Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
FIFA secretary general Valcke dragged into bribery row

SAFA requested FIFA to deduct $10 millions from the $423 millions due to the organisers of the 2010 World Cup


FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was on Tuesday dragged into the bribery controversy that has engulfed world football's governing body after being linked to a $10 million payment.
America's domestic intelligence and security service, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is looking into the multi-million-dollar monetary scandal, believes the amount was made as a bribe by the South African Football Association (SAFA) via FIFA's bank account in Zurich to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, also the head of the Caribbean Football Union.
SAFA requested FIFA to deduct $10 millions from the $423 millions due to the organisers of the 2010 World Cup.
The payment followed a letter from South Africa FA president Molefi Oliphant to Valcke, asking for the payment to be withheld from World Cup funds and paid instead to Warner to support football in the Caribbean.
American prosecutors allege that the South African government paid $10 million in bribes to Warner and other football officials in order to secure their votes for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.
The FBI believes Valcke authorised the payment, the New York Times reported on Monday. The payments were allegedly disguised as money to "support the African diaspora".
A FIFA statement said Valcke was not involved, but that the payment was made at the request of the South African government and SAFA.
"The letter is consistent to our statement where we underlined that the FIFA Finance Committee made the final approval," the FIFA statement said on Tuesday.
Valcke has denied to the New York Times that he was the "high ranking official" and said he did not have the authority to order the payments.
"The payments totalling $10m were authorised by the then chairman of the Finance Committee and executed in accordance with the Organisation Regulations of FIFA," the statement said.
"Neither the Secretary General Jerome Valcke nor any other member of FIFA's senior management were involved in the initiation, approval and implementation of the above project."
Valcke has not been charged with any crime nor has the US made any public allegations against him.


Call drops can invite penalties: Prasad
The frequent call drops which mobile phone users face today may soon invite a penalty for service providers, Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Tuesday, while announcing free roaming facility by the state-run national telecom provider BSNL from June 15.
The minister, talking to media persons on the completion of one year of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, said the issue of net neutrality was being discussed internally in his ministry and a final decision will be taken soon by the union cabinet.
"Call drops need to get minimised. We are in discussion for a structure to incentivise or disincentivise it," Prasad said, when asked what the government was doing to check this irritant.
The minister said there were many ongoing campaigns regarding the adverse impact of mobile tower radiation. "If someone comes to me with a problem, I am ready to look at it...."
But he mentioned that if people complained about the ill-effect of mobile towers and asked for pulling them down, then they should not be complaining about call drops as both things do not go hand-in-hand.
In April 2015, India crossed over 100 crore telephone connections.
Prasad mentioned that BSNL has installed 15,000 new towers in one year to do away with call drops.
Talking about the controversial net neutrality issue, the minister said the committee set up by the Department of Telecom has submitted reports to the government. "The final decision on it will be taken by the government and the cabinet."
He said BSNL's revenue grew by 2.1 percent in 2014-15 reversing the trend of negative growth in previous years. The state-run service provider also added 47 lakh active subscribers during that period.
BSNL and MTNL have launched unlimited free local calls from landlines to any landline or mobile during night hours effective from May 1, 2015.
Listing the achievements, Prasad said foreign direct investment in the telecom sector had topped $2.85 billion in 2014-15 and that this was the highest in recent years -- $1.31 billion in 2013-14, $304 million in 2012-13, $1.99 billion in 2011-12 and $1.66 billion in 2010-11.
Talking about the Digital India programme of the government, the minister mentioned that it is for the poor and marginalised in the country. "It is party neutral and ideology neutral."
Alluding to the 2G telecom cases pending before the various courts for alleged improper allotment of spectrum and graft, the minister said he had taken over the reins of the ministry when it was making news for wrong reasons for a variety of factors.
"When I took over a year ago the department was in news for all reasons. But now we have faith, hope and confidence and there is collective will to work in a transparent way. There is no place for lobbyists and middlemen in the telecom, IT and India Post departments," he said.


Jaitley pushes for 'plastic' currency
After inaugurating a newly-minted facility to make special paper for currency notes at Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh a day before, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday pushed for greater use of plastic money.
"The developed world has moved substantially to plastic currency and payment gateways. I think, there is a need on this for India. Our determination is also there to gradually take steps and move in that direction," the minister said at a conference on Indigenisation of Currency here.
To popularise the use of plastic money, the government had launched the RuPay debit card in 2012 through the National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI). The card enables electronic payments at all banks and financial institutions, competing with MasterCard, Visa and American Express.
At the same time, Jaitley also pushed for currency notes to be made in India from scratch.
On Monday, he inaugurated a paper-making line for bank notes at Hoshangabad and dispatched a consignment for printing Rs.1,000-denominated currency notes to the state-run security press at Nashik in Maharashtra.
Referring to the initiative here, Jaitley said: "It is about time we started printing our own currency with our own ink and paper. This is not mere symbolism. It also represents a thought process -- there is a desire to bring back the Indian manufacturing to a particular level."



Dr Anantha K Ramdas

2 years ago

For reasons best known to Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley did not make any reference to the "experiment" and market "reaction" to actual plastic or polymer currency notes that has been reported to be in circulation in selected cities, as per former Deputy Governor, Dr Chakravorty. This was widely reported in newspapers, more than 2 years ago.

after this, there has been no further news on the polymer currency notes. More than 30 countries are using this and next year, UK plans to use polymmer notes, in stages.

So far neither the Ministry or the RBI have clearly spelled out their plans in this regard, though, we could seek full assistance and cooperation from Australia, the pioneer.

Would RBI or Finance Ministry care to clarify this issue? Issue of polymer currency notes would be first step to stop fake currency notes in circulation too.

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