Category: Pioneer

BRING TRANSPARENCY TO DRUG PRICING

Problems in the pharma sector must be tackled right at the source. Pharma multinational corporations must instill confidence about the veracity of their cost figures — whether low or high According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), it costs a company just $648 million on an average in research and development to bring a cancer drug to the market — a small fraction of the $2.7 billion, the pharmaceutical industry claims, is the average cost of drug discovery. The report further shows that within about four years of approval (no drug is allowed to be marketed without taking prior registration from national regulator under relevant jurisdiction), revenue from sale of the drugs studied was, on an average, nine-fold...
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SILENCING CRITICS OF DEMONETISATION

Perhaps critics of the Modi Government are taking a very myopic view of demonetisation. The fact remains that note ban was an extraordinary step that was never attempted before anywhere in the world and has had far reaching socio-economic ramifications The suspense is finally over with the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) annual report giving exact details on total value of high-denomination currency circulating in the system. It has given a clear picture about the notes that came back to the banking system and those which did not. As against Rs 1,544,000 crore  embodied in these notes as on November 8, 2016, Rs 1,528,000 crore came back, leaving a meager Rs 16,000 crore in the hands of the public. This is just about...
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OVERCOMING THE REFORM CHALLENGE

If the Government is serious about making a dent on subsidy, it should dismantle controls and give subsidy directly to target beneficiaries (the poor) under direct benefit transfer. This will pave the way for many players, increase supply, offer more choices and foster competition In the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) statement (a statutory requirement under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003) presented by the Modi Government, expenditure on fertiliser subsidy during 2018-19 and 2019-20 was kept unchanged at Rs 70,000 crore. The provision was the same in this year’s budget. Allocation for food subsidy has been increased from Rs 145,000 crore  during 2017-18 to Rs 175,000 crore during 2018-19 and further to Rs 200,000 crore in 2019-20....
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STANDING FIRM ON FOOD SUBSIDIES

With India-China having jointly petitioned WTO, it is expected that both will reach at a permanent solution to address anomalies surrounding food procurement In a joint paper submitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) committee on agriculture on July 17, India and China lambasted the developed countries, including the United States, the European Union and Canada for consistently giving trade-distorting subsidies to their farmers at levels much higher than the ceiling applicable to developing countries with respect to such subsidies. According to the paper, “Developed countries corner more than 90 per cent of global Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) — a technical jargon for trade-distorting subsidies — entitlements amounting to nearly $160 billion, which is beyond their de minimis (maximum permissible level of AMS)....
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APATHETIC ATTITUDE RUINING BUSINESS

The fertiliser industry, in India is slumping due to the burden on investors to sell at low price and delayed payment of subsidy dues by the Government Last year, Tata Chemicals Limited (TCL) sold its urea business viz plant in Babrala, Uttar Pradesh to Yara Fertilisers India Private Limited [YFIL] — Indian arm of Norway’s Yara lnternational ASA — for a sum of Rs 2,670 crore. This was a distress sale. Then, it had also alluded to selling its complex fertiliser business (including Haldia unit). Now, the TCL are in advanced negotiations with India-born Indonesian billionaire Prakash Lohia of Indorama Corporation to sell Haldia unit — on a slump sale basis for Rs 600-800 crore. The sale will include the plant and other fixed assets and...
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TELECOM INDUSTRY IN SELF-DESTRUCT MODE

A good deal of the problems that the telecom sector faces today has been solely created by service providers. They must keep it in mind that public interest cannot be won by just keeping price low. It’s important to maintain quality of service Arundhati Bhattacharya, chairperson of the State Bank of India, recently sounded alarm bells over troubles surrounding the telecom sector. She wrote to the Government about the “highly unsustainable levels” of debt mobile companies face today. The industry’s debt to the banking sector is estimated at four lakh crore rupees. In a letter to the telecom secretary, Aruna Sundararajan, Bhattacharya stated that “stress in the sector has reached highly unsustainable levels after the entry of new players and launch...
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SEARCH FOR THE RIGHT SOLUTION

Loan waivers and written-offs given to corporates or farmers are totally unacceptable. They impact viability of banks and erode their capital base In the last session of the Parliament, members of the Opposition alleged that, while the Government had no qualms in waiving loans worth hundreds of thousand crore rupees given to industrialists and corporates, it showed little inclination to extend the same relief to farmers who are unable to pay back loans for no fault of theirs. The treasury benches responded by saying loans given to corporates are not waived; instead, they are written-off. To a layman, write-off and waiver would appear to convey the same meaning — in both, lender decides not to recover unpaid loans from borrower....
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INDIA’S PULSE DILEMMA

While the Government has done its bit to boost the output of pulses, it has done little to check the nexus between politicians and grain traders For several decades, production of pulses in India has fallen substantially short in terms of consumption. This persistent deficit has led to intermittent bouts of spike in prices as imports (needed to plug it) have often come after lag and have failed to reach consumption points in time — courtesy: Handling, storage and transportation bottlenecks. Pulses are an important source of nutrition, especially for vegetarians. It is also a critical component for the diet of the poor. This nutrition-poor link, which is juxtaposed with hike in price, has also been exploited by opposition parties...
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SAVING THE RURAL JOB SCHEME FROM DEATH

Modi has pressed all the right buttons to ensure that MGNREGS becomes an instrument of promoting his Government’s inclusive development agenda In a stunning revelation, Amarjeet Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), revealed that the Government had cancelled nearly 10 million fake ‘job cards’ under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Including the fake beneficiaries struck off from the scheme earlier, the total number of such cards cancelled thus far is more than 31 million. Under MGNREGA — a flagship welfare scheme launched by erstwhile UPA dispensation in 2005 — ‘guaranteed’ employment is provided to a member of a poor family in rural areas for a minimum of 100 days in a year and wage paid...
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RAISING ISSUES WITH GAS PRICING POLICY

The Government needs to re-look at the current pricing scheme for CBM production as it is not reaping returns. It must, instead, stick to extant formula-based guidelines The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved marketing and pricing freedom to contractors/producers of coal-bed methane (CBM), or natural gas from coal seams, to sell it at arms length price in the domestic market. To discover arms length price, a contractor has to now follow a fully transparent and competitive bidding process from amongst users “with the objective that the best possible price is realised for the gas without any restrictive commercial practices”. This decision has come in response to a scenario, whereby producers such as, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and...
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