BlackBerry services face ban if no monitoring solution in 5 days

New Delhi: The government today made it clear that BlackBerry services may be banned if its maker, Research-in-Motion, fails to provide a monitoring solution in the next five days, reports PTI.

In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, minister of state for telecom Sachin Pilot said, "In case no solution is provided, those services which can not be intercepted and monitored in readable format may be banned by the government."

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has instructed all telecom service providers to ensure that a technical solution for interception and monitoring of Blackberry services in readable format is made available to the law enforcing agencies by 31 August, 2010.

The minister's reply comes at a time when the security agencies and Canadian firm RIM are holding a crucial two-day meeting starting from today to decide the fate of Blackberry services in India.

The smartphone-maker, which has a subscriber base of one million in India, has been told in no uncertain terms that it must install its server with an Indian service provider.

On 12th August, the home ministry had demanded a technical solution by 31st August that would enable security agencies to peek into emails and chat messages sent via Blackberry Enterprises Server (BES) and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).


Commerce ministry turns down plea for reduction in rubber import duty

New Delhi: Tyre makers' plea to bring down import duty on natural rubber to 7.5% from 20% at present has been turned down by the commerce ministry, reports PTI quoting the Rubber Board.

"Union minister for commerce and industry Anand Sharma has ruled out any cut in import duty of rubber from the present 20 per cent," Rubber Board chairman Sajen Peter said in a statement released yesterday.

Hit by steep rise in natural rubber price, Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA) had in March urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to allow duty-free import of at least 2,00,000 tonne of raw material and reduce import duty to 7.5% or double customs duty on imported tyre to 20% to help domestic manufacturers.

Rubber growers, however, fear that reduction in import duty may lead to dumping of cheap natural rubber from ASEAN countries which could have a cascading effect on the prices of natural rubber resulting into a drastic fall in prices in the domestic market.

The commerce minister made his views clear to a team of Parliamentarians from Kerala who called on him yesterday morning, the Rubber Board statement said.

"In the case of import duty, the government would be implementing the recommendation of the expert panel constituted under the directive of Delhi High Court to look into the demands raised in a petition by rubber consuming organisations," Mr Sharma was quoted as saying in the statement.

The expert panel had recommended that the import duty be retained at 20%, but a maximum ceiling of Rs20.46 be fixed, which is based on the average domestic price of rubber for the last three fiscals.

India imported 15,372 tonnes natural rubber in May this year compared to 17,976 tonnes in the same month last year.

Domestic rubber goods manufacturing industries consumed 79,150 tonnes of natural rubber in May this year vis-à-vis 78,250 tonnes in April.

The cumulative import in the first two months was 26,248 tonnes against 27,719 tonnes in the corresponding period last year. Consumption grew by 8.8% in the first two months to 157,400 tonnes over the same period last year.


Investment in real estate to touch $300 billion in 2010

New Delhi: Reflecting improved investor confidence, investment in commercial real estate globally is expected to witness a "healthy" growth of 40%-50% to $300 billion in the current year, reports PTI.

According to the report by global real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle, the first half of 2010 saw investment worth $130 billion in the commercial real estate globally and is likely to touch $300 billion in the full year, representing an increase of 40%-50% from 2009.

"The first half of the year showed that confidence has improved and momentum has increased. While markets across the globe are strengthening, the last few weeks have shown that regional markets are moving with different dynamics," the report noted.

In the commercial real estate market, the quickest recovery was seen in the Asia Pacific, primarily dominated by the domestic firms.

Europe lagged behind, where the investors still seem more hesitant, due to sovereign debt and austerity packages concerns, followed by the US, which had a slow start to 2010, but investment markets are picking up with the stabilised market fundamentals.

While, the rental markets are still to catch up in Asia with the improved market sentiment, the rental growth is expected to make a comeback in few European markets over the second half of 2010 and 2011.

The report also pointed that the outlook for commercial space demand in Latin America is "overwhelmingly positive".


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