KOZHIKODE z SATURDAY z FEBRUARY 09, 2019 z `7.00 z PAGES US MAY SCRAP ZERO TARIFF SCHEME FOR INDIA: REPORT z CITY EDITION INDIA MAY LOSE BENEFITS WORTH $5.6 BN The U.S. may withdraw the Generalised System of Preferences, a vital trade concession, from India, says a Reuters report U.S. PIQUED AT INDIA’s E-COMMERCE LAW If this comes through, it would be the strongest punitive action since President Donald Trump took office in 2017 vowing to reduce the U.S. deficit with large economies. India is the world’s largest beneficiary of a scheme that has been in force since the 1970s enjoying zero tariffs on $5.6 billion of exports to the US, the report notes ■ ■ The trigger for the proposed action is believed to be India’s new stringent rules on e-commerce that could severely impact U.S. majors Amazon and Walmart-backed Flipkart’s business in India U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will be in Delhi next week, where he is expected to raise the US’ concerns, says the report $126 mn THE VALUE OF THE TWO-WAY TRADE BETWEEN INDIA AND THE U.S. IN 2017 CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Rafale shoot & scoot with selective leaks Political slugfest over ‘parallel negotiations’ by PMO, def ministry; govt questions omission of Parrikar’s note E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi A major political storm erupted on Friday after the Congress latched on to a media report alleging that the Defence Ministry had protested against “parallel negotiations” being conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office with the French on the Rafale jet deal. The media report cited a note dated November 24, 2015 in which the then Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar wrote to former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar saying it was “desirable that such discussions be avoided by the PMO as it undermines our negotiating position seriously .” As the issue rocked Parliament, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hit back saying the Congress was “flogging a dead horse. Periodical inquiries by the PMO cannot be construed as interference.” She accused the newspaper of “not carrying the Defence Minister’s reply” to the note. “If a newspaper publishes a noting then the ethics of journalism will demand that the newspaper publishes the then Defence Minister’s reply as well,” she said. Air Marshal S B P Sinha (Retd), who headed the negotiating team, supported Sitharaman and denied any PMO interference. “It is a selective leak, why was the Defence Minister’s response not shown with the same report,” he asked. Police raid firm tied to ex-CBI chief A I S H I K C H A N D A @ Kolkata THE turf war between the Centre and West Bengal got uglier on Friday with the police raiding a firm linked to for mer interim CBI chief M Nageshwar Rao, on whose directions the agency recently landed at the doorstep of Kolkata Commissioner of Police Rajeev Kumar to interrogate him in a ponzi scam. Kolkata Police is looking into irregularities in financial dealings of Nageshwar Rao’s wife and daughter with Angela Mercantiles Pvt Ltd. The owner of the firm is likely to be interrogated on Sunday. The raid happened after a complaint was registered. The probe is centred around the nature of Mannem Sandhya’s transactions and the post held by Rao’s daughter in Angela when the salary was paid, sources revealed. SC to make Maya pay for statue splurge EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi IN a major setback for BSP chief Mayawati, the Supreme Court on Friday said she may have to pay back the public money used for erecting statues of herself and elephants, the party’s symbol, at parks in Lucknow and Noida. The apex court made the strong remark while hearing a petition that alleged `2,000 crore was used from the state budget for 2008-09 and 2009-10, when Mayawati was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, for stalling her statues and BSP’s symbol at different places. The Bench Mayawati should reimburse all the money she spent. 16 PAGES + 4 PAGES OF KOZHIKODE EXPRESS IN KOZHIKODE No scam in the deal, says former defence sec PRESS CLUSIVE G Mohan Kumar says new reports blown out of proportion You’ve said your note/comments were taken out of context. Can you explain? We had certain diverA gent points of view when the discussions were on. Even other members of the Cabinet Committee expressed dissenting voices. In fact, it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who brought the deal back to the table which was lying cold shouldered during the UPA Government. As the entire deal was between the two countries, parallel discussions were happening between France and the PMO. We raised our concern and insisted a final call on the deal should be made only after reaching a consensus among the members. Finally we reached an agreement , with all stakeholders to go ahead with the deal. On Q youwhat grounds are saying the Rafale deal was transparent? Q G Mohan Kumar | ALBIN MATHEW Former Defence Secretary G Mohan Kumar, who was in the thick of things when the Rafale deal was in the making, came out all guns blazing in support of the Narendra Modi Government and termed the recent reports on the files, some of them highlighting his negative comments regarding PMO and Defence Ministry working at cross purposes, concocted. Special Correspondent Ajay Kanth caught up with him in Kochi late on Friday evening. Excerpts of the interview. INTERVIEW The whole controversy related to the deal is unnecessary The entire cost of . the deal shot up due to valid reasons, mainly cost escalation and rupee depreciation. It was in 2007 that the Defence Acquisition Council headed by then Defence Minister A K Antony approved the Request for Proposal to buy 126 aircraft. But nothing concrete happened during the UPA regime. It was the Modi Government which started renegotiating the deal. We decided to go for 148 aircrafts though the initial deal is for 36 aircraft in a fly away status. The government will go for another deal for the remaining aircraft which will be built in A India. The report that the decision to buy 36 aircrafts pushed the price of each fully fitted, combat-ready aircraft up by 41.42 per cent is completely baseless. The Modi Government worked out the deal afresh and we’ve decided to buy 148 aircraft. The initial deal is for 36 for which the price has gone up due to additional design and development of 13 India Specific Enhancements (ISE). Are you categorically Q saying the positions taken by the PMO and Ministry of Defence did not contradict each other? There were differences A of opinion at every stage of discussion. It’s natural for each member in the committee to come out with divergent views. In any defence deal of this magnitude, there will be contradictory views. The deal was finally struck after both the MoD and the PMO reached ● More on P9 a consensus. SUCCESSFUL TEST DRIVE Kottayam Port barges into thick of things A B H I L A S H C H A N D R A N @ Kottayam A BARGE, loaded with machineries, successfully conducted its trial run from Kottayam Port to Eerayilkadavu via Kodimatha through the Kodoor River on Friday, giving a big fillip to the authorities’ efforts to promote freight transportation through inland waterways. The port authorities said the successful test drive has given a major boost to regular operation of transhipment containers from the Kottayam Port, the country’s first inland container depot (ICD) project. “We’ve been doing cargo container transhipment by road for the past five years. As part of the second phase, we’ve now successfully done it via waterways,” said Kottayam Port and Container Terminal Services Pvt Ltd General Manager The freight barge, arrived in Kottayam Port, is being moved to Eerayikadavu through Kodoor River | VISHNU PRATHAP K N Roopesh Babu. He said Kochi-Kottayam container movement via waterways will be- come regular from the first week of March. “The containers arriving in Kochi inter national Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) will be brought to Kottayam via waterways and then be moved to other parts of Kottayam as well as Idukki and Pathanamthitta after Customs clearance procedures here,” he said. “We’ve already operated more than 12,000 containers already, including both export and import. However, there was a slight delay in water movement of containers owing to various reasons, which are being rectified,” said Roopesh. “Tender proceedings for purchasing a 150-metric tonne crane unit are in the final phase and the unit is expected to arrive in Kottayam ● More on P6 within 15 days. CONVERTING DEBT TO EQUITY Govt plans to throw ailing PSUs a lifeline D H I N E S H K A L L U N G A L @ T’Puram THE state government plans to throw the overleveraged public sector units (PSUs) a lifeline. By permitting loan restructuring and thus allowing the state to take equity in the PSUs, one lastditch attempt is planned to help those units which have taken too much debt make a turnaround. The Restructuring and Internal Audit Board (RIAB) will soon submit a proposal in this regard to the state in order to bring more PSUs into the growth trajectory . The proposal has come with a set of riders that the state will take equity only in those PSUs which can make profit if their debt is converted into equity . The move is expected to make nearly dozen units successful. RIAB Chairman N Sasidharan Nair told Express nearly a dozen companies’ net worth is negative due to loan and interest. “If the company can turn profitable on converting all debt into equity, then the state will go for such an option, thereby bringing more PSUs into the growth track,” said Nair. Some successfullyrunning PSUs have invested in struggling units in the form of loan, which they have to repay with interest, according to officers. It is expected the state would convert around `100 crore it has given to various companies as loans into its equity even though that amount as well as the list of companies would be known only after a detailed ongoing assessment. In the last two budgets, the government had ear marked around `300 crore each to strengthen the public-sector undertakings. As many as 14 PSUs reported profits in the last financial year against 13 in the previous fiscal. The successful PSUs’ total profit also increased from `88.4 crore in 2016-17 to `303.7 crore. The state government is eying to bring 25 PSUs into the growth track with implementation of the proposal. Bills to kill green card country cap tabled in US R A M A N A N D A S E N G U P TA @ New Delhi US, though with no voting rights. Removing the cap has been a longTWO similar bills aimed at ending the standing demand of US majors like seven per cent cap per country for Google and Walmart. green cards were introduced in In the Senate, Democratic Senathe US House of Representatives tor Kamala Harris and Republiand the Senate on Wednesday. If can Senator Mike Lee introduced VISA passed, it would help thousands of the Bill called the Fairness for Indian professionals who otherwise High-Skilled Immigrants Act. have to wait for almost a decade for To become law, the Bills need to be this card which gives them permanent approved by the Senate and Congress and residency and permission to work in the then signed by the President.
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