Related Items: Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp A call to end ‘the mudslinging and conflicting messages’ and focus on the real issues, was the message DNA Candidate for Fox Hill, Kendal Smith had for the green crew on Tuesday night. This as, the Democratic National Alliance and its slate of candidates took the stage at the Golden Gates Shopping Plaza.DNA Candidate for Fox Hill, Kendal SmithWith green glow sticks in hand Alliyah Lewis from the DNA’s youth team, took the stage, and said it was time for the young people to have their chance at getting jobs, end the hustling for mediocre jobs despite having their university degrees. She unveiled plans under the DNA to remove VAT from University Education.Candidate for Fort Charlotte, Cindy Coakley Knowles says now was the time to return Bahamas to its Christian values, as it had become a drug capital sold to the world and was one minute away fromAlliyah Lewis, DNA Youth Memberbecoming a Junk state if it continued under the PLP and FNM’s style of governance. She warned of the Bahamas becoming like Cuba with its links to Russia and reminded the crowd of Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham words, “Without the FNM there would be no Chinese”. She adds that while welcoming foreign investment is important, its should never be at the cost of Bahamians birthrights.DNA Candidate for Yamacraw, Charlis RobbinsNext up was Yamacraw DNA contender, Charlis Robins who came on the stage calling everyone to share the Facebook live link, with a selfie. She called out the Facebook trolls on the page, and ‘fake news sites’ with ‘crazy accusations’ against its candidates and supporters.Singer, Skyy Divinity performed her Election jingle ‘Green means Go’, while, it was Christ Gang singing their ‘We could make it’, got the crowd dabbing and dipping. With just one hour live on Facebook, the green crew garnered close to 8000 views, and over 140 shares.
Former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov believes that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will face his first real test at Tottenham on SundaySince replacing Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford on an interim basis, Solskjaer has enjoyed a faultless start by winning his opening five games.However, Berbatov believes Solskjaer’s coaching credentials will be tested for the first time against the Bulgarian’s old club Spurs at Wembley.“This is the first real test,” Berbatov told the Daily Mirror.“At some point, a loss is going to come and then it will be interesting to see how the new boss is going to react to the first one.“Unless they don’t lose to the end of the season, of course. That really would be unbelievable.“If Spurs can overcome the tiredness in their legs, they have a great chance of winning again.“But United will be so confident after five wins in a row and they can win this if they play smart and exploit any fatigue Spurs might show.“It’s going to be entertaining, I’m sure. A defeat for either would be a damaging blow to their season-long goals.”Jose Mourinho is sold on Lampard succeeding at Chelsea Tomás Pavel Ibarra Meda – September 14, 2019 Jose Mourinho wanted to give his two cents on Frank Lampard’s odds as the new Chelsea FC manager, he thinks he will succeed.There really…MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 26: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Interim Manager of Manchester United acknowledges the fans as he walks out on to the pitch prior to the start of the Premier League match between Manchester United and Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford on December 26, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford on December 26, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)The 37-year-old, who admitted he would like to coach United someday himself, is certain that Solskjaer will be of interest to plenty of Premier League teams should United decide against appointing him permanently this summer.“He’s doing a great job,” added Berbatov.“By the end of the season, as long as they keep playing like this, they should give him the job whether or not they finish in the top four.“If they don’t, I’m sure that another Premier League team will give him the job. He’s making his name once again in the top-flight and it’s great for him.“When a club legend becomes your manager, he automatically gets the attention of the players, purely because he had been there and done that.“When you are in the position of Ole, having scored so many goals and won so many trophies, he gets the attention.“He doesn’t need to yell or scream to prove anything, he just gets it.“From that point on, he needs to show them that they need to trust him, that he knows what he’s doing and, judging by the results and the way they play, it’s obviously working.”The Spurs and United Premier League match will begin at 17:30 (CET) this Sunday.
Publisher interest in digital editions continues to grow, even as the Web site becomes the primary digital product for many. However, many publishers are just scratching the surface of what’s available to them, from embedded search and rich media to back-end audience measurement, which can be used to help plan future issues as well as convert to lead generation.The following story offers four case studies of publishers that are trying to take full advantage of their digital edition. For many, this continues to be a learning experience.Publisher: Campbell-EwaldProduct: Custom editions for Chevrolet CobaltPlatform: Zmags Publisher: Popular ScienceProduct: The Pop Sci Genius GuidePlatform: ZinioEarlier this year Popular Science launched the Pop Sci Genius Guide, a new digital edition which the magazine intends to be at the forefront of consumer adoption of e-readers. The Pop Sci Genius Guide will be published quarterly in 2009, with the first issue dedicated to the home entertainment experience.“We recognize that this is an extremely important direction the magazine needs to go—we’re making our product optimized for digital platforms in anticipation of the launch of really good magazine-optimized e-readers,” says editor-in-chief Mark Jannot. “We’re figuring out how we can optimize the opportunities digital delivery gives us and how to overcome the challenges of pixels on screen as opposed to ink on paper. Our goal is to integrate features that can be done digitally while at the same time not undercutting what a magazine does.”Popular Science also aims to make the Genius Guide a paid product and tested several price points from 99 cents to $4.99 with the first issue. “One of the things we’re emphatic about is not conditioning the audience to expect this for free,” says Jannot.The Genius Guide uses videos to introduce new features and offers layered sidebars without clogging up the layout. “We’ve worked with Zinio’s Flash developers to bring the pages to life with Flash animation,” says Jannot. “In some cases, as you’ve seen with the first issue of the Genius Guide, as you turn pages, it comes together before your eyes. We’ve taken the static, standard magazine form and found a variety of ways to animate it without throwing away the conventional two-page spread.”Jannot stresses that each item has a purpose. “On a flat magazine page, you’re limited to photos, illustrations and text,” he says. “With animations in the Genius Guide, we can start at a high focal length for a more general look, then zero in on something and draw the reader’s eye to what they need to look at. In the first Genius Guide, one of our favorite things was the box/PC you got, which opened up to zero in on what you look at, or turned your TV around to show exactly where plugs are. That’s obviously not possible in a flat, static magazine.”Jannot says that while advertisers were interested in the first issue, the publisher ran out of time before it got a commitment. “Advertisers had to overcome some preconceptions of the phrase ‘digital edition,’” he adds. “Some advertisers still think of that as an inferior, static, flat version of the magazine. We’re selling this as very leading edge. We think a very large chunk of circulation will be delivered this way.” Digital magazines are increasingly being used as a custom publishing platform. Advertising agency Campbell-Ewald tapped Zmags as the platform for a series of regionally targeted digital magazines as part of a Chevrolet Cobalt campaign aimed toward a young, tech-savvy audience. Each issue was geared to moving prospects toward readiness to buy and enable them to link directly to the Chevrolet Cobalt Web site in order to price out a custom vehicle.“We focused on the users themselves and partnered with bloggers and Cobalt enthusiast clubs,” says Joe Ferraro, art production manager at Campbell-Ewald Publishing. “The idea was to get actual users to share stories, as well as feature local musicians driving the Cobalt to and from their performances.”Campbell-Ewald incorporated rich media including videos of the cars in action and interviews with the drivers into each edition. The agency created a homepage to house the digital editions and formed relationships with some of the leading blogs, which pointed readers to their digital editions. “We didn’t want to just spit out what we could do in print but do something that fit the medium,” says Ferraro. “That included a lot of Flash-integration through which we created sidebars, call-outs and pop-outs. The editorial was readable and we could expand upon that edit when needed by use of Flash components to build out sidebars—we didn’t have to clutter the online page with a lot of text.”Video was embedded in each digital edition much like using an image in magazine layout. “Placement of the video was integral to the magazine layout,” says Ferraro.Campbell-Ewald produced seven different digital issues for the campaign and the South Central (U.S.) component ran for more than a year. The agency partnered with several Cobalt enthusiast events and says that the digital editions helped drive a 4 percent increase in attendance and a 45 percent increase in the number of vehicles at the events.Each element of the digital edition had a specific purpose, says Ferraro: “Nothing was ever done just because we could—we always had a strict purpose in mind.” Publisher: Advanstar Communications EuropeDigital Product: Pharmaceutical Executive Digest EuropePlatform: Nxtbook MediaAdvanstar’s European division has designed the 18,000-circ digital edition of Pharmaceutical Executive Digest Europe strictly for the digital platform. By tweaking the layout in a cleaner, more accessible way and keeping functionality simpler, the magazine has dramatically increased all the usage metrics that matter most.The first breakthrough was ditching the single-page portrait framework in favor of a landscape layout. “In a single-page layout, you have to use the zoom function,” says editorial director Peter Houston. “If you landscape it and increase the type size, it makes it easier to read.”Houston also bumped up the frequency to weekly and mirrored a strategy more akin to e-mail newsletters. (Increasing the frequency meant they could get away with shorter-form content.) By dropping the page count from 40 to 15, there was a noticeable difference in response. The front cover was dropped, too, taking the reader straight to the content. The magazine achieved as many pageviews in a week as it had in a month. And the average time spent per visit increased 20 percent.The robust analytics that digital editions customarily provide come in handy not just for readership behavior, but for incorporating social media metrics as well. Pharm Exec has a Twitter account with more than 500 followers and, according to Houston, more than 5 percent of visitors to the digital edition are referred from Twitter. Houston points out that a digital magazine is one part of a larger digital package. “If anyone says the future of magazines is in digital publishing, it’s really in integrated publishing,” he says. “And it’s using the digital channel for certain things. Twitter, LinkedIn and social media channels, e-mail newsletters and the Web site are all part of the answer to doing this properly. Just having the digital magazine would be a tough one.” Publisher: Premier Media HoldingsDigital Product: Premier GuitarPlatform: TexterityBy aggressively using the digital edition as a free version of the print magazine, Premier Guitar has leveraged its digital version to pull customers deeper into the brand experience. Web site visits are up significantly, and the magazine has almost doubled its print subscribers.While the digital edition has, in two years, passed the print version in readership with 32,000 opt-in readers (versus print’s 30,000), the benefits of having a platform trifecta—print, Web site and digital edition—far outweigh concerns of one medium cannibalizing the other. “We’ve seen a 70 percent increase in our paid print subscriptions and we’re now pushing an 80 percent sell-through on newsstands,” says managing director Peter Sprague.Readers tend to take smaller bites out of the digital edition but come back to it more often. “When you add up the frequent visits they start to look like the single longer visit with the print version,” says Sprague. But Sprague isn’t content to simply let the digital edition act as a gateway to the print magazine. A sweepstakes challenge asks readers to find three guitar picks planted throughout the digital edition for a chance to win a $100 gift card builds through-the-book readership. And videos—performance and instructional—have collected 2.5 million views among the 425 offered. Sprague is also creating custom, sponsored versions of the digital edition. A standard issue, for example, will alter its table of contents page to link to specific sponsor content in the magazine. The sponsor e-mails the magazine to its in-house list of artists, retailer customers and other manufacturers. “We charge them for this,” says Sprague, “but more importantly, we get to sample lists that may not be available to us.”
The House Armed Services Committee is slated to mark up the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill in two weeks, but because the Republican conference has failed to coalesce around a budget resolution the committee still doesn’t know exactly how much money is available for defense programs next year.While the annual policy bill does not actually allocate funding, the House Armed Services Committee tries to align its funding levels with the chamber’s budget resolution so the measure can serve as a guideline for defense appropriators, reported CQ Roll Call.Up to $18 billion in available funding is in question as the budget resolution approved by the House Budget Committee provides an extra $18 billion in base defense spending beyond the Obama administration’s budget request. The resolution, however, still adheres to the FY 2017 spending levels agreed to in October’s two-year budget deal, limiting base spending on national security to $551 billion and providing $59 billion in DOD’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account.In contrast to the administration’s request, the House framework would shift $23 billion from the OCO account to the base defense budget for a total of $574 billion in base defense spending in FY 2017. The Pentagon’s request only proposed shifting $5 billion to the base budget.If the House Armed Services Committee relies on the OCO account to augment the Pentagon’s base budget, it could lose the support of fiscal conservatives needed to advance the authorization bill to the floor, according to the story.The House Armed Services subcommittees are scheduled to mark up their portions of the authorization bill from April 20-21, with the full committee taking up the legislation on April 27. The Readiness Subcommittee will mark up its section on April 21 at 9:30 a.m. Dan Cohen AUTHOR
The Army’s successful housing privatization initiative can be used as a model to guide future reforms of DOD’s real estate portfolio, two former high-ranking Army officials say in a recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal.“The program’s success shows how partnerships between business and the military can often achieve better outcomes than the military can achieve on its own. This is especially so when applied to the vast infrastructure that consumes more than $200 billion of today’s defense budget,” say Sandy Apgar, who served as assistant secretary of the Army for installations and environment from 1998-2001, and Jack Keane, who served as the Army’s vice chief of staff from 1999-2003.Apgar and Keane suggest that other assets, such as offices, warehousing and maintenance, could be monetized and their performance improved.“If the Defense Department were authorized to follow the best practices of American business and shed 10 percent to 20 percent of its infrastructure-related costs, it could save $20 billion to $40 billion a year,” they state.They cite five principles of defense reform that the next administration should follow in launching new initiatives:integrate public needs with private means and methods;plan from the inside out — military-business partnerships start with the soldier and the family, not the budget or the building;act strategically, trading short-term gains for long-term benefits;cross institutional, functional and geographic boundaries — bypassing DOD’s vertical silos and risk-averse culture can eliminate overhead and produce outcome-based systems; andfocus more on best-value outcomes than least-cost activities.“Partnerships have shown that the Pentagon’s conventional contracting methods can be more costly in the long run while risking mediocre results,” Apgar and Keane say. Dan Cohen AUTHOR
CNET may get a commission from retail offers. $999 The Cheapskate $155 at Google Express Share your voice See It $60 at Best Buy Read DJI Osmo Action preview Google Nest Hub: $59 (save $70) Spotify and most other streaming services rely on compressed audio, which robs the listener of full fidelity. Enter Tidal, the only “major” service that delivers lossless audio — meaning at least on par with CD quality, if not better. Want to see (er, hear) the difference for yourself? Grab this excellent extended trial while you can. It’s just $6 for three months, and it’s good for up to six listeners. 7 $520 at HP I thought this might be a mistake, but, no, the weirdly named HP Laptop 15t Value is indeed quite the value at this price. Specs include an Intel Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive and a 15.6-inch display. However, I strongly recommend paying an extra $50 to upgrade that display to FHD (1,920×1,080), because you’re not likely to be happy with the native 1,366×768 resolution. Best laptops for college students: We’ve got an affordable laptop for every student. Best live TV streaming services: Ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR. 1:10 Lenovo Smart Clock: $59.99 (save $20) Rylo 5.8K 360 Video Camera: $250 (save $250) Sarah Tew/CNET 5 apps for group video calls $261 at Daily Steals via Google Express Other Labor Day sales you should check out Best Buy: In addition to some pretty solid MacBook deals that have been running for about a week already, Best Buy is offering up to 40% off major appliances like washers, dryers and stoves. There are also gift cards available with the purchase of select appliances. See it at Best BuyDell: Through Aug. 28, Dell is offering an extra 12% off various laptops, desktops and electronics. And check back starting Aug. 29 for a big batch of Labor Day doorbusters. See it at DellGlassesUSA: Aug. 29 – Sept. 3 only, you can save 65% on all frames with promo code labor65. See it at GlassesUSALenovo: The tech company is offering a large assortment of deals and doorbusters through Labor Day, with the promise of up to 56% off certain items — including, at this writing, the IdeaPad 730S laptop for $700 (save $300).See it at LenovoLensabl: Want to keep the frames you already love and paid for? Lensabl lets you mail them in for new lenses, based on your prescription. From now through Sept. 2 only, you can save 20% on the blue light-blocking lens option with promo code BLOCKBLUE. See it at LensablSears: Between now and Sept. 7, you can save up to 40% on appliances (plus an additional 10% if you shop online), up to 60% on mattresses, up to 50% on Craftsman products and more. The store is also offering some fairly hefty cashback bonuses. See it at SearsNote: This post was published previously and is continuously updated with new information.CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page, and find more great buys on the CNET Deals page. Sarah Tew/CNET Sarah Tew/CNET Though not technically a Labor Day sale, it’s happening during Labor Day sale season — and it’s too good not to share. Nationwide Distributors, via Google Express, has just about the best AirPods deal we’ve seen (when you apply promo code ZBEDWZ at checkout). This is for the second-gen AirPods with the wireless charging case. Can’t imagine these will last long at this price, so if you’re interested, act fast. Read Google Home Hub review See at Turo Boost Mobile Amazon Use promo code 19LABOR10 to get an unusually good deal on JBL’s interesting hybrid product — not quite headphones, and not quite a traditional speaker, but something you wear like neckphones to listen to music on the go. Turo: Save $30 on any car rental Chris Monroe/CNET $299 at Amazon 0 Rylo Mentioned Above Apple iPhone XS (64GB, space gray) TVs Speakers Mobile Accessories Cameras Laptops Automobiles Smart Speakers & Displays Preview • iPhone XS is the new $1,000 iPhone X $210 at Best Buy HP Laptop 15t Value: $520 (save $780) WhatsApp,I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn that stores are turning Labor Day into an excuse to sell stuff. Wait — no, I’m not. As much as I respect the original intent of the holiday (which became official back in 1894), to most of us, it’s just a bonus day off — one that’s blissfully tacked onto a weekend. So, yeah, stores; go ahead, run your sales. I’m listening. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Labor Day doesn’t bring out bargains to compete with the likes of Black Friday (which will be here before you know it), but there are definitely some sales worth your time.For example:We’ve rounded up the best Labor Day mattress deals.We’ve also gathered the best Labor Day laptop deals at Best Buy.The 2019 Vizio P Series Quantum is back under $999.Be sure to check out Amazon’s roughly three dozen Labor Day deals on TVs and audio. Google Express is having a big sale as well, one that includes deals on game consoles, AirPods, iPhones, laptops and more.Below I’ve rounded up a handful of individual items I consider to be the cream of the crop, followed by a handy reference guide to other Labor Day sales. Keep in mind, of course, that products may sell out at any time, even if the sale itself is still running. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. $90 at Daily Steals via Google Express Tags Angela Lang/CNET Apple iPhone XS Best Buy An Echo Dot makes a fine match for any Fire edition TV, because you can use the latter to say things like, “Alexa, turn on the TV.” Right now, the 24-inch Insignia Fire TV Edition starts at just $100, while the 32-inch Toshiba Fire TV Editions is on sale for $130. Just add any Fire TV Edition to your cart, then add a third-gen Echo Dot, and presto: The latter is free. Recently updated to include digital-photo-frame capabilities, the Lenovo Smart Clock brings Google Assistant goodness to your nightstand. It’s a little smaller than the Amazon Echo Show 5, but also a full $30 less (and tied with Prime Day pricing) during this Best Buy Labor Day sale. $6 at Tidal Turo Formerly known as the Google Home Hub, Google’s Nest Hub packs a wealth of Google Assistant goodness into a 7-inch screen. At $59, this is within a buck of the best price we’ve seen. It lists for $129 and sells elsewhere in the $89-to-$99 range.This is one item of many available as part of eBay’s Labor Day Sale (which, at this writing, doesn’t specifically mention Labor Day, but that’s how it was pitched to us). Read the Rylo camera preview Post a comment Review • iPhone XS review, updated: A few luxury upgrades over the XR What’s cooler: A snapshot of a firework exploding in front of you, or full 360-degree video of all the fireworks and all the reactions to seeing them? Oooh, ahhh, indeed. At $250, the compact Rylo dual-lens camera is selling for its lowest price yet. And for an extra $50, you can get the bundle that includes the waterproof housing.This deal runs through Sept. 3; it usually costs $500. Turo is kind of like Uber meets Airbnb: You borrow someone’s car, but you do all the driving. I’ve used it many times and found it a great alternative to traditional car-rental services — in part because you get to choose exactly the vehicle you want (not just, say, “midsize”) and in part because you can often do pickup and dropoff right outside baggage claim.Between now and Sept. 1, the first 300 people to check out can get $30 off any Turo rental with promo code LDW30. Read Lenovo Smart Clock review Tidal 3-month family subscription: $5.99 (save $54) Now playing: Watch this: DJI Osmo Action camera: $261 (save $89) See it DJI’s answer to GoPro’s action cameras is rugged little model that’s shockproof, dustproof and waterproof down to 11 meters. It normally runs $350, but this deal drops it to $261 when you apply promo code 19LABOR10 at checkout. Read the AirPods review See It $999 $59 at eBay Sarah Tew/CNET Mobile Mobile Apps The problem with most entry-level laptops: They come with mechanical hard drives. That makes for a mighty slow Windows experience. This Lenovo model features a 128GB solid-state drive, so it should be pretty quick to boot and load software, even with its basic processor. Plus, it has a DVD-burner! That’s not something you see in many modern laptops, especially at this price. See It WhatsApp is reportedly working to fix the bug. Iain Masterton/Getty Images WhatsApp’s newest feature — the ability to lock the app with Face ID or Touch ID — appears to have a major security flaw. A Reddit user discovered the issue on iOS when using the share sheet (the menu that pops up when you tap the share icon in an app) of to open WhatsApp. Unless you’ve set your app to require biometric login immediately, the time interval will reset, and the Face ID or Touch ID won’t launch. WhatsApp wasn’t immediately available for comment, but representatives of the Facebook-owned app acknowledged the bug to Reuters and said the company was working to solve the problem.”We are aware of the issue and a fix will be available shortly,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told Reuters. “In the meantime, we recommend that people set the screen lock option to ‘immediately.'”WhatsApp began beta testing the lock features last month. The ID lock options were designed to protect conversations and information on the app in case a user’s device was unlocked. Share your voice Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case: $155 (save $45) JBL Soundgear wearable speaker: $90 (save $160) Lenovo 130-15AST 15.6-inch laptop: $210 (save $90) Tags Comments See at Amazon $999 Sprint Free Echo Dot with an Insignia or Toshiba TV (save $50) $999
AUTUMN OF THE PATRIARCH: The government should expedite Air India’s sale by increasing the higher FDI component for foreign buyers who can employ the right professional expertise and marketing know-how to turn around the beleaguered airline.Creative CommonsBad mergers create bad blood – in the skies and on the ground. When the government merged India’s two state-owned airlines in 2007, Air India and domestic carrier Indian Airlines, the combined entity would soon grow into a megalith symbolising all the shortcomings of India’s public sector.In just a generation, competition from the private sector, rising fuel costs as a percentage of operational expenditure, strikes by opposing factions of pilots, freebies and upgrades to politicians and bureaucrats, and huge discounting would move the Maharaja from monopolising air travel to being only India’s third largest airline with a 11.8 percent market share.But the literal bottomline here is: Air India has lost money almost every year since its merger despite the UPA II government infusing Rs 30,000 crore into Air India under a financial restructuring plan (FRP). Total equity infused in the airline thus far is Rs 22,280 crore. Banks currently have an exposure of about Rs 53,980 crore.A diverting fact is that state-owned Air India utilised government bailouts while launching price wars with other airlines as part of its survival requirements, leading to the logical conclusion that the government was helping subsidise monopolistic behaviour.Another FRP by the present BJP dispensation to infuse Rs 42,182 crore as additional equity over 22 years has been delayed as the airline grapples with the problem of handling over Rs 50,000 crore in debt, of which an estimated Rs 23,000 crore is by way of aircraft loan advances. It is a no-win situation exacerbated by the airline’s asset deterioration down the years and its inability to even control its operating losses since 2011.Last year, for the first time in about a decade, Air India managed to post Rs 105 crore in operating profit (net loss after tax in 2016 — Rs 3,836.77 crore) on the back of fresh capital infusion from the government and lower ATF prices. But was the intangible benefits of holding on to a 13 percent market share worth splattering more red ink on a battered balance-sheet? The government didn’t think so. Its decision to divest the national carrier spoke of the triumph of experience over, often unrealistic, hope.Dreams Un-linedThe national career was a symbol of public sector ingenuity and operational inventiveness down the decades till its much- ballyhooed merger with Indian Airlines. Then, the losses started piling up with fresh competition from the private sector on key sectors within India. Even Vijay Mallya’s doomed Kingfisher took valuable market share away from Air India. Middle East carriers like Emirates, Gulf Air and Qatar Airways gained top-of-the-mind recall for expatriate travellers to destinations like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah and Muscat.For a government long in denial about the dismal picture which Air India presented, the benefits of disinvesting the airline in a single swoop are far more than taking a piecemeal approach as recommended by critics who suggest that it retain 51 percent in the asset-heavy airline. Air India owns prime land in cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, the sale of which, disinvestment supporters expect will vault the airline out of troubled times. But this asset class, going by the airline’s own assessment, would yield only Rs 10,000 crore which is not a scratch on its huge debt burden. Raghavendra NThe Dreamliner aircraft and its entitled pilot crews have remained a thorn in the airline’s flesh to this day. Pilot strikes and mutinies since 2012 and largescale operational mismanagement took the airlines to a new low. The airline incurred operational losses of Rs 5,537 crore in 2012 (or Rs 15 crore every day). Subsequent years were not too different, though going by the government’s claims, Air India was actually paring down its losses fiscal after fiscal.Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha had exuded confidence about the airline’s performance since last year, and earlier this year, asserted that it would show operating profits of Rs 300 crore in 2016-17, and the government had no plans to privatise the airline – till the latter poured cold water over his enthusiasm by announcing that a disinvestment program to sell the airline and recover its losses would soon be underway.The Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) made things stickier when it said that the airline had actually posted operating losses of Rs 321.40 crore in the April-June period of 2015-16, when the government had claimed a profit.But Air India said that its operational performance targets were in line with the turnaround plan. A spokesperson said that “considerable improvement” in on-time performance at 78.2 percent was achieved in 2015-16 as compared to 68.2 percent in 2011-12. The available evidence didn’t justify the airline’s claims.Taking the debt-free roadThe logical answer to Air India’s problems is privatisation — but politicians and bureaucrats, who misuse India’s flag carrier as much as its employees do –, would baulk at such a move. Air India has been surviving on the Rs 30,000-crore bailout package put together by UPA-II in 2012 to help its turnaround, as well as debt relief provided by public sector banks. It is estimated that even a well executed asset sale may not fully cover the airline’s liabilities, and taxpayers cannot escape footing part of the loss — either directly in case the government pays off the airline’s creditors, or indirectly if the public sector banks write off their loans to the airline.The three options on the table could be a full 100 percent selloff, a 74 percent stake sale or retaining a 49 percent share in the airline, as per a tentative note from the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM). Raghavendra NThe decision to form an Air India-specific Alternative Mechanism to take forward the disinvestment plan is timely. But this Mechanism should first shed clarity on how the eventual sale will be executed — whether the airline will be fully privatised or hived off asset-wise to interested bidders like IndiGo, which has expressed interest in buying out the carrier’s international operations and peak hour landing slots in airports like London and New York. These slots if sold should fetch the government at least Rs 3,000 crore.A sale of market slots in airports like Delhi and Mumbai would be attractive to foreign airlines to invest in India, though the government’s stakeholding and quantum of divestment will come under their scrutiny before entering the bidding fray. Experts have suggested that the value of the heritage Air India brand can’t be overlooked either, when even Kingfisher’s hostile lenders valued that brand at Rs 160 crore.If both foreign and prospective domestic buyers like Indigo, are allowed to bid freely for the airline, more value could be realised from a sale. There have been suggestions to add more value to the airline’s assets by hiving off non-core assets with high profit potential into a shell company and demerger and strategic disinvestment of profit-making subsidiaries. This make sense only if the government considers making key changes in its FDI policy to allow foreign investors to buy a more substantial stake in Air India. If it is possible to invest 74 percent FDI in telecom, then why not in aviation?The highly rated Tata-Air Asia Berhad JV which saw Air Asia grabbing a foothold in the huge Indian market, has still not fulfilled its initial promise. Going by the record, almost all airlines that have lost money have only themselves to blame. Their painpoints include inefficient operations, aggressive expansion without consolidation, balance-sheets which are leveraged unduly high, improper route planning and wrong pricing of tickets. These factors have contributed more to the downfall of many an airline meeting its Waterloo in the Indian aviation market, rather than the market itself — which is growing and has many milestones ahead of it. Carriers like IndiGo have excelled in the same market. Stabilising Air India will be an important step ahead for Indian aviation. For a start, in the event of a successful sale, the government and its ministries must start seeing Air India as a revenue source and not a revenue generator.
Prothom Alo file photo The commuters of Narayanganj district are facing immense sufferings as a very few public transports were reportedly leaving the district for the capital since Sunday morning ahead of the BNP’s rally at Suhrawardy Udyan, reports UNB.Hundreds of commuters, mostly students and working people, were seen waiting for public transports at several bus stoppages to go to the capital city.Only the buses of Shital Paribahan were plying the roads while all the buses of other Dhaka-bound transport organisations, including Bandhan Paribahan and Utsab Paribahan, stayed off the streets since the morning, alleged many commuters.M Zakir Hossain Majumder, a private organisation employee, said he fortunately got into a bus of Shital Paribahan after competing with a good number of commuters.Apart from Narayanganj, few public transports left Savar for Dhaka since the morning amid the transport owners’ association’s allegation that they were asked to ‘keep all their transports’ off the streets.In Gazipur, commuters got stuck at several bus stoppages due to the scarcity of public transports.Many of the commuters were seen walking to reach their destinations, reports our Gazipur correspondent.Meanwhile, police arrested 48 leaders and activists of district and upazilas’ unit of BNP and its associate bodies, alleged the party leaders.Thousands of city dwellers are also reportedly facing sufferings as the presence of public transports on the roads has been very thin since the morning.
Khaleda Zia & Kamal HossainEminent lawyer, Gano Forum president Kamal Hossain on Tuesday turned down a request from the BNP to represent party chairperson Khaleda Zia during her appeal hearing in the High Court, a Gano Forum leader said.Kamal Hossain expressed his inability to move for Khaleda Zia in a graft case when a BNP delegation led by its secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir met the lawyer, Gano Forum’s presidium member Subrata Chowdhury told Prothom Alo.However, UNB quoted BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir as saying that Kamal Hossain would provide legal advice to the lawyers of the BNP chairperson to ensure her bail in the Zia Orphanage Trust case.Fakhrul was talking to reporters after a BNP delegation, led by him, met Kamal at his Motijheel chamber.”We handed over a copy of the judgment to him and sought his legal opinion. He told us he’ll provide the legal advice after going through the verdict,” the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader said.On 8 February last, the Dhaka special court-5 convicted Khaleda, a former prime minister and BNP chairperson, and sentenced her to five years’ imprisonment in the Zia Orphanage Trust graft case.She was then sent to the abandoned central jail at Nazimuddin Road in the capital.The BNP chief filed two petitions with the High Court – one challenging the sentence and the other seeking bail in the case.However, the HC on Sunday said it would pass an order on her bail petition upon receiving all the documents relating to the judgment from the lower court.The HC bench of justice M Enayetur Rahim and justice Shahidul Karim kept the order pending as the HC was yet to receive the verdict documents.On Thursday last, the HC asked the lower court to submit all the relevant documents within 15 days.