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Not Sonia Gandhi, the Sangh Pariwar is the light house for governance in India.
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It should not be a puzzle hard to solve why the main oppsoition BJP supported by sangh Pariwar does everything to save UPA government in the centre.Bajpayee changed Indian diplomacy guieded by US Zionsist lobby as global hndutva has now strategic alliance with zionsism! We know how the bjp government in Chhatisgargh launched salwa judum to hand over the aborigine humanscape to Indian Incs and MNCs.Bjp did the same thing in Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and specifically in Gujarat.Friends, I have been always insisted on the focal point that free market economy is closely related to resurrection of blind hindu nationalism. Manusmriti is an economic ideology based on excommunication and exclusion. Hence, the ideology of Hindutva has no contradiction with the new zionist global order. Comabat communalism, hence, should be focused if you are interested to resist economic ethnic cleansing.Not Sonia Gandhi, the Sangh Pariwar is the light house for governance in India. In another round of big-ticket reforms, the Union Cabinet will consider tomorrow raising the FDI cap in insurance sector to 49 per cent and opening the pension sector to foreign investment besides creation of a National Investment Board.The Cabinet is likely to discuss the revised draft of the Companies Bill tomorrow.The new Bill, which proposes many new norms including companies' spending on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, has been in the works for some time.
Sources said the Companies Bill 2011 is expected to be taken up by the Cabinet tomorrow.
Once cleared, the Bill would be introduced during the winter session of Parliament. Bjp and sangh Pariwar would not resist, understood.Moreover,the government has started talks to sell its shares in Axis Bank, ITCBSE -1.15 % and Larsen & Toubro, an opportunistic move aided by the more than 9 per cent increase in stock indices during the past two months. The nation has to depend on DIDI in resistance mode. Otherwise, Politics has become irrelevant.Even as Chief Minister Narendra Modi is repeatedly demanding that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh disclose the amount of public money spent on Congress president Sonia Gandhi's foreign trips, it now turns out his own government failed to furnish similar details about his trips abroad sought by activists under the Right to Information Act.Meanwhile,Deepak Parekh committee calls for legislation to revamp regulatory framework for infrastructure.The panel has also called for increase in foreign direct investment in telecom to 100% from the current 74% and privatisation of state-owned monopolies.The Centre is ready with an ambitious plan to sell surplus government land to generate cash to ease financial pressures, as suggested by the Vijay Kelkar committee on fiscal consolidation.
Donning the mantle of CEO, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan invited US corporate to invest in the state, saying it offers best incentives and has a conducive environment for growth and industrial development .He was speaking in Washington. Ironically,The Bharatiya Janata Party have decided to take their battle against foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector in the states to the streets. The BJP believes that their agitation against FDI will help them connect withsmall traders and farmers who are going to be adversely affected.During the winter session of Parliament the BJP will resort to hunger strike to corner PM Manmohan Singh on economic policies.
Amid domestic political opposition by various states and political parties, the Indian government issued a notification clearing the way for the implementation of economic reforms. New Delhi announced massive set of reforms viz. 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in single-brand sector (earlier it was 51 per cent), 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail (prohibited so far), 49 per cent in aviation and 74 per cent in broadcast sector.However, despite the opposition, this move will strengthen the bilateral relations of India with other countries as the foreign companies would get a chance to invest more in many sectors. The US media and corporations have hailed the Indian reforms as the biggest positive development in the last decade. US-India Business Council (USIBC) President Ron Somers said that these big bang reforms send a crystal clear signal that India is open for business.
Infact, the leadership in the US had been pushing India for economic reforms for a long time. Earlier, US President Barak Obama had expressed concerns over deteriorating investment climate and stated that India has delayed decisions on FDI proposals in many sectors. However, corporate minister Veerappa Moily had countered such statements by stating that the US President was not properly informed about the country’s strong economic fundamentals.Thereafter, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her Indian visit in May this year expressed her expectations from India regarding economic reforms. This visit was significant because she visited China just before arriving in India. During this visit she met with her Indian counterparts and the Chief Minister of West Bengal. There were media reports that during her meeting with Indian officials, Secretary Clinton discussed the investment issue that indicated the US desire of the economic reforms as its business corporation can get benefits from the large Indian market. So, one of the motives of Hillary Clinton’s visit to India was to push India for further reforms particularly in the multi-brand retail sector.
While in 1991 Indian policy of liberalisation was one of the major factors that led to the gradual improvement in Indo-US relations, India’s hesitance of late was now being deemed by analysts in both the countries as an area of discord in Indo-US economic relations. The recent reforms in India can be deemed as bonhomie in the Indo-US relations. Despite this, US investors may be hesitant on the absence of Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between India and the US. According to this treaty, the government commits to protect investment in their territory by other countries (82 of them currently). At the instance of lack of security assurance the US investors will find themselves in a disadvantageous condition as compared to other foreign competitors.
The American Nuclear Society will mark the fourth anniversary of the Indo-US nuclear deal with a nuclear safety summit here next week.
The second edition of Indo-US Nuclear Energy Safety Summit, scheduled Oct 11-12, will educate nuclear plant officials to better communicate with the people with lessons from expert communicators, including Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore.
There will also be a programme on interest groups, including students, business community, communication experts, international leaders and safety professionals.
Top Indian and American nuclear experts and officials will speak at the summit being organsied by the India Section of the ANS, a non-profit organisation.
The speakers include Anil Kakodkar, S. Banerjee, K.C. Purohit, Shekar Basu, Ravi Grover, S. Duraisamy, S.K. Sharma, S.K. Malhotra, Kristine Svinicki (of US Nuclear Regulatory Commission), Geoff Pyatt (of US Department of State), Peter Haas (US consul general in Mumbai) and Judy Reinke (minister counsellor for commercial affairs in the US embassy).
There will be sessions on student opportunities in the nuclear profession and Indo-US business, a workshop on communication, a world nuclear forum public dialogue with international leaders and training on radiation safety.
The Indo-US Civil Nuclear Energy Agreement was signed Oct 8, 2008.
Over 50 major companies, including IBM, Infosys and Abbot Labs, will participate in a job fair being organised in Chicago by an Indian-American organisation.
The day-long job fair to be held on October 17 is being organised by Indo-American Community Services (IACS) and will see participation from companies like IBM, Abbot Labs, W.W, New York Life Insurance, Caterpillar, Walgreens, Infosys, Grainger, Mass Mutual, HCL Global Systems and Bourntec, a media release said.
Participating companies are expected to have open positions for entry-level, mid-career and senior level positions in varied career fields, including financial and accounting services, information technology, engineering, healthcare, marketing and sales, it added.
"IACS is the first Indian organisation in the US to host such a job fair," its Chairman Sreenivas Katragadda said.
"We have done this for the past two years and have had an excellent response from employers and career seekers in the Greater Chicago area. The community, at large, benefits from this job fair," he added.
Founded in 2010 by a group of technology executives, entrepreneurs and professionals of Indian origin based in the Chicago area, IACS is a not-for profit association based in the Greater Chicago area.
Its mission is to nurture and foster the development of the South Asian community in the region through job fairs, women's empowerment forums, student internships and professional networking opportunities, the statement added.
There is no doubt that it these reforms will make way for better Indo-US relations and especially in the economic realm. But signing the Bilateral Investment Treaty is a must if both the nations want to gain full advantage from each other’s markets. At the same time, the Indian decision to put on hold its complaint against the US over the visa fee hike in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is also a welcome move from New Delhi as it will strengthen the bilateral relations further.
“BJP is committed to reforms which are in national interest. Reforms are not what western powers define them to be... It is unfortunate that we accept the definition that foreign nations give to reforms,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said while moving the party’s economic resolution at the BJP National Executive meeting in Surajkund.
The resolution demanded immediate reversal of the decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, cancellation of allotment of coal blocks since 2004 among other things.
Mr. Jaitley said that “reforms should be pro-people and it is unfortunate that the word reform is being brought a bad name... Every change is not a reform and what goes against the grain of the country is a counter-reform and we must reject it.”
It said that “the government was expected to carry pro-people reforms like bringing back black money and taking tough decisions against corruption, instead it is advertising its anti-people administrative decisions as big bang reforms.”
“The government had an option of large number of domestic reforms which are pending. There is a broad consensus on these reforms.
“The government has chosen to ignore these reforms but implemented a decision which will hurt the national interest.”
Mr. Jaitley also suggested that the western powers which are “dictating reforms” to India should themselves undergo some reforms like elimination of agriculture subsidy, removal of restrains on outsourcing, removal of unreasonable restriction on visas and dismantling of unfair trade barriers on products of smaller economies.
The economic resolution which was later adopted by the BJP National Executive also demanded instituting an independent and impartial probe into the coalgate scam.
The resolution also sought an immediate rollback of diesel price hike and capping of LPG cylinders and asked the government to immediately take effective steps to urgently bring down prices of fertilizers.
The BJP said if government de-allocates all coal blocks, it will add Rs. 2 lakh crore to its coffers through auction of these coal blocks, as had happened in the case of 2G auction.
The opposition party said real reforms are needed in governance to bring in efficiency and transparency.
“We need FDI in strategic sectors and high-end technology… We should also encourage FDI in infrastructure which is facing a huge capital crunch. The government of the day has failed to arrange large public investments in these sectors,” the resolution reads.
Giving a detailed reasoning for the party rejecting the FDI in multi-brand retail, Mr. Jaitley said manufacturing sector jobs will be lost due to the decision as India has not carried significant reforms in the sector.
“International structured retail doesn’t create additional retail jobs, it merely displaces existing jobs,” he said, adding that only 18 per cent of Indians are in Structured jobs while 51 per cent of the country’s working population is self-employed.
“Structured international retail will be harmful to job creation in India,” Mr. Jaitley said, adding fragmented markets are always pro-consumer but cautioned that when the markets consolidate it goes against the consumer and cited the example of Thailand where the first 12 years of opening trade for FDI witnessed 38 per cent of consumer market consolidate in favour of three large retailers.
He also said that the example of China was “misconceived” as it has a low-cost economy predominantly supplying to big retailers.
Mr. Jaitley said international retailers proceeded on the principle of “buy cheap and sell costlier” and initially lowered prices that resulted in eliminating competition and then raised prices.
“It is a myth that middlemen will be eliminated and the benefits will go to producers and farmers. The benefits of elimination of middlemen will go to the retailer and not the farmers,” he said.
Mr. Jaitley also cited a study conducted by the International Farm Companies Network which showed that in the U.S., a milk producer gets 38 per cent of every consumer dollar spent.
“In the U.K. this figure is 36 per cent. In India, riding on the strength of the cooperative movement, milk producers get 70 per cent of every rupee spent by the consumer.
“If farmers in the U.S. and U.K. have become prosperous due to retailers, why does the U.S. or the E.U. subsidise their farmers to the extent of $400 billion annually? This a staggering Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000 crore per day.”
BJP vice-president, Venkaiah Naidu, who is in charge of Maharashtra, said, “The state unit of the BJP will intensify its campaign against prime minister Manmohan Singh’s economic reforms which are going to affect small traders.”
The BJP is upset as it feels the Centre has completely ignored the state government and opposition parties before pushing FDI in the retail sector. The centre should have held discussions with the chief ministers of the states. Chief ministers should have held discussions with their respective state opposition parties to elicit their views to enable a consensus before taking such a big step forward. Naidu held a meeting with the state office-bearers and urged them to sustain the campaign to expose the double standards of the UPA government and prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Ahead of a business visit to India, David Woottan, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said New Delhi's liberalisation of guidelines for FDI in retail and aviation sectors gives foreign investors the real hope.
"This visit comes at a time when India is at a crossroads. Recent plans for economic reform, including an opening up of the retail and aviation sectors, give real hope to foreign investors," he said.
Woottan is leading a business delegation to India this week to help strengthen UK's economic links with India. In New Delhi, he plans to meet with senior ministers to discuss ways in which the UK and India can work more effectively together to deliver better outcomes for India's infrastructure development and financial sector reforms.
"But reform is a delicate process. Any reforms should open markets at a speed that allows the economy to develop so that it can provide long-term, lasting benefits for Indian society and the wider economy. We wait to see what the pace of change will be, and what this means for India's business with the UK and the rest of the world," he said.
During his five-day visit between October 6-10, he will have meetings with key policymakers, ministers, regulators and business leaders in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, according to an official release.
"On this visit, I will reinforce the mutual benefits for India and make the City of London's case for real economic reform in India, and reassure policymakers that the UK's commitment to India remains strong," he said.
Wootan will deliver a keynote speech on infrastructure financing at a RICS 'Cities Conference'. He will also speak at a Law Society 'Unlocking Disputes' event on Alternative Dispute Resolution.
"Our companies want to do more business in India and the City of London remains India's natural partner in global finance and business," he said.
The 15-memer strong business delegation includes senior representatives of major legal services firms, infrastructure experts, bankers, and financial and professional services specialists.
In Chennai, he will meet senior government officials to discuss the Tamil Nadu Vision 2023. The visit will conclude in Mumbai where the Lord Mayor will meet with the Reserve Bank of India and a range of key commercial contacts, including Adi Godrej, president of the Confederation of Indian Industry.
"I will argue that greater participation of UK firms can help facilitate economic development because they can introduce new products, services and expertise to the market - enhancing economic growth and supporting the development of domestic companies. We are here for the long term," Woottan said.
On the visit the Lord Mayor will discuss opportunities for increased interaction in areas, including infrastructure financing, financial sector development and regulatory reform and dispute resolution.
"Business as usual approach is unlikely to deliver this level of investment," tDeepak Parekh committeesaid warning that in the absence of these measures, not only will future investments be constrained but even pose risk to existing ones.ET reports.
The panel wants the government to pursue reforms in various sectors including railways, flagging it for being well behind the curve. It has suggested public private partnership (PPP) initiatives for railways to mobilise private investment including in modernisation of stations, elevated suburban corridors in Mumbai, development of new freight corridors, high speed rail projects and manufacturing of diesel and electric engines, coaches and wagons.
It has also said that a time bound action plan be put in place to implement its recommendations to create an enabling environment for private sector.
Telecom - Increase FDI to 100%, allow external commercial borrowings (ECB), remove regulatory uncertainties related to allocation, pricing and sharing of the spectrum allotted in the past
Power - Rationalise tariffs, revise standard bid documents, allow import of coal through STC/MMTC or directly through power producers,
Roads - Set up expressway authority, expedite institutional restructuring of NHAI,
Railway - Rationalisation of passenger fares, encourage PPPs in various sectors of railways
Airports - Expedite award of green field airport in Navi Mumbai, Goa, Kannaur and Chandigarh in current year
Ports - Expedite awarding of projects
The Cabinet will also consider a number of other crucial measures like giving more powers to commodity market regulator FMC, Competition Bill to bring all sectors under Companies Act, and model tripartite agreement for operationalising the Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF), sources said.
This is the second time within a month that the cabinet would consider such major proposals to push reform initiative. On September 13, the government had approved the controversial decision of allowing 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail, besides relaxing FDI norms for civil aviation and broadcasting sector.
While the Insurance Bill seeks to raise the FDI cap insurance sector to 49 per cent, from the 26 per cent at present, the proposal in the Pension Fund regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill seeks to open up the pension sector to foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Besides, the NIB, to be headed by the Prime Minister, is proposed to be set up for according fast-track clearances to infrastructure projects.
The Forward Contract Regulation Act (Amendment) Bill that aims to give more powers to commodity markets regulator FMC. The Bill seeks to strengthen Forward Market Commission (FMC) by providing it financial autonomy, facilitate the entry of institutional investors and introduce new products for trading such as options and indices.
"I am not only the Chief Minister, I am also the CEO of Madhya Pradesh. I believe in efficiency. So come and invest in the state," Chouhan said yesterday at a meeting organised by the US India Business Council (USIBC) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Washington.
In hour-long interaction with industry leaders, Chouhan asserted that Madhya Pradesh under his leadership provides an efficient and investor friendly atmosphere.
Once known for bandits, the state is now an "island of peace" with low crime rate Chouhan said. He spoke in Hindi,with his interaction being translated into English.
Chouhan promised to make land available to investors 'in a matter of two minutes', saying that the state Government has a pool of 16,000 acres for development and industrial growth.
He said the state has skilled manpower, and no work time was lost on account of any strike.
Besides, the state government provides round the clock power supply to industries, he added.
"Madhya Pradesh has a real single window system," Chouhan said, noting that he personally monitors all the projects. He also invited US representatives to attend the Global Investors Summit in Indore scheduled for October 28-30.
Chouhan said Madhya Pradesh is open to investment in all sectors ranging from mining, tourism, agriculture and food processing, power, textile and apparels, automobile, health, IT, education and infrastructure.
Describing Madhya Pradesh as "India's Growth Centre", Chouhan said it is an ideal destination for production hub.
The State, having large mineral reserves and ample availability of water, has experienced a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.7 per cent during 2005-10.
Sonia Gandhi made it clear to Narendra Modi today that the battle for Gujarat might be fought on his turf, but the Congress will not fight it on his terms.NDTV rports.
The Congress President neatly side-stepped Narendra Modi's best attempts to provoke her into a direct war of words on the foreign travel issue he raised recently, and instead launched her party's Gujarat election campaign by attacking the Gujarat Chief Minister on the plank he uses most to highlight his achievements - development. She also used her first rally to defend recent reforms, an issue that Mr Modi's BJP worries will allow the Congress to refurbish its political image. (Watch: Sonia Gandhi's speech at Rajkot)
Her Rajkot rally today was the first time that Mrs Gandhi addressed a public gathering after the UPA government her party leads set off on its "reforms-are-back" agenda in the face of much political opposition, and the Congress president launched a strong defence of the government's policies, saying difficult economic conditions the world over necessitated tough decisions in the country. She promised that FDI in retail would help farmers and also justified the recent fuel price hike. "I want to ask, should farmers not get the money for their hardwork? People should get their security needs at a fair and affordable price and FDI will help in this" She also said that the states have the right to reject FDI policy. "Then why all this hungama?" she asked.
"We are facing challenging situations right now. We have to buy 80% of oil from other countries.The UPA government still is making an effort to support people, why can't state governments do the same for people?" she aked, also adding, "In Congress- ruled states, economically weaker sections get three extra LPG cylinders. Why doesn't Gujarat follow that model? Gujarat, Mrs Sonia Gandhi pointed out, has the highest Value Added Tax (VAT).
She also took on the BJP on corruption, the opposition party's main point of attack on the UPA in recent months. "Yeh log brashtachar ke khilaf nahin, sirf hamare khilaf hain. Ek naya Gujarat banana hai aur banayenge (These people are not against corruption, just against us -the Congress. We have to make a new Gujarat and we will)"
If words were not enough, Mrs Gandhi used some symbolism too to set the tone for an aggressive battle ahead. Her first stop in Rajkot was a Ramakrishna Ashram where she garlanded a statue of Swami Vivekanand; Mr Modi makes no secret of his admiration for the spiritual leader, often quoting him in his Twitter posts and in speeches. He also launched his election campaign last month on Vivekananda's 150th birth anniversary.
At the rally, Mrs Gandhi attacked Mr Modi on development. She said all the areas that his state had done well in, were established in Congress rule. "No one has done as much for the development of Gujarat as the Congress has done," she said, also lauding farmers, artisans and traders of the Saurashtra region for having worked hard to take the state forward, implying that Mr Modi took credit where it was not due.
She lambasted him for "choosing not to see how far the country has developed, and misleading the people of the state" for "talking only of darkness," and for "unnecessary sloganeering". Mrs Gandhi said, "They (Gujarat government) did not tell you that 50% funds came from the Centre."
Reacting to the Congress President's Rajkot speech, the BJP said she was being "economical with the truth.".
"I am really disappointed that Sonia Gandhi who is the president of the congress has given statements like this. Due to political reasons, she is making unwarranted statements, " said BJP's Balbir Punj. He said Gujarat has had the maximum development and "wherever they (the Congress) rule, the state is doomed."
Rajkot, in the Saurashtra region, is BJP territory, but the Congress hopes to exploit the fact that it is in this Patel stronghold that BJP rebel Keshubhai Patel has begun his rival political party. The Congress also chose to begin its campaign in Saurashtra, which has a significant 58 of the 182 Gujarat seats, as the region has seen many farmer suicides and expectedly, Mrs Gandhi highlighted that. She said, "Farmers are committing suicides. Why has the Narmada's water has not reached the people in Saurashtra?"
A Sonia Gandhi election rally was also of much interest as five years ago, while campaigning in Gujarat, she had called Mr Modi "a dealer of death (maut ka saudagar)." That, many political analysts say, may have swung the elections in favour of Mr Modi, who, they say, used it to his political advantage. That time Mr Modi had raked up the issue of Mrs Gandhi's foreign origin. In the 2007 elections, he came strongly back to power winning 117 of the 182 seats in the Gujarat Assembly; the Congress won just 59 seats.
This time, just before Mrs Gandhi's scheduled visit, Mr Modi has accused the Manmohan Singh government of spending crores of public money on her foreign travel. But Sonia Gandhi refused to be drawn into any personal attack or even mention of Mr Modi's comments, merely saying that she had been attacked before and she expected that to continue.
Mr Modi claimed on Monday that the Manmohan Singh government had spent nearly 1900 crores on Mrs Gandhi's foreign trips abroad in the last three years. When that claim rang hollow with an RTI activist said to have gleaned that information denying it, Mr Modi, forced to apologise, also tweaked his attack and asked the Congress why it had not shared details of her trips despite the activist's application for that information. "I have no question for Mrs Gandhi, but I do for the Manmohan Singh government. How much public money has it spent on her travel?" (After Modi's claim rings hollow, BJP tweaks attack)
Mr Modi says he quoted a local newspaper report to make his claim. The RTI activist says though that he had sought details of Mrs Gandhi's travels, he was yet to get any information on this. Adding a new confused dimension to the Sonia-Modi controversy, both the BJP and the Congress have since referred to the expenses on Mrs Gandhi's trips abroad for medical treatment. That's not what the RTI activist asked for. "We also give good wishes for the health of Sonia Gandhi, but if expenses were paid from the public treasury, please clarify," Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP spokesperson, said.
In response to another RTI application, the Central Information Commission has clarified that the government has incurred no expenditure on Mrs Gandhi's medical bills. (Read)
The Congress is livid. Party general secretary Digvijaya Singh said, "As far as Soniaji's trips are concerned, everyone knows about her health issues. His (Modi) comments are reflective of his own character and his party." He added that Mr Modi has been well-trained by his party's parent body, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in "the Nazi tradition of spreading false propaganda."
"Sangh trains it's cadre in disinformation campaign. Obviously Modi has been trained well! Sangh has modelled itself in the Nazi tradition," Mr Singh said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
The buoyant stock market, aided by a burst of policy decisions including allowing foreign investment in multi-brand retail, has expanded the government's options to raise funds and narrow the fiscal deficit closer to its target of 5.1 per cent, three people with knowledge of the matter said.Economic Times reports.If the combined wisdom of Reserve Bank of India governor Duvvuri Subbarao and chief economic advisor to the finance minister Raghuram Rajan is a guiding factor, it may be too early to declare victory in containing the nation's trade imbalances with the outside world.
The current account deficit (CAD), the excess of imports over exports, fell to 3.9% of the gross domestic product in the June quarter, from 4.5% in March. That is an improvement, but not sufficient enough to conclude that the worst is over given the revival of the crisis in Europe.Indeed, the external trade could deteriorate in coming months as the anemic recovery in the US and slumping European economies shrink demand for Indian goods. On the contrary, the sustained currency printing by the Federal Reserve (Fed) and the European Central Bank (ECB) could become the bane for India if the wagers turn to crude oil and commodities with the cheap money.The Indian rupee is the best performer in the region and so is the benchmark stock index. Fund flows - both into equity and debt - are fuelling the markets. It had happened in the past too and when the economic administration tried to fix the house, things turned for the worse.
A Cabinet note prepared by the finance ministry within days of the Kelkar panel submitting its recommendations says that proceeds from the sale or lease of surplus land, seen as a non-performing asset, would be used only to repay loans or create capital assets that will generate recurring revenue. The upfront statement of objective is apparently a counter to any criticism that the government is selling family silver to feed its populist policy impulse.
The Centre is ready with an ambitious plan to sell surplus government land to generate cash to ease financial pressures, as suggested by the Vijay Kelkar committee on fiscal consolidation.Economic Times reports.
The proposal virtually lays down the policy that outright sale of land is to be preferred over other modes of earning cash from it — like lease and licensing. The government says that land leases are a losing proposition since the rental is out of sync with market value. Also, regaining possession of land after expiry of lease is a tough act.
Any sale of land with market value of more than Rs 50 crore would require Cabinet approval while those below would have to be disposed as per laid-down e-auction procedure.
Railways can monetize 10K acres in cities
Crucially, for purposes of leasing, the Vijay Kelkar committee's proposal has suggested that the rental be fixed on the basis of elaborate criteria based on market value of land and the expected appreciation.
The move to monetize land coincides with the raging debate over how to exploit government assets, including more divestment in PSUs to bridge the yawning fiscal deficit. The Kelkar committee warned that the failure to move briskly would expose the country to a crisis worse than what it had endured in 1991. The report suggested that exploitation of the government's assets could play a key role.
Although most government departments do not have an exhaustive asset register, the assessment is that shipping, defence, posts, airport authority and railways would be sitting on the largest land banks. According to estimates, railways alone can monetize around 10,000 acres in urban centres, generating Rs 50,000 crore. Similarly, port trusts can monetize around one-fifth of 2.5 lakh acres they own.
The new land alienation policy may even cover Airport Authority of India and port trusts that enjoy statutory powers to grant lease on their own. Besides revenue for the cash-strapped exchequer, the move will result in the creation of a maiden database of government land and identification of surplus land with all public entities, PSUs included.
Sources said the finance ministry has moved quickly on the land issue as suggested by the Kelkar panel even though it took almost four weeks to dismiss the panel's suggestion to do away with fuel, fertilizer and food subsidy and go slow on proposed food security law.
Officials pointed out that the move was a follow-up to the Ashok Chawla committee on allocation of natural resources that has been under discussion for months.
The draft policy lays out procedures for sale of land to cut out arbitrary actions that expose the government to charges of corruption like Cabinet nod for land assessed at over Rs 50 crore.
A Public Sector Land Management Committee comprising top secretaries will be tasked with creation of a database within a year. It would ensure that land records are updated and assess the market value based on floor area ratio, presence of utilities, the development potential and availability of minerals around the site. The government departments would also be asked to boost land's market rate by value addition.
The Union Cabinet is likely to approve tomorrow the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) document that proposes to lower annual average economic growth rate target during the period to 8.2 per cent from 9 per cent envisaged earlier in view of fragile recovery.
"The Union Cabinet is likely to discuss and approve the draft 12th Plan document in its meeting scheduled on Thursday," a source said.
The document has already been approved by the full Planning Commission chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on September 15.
Once the document is approved by the Union Cabinet, then it will be placed before the National Development Council (NDC), the apex decision making body, for final approval.
The NDC headed by the Prime Minister with all Chief Ministers and Cabinet Ministers on board, is the final authority to approve the five-year long policy document.