Below the line: Clash of the lenders

| Updated on December 29, 2019 Published on December 29, 2019

Clash of the lenders

All eyes on Monday are going to be at the World Trade Centre in Mumbai, as the first meeting of the Committee of Creditors (CoC) in the insolvency proceedings against Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFL) will be convened. Given that there are, at the last count, as many as 36 creditors (including nine foreign institutions) who have thrown their hat into the IBC ring, the organiser of the meeting (RBI-appointed administrator R Subramaniakumar) had no choice but to settle for a large venue, an economy watcher quipped.

It would be interesting to see whether this meeting will be a smooth or stormy affair, as each creditor is expected to throw his weight behind finding a place in the final CoC composition. The proceedings will be keenly watched, as this is the first-ever CoC meeting for a stressed financial services company that has been referred by the RBI for the IBC process. Clearly, the near ₹1 lakh crore of creditor monies that have gone down with the DHFL blow out requires more than a deft handling. Will the administrator and insolvency regulator IBBI measure up to it? Only time will tell.

No diplomacy please

After India’s bitter experience in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations and its awkward exit from the talks early last month, the government has apparently decided to move more carefully in deliberations on future free trade agreements.

The Ministry of External Affairs, which has traditionally supported FTAs and other trade agreements where strategic interests are involved with flourish, may be considering backing off a bit. The whisper in Udyog Bhawan is that the MEA may leave it mostly on the wisdom of the Commerce Ministry now, to decide whether a trade pact is worth consideration. Such proposals may be judged only on the basis of commercial interests insulated from diplomatic considerations. Officials who participate in the negotiations, however, have their fingers crossed — as it seems too good to be true!

Veiled attacks

India does not want to be tutored on how to be more responsible towards the environment from developed nations, according to Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Speaking recently at an event in New Delhi, Pradhan said, “Grandchildren of those who built their fortunes on hydrocarbons are not lecturing India on responsible consumption.”

This can be interpreted as a veiled attack on Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. The Nordic countries are notorious for massive hydrocarbon consumption and production. Sweden itself relies heavily on extractive industries such as iron ore. Whether Pradhan wanted to target Thunberg will remain a mystery, but India’s stand on the issue is clear.

Jagan’s stress to Health Ministry

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has put officials of the Health Ministry in a fix. Whispers in the Ministry corridors were rife that work at the upcoming All India Institute of Medical Sciences at Mangalagiri in the Guntur district has been stopped since the last three weeks, as there is no supply of sand for construction. It’s believed that after Reddy banned illegal sand mining, it has been tough to procure enough sand for construction, until the powers that be are appeased.

Superstitious holiday

Fighting superstitions requires affirmative action from authorities. The government cannot be seen aiding and abetting blind beliefs. But the Odisha government did precisely this when it declared a holiday for schools, colleges and government offices on December 26, the day of the annual solar eclipse. Like their counterparts living in many parts of India, Hindus in Odisha too for long thought it is inauspicious to venture out or eat anything during the eclipse. People in other parts of the country have long got over such irrational beliefs associated with this spectacular celestial event. It is unfortunate to see a government is encouraging them in the 21st Century.

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Published on December 29, 2019
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