Badla ban looms over CSE
Govt sets term for allocation of basic spectrum
CESC incentive to plug power theft
More to Maaza than mango

 
 
BADLA BAN LOOMS OVER CSE 
 
 
BY PALLAB BHATTACHARYA
 
Calcutta, March 24: 
To prevent malpractices at the Calcutta Stock Exchange (CSE), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is planning to temporarily disallow carry forward trading on the bourse.

The move comes in the wake of unprecedented payment crisis that CSE faced in the last two settlements, triggering uncertainty across the bourses in the country.

Sources close to Sebi said the market watchdog had taken strong exception to the various loopholes in CSE’s operations, including carry forward trading which is commonly known as badla.

“The general tendency among brokers is to go for badla, either officially or unofficially, and not take delivery. While Sebi cannot do anything about the unofficial badla trading, it can certainly take some measures regarding the official ones,” they added.

Talking to The Telegraph from Mumbai, Sebi chairman D.R. Mehta said he is waiting for the detailed report from the two officials who had been sent to CSE to monitor the pay-in and pay-out.

“We have to get the report first before we can take any decision. I can only say that the situation in CSE is not as bad as it was publicised,” Mehta said.

At present, six stock exchanges—Bombay, National, Calcutta, Delhi, Ludhiana and Ahmedabad—are only allowed to undertake carry forward trading.

“There are certain conditions, including a stipulated trade guarantee fund, which are to be fulfilled before an exchange is allowed to run carry forward. If these conditions are not fulfilled, Sebi may withdraw the permission,” a senior Sebi official said.

Carry forward trading was started officially in Calcutta in January 1999. All the scrips in the forward group are currently allowed to be carried forward.

According to the Sebi guidelines, a broker is allowed to carry forward Rs 40 crore on the whole in a particular settlement and Rs 5 crore in a particular scrip.

In order to stop malpractices, CSE had reduced the badla limit to Rs 20 core as a whole and Rs 2.5 crore in a particular scrip.

The average volume of badla trading on CSE is Rs 600 crore.

CSE executive director Tapas Dutta, while confirming the move, said there are some more stringent measures taken to pre-empt carry forward in the volatile scrips.

Sebi is also concerned over the high magnitude of unofficial badla on the CSE.

Asked whether Sebi is planning to supersede the CSE governing board, the official said nothing could be said before Tuesday.

Mehta said the next pay-in size on CSE would be around Rs 50-55 crore “which is at this moment very good.” This will give CSE some breathing space, he added.

   

 
 
GOVT SETS TERM FOR ALLOCATION OF BASIC SPECTRUM 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, March 24: 
The government today linked the allocation of wireless spectrum to basic telecom service operators, with their ability to meet their subscriber base roll-out obligations within a given period.

Simultaneously, it also threatened to take back spectrum allocations if the targets are not achieved during the given period.

Existing operators, who have been permitted to use bandwidth in hand-held sets in wireless in local loop (WiLL) system, have also been brought under this regime.

Further, those licencees, who are unable to provide the number of telephones they have committed in their agreements, for any of the first three phases as stipulated in the guidelines, shall forfeit their right to use the spectrum. This will be regardless of any other action that may be taken by the licensor, a release issued here today said.

Any spectrum, already allocated to the basic operators and not effectively used, shall be withdrawn a year after the date of allocation, and, without further reference to the allottee, shall be re-allotted to other users.

The government today also finalised future procedures for allotting spectrum to basic service operators in designated frequency bands, on a first-come-first-served basis.

Under the norms, on installation of Point of Presence (PoP) in a Short Distance Charging Area (SDCA) spectrum to the extent of 2.5 MHz+2.5 MHz, in 824–844 MHz paired with an 869–889 MHz band will be allocated, which is expected to be a cost-effective solution for telephone companies.

Subsequent allocation of the spectrum up to total of 5 MHz has been linked to the roll-out obligations in terms of setting up of PoP in the various SDCAs.

“This allocation of spectrum linked with the roll-out will see a faster roll-out of the network by basic service operators, with cost-effective solutions,” a senior department of telecommunications (DoT) official said.

“Meeting the roll-out obligations will be a tough challenge and it may not be technically possible in the absence of quick clearances from various other ministries. It is an issue which has not been solved yet. Under the circumstances, the target becomes more difficult,” a senior executive with a basic service provider said.

For Wireless Access Systems in local area, spectrum not more than 5MHz +5 MHz in 824-844 MHz, paired with 869-889 MHz band or 5 MHz in 1880–1900 MHz band for micro-cellular architecture base system shall be allocated to any basic service operator, including existing ones like Mahangar Telephone Nigam Limited, Bharti and Shyam Telecom.

However, the government directives will be subject to the outcome of the petition filed by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) before the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against the Union of India.

   

 
 
CESC INCENTIVE TO PLUG POWER THEFT 
 
 
BY SUTANUKA GHOSAL
 
Calcutta, March 24: 
CESC, the RPG group power utility, will announce an incentive scheme for employees who are entrusted with the task of plugging power theft.

A senior official said the contours of the scheme, to be unveiled in the new financial year, have already been drawn up and the blueprint is now being given a final shape.

The scheme will not be open to all 14,000 employees, but to those who take meter readings.

The decision on widening it to include others will be taken later. “The aim is to boost the morale of employees who are often roughed up during raids,” the official said.

CESC managing director Sumantra Banerjee urged employees and union representatives to check power theft at a meeting held with them last Tuesday. Executive director Shantanu Chatterjee is spearheading the campaign against pilferage, and the loss-control cell is being expanded.

The company says pilferage accounts for a big chunk of its transmission and distribution (T&D) losses, apart from the leakages that occur due to commercial and technical problems.

The firm suffers commercial losses when meters run slow, or when the power used is not recorded; technical losses arise in wheeling electricity. “Around 70 per cent of CESC’s energy sold to consumers is metered,” the official said. The city’s south-west and southern parts, besides Howrah, are some of the areas where the theft of power is rampant.

A study conducted this year (April to February) has shown a high degree of illegal consumption. In the 11 months to February, more than 2000 FIRs were lodged with the police, 3,400 meters disconnected and over Rs 7 crore recovered.

The company has beefed up its legal cell, and the number of court cases related to pilferage has fallen.

“We are obtaining a caveat from the court before we disconnect a line. Earlier, consumers would secure a stay from the court to prevent their connections from being snapped. The cases drag on for years at CESC’s expense,” the official added.

   

 
 
MORE TO MAAZA THAN MANGO 
 
 
FROM RAJA GHOSHAL
 
New Delhi, March 24: 
If its ‘taaza mango,’ then it’s ‘Maaza mango,’ goes the adline. But there will soon be more to Maaza than just mango.

Coca-Cola India will launch at least three new flavours of Maaza this summer, in addition to the mango variant with which the drink has become synonymous.

The company did not specify the flavours to be introduced, adding right now it is conducting in-house taste preferences of consumers in the shortlisted fruit categories.

Maaza is the fruit pulp-based drink in Coca-Cola’s brand portfolio, which it acquired from Parle when it entered India. Last year, Maaza was launched in 200 ml tetrapacks as well, priced at Rs 9. Since then the brand has grown by 60 per cent, a Coke spokesperson said.

The bottled Maaza is presently available in 250 ml priced at Rs 9.50, the same price at which one can get a 300 ml Coke.

The bottled Maaza has become intrinsic to the drink’s brand identity, thanks to its “Bottle mein aam, Maaza hain naam,” campaign, a line which has stayed with the brand even now. With the introduction of new flavours, Maaza will not just be ‘bottle mein aam,’ it could be any other fruit which the company decides to zero in on.

Coca-Cola said Maaza is the market leader in the fruit pulp-based (mango) drink segment, with a more than 55 per cent market share. Rival Pepsi has Slice in the segment, which entered the market much later than Maaza.

In the hundred per cent juice segment, Pepsi has several flavours of Tropicana. Coke sources said, “We are also looking at the hundred per cent juice segment, but have not finalised on the brand or flavour.”

Coke added Maaza’s basic positioning will continue to be as a fresh and healthy fruit pulp-based drink, only now it will offer more options to the consumer. The Maaza advertising account is with Leo Burnett.

However, Coke denied reports that it is introducing its ‘Lift’ energy drink in the country. Lift, part of Coca Cola’s brand portfolio, is available in several European countries and Australia.

   
 

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