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BPCL cooking gas customers to continue getting subsidy, post privatisation

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Sell-off bound Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) has created a separate platform for its cooking gas operations that runs government’s subsidised LPG cylinder scheme where subsidy amount is transferred directly into the accounts of consumers.

Creation of separate platform was mandated as part of the sell-off process to ring fence the new owners from this subsidy scheme that could function uninterrupted with government transferring subsidy to consumers even after privatisation of the BPCL.

The government is selling its entire 52.97 per cent shareholding in BPCL to a strategic investor. There were doubts among potential bidders how the subsidised cooking gas scheme would be run post the management of BPCL getting transferred to new private sector owners. If companies were to take the tab of subsidy, it would alter the valuation of BPCL.

It has now been decided that cooking gas customers will continue receiving subsidy into their bank accounts post privatisation of PSU oil refiner. The government has clarified that the present system where the oil companies pay the subsidy amount and the government reimbursed such payments would continue.

Creation of a separate platform would help keep subsidised cooking gas operation separate. This will allow identification of beneficiaries and transfer of subsidy without the scheme creating confusion for new owners.

The LPG price for cooking for consumers under PAHAL is subsidized by the government wherein the subsidy quantum given to the PAHAL (Pratyaksha Hastaantarit Laabh) consumers by way of DBT, is the difference between the market-determined price and the subsidized price.

Private oil companies such as Reliance, Nayara Energy do not get any subsidy support from the government for cooking gas. So if these companies were to sell domestic LPG cylinders, it would be priced at market rates.

The government has allocated Rs 12,995 crore as petroleum subsidy for FY-22, a drastic cut over Rs 40,000 crore provided in the previous year.

With regard to BPCL, the government hopes to invite price bids from prospective investors soon. Besides Vedanta Group, two American funds – Apollo Global and I Squared Capital – have submitted their expressions of interest (EoI) for BPCL.

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Decline in equities continue for 4th straight sessions

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The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) and broader 50-scrip Nifty on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) extended their losses from the previous three consecutive sessions and declined on Friday.

At 10.25 a.m., Sensex traded at 58,593 points, down 0.9 per cent from the previous close of 59,464 points. It opened at 59,039 points.

Nifty traded at 17,599 points, down 0.9 per cent from the previous close of 17,757 points. It opened at 17,613 points.

Bajaj Finserv, Tech Mahindra, Coal India, Adani Ports, Bharti Airtel were some of the top losers, NSE data showed.

Top gainers during the early trade were Hindustan Unilever, Tata Consumers, Bajaj Auto, Hero MotoCorp, and Power Grid Corporation.

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Consumer Price Index numbers for Agri, Rural labourers up by 5 points in Dec 2021

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The All-India Consumer Price Index Numbers for Agricultural Labourers (CPI-AL) and Rural Labourers (CPI-RL) for the month of December 2021 increased by 5 points each to stand at 1097 and 1106 points respectively.

The major contribution towards the rise in general index of Agricultural Labourers and Rural Labourers came from Fuel & Light group and miscellaneous group to the extent of 1.72 & 1.58 points and 1.02 & 1.06 points respectively mainly due to rise in prices of firewood, kerosene oil, medicine, barber charges, bus fare, toilet soap, washing soap, etc., a release from the Ministry of Labour and Employment said on Thursday.

The rise/fall in the index varied from state to state. In case of Agricultural Labourers, it recorded an increase of 1 to 20 points in 11 states and a decrease of 1 to 12 points in eight states while it remained stationary for Odisha. Tamil Nadu with 1,290 points topped the index table whereas Himachal Pradesh with 861 points stood at the bottom.

In case of Rural Labourers, it recorded an increase of 1 to 20 points in 11 States and a decrease of 1 to 14 points in eight states while it remained stationary for Odisha. Tamil Nadu with 1,276 points topped the index table whereas Himachal Pradesh with 915 points stood at the bottom.

Amongst states, the maximum increase in the CPI-AL and CPI-RL was experienced by Tamil Nadu (20 points each), mainly due to rise in the prices of vegetables & fruits, onion, chillies green/dry, tamarind, etc.

On the contrary, the maximum decrease in the CPI-AL and CPI-RL was experienced by Himachal Pradesh (12 points and 14 points respectively), mainly due to fall in the prices of wheat atta, pulses, onion, vegetables, and fruits etc.

Point to point rate of inflation based on the CPI-AL and CPI-RL stood at 4.78 per cent & 5.03 per cent in December 2021, compared to 3.02 per cent & 3.38 per cent respectively in November 2021 and 3.25 per cent and 3.34 per cent respectively during the corresponding month of the previous year.

Similarly, Food inflation stood at 2.99 per cent & 3.17 per cent in December 2021, compared to 0.88 per cent & 1.07 per cent respectively in November 2021 and 2.97 per cent & 2.96 per cent respectively during the corresponding month of the previous year.

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Air India to commence normal ops to US from Friday

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National carrier Air India will commence normal operations to US from Friday, the airline said.

On Tuesday, the national carrier said that it will not be able to operate a number of US-bound flights due to the deployment of 5G communications in the US.

As per industry insiders, the 5G network technology might cause certain crucial flight instruments to malfunction.

The airline informed passengers via its official Twitter handle: “#FlyAI : Flight operations to/from destinations in USA were affected during last two days.

“We would like to inform our passengers traveling to/from destinations in the USA that effective 0001hrs of 21st January 2022 normal flights operations will recommence to/from USA.”

Earlier in the day, Boeing had cleared AI to operate to the US on Boeing 777 aircraft.

Accordingly, the first Air India flight left from New Delhi to JFK airport on Thursday morning.

Besides, Air India is expected to operate other flights to Chicago and San Francisco.

“Arrangements to carry stranded passengers are being worked out,” the airline said.

The US air transport regulator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has been concerned that a version of 5G could interfere with some airplane instruments.

Earlier, aviation industry groups had shared those fears. This is despite reassurances from federal telecom regulators and well as wireless carriers.

Specifically, the FAA has been worried that 5G cellular antennas near some airports – not air mobile devices – could throw off readings from some aircraft equipment designed to tell pilots how far they are from the ground.

The systems, radar altimeters, are used throughout a flight and are considered critical.

At present, Air India operates to 5 destinations in the US.

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