AI’s chief operating officer Capt Baldauf resigns

Gustav Baldauf, an Austrian national was served a show-cause notice last week, seeking explanation of his statements that it was a difficult environment to work as the government played "too prominent a role in the (airline's) operations"

New Delhi: Air India's chief operating officer Captain Gustav Baldauf resigned today, days after being served a show-cause notice over his reported remarks about political interference in the airline's day-to-day affairs, reports PTI.

Mr Baldauf, who was served the notice on Wednesday, put in his papers this morning, an airline spokesperson told PTI.

The Austrian national, who earlier worked in senior capacities in several airlines including Jet Airways and Austrian Airlines, was asked to explain his statements that it was a difficult environment to work as the government played "too prominent a role in the (airline's) operations".

"When you call someone from outside, let him work. The government should control but let him work. It should not be involved in day-to-day operations", Mr Baldauf was quoted as saying.

Following the remarks which the airline had taken serious note of, he had a meeting with civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi where the issue was understood to have figured.

Mr Baldauf had also expressed annoyance at the removal of Captain Pawan Arora as the COO of Air India Express, saying it would affect the turnaround plan of the ailing national carrier.

After Mr Baldauf's appointment last April, the Air India Board had appointed Mr Arora as also Stefan Sukumar as the chief training officer on a hefty pay package. Mr Sukumar put in his papers recently after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation had raised objections to the status of license as CTO.

Mr Baldauf was appointed at an annual salary package of Rs3 crore with the mandate to implement Air India's turnaround plan.

Taking a tough line, the civil aviation minister has made it clear that the ministry would evaluate the performance of Air India's top management by carrying out their performance review on a regular basis.

With a market share of 15.8% in January this year, down from 18% in the same period last year, the flag carrier today stands at the fourth position after Jet Airways, Kingfisher and budget carrier IndiGo.

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Union Budget : Highlights for 2011-12

FM sets disinvestment target of Rs40,000 crore, proposes new bank licences for private players this year and speeding up of pending bills 

New Delhi: A disinvestment target of Rs40,000 crore for 2011-12, bank licenses to new private sector players and speeding up of various pending financial sector bills were among the highlights of the proposals in the Union Budget for 2011-12, presented by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament today. Following are some of the major announcements Mr Mukherjee made during his Budget speech, PTI reports

  •  Disinvestment target for next fiscal at Rs40,000 crore. Proceeds for this fiscal at Rs22,144 crore.
     
  •  RBI's final guidelines for new bank licences to private players by March-end.
     
  •  Financial sector reforms to move forward.
     
  •  Bills on insurance amendment, LIC and Pension Development Authority, Banking Laws Amendment, SBI subsidiaries and BIFR to be table during the current session of Parliament.
     
  •  Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission to be headed by former Supreme Court judge B Srikrishna; Commission to overhaul financial sector regulations; to complete work in 24 months.
     
  • New Companies Bill to be introduced in current session.
     
  •  Discussions ongoing to further liberalise FDI policy.
     
  •  Government to move towards direct transfer of cash subsidy as regards kerosene, LPG and fertilisers.
     
  •  Constitution Amendment Bill to introduce GST (Goods and Services Tax legislation) in this session; GST Bill this year.
  •  Direct Taxes Code Bill likely to be passed by Parliament in next financial year after getting report from the Standing Committee.

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Union Budget: Farm loans at 4%; credit target raised to Rs4,75,000 crore

Faced with high food inflation and the country's dependence on import of pulses and edible oil, the finance minister also announced various schemes for promoting production of vegetables, pulses, oilseeds, fodder and nutrition-rich crops

New Delhi: In a bonanza to the farming community, the government today announced loans at interest rate of 4%-3% less than market rate-for farmers who pay their dues in time and raised the credit target for farm sector by Rs1 lakh crore.

"The existing interest subvention scheme of providing short-term crop loans at 7% interest rate will continue during the 2011-12 fiscal," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Budget proposals.

He also said the credit target for the agriculture sector has been increased by Rs1 lakh crore to Rs4,75,000 crore. Also, banks have been asked to focus on farm credit lending to small and marginal farmers, he added.

"In the last Budget, I had provided an additional 2% interest subvention to those farmers who repay their crop loan on time. In order to provide further incentive to these farmers, I propose to enhance the additional subvention to 3% in 2011-12. The effective rate of interest for such farmers would be 4%," he said.

Faced with high food inflation and the country's dependence on import of pulses and edible oil, the finance minister also announced various schemes for promoting production of vegetables, pulses, oilseeds, fodder and nutrition-rich crops like millets and maize.

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