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Monday,17-May-2021

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India can be lower cost producer than China if policies allow: Maruti Suzuki Chairman

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RC-Bhargava

India has the capability to become a lower cost producer than China if the industry and the government work together, Maruti Suzuki India Chairman R.C. Bhargava said on Thursday.

Bhargava presented his ideas on making Indian manufacturing globally competitive at an online dialogue with the country’s management leaders organised by All India Management Association (AIMA).

Bhargava argued that the only objective of government policies has to be to increase the competitiveness of Indian industry so that it can make things at the lowest cost and the best quality in the world. “The more the industry can sell, the more jobs will be created in the economy,” he said.

He pointed out that Maruti Suzuki produces more cars each year without adding to its workforce, but the increased sales of cars each year create more jobs in the service economy.

Bhargava said that there is fault in the policy thinking that focuses on job creation by each sector instead of job creation in the total economy.

With regard to states reserving jobs in manufacturing for locals, Bhargava said that it is an anti-competitive step.

The LeaderSpeak session, which was 33rd in the series, was moderated by Harsh Pati Singhania, President, AIMA and Vice Chairman and Managing Director, JK Paper Ltd, while Rekha Sethi, Director General, AIMA, anchored the session.

The protection for the MSME sector has been the bane of Indian manufacturing, according to Bhargava. He argued that the MSMEs have to be as globally competitive as the large companies because the supply chain determines overall competitiveness. He said that the government should understand that the small-scale businesses in manufacturing and the services are different animals and must be treated differently by the policymakers.

Indian industry cannot be competitive unless the promoters and managers treat workers as partners, argued Bhargava. He pointed out that Maruti owes its success to explaining to its workers that they will prosper if the company grows and backing that with policies and actions that delivered income and career growth to the employees. He said that Indian workers had been protected and pampered by the government and the courts before 1991 and the managements themselves had made no attempt to educate workers about what they would gain if the company grew.

Indian industry struggles with high cost and low efficiency in every area because of the nature of politics in the country, according to Bhargava. He said that not only the logistics, but India’s competitiveness is lower through entire infrastructure because of government control. The cost of finance is also high in India because of government ownership of banks, which results in high lending rates and loss of competitiveness of Indian industry, he added.

The lack of trust between the people and the industry is a major constraint on policymaking, he said, adding that that when people see promoters and their families using companies for their own benefit instead of benefit of all stakeholders, they suspect politicians who support the private sector.

However, he expressed satisfaction with the government for supporting private industry and talking about building trust. “Big industrialists have to win trust. The government cannot do it for them,” he said.

Business

Blue Dart Med-Exp to test UAS for vax deliveries

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Blue-Dart

Logistics company Blue Dart, part of the Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL), has formed Blue Dart Med-Express Consortium with the mission of revolutionizing the delivery of vaccines and emergency medical supplies to the remotest parts of India with Drones amid the surging second wave.

Blue Dart Med-Express Consortium is part of the ‘Medicine from the Sky’ project in collaboration with the Government of Telangana, World Economic Forum, Niti Aayog and Healthnet Global.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has granted the project with necessary exemptions and rights to fly drone flights on an experimental basis in Telangana.

The aim is to assess an alternate logistics route in providing safe, accurate and reliable pickup and delivery of health care items from distribution centre to specific location and back.

Blue Dart Med-Express Drone flights will deploy an immersive delivery model to optimize the current healthcare logistics within Telangana. The model will enable deliveries from district medical stores and blood banks to Primary Health Centers (PHCs), Community Health Centres (CHCs), Blood Storage Units & further from PHCs/CHCs to Central Diagnostic laboratories.

Balfour Manuel, Managing Director, Blue Dart said, “It’s been over a year and our battle against COVID-19 continues to unfold new challenges that need solutions in real-time. The pandemic has taught each one of us the importance of logistics and the need for a tech-led supply chain infrastructure. As an organization Blue Dart has always been surrounded with the technology of the future. It is this ability that has helped us to not only withstand the pandemic but thrive with growth. While we reach out to over 35,000 locations across the country, the current situation calls for a much deeper penetration of vaccines.”

Commenting on Blue Dart’s experiment with Drone flights for Beyond Visual Line of Sight delivery of vaccines Ketan Kulkarni, CMO & Head – Business Development, Blue Dart says, “The consortium aims at enabling safer, efficient and cost-effective Drone delivery flights. With efficient systems in place, it can help reduce the current logistics cost, making the healthcare logistics faster and efficient. We are delighted to be granted the rights to commence operations and this is definitely the need of the hour. Mankind is witnessing the worst time and Blue Dart is committed to giving back to the society in which it operates and will always be ready to take one step forward.”

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Business

Fuel prices unchanged on Thursday

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Petrol

Fuel retailers spared consumers of any further increase in fuel prices by keeping retail prices of petrol and diesel unchanged on Thursday.

Accordingly, petrol continues to cost Rs 92.05 per litre and diesel Rs 82.61 up in Delhi.

Across the country as well the petrol and diesel price prices remained static on Thursday but its actual retail prices varied depending on the level of local levies in respective states.

In Mumbai, regular petrol now comes for Rs 98.36 a litre just few days away from crossing the historic level of Rs 100 per litre.

Petrol prices in some states including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and in some places in Maharastra have breached the Rs 100 per litre mark while premium petrol has been hovering above that level for some time now.

Before Thursday’s price hold, fuel prices increased for three consecutive days this week up to Wednesday. Petrol and diesel prices also increased on four consecutive days last week

Petrol prices have increased by Rs 1.50 a litre Delhi in May in the seven increases so far. Similarly, diesel prices have risen by Rs 1.88 per litre in capital this month.

IANS had written earlier that OMCs may begin increasing the retail price of petrol and diesel post state elections as they were incurring losses to the tune of Rs 2-3 per litre by holding the price line despite higher global crude and product prices.

OMCs benchmark retail fuel prices to a 15-day rolling average of global refined products’ prices and dollar exchange rate. In the last fortnight global oil prices have hovered in $66-67 a barrel range higher than the levels when petrol and diesel prices were last revised. Crude prices have jumped around $ 69 a barrel now.

With global crude prices at around $ 69 a barrel mark, OMCs may have revise fuel prices upwards again if there is any further firming up.

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Business

RAI seeks capital support for retail industry amid pandemic

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Reliance-Retail

Retailers Association of India (RAI) has urged the government to take steps for capital infusion into the retail industry with ECLGS benefits and loan moratorium.

Speaking about the state of the Indian Retail Industry, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, RAI, said: “The retail industry in India has been in a perpetual paradox ever since the first set of restrictions began last year in March 2020. The businesses and the workforce in retail need to be cushioned by the government or the local authorities to ease off their hardships.”

He further said that two most important and immediate steps that can prevent this industry from collapsing are to prioritise vaccination of the last mile workers and to urgently provide financial support.

RAI noted that as the days of the lockdown drag on, it is getting increasingly difficult for retailers to retain employees and to keep their businesses afloat. Retailers need to pay salaries, minimum electricity, rentals, property taxes etc, even if the businesses are shut due to the lockdown.

The cash inflow of the industry has come to a standstill, while the fixed operating cost remains intact.

The immense financial stress faced by the retail sector will adversely impact both livelihood and the financial institutions exposure to the sector as retailers start to become insolvent. Millions of MSME suppliers too get no payment from the industry participants.

RAI has recommended that the Ministry of Finance and the Reserve Bank of India step in to bring some relief to the mounting stress on the retail business in the wake of second wave of Covid -19.

It noted that corporate retail outlets is one of the 26 sectors, selected by the Kamath panel under the ‘Resolution Framework for Covid-related Stress’. While this was mentioned in the announcement of ECLGS 2.0 it has not been clarified in the notification which announced ECLGS 3.0, it said.

“This needs to be clarified and ECLGS funds made available to the retail sector immediately. Availability of additional funding to eligible retail businesses will go a long way in contributing to retail revival and protecting jobs,” it said.

It further sought a moratorium on principal and interest for six months for the 26 stressed sectors.

RAI also asked the government and the RBI to mandate banks to give ad-hoc working capital loans of 30 per cent more than current limits so that critical payments like salaries and wages can be made, among other recommendations.

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