The Lok Sabha MP from Pune was questioned for about three hours during which he was asked various details related to the controversial contracts, official sources said
Former Commonwealth Games (CWG) Organising Committee chief Suresh Kalmadi was today questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for alleged irregularities in over Rs70 crore contracts given to a Mauritius-based company for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
The Lok Sabha MP from Pune was questioned for about three hours during which he was asked various details related to the controversial contracts, official sources said.
He was also asked about reasons behind selecting the firm for executing contracts for the mega sporting event held from 3-14 October 2010, they said.
The firm–Event Knowledge System (EKS)—was allegedly given three contracts worth over Rs70 crore by the committee for giving consultancy on issues like venue development and management, games workforce planning and project management services.
The contracts have come under the scanner of the prime minister Manmohan Singh-appointed high-level committee headed by former CAG VK Shunglu for alleged wrongdoings.
The Shunglu Committee, which went into the alleged irregularities in the Games, had said the entire contract given to EKS was a ‘mockery’ of Quality Based Selection.
On the basis of Committee’s findings, the Prime Minister’s Office had recommended a probe by Enforcement Directorate and CBI against EKS.
The CBI had registered the case last year naming Kalmadi and other senior officials of the Games Organising Committee, the sources said.
Kalmadi is also facing other alleged corruption cases in the conduct of Commonwealth Games being investigated by the CBI.
World Gold Council said hike in import duty on gold will not be effective in the long run as this is likely to lead to demand being met through unauthorised channels
World Gold Council (WGC) today said hike in import duty on gold will make the precious metal expensive, while cautioning that curbing supply will not be effective in the long run as this is likely to lead to demand being met through unauthorised channels.
“The hike in customs duty on gold from 6% to 8%... is yet another step to limit supply of gold by making it more expensive. Almost all of India’s gold demand is met through imports and this hike will increase the cost of gold for retail customers," WGC India managing director Somasundaram PR said in a statement.
He acknowledged that large current account deficit is unsustainable and needs to be checked, but said that there were number of factors which influence the current account deficit in India and gold is one of them.
“The nature of demand at the retail level is such that restricting supply will not be effective in the long run and is likely to lead to non-transparent price premiums in the market and demand being met increasingly through unauthorised channels which will not be positive for either the economy or for society,” Somasundaram said.
WGC India chief said that demand for gold, whether in the form of jewellery or investment (bars and coins), is driven by millions of individuals investing as part of their household savings and is not discretionary spending for consumption.
“People buy gold as a long-term investment to protect their wealth and gold also has huge significance socially, emotionally and economically in India,” he observed.
Highlighting that India is a significant stakeholder in the gold market with over 20,000 tonnes in the hands of millions of people, Somasundaram advised that policy direction should view gold as a strategic investment asset for India.
“...the long-term policy objective must be to monetise the nation's gold stock to support economic growth,” he added.
Late last night, the government increased the customs duty on gold from 6% to 8%. This is the second hike in the duty in six months as gold imports touched an alarming 162 tonnes in May.
According to WGC data, India imported 860 tonnes of gold in 2012 calendar year. During January-March of 2013, the country imported 215 tonnes.
As per the minimum public shareholding norms, government-run companies shall have a minimum public float of 10% by August and private sector companies had to bring down promoter stake to 75% by 3rd June this year
The Securities and Exchange Board (SEBI) on Thursday said the government has assured it that the public sector units will meet the August deadline to bring down their promoter stake to 90%.
“I have been assured by the government that they will follow the deadline,” SEBI chairman UK Sinha told reporters on the sidelines of the Skoch banking summit in Mumbai.
As per the minimum public shareholding norms, government-run companies shall have a minimum public float of 10% by August and private sector companies had to bring down promoter stake to 75% by 3rd June this year.
Currently, there are about 11 PSUs in which the government holds over 90% stake. These include MMTC, HMT, National Fertilizers, Neyveli Lignite Corporation, RCF, State Bank of Mysore and STC.
Despite giving three years to the private sector companies to reduce promoters stake, as of 3rd June, there were as many as 105 companies which failed to meet the deadline forcing SEBI to take punitive actions against them.
On retail participation in the secondary market, Sinha said this is not at a level to be very happy about. “We had a requirement that promoters must have less than 75% shareholding in a company.
"In spite of three years of time being given, while a large number of corporates followed our guideline, over 100 of them for some reason or the other could not do that. Very reluctantly SEBI had to take action against them two days ago,” he said.
Stating that higher public shareholding and faith in diversified ownership and governance is important, he said "we believe if these things are implemented and followed, it will generate a lot of trust in the market.”
Sinha further said, “The country ranks 132 out of 185 for doing business. Some parameters of the financial sector are not doing badly. In protecting the interest of investors we rank 49 and in financial market development, we rank 21 and we are at 19 in raising equity”.
The risk management system in the country has proven to be very helpful and has been able to generate trust which is required in capital market, he noted.
Mutual funds have seen higher inflows. In 2012-13, “we saw net inflow increase of 100 bps in flows from beyond top 15 cities”.
FIIs in this calendar year have poured $20 billion and in the past two months it stood at $7 billion, reflecting their faith in our markets, he said.
However, he expressed concern about the quality of corporate governance and said: “we have come out with a discussion paper on corporate governance and our belief is that unless we are able to generate confidence in the market ecosystem, retail investors will leave or stay away from the market,” Sinha said.