on the day the sharad pawar story appeared, we put this email interview with him online as well. take a look.
The press recently reported that you wanted a high subsidy (Rs.3,500/ton) for sugar exports. If Indian sugar is not globally competitive, why do we want to export it? If there is no domestic shortage of sugar and release the surplus irrigation water for other crops? Also, isn’t this decision in violation of WTO norms? Your comments.
There is excess availability of sugar over domestic demand. Inability to sell sugar had affected the capacity of industry to make payments to cane farmers. The export market was also not available due to lower global prices. Industry had therefore requested for incentives for sugar exports. A Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by me had been constituted to look into this demand. On the recommendation of the GoM, Government has approved export incentive of Rs.3,300/- per ton for raw sugar export.
and, after a long time, i write again on india’s search for regulatory mechanism for microfinance.
With the Standing Committee on Finance rejecting the latest avatar of the microfinance bill, old questions about the microfinance sector have resurfaced. Since 2010, when the controversial Andhra Pradesh ordinance made it all but impossible for Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) to operate in their largest market, the industry has been hoping that the passage of the bill would result in the removal of the ordinance.
But now, with the bill going back to the drawing board, says Mathew Titus, the executive director of industry association Sa-Dhan, banks will be nervous about the risk of further state-level interventions…
The other question is on how to regulate MFIs. After the 2010 AP Microfinance crisis, it seemed that a large part of the institutional response would take the form of this Bill — “The Micro Finance Institutions (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2012.” However, with the Standing Committee returning the Bill, that question is wide open again.
also, see these. on the draft bill. on the need for the states to have a stay in mfi regulation. another story on the draft bill. on how to regulate mfis – story 1, story 2, story 3. and the need for regulation: story one, story two, story three, story four and story five.
In his speech today, Finance Minister P Chidambaram suggested UPA-II has done a good job on social welfare. As statements go, that assertion is not correct. UPA-II has passed fewer laws. Implementation of the principal Acts passed by UPA-I has weakened during UPA-II. Its gamechanger, direct benefits transfer, is yet to take off. Between them, as UPA-II prepares for elections, it has little to show on the social welfare front.
something strange happened in mid-february. the bureaucrat who heads india’s union ministry of health was abruptly transferred. and none of the explanations doing the rounds seemed to make much sense.
Why was health secretary Keshav Desiraju transferred? Two days ago, in a statement reproduced by the Press Trust of India, Azad said: “Officers’ and ministers’ portfolios change — it is a regular affair.” In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, an umbrella organisation of public health professionals, disagreed: “It is inconceivable that a routine transfer would be effected in such a precipitate manner, especially when no replacement for Mr Desiraju appears to have been decided upon.”
The news took even ministry officials by surprise. Senior ministry officials told ET there were no visible signs of tension between the secretary and the health minister. What made the government’s decision even more surprising is that Desiraju had been health secretary for just a year. By transferring him, the government appeared to be violating a Supreme Court order last October directing the government to ensure fixed tenures for bureaucrats — to insulate them from political pulls and pressures. Said former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian, “This is fully contempt of court.”
out today, this story by my colleague yogima seth and me on a surprise decision by the upa to pause its DBT programme for LPG.
The government’s decision to put the Aadhaar-based direct benefit transfer (DBT) for cooking gas on hold could be a blow to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), set up as one of the United Progressive Alliance’s flagship initiatives and aimed at ensuring that subsidies reached the right beneficiaries without fraudsters and middlemen ripping them off. Ahead of elections, the government is at pains not to risk alienating any constituency, having already sustained heavy defeats in recent state elections, some of these in areas where the programme has been rolled out. Oil minister Veerappa Moily attributed the decision on Thursday to complaints about implementation of the scheme.
in october 2012, i had travelled to a tehsil in rajasthan called dudu where the congress formally announced that direct benefit transfers would be its magic bullet for the coming elections — in the state and nationally.
well, i just reported for a story by my colleague akshay deshmane on the role of DBT in the rajasthan elections. and this is what we concluded.