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Did RBI have authority to issue Rs 2,000 and Rs 200 currency notes?

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RBI

Mumbai, Oct 28: In what could be a bizarre situation, the Reserve Bank Of India (RBI) does not seem to have any official records to prove that it had authorised the issue of new currency notes in denominations of Rs 2,000 and Rs 200, after demonetisation, according to documents available through RTI.

“As per RTI replies provided by the RBI, the country’s central bank has apparently not published any Government Resolution (GR) or a circular till date to issue the new Rs 2,000 and recently, the Rs 200 currency notes,” says Mumbai-based RTI activist M.S. Roy.

A May 19, 2016 document — roughly around six months before demonetisation — shows that the RBI’s Central Board of Directors approved a proposal put forth by its Executive Director on May 18, 2016.

This (proposal) pertained to the new designs, dimensions and denominations of future Indian bank notes, and the Board resolved to forward it to the central government for approval, as per extracts of the minutes of that Board meeting.

Essentially, this was carrying forward an earlier such proposal made on July 08, 1993 to introduce a new family of Indian bank notes of Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100 and Rs 500 of reduced sizes.

This old proposal (July 08, 1993) was approved at an RBI Central Board Of Directors meeting on July 15, 1993 as per a memorandum dated August 3, 1993 sent from RBI’s Central Office, Mumbai, to the Chief Officer, Department Of Currency Manager (RBI Mumbai), which was signed by the then Executive Director, A P Aiyer.

As per that proposal (of July 8, 1993), these new Indian currency notes of reduced size were to incorporate several fresh and enhanced security features in order to check counterfeiting, according to the same August 3, 1993 memorandum (quoted above).

Roy had also filed a separate RTI query on February 27, 2017, asking for documentation about photographs of Mahatma Gandhi which are not being printed on the Re 1 notes, but were being printed on all currency notes of denominations ranging from Rs 5 to Rs 2,000.

In reply to this particular query, the RBI provided resolutions of its board meetings held on July 15, 1993, July 13, 1994 and May 19, 2016.

However, these resolutions talk about design features merely for Rs 10, Rs 20, Rs 50, Rs 100 and Rs 500, all of which bear the photographs of the Father of the Nation.

None of these RBI board resolutions make any references about design features or Mahatma Gandhi photographs for denominations of Rs 1,000, Rs 2,000 and now, the latest entrant to the Indian bank notes family, the Rs 200 currency note.

Hence, Roy said that if the RBI board resolutions never even discussed design features or Mahatma Gandhi photographs to be incorporated in Rs 1,000 notes (discontinued after demonetisation), Rs 2,000 denomination notes (introduced on November 8, 2016) and the subsequent Rs 200 notes (introduced in mid-2017), it clearly indicates that no official approval was granted.

He questioned that if no approval was granted for issuing these denominations, who authorised these denominations, their design, printing and distribution.

“If there has been no approval by the RBI Board, no supporting GR or any other known documentation in the public domain, then there is a big question mark about the legal validity and official (monetary) status of these notes — namely Rs.200 and Rs.2,000. The matter merits an independent investigation,” Roy said.

However, if such approvals do indeed exist, then the RBI and government must explain why these documents were not made available despite an RTI query or why they were not in the public domain.

IANS

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Key Indian equity indices open in green

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SENSEX-

Mumbai, June 21: Taking a cue from global markets, the key Indian equity market indices on Thursday opened higher.

The Sensitive Index (Sensex) of the BSE, which had closed at 35,547.33 points on Wednesday, opened higher at 35,644.05 points.

Minutes into trading, it was quoting at 35,631.42 points, up by 84.09 points, or 0.24 per cent.

At the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the broader 51-scrip Nifty, which had closed at 10,772.05 points on Wednesday, was quoting at 10,798.80 points, up by 26.75 points or 0.25 per cent.

Broadly positive global cues had lifted the key Indian equity indices on Wednesday and according to analysts, banking, metal and auto stocks witnessed healthy buying activity.

The Sensex was up by 260.59 points or 0.74 per cent at the Wednesday’s closing. In the day’s trade, the barometer 30-scrip sensitive index had touched a high of 35,571.37 points and a low of 35,329.51 points. The Nifty, too, was up by 61.60 points or 0.58 per cent.

On Thursday, Asian indices were showing mixed trend. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was quoting in green, up by 0.79 per cent, while Hang Seng was down by 0.07 per cent, and South Korea’s Kospi was down by 0.29 per cent. China’s Shanghai Composite index was trading in green, up by 0.40 per cent.

Overnight, Nasdaq closed in green, up by 0.72 per cent while FTSE 100 was also up by 0.31 per cent at the closing on Wednesday.

IANS

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AI’s 76% stake sale plan crashes, other alternatives to be evaluated

We ran a disinvestment process, where we made it very clear what type of bids we were interested in receiving… We asked certain type of bidders with certain bidding criteria to participate.

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Civil Aviation Ministry

New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) The Central government has said that a 76 per cent stake sale process of the national carrier Air India has ended, as “no interest” was shown by bidders, however, it remains committed to the strategic divestment for which other alternatives will be evaluated.

“We ran a disinvestment process, where we made it very clear what type of bids we were interested in receiving… We asked certain type of bidders with certain bidding criteria to participate,” said Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha.

“No body expressed any interest during that process. So just by that set of those circumstances it is clear that that process right now is over… We have to move forward and we have to consider other alternatives, now as market conditions as industry circumstances change, we will evaluate all those alternatives but that particular specific process for the moment has come to an end, if need be, we can restart that or any other process depending upon the appropriate market circumstances.”

However, the government clearly stated that it is still committed to the idea of Air India’s strategic divestment.

Sinha added: “The government is committed to strategic disinvestment, what the modalities are and the circumstances are, we will have to monitor and evaluate as we go along.”

According to the Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu a few days back the Empowered Group of Ministers set up to look at the — Air India Specific Alternate Mechanism — reviewed the situation.

The minister, who holds the charge of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said: “… Because there was no interest we have decided to review the situation soon. In the meantime to ensure that Air India runs properly a plan is being prepared by the Air India management to ensure that AI continues continues operate efficiently.

On May 31, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said that “no response” was received even during the extended submission deadline for the ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) bids under Air India’s divestment process.

“As informed by the Transaction Adviser, no response has been received for the Expression of Interest floated for the strategic disinvestment of Air India,” the ministry had said in a tweet.

“Further course of action will be decided appropriately.”

The government on May 1 had released a detailed document on clarifications sought by interested bidders regarding the divestment process.

The clarification document outlined that net current liabilities as Rs 88.16 billion (Rs 8,816 crore) and “these will remain with AI and AIXL (Air India Express) as these have been incurred in the course of business.”

“After deducting Rs 88,160 mn from Rs 333,920 mn, the remaining figure of INR 245,760 mn is the debt and liability quantum that will remain with AI and AIXL.”

As per the old timelines, the submission deadline for the EOI bids was earlier extended to May 31 and consequently, the date for the “intimation to the Qualified Interested Bidders” — QIB — which was supposed to have been the next stage was slated for June 15.

It was expected that by August-end, the government will be able to determine the highest bidder.

On March 28, the government had issued a Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) inviting ‘EOI’ for the strategic divestment of AI, along with the airline’s shares in AIXL and AISATS (Air India SATS Airport Services) from private entities including the airline’s employees.

The Central government owns 100 per cent equity of Air India. In turn, the airline holds full stake in Air India Express, while it holds 50 per cent stake in the joint venture AISATS.

Accordingly, it has been planned to divest 76 per cent government stake in AI, 100 per cent in AIXL and 50 per cent in AISATS.

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Global cues lift equity indices; Sensex ends over 200 points higher

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Sensex

Mumbai, June 20: Broadly positive global cues lifted the key Indian equity indices on Wednesday, with the barometer Sensex of the BSE closing with gains of more than 200 points.

According to analysts, banking, metal and auto stocks witnessed healthy buying activity.

At 3.30 p.m., the wider Nifty50 of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) provisionally closed at 10,772.05 points, up 61.60 points or 0.58 per cent from the previous close of 10,710.45 points.

Similarly, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Sensex, which had opened at 35,329.61 points, closed at 35,547.33 points (3.30 p.m.) — up 260.59 points or 0.74 per cent — from its previous session’s close of 35,286.74 points.

The Sensex touched a high of 35,571.37 points and a low of 35,329.51 points.

The top gainers on the Sensex were Reliance Industries, IndusInd Bank, Vedanta, Tata Steel and Yes Bank whereas ONGC, Coal India, ITC, Wipro and Larsen and Toubro (L&T) were the major losers.

On the NSE, Reliance Industries, IndusInd Bank and Tata Steel were the highest gainers while UPL, Hindustan Petroleum and Indian Oil Corp lost the most.

IANS

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