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If I was not a minister I would have bid for Air India

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Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said if he was not a minister, he would be bidding for Air India, the debt-laden airline government seeks to divest.

“If I wasn’t a minister today, I would be bidding for Air India. It has some of the best bilaterals the world over… a well managed and efficient Air India with lot more good aircraft put in using these bilaterals is nothing short of a gold mine to my mind,” Goyal said in Davos, Switzerland, at a session on ‘Strategic Outlook: India’ at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual summit.

Bilaterals refers to an agreement between two countries that allows each other’s airlines to operate services with a specific number of seats.

Goyal further said that in the first term, the government had inherited an economy which was in pretty terrible shape. “Steps were taken to put the economy back in shape and if the government had looked at divesting these jewels (BPCL and other government companies), it would not have got a great value,” added Goyal who holds the portfolios of Railways as well as Commerce and Industry.

Air India has been in the red for long and the government is now in the process of finalising the contours for its disinvestment.

At a meeting on June 28, 2017, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had in-principle approved the consideration for strategic disinvestment of Air India and its five subsidiaries. It had constituted Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM) for the purpose, which basically is a Group of Ministers (GoM) to handle the strategic sale of the beleaguered national carrier.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari are its members. The AISAM decided in June last year to go ahead with the process of Air India’s disinvestment.

Air India’s disinvestment is likely to be completed in the next fiscal year, beginning April 1, 2020. The other companies government is looking to divest are Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL), Container Corporation of India Ltd (Concor) and Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI).

“We expect around Rs 1 lakh crore from the privatisation of BPCL, Air India, Concor, SCI and the rest from buybacks and follow-on public offers in some CPSEs (central public sector enterprises),” a finance ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

The government plans to privatise Air India by selling its 100 per cent ownership in the airline.

On January 7, the group of ministers approved the draft Expression of Interest (EoI) and Share Purchase Agreement (SPA) for the disinvestment of Air India. Unhappy with the move, Air India employee unions met Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. At the meeting, the minister “assured” the employees of full payment of their arrears.

At his first meeting with the unions on January 2, Puri had said privatisation was inevitable and cooperation of the employees was necessary in carrying out the exercise.

In 2018-19, Air India’s net loss was around Rs 8,556 crore. The airline has a debt burden of more than Rs 80,000 crore.

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Covid Crisis: Sensex sinks 883 points

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Sensex
Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Sensex ended 882.61 points or 1.81% lower at 47,949.42 while National Stock Exchange (NSE) Nifty tanked 258.40 points or 1.77% to 14,359.45.

Equity benchmark Sensex plummeted 883 points on April 19 following a massive across-the-board selloff as mounting COVID-19 cases spooked domestic investors. After crashing over 1,469 points in early trade, the 30-share BSE index pared some initial losses but still ended 882.61 points or 1.81% lower at 47,949.42.

Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty tanked 258.40 points or 1.77% to 14,359.45. PowerGrid was the top loser in the Sensex pack, slumping over 4%, followed by ONGC, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Bank, L&T, Asian Paints and Bajaj Auto. On the other hand, Dr Reddy’s and Infosys were the only gainers. Barring pharma and IT, which remained resilient, all key sectoral indices witnessed sharp correction.

Financials and automobiles witnessed steeper correction. Notably, volatility index soared by over 11%, which does not augur well. Investors’ wealth got eroded by over Rs 3 trillion today, he added.

India’s total tally of Covid-19 cases crossed 1.50 crore with a record single-day rise of 2,73,810 new coronavirus infections, while the active cases surpassed the 19-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on April 19.

Elsewhere in Asia, bourses in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Tokyo ended on a positive note. Stock exchanges in Europe were also largely trading with gains in mid-session deals. Meanwhile, international oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 0.25% lower at $66.60 per barrel.

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Flipkart beats Amazon in Diwali online sales!

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Flipkart beats Amazon

The pandemic changed the buying behaviour drastically this year and accelerated the shift to e-commerce. This is evident from the increasing number of consumers reflected in the 88% customer growth as well as the higher frequency of shopping online while people celebrate slew of festivals including the festival of lights eventually leading to overall e-commerce market growth of 55% as compared to last year.

Also Read: Mamata is in deep trouble in West Bengal

According to Redseer, a management consulting firm, the festive sales from mid October to November clocked 8.3 billion $ in gross merchandise value(GMV) for the ecommerce sector which has increased significantly as compared to 5 billion $ during the festive month previous year. GMV has increased around 65% as compared to previous year. Flipkart, reportedly with 66 % of overall GMV has trumped Amazon this festive season with.

Out of 88 million shoppers who made the purchase this season through e-commerce, 55% come from Tier 2 towns whereas 45% from metros and Tier 1 cities. This number is huge when compared with 47 million shoppers the last season.

Also Read: Tata Sons, Vistara, Singapore Airlines might buy Air India?

According to Mrigank Gutgutia, director, e-commerce, RedSeer Consulting “One clear lesson from this festive season is that e-commerce has become more mainstream than ever. And it has proven that with the right assortment at the right prices which is delivered quickly in the safety of customer’s homes – the value proposition of e-commerce is very powerful. Thus, it is imperative for brands and sellers to shift their focus to online quickly and enable a seamless online experience for the customer in order to thrive in a post COVID world”

He also said that “The overall growth story has been very bullish this festive season. We had forecast $7 billion in sales but the actual figures surpassed our expectations clearly, showing how comfortable consumers have become with shopping online even in a pandemic-hit year.”

Flipkart experienced 40 % growth in its flagship event, Big Billion Days(BBD) as compared to last year. It was so well received that the ecommerce giant achieved its target only in three days of the week long sale. Amazon also witnessed their sellers reaching out to millions of customers but its sales in the first week was less than half to that of flipkart. The reason for the same is that flipkart has premium and value products hence catering to the not just to metro, tier1 but also tier 2 and tier 2 regions, unlike Amazon which is more targeted to metro and tier 1 customers.

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According to Redseer, despite the Indo-China relations being precarious which could have affected the supply chain, the ecommerce players maintained a high level of item availability.

Affordability along with aggressive tie-ups through brands and financing deals was the strategy used by ecommerce platforms to spur the demand which is enabling both the sellers and brands to recover after the pandemic due to online sales.

In the category mix, smartphones continue to dominate. Also due to forced shift to work and study from home, electronics and large appliances are witnessing increased sales.

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on country’s economic arrest

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 India Ideas Summit
Recently Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the India Ideas Summit via video conferencing in New Delhi, She said that the Green shoots are visible and so interventions can happen in future with regard to this matter.

She also said that no sector will be in exclusive control of public sector and PSUs will be present only in pre determined strategic sectors.

She has noticed economic recovery happening both in rural and urban sectors through many governmental interventions.

Also Read: Ban on Chinese company to Cost Railways

While addressing the 2020 India Ideas Summit organized by the US India Business Council (USIBC), we have seen her stating that the,

” The green shoots are based on the high frequency indicators. We will go along as we watch them. It’s not as if we have concluded that the economy has seen green shoots and therefore, we won’t take any more steps. We have kept all the options necessary, absolutely open. The government is willing to participate, talk with everybody and see what best has to be done, interventions can happen even in the future depending on how the
industry responds.”

” During the lockdown the several things that have been done have now borne fruits that i can confidently tell you that we are able to see green shoots…the stimulus that we gave which has touched about 10 per cent of the GDP has actually made the difference for the companies which want to come out of the lockdown and the effects of the lockdown,” she said.

As regards to development in the rural sector the Finance Minister said that the, ” We have had a very good summer crop. All of what was necessary has been procured at reasonable price so that farmers are not left high and dry looking for purchasers. Now the estimate for the kharif crop has also come. We can clearly see the agriculture sector is driving the revival.”

Also Read: Where should India stand in new Cold War?

She also stated that the government and the industries have to work together for the economic development of the country and stated that this lockdown has helped most of us.

It looks like the the Finance Minister is putting more emphasis on both rural and urban sectors and various MSME’s because there has been an economic slowdown since the country is doing it’s best to recover from the ill effects of the corona pandemic.

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