Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Singapore, India And CECA

Update 26 May 2013: India pushing Singapore government to give more market access to Indian PMETs in banking sector

Business Standard, 26 May 2013

The India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) seems to have reached a blind alley with the Singapore government’s insistence on maintaining higher standards for Indian banks operating there and constant refusal to give more market access to Indian professionals.

Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma had recently visited Singapore for the second review of the CECA, which came into effect in August 2005, but the meeting remained inconclusive.

“The issue has been raised strongly by India at each and every round of discussions under the second CECA review. A favourable resolution of this issue is a must-have for India,” the official added. Full story

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Singapore agrees to invest in Maharashtra infrastructure

Singapore today indicated its willingness to invest in Maharashtra and help develop urban infrastructure in the state.

"A meeting with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan with Singapore Deputy Prime Minister T Shanmugaratnam here dwelt on ways to create infrastructure in Mumbai, Pune and other cities, on the lines of that in Singapore," an official said after the meeting.

"The Singapore government has assured the state government of extending help in developing cities and has also expressed its willingness to invest in the state," he said. 

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India fails to make much headway for its banks, professionals in Singapore

The India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) seems to have reached a blind alley with the Singapore government’s insistence on maintaining higher standards for Indian banks operating there and constant refusal to give more market access to Indian professionals.

Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma had recently visited Singapore for the second review of the CECA, which came into effect in August 2005, but the meeting remained inconclusive.

The problem is deeper concerning Indian banks operating there – ICICI and SBI. According to Singapore government officials, it has to maintain rigid banking standards and norms in order to maintain its status of a financial hub

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Singapore government offers to help develop cities in Indian state of Maharashtra

Singapore is ready to help Maharashtra develop its infrastructure in major cities like Mumbai and Pune, an official said Friday.
This was indicated by visiting Singapore Deputy Prime Minister T. Shanmugaratnam in talks with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan here.
"Singapore is a very small country compared to India. We focussed on providing the best urban infrastructure and developing cities to progress," Shanmugaratnam said. Full story

Sporeans think gov is rich and therefore expect more from it: PM Lee
Singapore offers state govt help in developing cities - Mumbai Mirror

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Singapore to become hub for Indian diaspora: ex-president

Singapore's former president SR Nathan has said the city state is set to become a hub for the Indian diaspora.

"Singapore is set to be a hub for the Indian diaspora. It is a springboard for these businessmen to venture into the region," he said on Tuesday night at the curtain raiser to the Global Business Leaders Conference of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) to be held here next month.

"We have benefited from them," said Nathan, referring to the IIM Alumni working around the world and contributing to the global economy

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SBI buying property for housing staff in Singapore

The State Bank of India (SBI) is investing in accommodation-based property in Singapore, ensuring higher grade housing requirements of its expatriate staff, a media report said today.

The apartment purchases should help reduce rental costs by 20 to 25 per cent within the next three years, SBI Singapore Chief Executive and Country Head Anil Kishora was quoted as saying in a report by local daily 'The Straits Times'.

"It will stabilise our cost base. In some sense, it would insulate us from any future increases in pricing, as we won't be paying any rentals," Kishora said, adding that buying property also helps to boost productivity.

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Financial Institutions Discriminate Singaporeans Recruiting in Favor from One Single Country

Today, an article Lianhe Zaobao admits that Singaporeans are discriminated in job market. What particular striking is passages below, and I have translated it.

Last year, TAFEP ( Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices) received feedback that foreign managers in some financial institution hire in favor of their own country people, rather than hiring Singaporeans.

 TAFEP contacted these financial institutions. The senior managements agreed that certain departments do have many employees from one single country. The senior managements claim that they will hire more Singaporeans.

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Govt decries CECA violation by Singapore 

Those of you planning to make it big in Singapore might be in for a setback. Singapore recently made certain changes to its Employment Pass Framework law to reduce inflow of foreign workers significantly to create more job opportunities for local professionals. The move is expected to impact even those Indians working there at present across various sectors. 

The amendments, made on a proposal by its Ministry of Manpower, has armed the Singapore government to bring down the foreign share of the total workforce to around one-third while encouraging employers to invest in productivity in return for incentives in the form of tax breaks.

The move came as a recent Singapore's policy paper predicted that its population would grow by 30 per cent to 6.9 million by 2030, with immigrants making up nearly half that figure. The paper led to demonstrations in Singapore yesterday, a rare happening in the country, in protest against rise in immigrants.

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India unhappy with restrictions

Singapore’s move to placate its locals is seen as a stumbling block to Indian workers who are looking for jobs in the republic.

India may soon put a little international dimension into the growing rift over immigration between Singaporeans and their government. It has complained that recent laws in Singapore – aimed at placating Singaporeans – were imposing restrictions on Indian professionals who intend to work in the city.

This, it says, is a violation of a bilateral free trade pact, the service portion of which grants special preferential treatment to Indian workers. The two countries signed the pact, called Comprehensive Econo­mic Partnership Agreement (CECA), in 2005.

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GMR exits Singapore power plant, makes Rs 1,356 crore profit

Cash-strapped infrastructure conglomerate GMR is selling its entire 70 per cent stake and exiting its first independent power project (IPP) outside India, the Island Power Project in Singapore. The move is part of its ongoing portfolio churn that will help the group pare its consolidated net debt of Rs 37, 681 crore as on December 2012. 

GMR on Monday signed a share purchase agreement with FPM Power Holdings Limited (FPM Power) - a 60:40 joint venture between Hong Kong headquartered investment company First Pacific and Meralco, a part of Philippines' biggest electricity retailer - to sell its controlling interest in the 800-megawatts gas-based plant for an equity value of S$660 million (Rs 2,923 crore).

While GMR will receive S$600 million (Rs 2,640 crore) in hand, FPM Power will invest S$60 million to complete the project by the end of calendar 2013. So far, GMR has invested S$293 million as equity and the stake sale will fetch a cash premium of S$307 million (Rs 1,356 crore).

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India fails to make much headway for its banks

The problem is deeper concerning Indian banks operating there – ICICI & SBI. According to S'pore government officials, it has to maintain rigid banking standards and norms in order to maintain its status of a financial hub.

Indian banks operating there are required to meet very high qualifying standards in order to do business there. The qualifying standard in the form of Asset Management Ratio (AMR) is higher for Indian banks compared to other international banks operating there such as BNP Paribas or Standard Chartered, a senior official told Business Standard.

In view of the high AMR, ICICI & SBI end up making losses in their domestic banking unit (DBU) book and whatever profits are made are purely on the Asian Currency Unit (ACU) books. DBUs are referred to those banking units that offer a range of products and services from current accounts for customers to credit facilities for commercial ventures, while ACU is an accounting unit used for all sorts of foreign currency transactions.

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Tiger Airways mulling strategic tie-up with Indian carrier

Singapore-based low-cost carrier Tiger Airways is exploring the possibility of a strategic partnership with an India-based airline for offering intra-city services in the country, a senior company official said today.

"Currently, we are studying about having an inter-airline agreement or a strategic partnership with (an) Indian airline", Tiger Airways, Singapore, Commercial Director, Kaneswaran Avili told PTI here.

The company which commenced Indian operations in 2007 offers flight services between India and Singapore. Singapore Airlines holds a majority stake in Tiger Airways, he said.

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CBI charges three telecoms firms over 'illegal' long distance services

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case in a Delhi court against Bharti Airtel, Tata Communication and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd for allegedly causing a loss of nearly Rs.48 crore to the government since 2004 by illegally providing international long distance (ILD) services.

The three companies have been booked on charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under the Indian Telegraph Act for violating the Department of Telecommunications licensing norms. The first information report (FIR) has been filed in a local court on a complaint of the ministry of communications and information technology.

When contacted, Airtel had no comments to offer while Tata Communications said that it would not comment on "speculation".

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Temasek Holdings shortlisted to buy stake in Lafarge India

Temasek Holdings, Singapore's sovereign investment fund, and one of Asia's oldest marquee private equity investor Baring Asia are among those shortlisted by French cement multinational Lafarge as potential buyers for a minority stake in its Indian arm Lafarge India.

Lafarge India which plans to shed a minority stake of 20 to 30% to raise INR 1,325 crore (USD 250 million) and fund its INR 6,000 crore expansion plans is looking to complete the stake sale process by March this year. Saddled with a highly leveraged consolidated balance sheet at the parent level, Lafarge has decided not to raise more debt locally to fund capital expenditure. Instead it is looking at equity financing from financial sponsors.

Since last year, the Paris headquartered Lafarge, the world's largest building materials company, has also been restructuring its global operations through a series of asset sales to pare down its debt to EUR 10 billion from EUR 12.2 billion after a 2007 purchase of Orascom led to the loss of its investment grade credit rating last year. 

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When cops set girlfriend as a bait to trap fugitive

The Air India Express flight from Singapore touched Tiruchirappalli Airport on Friday and Sreenesh Thaikkodathil Sreedharan, wanted in a murder case, thought freedom was a walk out of the airport.

He chucked his passport (G2803624) in a toilet bin aboard the aircraft so that there wouldn’t be a whiff of his identity. However, he hadn’t bargained for a wily Bangalore police lying in wait for him. Wanted for the cold-blooded murder of a cosmetics trader on May 4, 2012, 30-year-old Sreedharan had fled to Malaysia before settling down in Singapore.

However, he soon ran into trouble for overstaying on a tourist visa. But, he produced a work permit and sought the court’s permission to stay on. The court asked him to go back to India and return on the work visa. Bangalore police, meanwhile, managed to track down his girlfriend, a call centre employee.

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Singapore after Taken Over by High Caste Indians

3000 years ago, the Dravidian civilization in Hindus valley had the highest level of sanitation in the world. It was prominent in hydraulic engineering, and had many water supply and sanitation devices that were the first of their kind. 

Among other things, they contain the world's earliest known system of flush toilets. These existed in many homes, and were connected to a common sewerage pipe. Most houses also had private wells. City walls functioned as a barrier against floods. [see this] Then proto-Dravidic civilization was one of the most prosperous and advance in the planet. Today, unfortunately India is more uncivilized compared to 3000 years ago and India Indians regress so much that they shit on the streets.

After Aryan conquest, India become the dirtiest country on the planet. It is also among the poorest, backward and ignorant. I have been to India few years back. People still shit on the streets. You see shit everywhere on the streets. I traveled more than 30 countries. Not even the poorest part of Africa come close to India. In Middle East, the Arab Islam states, no matter how poor, are very clean. There are no shit on the streets. Unlike India, you will never see any dead bodies hanging around in all Islamic state, despite that many are extremely poor and backward.

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Riot May Take Toll on Job Opportunities

Riots which broke out following the fatal accident of an Indian citizen employed in Singapore may take a toll on the job opportunities of the people of other ethnic groups especially Tamils who have dreams of going there as unskilled labourers.

Kumaravelu, hailing from Pudukottai, slipped to death from a private bus around 9.30 pm local time on Dec 8 at Race Course Road and Hampshire Road in Little India in Singapore. The incident sparked violence, according to official sources.

As many as 39 police and civil defence personnel were injured, and 25 vehicles including 16 police cars were damaged when a 400-member mob went on a rampage beginning from the private bus which caused the accident. Subsequently, 27 persons including two Bangladeshi nationals, a Singapore Permanent Resident and 25 Indian nationals mostly from the State were arrested.  Of the 27, an Indian and two others were released after preliminary investigations revealed that they were not part of the riots.

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Accident Leads to Street Violence in Singapore

Little India is usually crowded on Sundays, with many construction workers from Bangladesh and India gathering there to spend their day off. Violent episodes are rare in Singapore, which has tough laws on rioting that carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison and possible caning.

“This is a serious incident which has resulted in injuries and damage to public property,” said Teo Chee Hean, deputy prime minister and minister of home affairs. “Police will spare no efforts to apprehend the subjects involved in the riot.”

The disturbance is likely to fuel concerns about discontent among low-paid foreign workers. Last year Singapore had its biggest outbreak of labor unrest in years when about 170 bus drivers from mainland China went on strike illegally.

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Indian national arrested in Singapore for murder

Singapore police on Thursday said they have arrested an Indian national in connection with the murder of an Indian woman whose headless body was found in a canal here last week.

The 25-year-old suspect, who was not identified, would be charged in court tomorrow for the offence of murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code

Police said they were also looking for 33-year-oldHarvinder Singh, another Indian national and the husband of the murdered woman, to assist in their investigations.

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Hunt for hubby of decapitated woman found in Whampoa River

Mr Harvinder Singh, 33, had left S'pore 30 minutes before the body of his wife, Ms Jasvinder Kaur, was found. The police are now looking for the senior logistics coordinator

The decapitated body of a woman found in Whampoa River last week has been identified as that of Ms Jasvinder Kaur, the 33-yr-old wife of a logistics executive, also 33, who was working here on an employment pass.

Police also said on Thursday that a 25-yr-old forklift driver has been arrested in connection with her murder, and they are looking for her husband Harvinder Singh to help in their investigations.

All three are Indian nationals.

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Full Coverage:
CNAsia: Headless body murder: Man arrested, husband sought by police
STimes: Decapitated body: 25-year-old man arrested; Another sought by police
Free District: Man arrested in Singapore decapitated body case
Business StandardIndian man arrested in Singapore over woman's death
Times of India: Indian national arrested in Singapore for murder
Zee News: Indian man arrested in Singapore over woman`s death

Reflections on the Little India Riot
Lessons From The Little India Riot
Little India Riot: "Who Dares Win"
Aftermath of Little India Riots
Riot Erupts in Singapore's Little India
Singapore to become hub for Indian diaspora
Singapore, India And CECA