OPINION, P6 NATION, P3 EDITORIAL Services negotiatons will be key to IndiaUK trade deal GROWTH PARAMETERS OBSTINATE Beware the MSP trap, it will not only bankrupt govt, but also cripple trade & affect cropping patterns AMITENDU PALIT INTERNATIONAL Amit Mitra says West Bengal is faring better than the nation President Trump refuses to budge over aid bill KOLKATA, MONDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2020 FOLLOW US ON TWITTER & FACEBOOK. APP AVAILABLE ON APP STORE & PLAYSTORE WWW.FINANCIALEXPRESS.COM VOL. 30 NO. 49, 16 PAGES, `6.00, (NORTH EAST STATES & ANDAMAN `10.00) P U B L I S H E D F R O M : A H M E D A B A D , B E N G A L U R U , C H A N D I G A R H , C H E N N A I , H Y D E R A B A D , K O C H I , K O L K ATA , L U C K N O W, M U M B A I , N E W D E L H I , P U N E HIGH AND DRY CFOSPEAK ‘India’s capex can hit $50 bn a year’ 18-GW solar units in a bind over lack of buyers Discoms refuse to sign PSAs citing high tariffs; `1-L cr investment at stake ANUPAM CHATTERJEE New Delhi, December 27 A CLUTCH OF under-construction solar projects with combined capacity of 18,000 MW is facing grim prospects with the state-run discoms developing cold feet on buying power from these projects, at tariffs discovered under auctions.The discoms’ reluctance to sign power supply agree- DEVELOPERS WITHOUT BUYERS Solar target (by 2022): 100 ■ Adani ■ Azure ■ Current capacity 37 Under-construction 26 Capacity without buyers tied up 18 mentswiththeseprojects,with aggregate investments of `90,000-`1 lakh crore, is in view of the widening differential between the price of power ReNew ■ SB Energy (SoftBank) ■ Amp Green ■ Ayana (CDC Group) ■ IB Vogt Singapore ■ Avikiran (Enel) from these projects and the much lower prices discovered under recent auctions. Continued on Page 2 NHAI moots conciliation Infra hit by cost overruns KEENONspeedyresolutionoftheongoingdisputes with concessionaires,involving around `1lakhcroreinclaimsandcounter-claims,the NHAI has requested them to resort to conciliation before independent committees,rather than seek time-consuming judicial remedies, reportsSuryaSarathiRay. ■ Page 5 ASMANYas442infrastructureprojects,each worth `150 crore or more, have been hit by costoverrunsofover`4.34lakhcrore,according to a report, reports PTI.The ministry of statistics and programme implementation monitorsinfrastructureprojectsworth`150 crore and above. ■ Page 3 INDO-US TRADE Biden as Prez may review mini deal BANIKINKAR PATTANAYAK New Delhi, December 27 A “LIMITED” TRADE deal between India and the US, which was on the verge of conclusion before the US Presidential polls last month, is unlikely to see the light of the day at least before the second half of 2021, a source told FE. The deal was expected to coveran annual goods trade of about $13 billion, or roughly 15%ofthebilateralshipments (in FY20).“With Joseph Biden FE BUREAU New Delhi, December 27 Will the Sun be brighter? (all figures in giga-watt) Elusive consensus US wants India to import agri and dairy items worth about $6.5 bn/year to restore GSP India willing to import more US goods but not so much of farm or dairy products at the helm of affairs in the US, there would be a fresh review of the deal. It may be pushed back to the second half of the US wants India to abolish 100% duty on chicken legs or keep it at 10% and scrap duty on Harley bikes No agreement over US demand for India to scrap duties on 7 ICT products, including cell phones next year, or even further,” the source said. Continued on Page 2 READ TO LEAD SURE-SHOT People receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as Italy begins vaccinations against coronavirus at the Niguarda hospital in Milan on Sunday REUTERS WAITING GAME Telcos focus on market share, put tariff hikes in abeyance FE BUREAU New Delhi, December 27 WITH BHARTI AIRTEL and Reliance Jio locked in competition over subscriber addition and Vodafone Idea continuously losing customers for the past fewmonths,the prospects ofanytariffhikebythetelcosin the nearterm has faded away. Thelasttariffhikewasdone by the three operators in December2019 and 2020will end with no hike and at least the first quarter of calendar 2021 is also unlikelyto see any hike,industry executives said. Someprospectsofalimited tariff hike was seen earlier this month when Vodafone Idea had hiked tariffs for two of its post-paidplanby`50intheUP east circle. However, on closer examination it was found that the company's tariff in one of the packs was lower than Bharti's and it closed this gap. Vodafone had a `749 per month post-paid plan where the price was raised to `799, while in another plan of `598, the price was hiked to `649. It was assumed that Vodafone Ideawhichdesperatelyneedsto hike tariffs but is constrained due to the status quo position maintained by Bharti and Jio, may do slight tweaks in some post-paid plans in some circles. Continued on Page 2 R SHANKAR RAMAN, director and CFO, Larsen & Toubro, believes India can expect to build out around $50 billion of infrastructure every year post the recovery from the pandemic in about 12-14 months. Of this, the smaller share of about $10-15 billion would expectedly be built by the private sector while the government sector would need to do the bulk of the spending of $35 billion. “The potential for investment in infra in India is about $80-100 billion annually but $50 billion is a realistic level to start with and it will be an upward sloping curve. There are six to ten active players, so each will have an opportunity of $8-10 billion a year,” Shankar Raman said. Heexplainedthatwithmultilateralfundingagenciesmonitoringprojectsverycloselyand insisting on escrow accounts, the state governments too wouldbeabletoscaleupcapex. Among the areas that are expected to see the biggest amounts of capex are water, followed by power transmission and renewable energy. The fourth would be urban congestion. However, with the number The potential for investment in infra in India is about $80-100 billion annually but $50 billion is a realistic level to start with. There are six to ten active players so each will have an opportunity of $8-10 billion a year — R SHANKAR RAMAN DIRECTOR AND CFO, LARSEN & TOUBRO of bidders for projects in the construction sector not high currently,the awarding of projects could slow down, he felt. “In our government system unless you have three or four bidstheysomehowfeelitisnot proper price discovery. So not being able to sight half a dozen bidders is also becoming a bit of a constraint in releasing these projects,”he said. Continued on Page 2 CFMA in SC against FTMF CHENNAI FINANCIAL Markets and Accountability (CFMA)on Sunday said that it is moving an urgent interim application before the Supreme Court on Monday seeking to declare the entire e-voting process initiated by Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund (FTMF) as non est in law. ■ Page 5 Farmers snap power supply to Jio towers AGITATING FARMERS AND supporting groups in Punjab havetargetedthetelecomtower of Reliance Jio in the state,thus disrupting mobile and internet services of the company and causing inconvenience to the consumers,reportsFEBureau. According to industry sources, agitating groups have cut off power supply of around 1,300 mobiletowersofJiointhestate. There are around 9,000 towers ofJioinPunjab.Forsometowers, the fibre has been cut by such groups. Asisknown,thestate'sfarmers are protesting against new farmlawsandareadamantthat the Central government repeal them. In the process, they also gave a call for boycotting products of Reliance Industries and Adani Group. ■ Page 2 Lawyer takes life for farm laws protest A LAWYER FROM Punjab allegedlycommittedsuicideby consuming poison on Sunday a few kilometres from the site of a farmers' protest at Tikri border,reports PTI. Amarjit Singh from Jalalabad in Punjab's Fazilka district was taken to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) in Rohtak where doctors declared him dead on arrival,police said. Inapurportedsuicidenote, Singh said he was sacrificing his life in support of the farmers' agitation against the Centre's new farm laws so that the government is compelled to listen to the voice of the people. Kolkata
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