Exim Bank to expedite line of credit
to some of African countries
New Delhi : The
Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, E Barwa, said he Export
and Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) will shortly be expediting the
extension of line of credit to the tune of $2.2 billion to some of the
African countries as part of India's recent commitment to promote and
encourage its trade with them. He said the countries identified for the
purpose comprise Egypt, Mauritius, Uganda, Botswana, Tanzania, Senegal and
Zambia. While the MEA has mandated the Exim Bank to initiate action so that
the credit line's disbursement take place as per the Government's promised
commitment, the detailed and comprehensive sector-wise analysis is under
way to identify areas for trade promotion with the African countries under
the credit line extension programme. However, Barwa said the Exim Bank was
seeking detailed information from different African countries on their
policy front for absorbing the external aid of this nature.
India unlikely to achieve GDP growth
target of 6 to 6.5%
Mumbai : The RBI
(Reserve Bank of India) said in its annual report that the economic
growth rate for the current year is likely to be lower than 6 to 6.5 per
cent -- which was projected earlier -- on the basis of current indications
about the monsoon. The RBI said that it will re-assess the projected growth
rate for the current year in its mid-term monetary review in October.
However, RBI said that the drought will not trigger inflationary pressures
as the country has substantial foodgrain stocks and forex reserves. Forex
reserves were at a record $ 60.6 billion on August 16, and can help check
inflation by insulating the economy from external shocks. Inflation,
measured by the year-on-year change in wholesale prices, declined to 2.7
per cent as on August 3, 2002 from 5.5 per cent a year ago.
Indian economy is set to grow 5.5% in
fiscal year to March 31, 2003
Washington : The
IMF (International Monetary Fund) has forecast that the Indian economy
is set to grow 5.5 per cent in the fiscal year to March 31, 2003. The
IMF said after an annual review of India's performance : "The economy is
projected to grow at 5.5 per cent in 2002-03, assuming a modest recovery
in the industrial sector." The IMF said after an annual review of India's
performance. The Indian economy is expected to grow 5.4 per cent this year,
up from four per cent last year, the IMF said. Prices are expected to rise,
with inflation growing 4.3 per cent in 2002, up from 3.8 per cent last year.
BJP MPs ask Prime Minister to order
thorough inquiry into pump allotments since '83
New Delhi : Parliament
remained paralysed for the fourth consecutive day today over the
petrol pump allotment issue with a united Opposition now demanding
resignation of the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, amidst uproarious
scenes forcing adjournment of both houses for the day. On the other hand,
the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) MPs (Members of Parliament) asked the Prime
Minister to order a thorough inquiry into all the selections made for
allocation of petrol pumps and gas agencies by the Dealer Selection Board
since 1983 and cancel the dealership of all those related to a sitting or
former MP or MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) or party functionary.
Appreciating the Prime Minister's decision to cancel all allotments made
since January 2000 as "bold and courageous", the BJP's national secretary,
Shivraj Singh Chauhan, said that during the earlier Congress regime, apart
from the judges, one or two members from the public who were social workers
or represented SC or ST community were handpicked by the minister as members
of the Dealer Selection Board.
"These members were most of the time members of the Congress, including
at times former MPs or MLAs. One can only imagine what type of fairness will
be there in selection made by such a Board, where there was no representative
from the oil companies even for name's sake and the majority of members were
Congress functionaries," the MPs said in a memorandum submitted to Vajpayee.
In the Lok Sabha a combined Opposition, which till yesterday was demanding
the stepping down of the Petroleum Minister, Ram Naik, today trained its guns
on the Prime Minister and sought his resignation shouting "Pradhan Mantri
Federation of All India Petroleum Traders
will request PM to review cancellation on petrol
New Delhi : Amid
uproarious scenes, an unrelenting Opposition today remained adamant on
its demand for resignation of the Petroleum Minister, Ram Naik, forcing
adjournment of both Houses of Parliament for the third consecutive day over
the petrol pump allotment issue. The Federation of All India Petroleum
Traders (FAIPT) decided to request the government to soften its decision to enforce
a blanket cancellation on petrol pump allotments.
As soon as the Lok Sabha assembled, Congress, Left party, Samajwadi Party
and RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal) members trooped to the well raising slogans
like "Ram Naik isteefa do (Naik should resign)" and "gali, gali mein shor
hai Ram Naik chor hai (there is shout in every lane that Naik is a thief)".
Treasury benches sought to counter the Opposition sloganeering demanding
that Question Hour should be allowed to take place.
The president of the Federation of All India Petroleum Traders said : "We
will meet the Prime Minister and will request him to review the cancellation."
He also said : "If the government rejects our proposal, we will take a legal
The petroleum traders unions criticised the cancellation of all allotments
of petrol pumps, kerosene and gas agencies made after January 2000. The
federation office-bearers said that the decision of cancellation of 1,135
petrol pumps and gas agencies was arbitrary and confusing. They added that
they had been receiving calls from all over the country, and many of the
dealers did not even know who all would be affected.
While supply of petrol to some of the dealers has been stopped with
immediate effect by the petroleum companies, there is no news so far if
any of the petrol pumps having been sealed.
A day after the Prime Minister cancelled all allotments of petrol pumps,
LPG agencies made since January 2000, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) was
trying hard to come to grips with the fallout of what has become an emotive
A worried BJP president, M Venkaiah Naidu, went to meet the Prime Minister
to seek "political direction" on how best to deal with the situation. He was
told that dredging up the Congress' misdeeds, as is being suggested by some
partymen who are demanding a "white paper" on the subject from 1983, would
Prime Minister cancels controversial
New Delhi : The
Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, cancelled controversial petroleum
dealerships but chose to retain his petroleum minister. The Prime Minister's
Office also said dealerships will be allotted by competitive bidding. The
Congress said the Prime Minister's decision to cancel the allotment of all
petrol pumps, LPG and kerosene agencies made after January 2000 was an
"admission of guilt" on the government's part and demanded the resignation
of Petroleum Minister Ram Naik.
The petrol pump allotment issue again rocked both Houses of Parliament
today forcing their adjournment for the day. As soon as Parliament assembled,
Opposition members in both the Houses were on their feet shouting
anti-government slogans like "gali, gali mein shor hai, BJP (Bharatiya Janata
Party) chor hai (there is noise in every street that BJP is a thief)" and
"we want resignation" of Petroleum Minister Ram Naik.
On the other hand, Aparna Mishra, a niece of the Prime Minister residing
in Lucknow and one of the beneficiaries of the controversial petrol pump
allotments, vowed to fight any move to cancel her allotment.
Aparna Mishra said : "I got it through free and fair means. Therefore
there is no question of it being cancelled. But if that is done, I will
fight it till the end".
Over 1500 petrol pumps and LPG gas agencies all over the country will go
dry from today as a result of the government decision to scrap their
allotment following allegations of favouritism.
The Petroleum Minister, Ram Naik, however, said the supply of petrol,
diesel, kerosene and LPG would not be affected. He said : "I will ensure
that oil companies implement the decision in such a way that there is no
discontinuation of supplies".
The Petroleum Minister, rejected demands for his resignation, even while
giving an assurance there will be no "discontinuance" in supplies of
petroleum products like petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG though over 3000
dealerships will have to be closed with immediate effect. He said the
modalities for auctioning off the oil dealerships allotted after January
2000 will be finalised shortly.
Finance Minister announces series of
New Delhi : The
finance minister, Jaswant Singh, rolled out a slew of measures that will
provide tax relief to the salaried class, small investors and farmers. His
agenda is clear : revive the "feel good factor" and secure the confidence of
the middle class. As part of the new package announced, the finance minister
has raised the ceiling to Rs 15,000 for tax deduction under section 80L.
There will also be no service tax on life insurance.
Singh announced that dividends up to Rs 2,500 would not be subject to
deduction of tax at source. The finance minister said : "Section 80L of the
Income Tax Act provides for the deduction of Rs 9000 from income derived from
specified investment, plus an additional deduction of Rs 3000 is allowed on
interest on government securities. The total deduction has now been raised
from Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000."
The new tax-free bonds to be unveiled shortly will carry an annual
interest rate of seven per cent for a period of six years.
Dividend income on mutual funds for senior citizens upto an enhanced
limit of Rs 2,500 will not be subject to tax deduction at source (TDS).
The present limit is only Rs 1,000. There will be no service tax on life
insurance risk premium.
The finance minister also promised to simplify tax laws and held out hope
for the small investor, assuring the Lok Sabha that the battered UTI (Unit
Trust of India) would be nursed back to health. The Prime Minister had
constituted a group of ministers to look into its long-term viability.
In reply to the debate on the first batch of supplementary demands for
grant this year, Singh took the first available opportunity to undo some of
the unpopular measures in Yashwant Sinha's budget -- which stole the middle
class from the ruling BJP and reportedly led to the shifting of Sinha to the
external affairs ministry.
He sought to live up to the promise he made on taking over as finance
minister : "More purchasing power for the people and more money in the
housewife's purse." At the same time, Singh sought to win back business
confidence in the economy. He took a stern view of the unhealthy business
practices by the corporate sector, saying that economic liberalisation has
to be accompanied by strong regulatory mechanisms.
Central Board of Direct Taxes extends
last date for filing income tax returns
New Delhi : The
Central Board of Direct Taxes has extended the last date for filing
income tax returns to August 9, 2002. The Central Board of Direct Taxes
has extended in respect of all those who were due to file returns up to
July 31, 2002. The Central Board of Direct Taxes has also announced that
those who have applied for Permanent Account Number (PAN) or Tax-deduction
Account Number (TAN) can deposit the tax in any bank provided they produce
a copy of the application or state in writing to the bank that such an
application has been made.
Government asks income-tax department
to make all pending tax refunds to tax-payers by July 15
New Delhi : The
chairman of direct board of direct taxes said the government asked the
income-tax department to make all pending tax refunds to tax-payers by July
15. The government also asked to expedite the computerisation drive to
streamline tax administration and simplify procedures. The chairman of direct
board of direct taxes said the government was confident that tax collections
would be buoyant this year. Although there have been huge refunds in the
first two months, it is unlikely to cloud collections for the year. He also
said : "We have issued instructions to all commissionerates to complete tax
refunds by July 15."
Pakistan granted duty concession on
more than 600 trade items to India and other Saarc countries
Islamabad : Pakistan
said it had granted duty concession on more than 600 trade items to
India and other Saarc countries under the South Asian Preferential Trade
Agreement. The new order could pave the way for normalisation of Indo-Pak
trade ties, which had been linked in the past by Pakistan to resolution of
the Kashmir dispute. Pakistan has, so far, not extended the Most Favoured
Nation status to India, which was required under Saarc charter. Bilateral
trade between the countries has been pegged at $500 million, with the
balance of trade in favour of India. But unofficial trade through third
countries was stated to be over a billion dollars per annum, which prompts
trade lobbies of both countries to press hard for normalisation of relations.
Petrol and diesel likely to cost less
by more than 50 paise/litre from July 1
New Delhi : Petrol
and diesel are likely to cost less by more than 50 paise per litre
from July 1 when oil companies revise the prices of both the commodities.
The officials said : "The fact is crude prices since May 30 have been
softening and fell below the $23 per barrel level last week from more than
$24 in the third week of May." However, they said the prices of kerosene
and LPG (domestic) were unlikely to be revised as the Government had yet to
settle the issue of flat subsidy on both products.
Government likely to revert to
two-page Saral form for filing of Income-Tax returns
New Delhi : The
government is likely to revert to the two-page Saral form for filing
of income-tax returns. A notification to allow the salaried class to file
their returns in the existing format is expected soon. The last date for
filing of returns by the salaried people is June 30. The government
introduced the revised 10-page form last year to replace the Saral form,
which the Union finance minister, Yashwant Sinha, had introduced in 1998.
The new form has been criticised because in involved filling up of a number
of additional details. It is too voluminous and difficult to wade through,
without professional help, assessees fell.
PFC firmed up plans to draw $250
million from ADB during current fiscal
New Delhi : The
government official said ADB (Asian Development Bank) has asked PFC
(Power Finance Corporation) to identify 6-8 reform-oriented states which
would be disbursed funds under the line of credit, pegged at Libor plus 60
basis points. The ADB has also asked PFC to identify projects in the
selected states and consequently firm-up investment plans. The PFC has
firmed up plans to draw $250 million from the ADB during the current
fiscal. PFC has already tied-up with German lending agency KfW for drawing
a 150 million deutsche mark (DM) line of credit during the financial
year. The PFC is also in talks with state-owned Life Insurance Corporation
and the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development for drawing
money during the current fiscal. The funds from these agencies would be
disbursed to various projects in the power sector, especially renovation
and modernisation measures.
ADB proposes to double its exposure to
India from Rs.5,000 crores a year to Rs.10,000 crores during 2003-05
New Delhi : The ADB
(Asian Development Bank) proposed to double its exposure to India
from Rs.5,000 crores a year to Rs.10,000 crores during 2003-05.
India will be the largest recipient of the ADB assistance, followed
by China, which will receive about $1 billion a year. India would
receive the assistance under the ADB's Orginary Capital Resources
Funding window. The expanded programme reflected not only the ADB's
confidence in the Indian economy but also its assessment that the
country has to be a major focal point for accomplishing its mission
of poverty reduction in Asia.
Country needs much more forex
reserves, says finance ministry
New Delhi : The
country needs much more forex reserves "The forex reserves of $55
billion are not enough", the ministry feels. The finance ministry's
observation is significant because it is in line with the apex bank's
views. The RBI (Reserve Bank of India) feels countries like India
should have enough reserves to build confidence in foreign investors. The
finance ministry felt since the fiscal deficit was revised to 5.7 per
cent for 2001-02, it would not be prudent to retire external debt.
Inflation remains unchanged at previous
week's level of 1.56%
New Delhi : The
inflation remained unchanged at the previous week's level of
1.56 per cent for the week-ended May 4. The point-to-point price change
as measured by the wholesale price index (WPI) was contained, even as
there was an over 14 per cent hike in the price of other food articles. The
index was near 6 per cent during the same period of the previous year. The
WPI was marginally up by 0.1 per cent to 162.6 in the first week of May
as compared to 162.5 in the previous month and 160.1 a year ago. The final
WPI-stood higher at 161.9 for the week-ended March 9, as compared to the
provisional level of 161.5, while the final inflation stood at 1.76 per cent,
higher by 0.25 per cent as against the provisional level.