|Friday, April 7, 2000,
approves fund for highways
US industries face
obstacles in India
NEW DELHI, April 6 (PTI) Union Cabinet has cleared the creation of a dedicated road fund from cess on petrol and diesel and given in-principle approval for the ambitious Rs 54,000 crore National Highway Development Project (NHDP), connecting four metros and North-South and East-West parts of the country.
The Cabinet, which met last evening, gave the in-principle approval for the NHDP, including connectivity to 12 major ports, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan told reporters here today.
He said a Bill would be introduced in Parliament for levying statutory cess on petrol and high speed diesel and creation of a dedicated fund, which would be non-lapsable.
The Government already collects Re 1 per litre cess on petrol and diesel, which accrues to the Consolidated Fund of India.
Mahajan, however, said it was up to the Finance Minister to decide whether he would part with the present cess on petrol and diesel or levy an additional cess for the dedicated fund.
To expedite the NHDP, the Cabinet has also approved the restructuring of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) board by giving it more financial and decision-making powers.
Mahajan said the NHAI will be authorised to take blanket approval of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs/Public Investment Board (CCEA/PIB) for NHDP projects for two years.
The board of NHAI will be restructured by raising the rank of Chairman to that of a Secretary and bringing in Secretaries of Expenditure, Surface Transport and Planning Commission as part-time members, he said.
At present, over Rs 5,600 crore is collected as cess, of which Rs 4,800 crore comes from diesel and Rs 800 crore from petrol.
QRs, if required
The Government, which recently lifted quantitative restrictions on imports of 714 items including goods of daily use, plans to amend laws to empower it to reimpose QRs as a safeguarding measure to check dumping.
Mahajan said this was in line with the GATT provisions which allowed imposition of qr as a safeguard measure for a temporary period.
While unveiling the Exim policy on March 31, Commerce and Industry Minister Murasoli Maran announced the lifting of qrs on 714 items from April one this year. The remaining 715 items on which qrs still exist, have to be lifted by April one next year to fulfil WTO obligation.
Following the lifting of
QRs on 714 items last week, several opposition parties,
besides domestic industry, have criticised the move
saying it would open the floodgates to cheap imports of
you spend $ 2b, Clinton asks
WASHINGTON, April 6 (PTI) Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and Self-employed Womens Association (SEWA) President Marai Chatterjee were among the star speakers who made a powerful impression at a White House conference on the new economy and how to use modern tools like the Internet to narrow economic gaps within societies and between countries.
Clinton, who brought together some of the worlds top economists, ministers, think tanks and leaders of the new economy like Bill Gates of Microsoft, for the conference yesterday, spoke of the deep impression made on him by the advent of the Internet in a milk cooperative at Rajasthans Nayala village and in Hyderabad.
Sen and Chatterjee were challenged by Clinton to say what they would do if they were suddenly to obtain two or three billion dollars, and they both emphasised education, health and empowerment of the poorest.
We live in a world of many interactive institutions the market, the government, the democratic process, the media, the non-governmental organisations, the research institutions, public and private and so on.
Each of them can play a major but complementary role in enhancing the well-being and freedom of the individuals in the society and the world at large. The closing or even narrowing of the global divide requires an understanding and informed view of this institutional complementarily, Sen said.
Chatterjee pointed out that she represented a quarter of a million very poor women workers who were earning definitely less than one dollar a day, the international standard for the very poor, and closer to 40 cents a day.
To Clintons question what they would do if they suddenly got two or three billion dollars, Dr Sen replied, in a very tiny way, I used my Nobel money to start up on an educational foundation especially for girls but mainly for rural children.
One thing we would
definitely do with that money is to try and help use that
as a revolving fund to help women develop their small
businesses and their employment; also promote
capitalisation; also encourage them to get some sort of
social protection, some sort of social security,
WASHINGTON, April 6 (PTI) US industries face extreme obstacles in India because of the lack of effective intellectual property protection coupled with a rigid pricing system, the US Trade Representative (USTR) alleged in its annual report to the Congress released to the media yesterday.
Another grievance of the US Government is that India has continued to use a 1956 Cabinet resolution to bar any foreign ownership of the media, preventing the approval event of joint ventures, it said.
US trade deficit with India was $ 5.4 billion in 1999, an increase of $ 696 million from the 1998 figure of $ 4.7 billion.
In addition to high tariffs, India maintains a significant number of import prohibition in the textile sector and remains one of the most heavily protected markets in the world from the standpoint of potential US exporters, it says.
US producers allege that the 40 per cent excise tax on carbonated soft drinks represents a de facto discriminatory government policy because their market is supplied predominantly by foreign invested producers.
Indias import licensing systems still limits market access for US goods which would be competitive in a more open trading environment.
It alleges that documentation requirements in the Customs, including ex-factory bills of sale, are extensive and delays frequent.
On defence exports, the
USTR report says that an area of discrimination affecting
US suppliers is the prohibition of defence procurement
through agents. Most US defence firms do not have enough
business in India to justify the high cost of resident
representation, it says.
cheques worry investors
PATIALA, April 6 About 60 UTI investors have not received their ULIP policy maturity payment due in January this year even as postal officials in Delhi are investigating the disappearance of the cheques dispatched to the investors.
A registered packet containing the cheques of 56 investors amounting to about Rs 1 crore is missing. UTI officials in New Delhi say they had dispatched the packet on January 17.
A few other investors whose policy maturity date was in February have also complained of non-receipt of the payment cheques.
A harassed investor, Mrs Inderjit Kaur, told The Tribune that she had been investing Rs 10,000 a year in the Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP) policy since 1990. She expected to get about Rs 1.30 lakh on maturity of the payment in January.
Another investor, Mr Subhash Jain, said that he had gone to the New Delhi UTI head office only to be told that the cheques were missing.
The investors belong mainly to Nabha and Patiala with some from nearby villages.
Mr S.S. Anand, a UTI
official here, said the investors will have to wait for a
few months until the inquiry is completed. Once the
process of stop-payment is completed, only then duplicate
cheques can be issued. He said the investors may even get
interest and no will lose money.
departments of industry merge
NEW DELHI, April 6- The Department of Industrial Development has been merged with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in a major effort in the direction of administrative streamlining and reform.
The Prime Minister had directed the merger of the two departments on a proposal from the Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Murasoli Maran. The merger would help in the restructuring of the existing set-up and make it more efficient and responsive in a scenario of deregulation, delicensing and reform. The Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules have accordingly been amended to give effect to the merger.
Consequent upon the merger of the two departments, a Secretary level post has become redundant and would be abolished.
NEW DELHI, April 6 (PTI) Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha will lead a delegation on a nine-day visit, beginning April 9 to attend IMF and World Bank meetings.
A very elaborate
investment promotion roadshow has been organised (in
Washington) on April 17 where Sinha would be interacting
with senior and influential American businessmen and also
inviting investments to India, said a release
here today. During his four-day stay in Germany, Sinha
would attend the roadshows to be organised at Berlin and
IOC MoU with Apollo Hospitals
MUMBAI, April 6 (PTI) Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has signed an MoU with Apollo Hospitals whereby the latter would manage the convenio stores at the formers petrol stations. The convenios will have facilities like pharmacies and emergency ambulances, apart from other general convenience goods, according to an IOC statement here today.
Shasun ties up with US company
CHENNAI, April 6 (PTI) Shasun Chemicals and Drugs Ltd, today announced a technology partnership initiative with US-based Eastman Chemical Ltd for the production and supply of Hydroxypropyl- methyl cellulose pthalate,(hpmcl), an enteric coating product.
Core Healthcare potentially sick
NEW DELHI, April 6 (PTI) Core Healthcare has become potentially sick with the erosion of over 50 per cent of its networth. The company has notified BIFR about its financial condition as per the Sick Industrial Companies Act (SICA) provisions.
Munjal Showa has declared an interim dividend of 35 per cent for the financial year 1999-2000. The company had reported a turnover of 145.50 crore during the nine-month period ended 31st December 1999, a jump of 27% over the previous period.
Surya Roshni Ltd has
declared an interim dividend of 15 per cent for the
financial year 1999-2000. Its net profit for the first
nine months of 1999-2000 was Rs 11.82 crore against Rs
10.28 crore in the corresponding period of the previous
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