Lama visited Mongolia in 2016, the PRC government imposed new tariffs on land-locked Mongolia’s mineral exports passing through China, temporarily paralyzing Mongolia’s economy, the report pointed out.

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Airtel deploys Nokia’s open Cloud-based VoLTE network

According to Nokia, the network supports over 110 million customers, making it the largest cloud-based VoLTE network in India and the largest Nokia-run VoLTE in the world.

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New Delhi, July 6 : Nokia on Monday announced that its CloudBand-based software products have started powering Bharti Airtels Voice over LTE (VoLTE) network in India.

Finnish telecom gear maker firm Nokia in April bagged a deal worth more than Rs 7,500 crore from Bharti Airtel to deploy 5G ready network across the country.

According to Nokia, the network supports over 110 million customers, making it the largest cloud-based VoLTE network in India and the largest Nokia-run VoLTE in the world.

“Nokia”s carrier-grade cloud software solutions drive simplicity and flexibility and will further strengthen Airtel”s solid 5G network foundation and transition to innovative digital solutions that are customer and experience centric,” said Bhaskar Gorti, President of Nokia Software and Nokia Chief Digital Officer.

The cloud-based VoLTE deployment allows Airtel to provide its mobile customers faster and more reliable, cost-efficient call connectivity.

Nokia, which is the largest 4G vendor in Airtel network, will help lay the foundation for providing 5G connectivity in the future by deploying 300,000 radio units across several spectrum bands in all 22 telecom service areas expected to be completed by 2022.

Nokia”s VoLTE solution enables Airtel to free up spectrum by ramping down its 3G network, allowing the operator to utilize the freed up spectrum to deploy 4G/LTE services for better speed and capacity.

“We are delighted to deepen our strategic partnership with Nokia to build a future ready and agile network. The country”s largest open cloud based VoLTE network is a major milestone in Airtel”s journey,” added Randeep Sekhon, CTO of Bharti Airtel.

India currently is the second-largest telecom market in the world and is expected to reach 920 million unique mobile customers by 2025, which will also include 88 million 5G connections according to the GSMA.

The country is experiencing a massive increase in demand for data services with traffic increasing by 47 per cent in 2019 alone, according to Nokia”s MBiT Index 2020.

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SEBI norms tweak boost chances of CG Power resolution

There are complaints pending in SEBI against KKR for violation of the Takeover Code and SEBI is investigating the violation.

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New Delhi, July 6 : The relaxation by SEBI in pricing methodology for listed companies having stressed assets has brightened the prospects of early resolution of CG Power.

SEBI has decided to relax the pricing methodology for preferential issues by listed companies having stressed assets and exempt allottees of preferential issues from open offer obligations in such cases.

CG Power, a large engineering company having its operations worldwide and having a consolidated turnover of more than Rs 6,200 crore and an EBIDITA of Rs 500 crore in 2018 and which is asset rich ran into financial problems amidst a controversy between erstwhile promoter Gautam Thapar and its lenders KKR and L&T Finance who had lent money against pledge of the promoter”s holding.

Gautam Thapar was removed on an allegation that funds were diverted in a convoluted manner to lenders of other group companies.

In view of the controversy, bankers refused to support requests for working capital. Due to shortage of working capital, the profitability was severally affected in spite of pending profitable orders.

Lead banker SBI has mandated SBI Capital Markets to carry out a resolution process and it is expected that invitations for EOI will be announced very soon.

Lenders have shown willingness to restructure the debt and monetise valuable non-core assets like Crompton House at Worli and valuable land at Kanjurmarg. As part of the restructuring exercise, CG Power sold its holding in CG Power Ireland.

It is learnt from reliable sources that many industrial groups like Sunil Mittal of Bharati Telecom, Muruggapa group, Aeon Capital and many PE funds are actively considering a buyout. Sunil Mittal through Bharati SBM Holding had shown interest and bought 8.30 per cent equity from the market between March 2019 and May, 2019.

There are complaints pending in SEBI against KKR for violation of the Takeover Code and SEBI is investigating the violation.

SEBI has stated this in its order dated March 11, 2020 that there has been a specific allegation against KKR, a private equity firm, which holds 8.10 per cent of the shares in the Company, through KKR India Financial Services Private Limited, with respect to market manipulation, insider trading and change in control of the company.

They also note that certain allegations have been made against Narayan Seshadri, an Independent Director on the board, with respect to his firm Tranzmute”s partnership with KKR. SEBI is independently looking into these complaints. In case the investigation finds any violation it can result in an open offer around at Rs 45.

–IANS

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Veggies on the rise, prices soar by up to 200%

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New Delhi, July 5 : The prices of food items, including vegetables, have started to skyrocket even as the coronavirus crisis shows no sign of abating. The prices of vegetables, in particular, have increased quite significantly with retail prices of almost all kinds rising from 25 per cent to 200 per cent.

The most significant rise has been registered in the price of tomato. Vegetable traders say prices have risen due to crop failure during the rainy season.

Azadpur Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) chairman Adil Ahmad Khan told IANS that the prices of most green vegetables have registered an increase in the past one month, due to reduced arrivals during the rainy season. According to Khan, another reason for rise in prices of vegetables is due to increased diesel price. “Vegetable traders point out that the cost of transportation of vegetables has increased due to diesel being expensive,” he said.

However, Greater Noida retailer Munendra also sells vegetables at a higher price though he does not have to bear the cost of transportation to bring vegetables from his farms to shops. Munendra has cultivated brinjal, gourd, bitter gourd, lady”s finger, cucumber etc on his farm which is just a kilometer away from his shop. Munendra said the crops usually perish in the rainy season, which also reduces the yield. This is why the prices of vegetables are increasing, he said.

Vijay Ahuja, an agent at Okhla Mandi, said that in the rainy season, the arrival of vegetables reduces every year, due to which the prices keep rising.

Now, compare vegetable prices in the month of June and July.

Prices in the month of June (Rs per kg):

  • Potatoes – 20-25
  • Cabbage – 30-40
  • Tomatoes – 20-30
  • Onion – 20-25
  • Gourd – 20
  • Cucumber – 20
  • Pumpkin – 10-15
  • Brinjal – 20
  • Capsicum – 60
  • Prices in the month of July (Rs per kg)
  • Potatoes – 30-35
  • Cabbage – 60-80
  • Tomatoes – 60-80
  • Onion – 25-30
  • Gourd – 30
  • Cucumber – 50
  • Pumpkin – 20-30
  • Brinjal – 40
  • Capsicum – 80
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