New Delhi: The government expects to complete the sale process of national carrier Air India within the next four to five months, a top finance ministry official said. In an interview to PTI, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) Secretary Atanu Chakraborty also said the Rs 1.05 lakh crore disinvestment target set for the current fiscal does not include sale proceeds from Air India. The government is likely to offer 100 per cent stake in Air India to potential buyers and a final call on this would be taken by the Air India Specific Alternative Mechanism (AISAM). Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in Sep “It (Air India) will be sold when the buyer ultimately gives the cheque and there are certain prerequisites before any sale, those also have to be met. I do expect that to be finished in 4-5 months but nevertheless to provide for that exigency, we have not accounted for Air India sale proceeds (in budgeted disinvestment proceeds). “We will try to finish it off by Diwali, if not before,” Chakraborty said. The government in Budget 2019-20 has set a record disinvestment target of Rs 1.05 lakh crore. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to Customs In her Budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “In view of current macro-economic parameters, Government would not only reinitiate the process of strategic disinvestment of Air India, but would offer more CPSEs for strategic participation by the private sector”. Chakraborty said the disinvestment target does not include Air India proceeds because people say the sale is probabilistic. “So in my calculation I’ve kept that out. However, if it comes in, don’t expect me to keep that money out, I’ll bring it in and we want to do it. “But people say it is probabilistic because you may not get a buyer. I have entire control on my sale process, but I have very little control on the buyer side,” he said. Asked if the government’s 100 per cent stake would be put on the block, Chakraborty said, “It will be unfair of me to prejudge the decision by Air India Specific Alternate Mechanism. However, the government once having decided to sell and also made it clear they will certainly sell it, indications should be that.” The AISAM, which is basically a Group of Ministers (GoM) on the Air India disinvestment, will have to be reconstituted as Arun Jaitley and Suresh Prabhu are no longer ministers in the new government. They will be replaced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari is likely to continue in the panel when it is reconstituted. The DIPAM has prepared a fresh proposal for the sale of Air India, incorporating issues like crude oil prices and exchange rate volatility, flagged by EY last year as among the possible reasons for the government failing to attract bidders for the national carrier. The government had last year invited bids to sell 76 per cent stake in Air India, along with transfer of management control. However, it did not attract any bidder. Following that, transaction advisor EY prepared a report citing probable reasons for the failure of the sale process. The reasons cited included the residual 24 per cent government stake and corresponding rights, high debt, volatile crude oil prices, fluctuations in exchange rate, changes in macro environment, profitability track record of bidders and restriction on bidding by individuals. In 2018, AISAM had decided to sell 76 per cent stake in Air India and the buyer was required to take over Rs 24,000 crore debt of the carrier along with over Rs 8,000 crore of liabilities. However, the stake sale failed to attract any bidder when the auction process drew to a close on May 31, 2018. At that time, Air India’s total debt burden stood at Rs 55,000 crore. As a precursor to the strategic disinvestment of Air India, the Cabinet in February approved setting up of a special purpose vehicle (SPV) — Air India Assets Holding Company — to transfer Rs 29,464 crore worth loans of the national carrier and its four subsidiaries.
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — South Korea’s top court has sent back ex-President Park Geun-hye’s corruption case to a lower court for separate trials for her previously convicted charges.South Korea’s first female president was impeached by lawmakers in December 2016 and officially removed from office in March 2017 over the scandal that triggered months of street rallies involving millions of people.An appellate court earlier sentenced Park to 25 years in prison over bribery, extortion, abused of power and other charges.But the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Seoul High Court to deal with Park’s bribery charge separately from other charges.Local media said Park could now face a lengthier prison term because a court typically issues reduced terms when it deals with a person’s multiple charges.The Associated Press
Tim Willcox outside the Rolls Building in London, where he is challenging income tax and national insurance demands made by HMRC officialsCredit:Kirsty O’Connor/PA He told a High Court tax tribunal: “One is constantly at the whim of any new programme editor or whoever new comes in … It might be as simple as someone saying, ‘I don’t want someone with a double-barrelled name on the 10 O’Clock News.’”Mr Willcox presented the Chilean miners’ story in 2010, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013, and the Charlie Hebdo terror attack in 2015. BBC presenters could miss out on high-profile jobs if they have a double-barrelled name, a tribunal heard as a veteran journalist described the “whimsical, ludicrous, precarious business” of broadcast news.Tim Willcox, a presenter on BBC news since 2004, said some executives valued “what looked right” ahead of journalistic integrity.Along with David Eades and Joanna Gosling, Mr Willcox is appealing against a joint tax bill of £920,000 in what is seen as a test case for more than 100 other presenters.The three were told to set up personal service companies by the BBC in return for contracts that granted them a minimum amount of work. HMRC says the arrangement amounts to employment and attracts a different tax scale.Mr Willcox said he was relieved to be offered a BBC contract because “I work in a very competitive industry where people fall in and out of favour”. But he said: “There have been several occasions where I’ve had calls before going on air from the managing editor saying: ‘I wanted to warn you that we’ve taken on a particular person and, as a result, the amount of work we can give you has been significantly impacted.’”The case continues. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.