Opinion

Below the line

| Updated on October 14, 2019 Published on October 14, 2019

Work in progress

Remember the ₹20,000 crore special fund (₹10,000 crore from the government and ₹10,000 crore from investors) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced last month to provide last mile funding to housing projects that are non-NPA and non-NCLT and yet stuck due to lack of funding. It now transpires that the proposed affordable housing and middle-income housing focussed fund — to be set up as Category II Alternate Investment Fund — will take some time before it becomes a reality.

If Finance Ministry insiders are to be believed, government procedures mandate Cabinet approval on the proposal before things can actually roll on for the creation of the fund. Till then, government investment cannot flow.

Simply Desi vs Khadi

When Sahakar Bharati announced the launch of Simply Desi, a new brand which would help market the produce made by small cooperative units across the country, many wondered whether it was a move by the Sangh Parivar to counter the growing popularity of Khadi. After all, Sahakar Bharati, a Sangh Parivar-affiliated voluntary organisation working in the cooperative space, is less than 10 years old while Khadi has been around for more than 60 years, said a veteran of the cooperative movement at the inauguration of the the first-ever India International Cooperative Trade Fair in New Delhi last week when Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar launched the brand.

Fully filmi!

When Ravi Shankar Prasad quoted the earnings of Bollywood movies released recently to prove “All Izz Well” in the economy, he was bound to attract criticism.

On Sunday, a statement from Prasad said: “My comments made yesterday (Saturday) in Mumbai about three films making ₹120 crore in a single day — the highest ever — was a factually correct statement. I had stated this as I was in Mumbai — the film capital of India. We are very proud of our film industry, which provides employment to lakhs of people and contributes significantly by way of taxes...”

Prasad didn’t stop here: “The government of Narendra Modi always cares for the sensitivity of common people. The entire video of my media interaction is available on my social media. Yet I regret to note that one part of my statement has been completely twisted out of context.”

“Being a sensitive person I withdraw this comment,” Prasad said.

Pouring dollars

Finally, some cause for cheer in an otherwise gloom-and-doom scenario marked by economic slowdown and despondency in the country. The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund’s (NIIF’s) Master Fund has been such a hit with investors that the Finance Ministry has now decided to raise its fund size to $2.8 billion from the current $2.1 billion. The Master Fund, which is NIIF’s first operational fund, was created to invest in operational assets with a focus on transportation, energy and urban infrastructure sectors.

As much as $300 million has been invested. Encouraged by this success, not only has the fund size now been increased, it now transpires that the Finance Ministry has also extended the final close of the Master Fund by a year. Already commitments to the tune of $1.8 billion have been received, prompting the Finance Ministry to now set the bar higher. If Finance Ministry insiders are to be believed, you will soon hear more good news on the other two funds under NIIF.

Party in jail

Even after having spent a sleepless night while in police custody, former Fortis promoters, brothers Malvinder Singh and Shivinder Singh, appeared in good spirits in the Saket District courtroom. A few reporters stole a conversation with Shivinder outside the courtroom.

When one of them asked him ‘what happens next?’, he replied: “What next? It is going to be one big party inside the jail. All the old-timers are meeting once more.” The brothers appeared nonchalant, were chirpy, smiling and constantly talking to their family as also with the court staff.

Our Delhi Bureau

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Published on October 14, 2019
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