Andhra Pradesh – Private hospitals may pull out of Aarogyasri #healthcare


As was anticipated and warned, the private healthcare industry is showing its true colours and indulging in supplier ‘hold-up’ and increasing the costs.

TNN | Apr 4, 2013,

HYDERABAD: Private hospitals in the city will pull the plug on the state’s flagship Aarogyasri scheme from May 3 after the government refused to accept a minimum 30% hike on the existing tariffs and said henceforth they would only admit patients who can be discharged before the deadline.

If private hospitals go ahead with their plans, thousands of poor people will be denied quality care in top private hospitals in Hyderabad and elsewhere in the state, and is likely to force the government to take action.

About 250 private hospitals in the state treat about 2 lakh patients annually under the Aarogyasri scheme for the 938 listed ailments and diseases.

“It is a sad decision but we are not in a position to carry the burden of the scheme anymore,” said Dr B Bhaskar Rao, president, ASHA.

“Since the scheme’s inception in 2007, costs have gone up steeply but the government is still reluctant to revise the tariffs. Initially, we were told that 28% of the population falls under BPL and will be covered under the scheme, but the fact is 82% of the population is eligible to avail this scheme,” he said.

“We have been requesting the government for a revision since last two years, but nothing has been done.”

In another development, the AP Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (APNA) and AP Specialty Hospitals Association (ASHA), served a notice to the CEO of Aarogyasri trust, demanding a minimum 65% hike in the tariffs, over and above the revised tariffs for healthinsurance scheme for state government employees and their dependants for twin sharing of rooms.They also demanded a 100% hike over and above the revised tariffs for single private rooms. The notice comes at a time when the state government is planning to launch the scheme for government employees on the lines of Aarogyasri from Ugadi.

 

#India- How to get justice from errant service or goods providers ? #mustshare #RTI


RAJ PRADHAN | 01/04/2013 12:50 PM | Moneylife.com 

Redressal of consumer complaints can entail approaching the insurance ombudsman, the consumer courts and even taking help of social media, RTI and police complaints. There are options available today to build pressure on errant service or goods providers so that they do the needful

 

A letter from Mohan Siroya, chairperson of the Consumer Complaints Cell, gives three examples of consumer power success using the help of the insurance ombudsman, Right to Information (RTI), social media activism and police complaints. Today, justice will be served if you are persistent in your efforts to pursue the errant service or goods provider. Aconsumer court may not be able to help in the absence of the postal address, but alternate means exists.
Case 1: A senior citizen was hospitalized in Seven Hills Hospital, Mumbai. New India Assurance Company refused to pay the claim of Rs12,148 submitted in August 2010. It argued about the lack of the original hospital bill/receipt, even though the insured provided documentary proof of having submitted the same. The insurer wrote a letter to the hospital asking for certain documents, including the hospital bill. It was but natural for the hospital to write the word ‘Duplicate’ on the bill as the original was already issued at the time of discharge. The insurer refused to accept this and declined to reimburse the claimed amount.
In the complaint to the insurance ombudsman, there was a claim of not only the claim amount but also‘compensation’ for undue delay in not settling/refusing to settle the claim on a flimsy or false ground and deliberate “mental torture” caused to a senior citizen. The ombudsman passed an award granting not only of the claimed amount, but also a penalty of Rs2,000, directly favouring the complainant in settlement within three working days, failing which  a fine of Rs500 would be payable  by the company for each day of delay. Usually, the ombudsman does not levy penalty, but it did in this case on the insurance company for wrongful delay and refusal.

Case 2: A consumer had purchased two heaters, which were offered cheap on the Deal92.com website as an online transaction. The online payment was made through a credit card. When the consumer received the ordered goods they were found in broken and in non-usable condition. The consumer protested on the only ‘email’ address available demanding either the replacement of goods or refund of entire paid amount. There was no response even after reminders. The National Consumer Helpline was unable to take the complaint for redressal in absence of any postal address of Deal92.com. Mr Siroya took recourse of putting this complaint on social networking websites. That defiled their name and potential customers were cautioned. The aggrieved consumer was also advised to raise a formal dispute to deny the payment made to the online merchant and treat it as a fraudulent transaction. This was done and a temporary credit was given in his account. This was further refurbished, when a complaint was filed with the cyber cell regarding this online fraud and praying to ban the seller’s website. That made Deal92.com to act. They refunded the entire amount to the same credit card account.

Case 3:  As a consumer activist, Mohan Siroya had filed a case at the MIDC police station for having received a threat on his mobile in May 2010, “threatening me to stop lodging complaints against the companies for Consumer Cause and Protection”. This particular case he was referring for the company “Fedders Lloyd” against which a complaint was sent by him to the then Union minister for civil supplies and consumer protection, Sharad Pawar. Another non-cognisable (NC) complaint was filed by him in the MIDC police station against a firm called “Modern Tech Services” for having failed to give the contracted service for second year of the contract. Mr Siroya tried to contact the firm’s office and proprietor but all the listed phones were not working/not in existence. A written notice was sent by Mr Siroya to the postal address printed in the contract/letter head. It transpired that now in that premises some other business, by some other party, was carried out. Mr Siroya filed a complaint of cheating and fraud for having failed to give the contracted service or refund of 50% of paid amount against the firm, whose address was now ‘Unknown’.
The police was requested to find out the person in whose account the cheque/ money was paid and his whereabouts. Mr Siroya made an application under RTI to know the progress. It came in mere two words “Under Investigation”. He then appealed to the First Appellate Authority (FAA) for specific “status/progress” of investigations made, besides complaint of delay in providing information. The FAA also simply ordered “As earlier informed Under Investigation”. The order reached Mr Siroya beyond 45 days of appeal date, thus another violation of the Act without giving any reasons for delay.
Mr Siroya went in for a second appeal to the SCIC (State Chief Information Commissioner), who within five months, heard his appeal. On the eve of hearing date, a police constable personally came to his home to deliver a letter that said, “In first NC, the police filed a case against one Mr Gupta under Section 504, 506 of IPC.” The second NC complaint against Modern Tech Services was of civil nature and I should go to the civil/consumer court,” Mr Siroya said.
In the hearing, the SCIC upheld delays under the Act and also for suppressing the available investigation progress/report on record. The Authority also agreed with the interpretation that in absence of a party whose whereabouts are unknown, is covered under ‘Fraud’ and thus the police is supposed to take cognisance of the same.
The SCIC further gave two specific directions—to summon the SPIO (State Public Information Officer) in person to explain “Why penalty under Section19 (8) (g) and Section 20 (1) should not be levied on him”, failing which orders will be passed under Section 20 (2)”. “Another landmark relief for me was that the concerned offices should furnish me an opportunity to inspect the information so far available on record on all such files free of charge. After two days, police started investigating about the address of the payee through the banking channels,” Mr Siroya stated.
The police machinery worked overtime, gave Mr Siroya updated information in both the cases, one through the CBI, as Fedders Lloyd Co was from Delhi. The other one they traced through the banking channel in Mumbai and made him to refund Rs1,000 in cash.

#India- Now, penalty for paying credit card dues by cheque! #RBI #WTFnews


 

SUCHETA DALAL | 12/03/2013 , Monelylife, Exclusive

In a mockery of RBI‘s independence, a lowly under-secretary of Dept. of Financial Services has issued a fatwa to government banks to penalise you if you pay your credit cards due by cheque! The under-secretary got this idea from HDFC Bank!
Nearly a month after Moneylife Foundation discovered and took up the issue of the Reserve Bank of India‘s (RBI) bizarre idea of penalising bank depositors for using cheques, we find that the idea or rather the fatwa to this effect had emanated from the finance ministry as far back as 25 October 2012 at the possibly at the instigation of India‘s most profitable bank.

On 25 October 2012, DD Maheshwari, Under Secretary in the Department of Financial Services sent out a fatwa marked “most immediate” to all chief executives of public sector banks (PSBs). The burden of this two-paragraph diktat was that “to discourage the use of physical/cash mode of transactions, all public sector banks are requested to consider charging a processing fee from the customer paying credit card dues either in cash or through cheque”. HDFC Bank has recently increased such charges from Rs50 to Rs100 per transaction and has sent a communication to its customers in compliance with the regulatory requirement of giving a month’s notice.

It doesn’t stop at that, after holding up HDFC Bank’s usurious charges as a role model for PSBs, the letter asks them to “consider issuing appropriate instructions in this regard” and send a “copy of the instructions” back to the finance ministry. 

The finance ministry may have used the word ‘consider’, but its insistence that banks must report back to it shows that it is an order and various banks are planning to fall in line.  The finance ministry’s fatwa makes a mockery of the RBI’s pretence that it is an independent regulator of banks, because the government has not even bothered to refer this issue to the central bank before issuing orders on what amounts to micro-management of bank charges.

RBI deputy governor Dr KC Chakrabarty has repeatedly exhorted customers to vote with their feet and move to another bank if they dislike the high costs and charges of foreign and private banks. It now appears that the finance ministry will forcefully intervene to ensure that they do not have PSBs to turn to.

The government, as owner of PSBs obviously feels it is within its rights to dictate charges, since it is coughing up vast sums of taxpayers money for bank recapitalisation (Rs14,000 crore is set to be pumped into PSBs for their recapitalisation just now). But instead of ensuring better loan recoveries from dubious industrialists such as Vijay Mallya of the UB group, realty companies and others, who owe tens of thousand crores to banks in bad loans, the government has hit upon the idea of punishing legitimate and tax paying bank customers with new charges.

It gets worse. The RBI, which has been lamenting that a large part of the Indian population is unbanked, then responds by setting up an internal committee to prepare a paper titled “Disincentivising Issuance and Usage of Cheques”. This was put up on its website and open for public comment until 28th February. The report itself was kept low-key and been ignored by the mainstream media almost entirely.  Moneylife had then pointed out that the plan to levy a series of punitive charges on the use of cheques, with the utopian objective of forcing people to use online money transfer facilities (such as NEFT and RTGS which are also charged) only punishes those with legitimate bank customers. Please read RBI Must Scrap No Cheque Idea, which is the most commented article in Moneylife since then.

Moneylife Foundation, which has over 21,000 members has sent a detailed memorandum to the RBI on behalf of depositors.

A senior banker who writes for Moneylife under the pseudonym Gurpur also said that the RBI report on Dis-incentivising Issuance and Usage of Cheques “is a classic example of putting the cart before the horse. Because there are problems galore in the electronic payment system, and even before stabilising this, the RBI wants to dispense with the cheque system”. See Incentivise usage of electronic payment systems before dis-incentivising usage of cheques.  Gurpur followed it up with another article that pointed out how the UK had bowed to public pressure given up the idea of abolishing cheque usage. See UK govt bows to public pressure-rejects abolition of cheque system. Will RBI follow suit?

Moneylife had said, “The report on stopping the use of cheques makes you wonder whether RBI is accountable to us or exists solely to help banks enhance profits at the cost of customers, under the guise of seemingly lofty objectives”. Ironically, the finance ministry’s order makes it clear that it swings to the tune HDFC Bank.

Source- http://www.moneylife.in/article/now-penalty-for-paying-credit-card-dues-by-cheque/31536.html

INDIA -How power, metal sectors are in quagmire of indebtedness


Banking District

Banking District (Photo credit: bsterling)

 

Most loans under stress are largely in the two sectors

Shishir Asthana / Mumbai Aug 06, 2012,  BS

Moneycontrol report says Essar Steel is under stress for servicing its Rs 23,000-crore loan from banks. The company is 30 days behind schedule to make its interest payment. The report says that around 18-20 banks have provided the amount to the company, with one state-owned bank having an exposure of Rs 9,000 crore.

With over Rs 2 lakh crore of loans up for restructuring, market has been either focusing on high debts of individual companies or the entire sector, which is causing a lot of stress on banks’ financials. However, a recent report by Credit Suisse points out to the rising risk in the banking circle on account of concentration of loans to business houses.

In a report titled House of Debt, Credit Suisse points out that over the past five years while bank loan growth has been 20%, loans to 10 business groups have increased by five times. Their loan currently is equivalent to 13% of bank loans and more importantly it is 98% of banking system’s collective net worth. In terms of concentration risk, Indian banks are more risky than their Asian and BRIC counterparts. Concentration of top 10 groups to bank loans in China is 1% as compared to 13% in India.

The table shows the exposure of banks to various corporate groups. While average group debt to operating profit (EBITDA – earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortization) is 7.6 times, four of the 10 groups have an interest coverage ratio of less than one. In other words four of these groups are barely making enough profit to meet their interest payment.

Worst is that loans which are under stress are in largely the same sector (power and metals) across groups and in some cases to various companies within the same group.

Recognising their high leverage and poor profitability, these groups are looking at bringing to at asset sales under pressure from their lenders. Unfortunately the assets are all from the same sectors (cement plants/infrastructure/power) which are finding fewer buyers. In power sector each of these groups has 2,000-4,500 MW of capacities being commissioned over the next three years. These account for 70% of power plant to be commissioned by the private players and all of them face the same issues of gas/coal supplies and power purchase agreements (PPA) signed at much lower tariffs.

While market has factored in most of the issues of individual company and sectoral debt issues, inter-dependence of companies within the group, pledging of group company shares and guarantees of group companies make the issue trickier.

Seven booked in Aadhaar fraud #UID #Nandan Nilekani


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mahesh Buddi, TNN | Jun 17, 2012, 01.07AM IST

HYDERABAD: Seven persons, including four Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS) employees and a ration shop dealer, have been booked by the police in the Aadhaar card fraud.

Police have named Shaik Afsar, a former data entry operator of IL&FS from Talabkatta, as the prime accused. He was assisted in committing the fraud by Shabbir, technical co-ordinator, and Imran, supervisor of the Aadhaar card registration project by IL&FS in Old City.

Police zeroed in on Afsar after UIDAI confirmed that all the authorization fingerprints used for the enrollment of the 60 persons in biometric exception category were his. Afsar, who used to work as a data entry operator with IL&FS, had quit the job in August 2011.

Subsequently, he was approached by Gopal, a ration shop dealer (shop number 256) of Talabkatta, who sought new Aadhaar cards in the names given by him. Afsar, who had already quit his job, took the help of an Aadhaar card broker Rafiq and lured Shabbir and Imran to lend him an authorised laptop (No: 20193 – Baba Nagar enrollment office) used by IL&FS to do Aadhaar registrations for a few days.

Using the laptop, Afsar had done 60 fake entries under the physically disabled category between October 14 and 29, 2011. Police found that Gopal had asked for only 13 Aadhaar cards on specific names so that he could continue to utilise the set of fake ration cards available with him even after government makes Aadhaar mandatory for drawing essential items at ration shops. Gopal had paid Afsar Rs 4,000 for the job.

Police are yet to ascertain on whose request and for what purpose Afsar had done the rest of the fake registrations. After the probe, the investigating officers have named two top IL&FS officials, Yashwant and Vinay, as accused for knowingly ignoring the fraud.

Police have seized the laptop and took some of the accused into custody. However, prime accused Afsar has gone to Oman in March 2012 for employment and police are planning to issue a red corner notice against him. “So far, UIDAI has given details of enrollment related to 60 cards and we have finished the probe in that regard. As 30,000 more such registrations are there, the list of accused might increase and we will do further probe once UIDAI gives us details,” a Charminar police officer said.

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