Finance minister, RBI chief discuss sharp fall in rupee

The RBI chief also reviewed the high-level of inflation with the finance minister, ahead of the quarterly review of monetary policy next week, amidst expectations of another hike in key interest rates

New Delhi: With rupee weakening to a 28-month low of Rs50 to a dollar, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today discussed the issue with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor D Subbarao, reports PTI.

The RBI chief also reviewed the high-level of inflation with the finance minister, ahead of the quarterly review of monetary policy next week, amidst expectations of another hike in key interest rates.

“The governor of the RBI will come and I will discuss with him this (rupee weakening) issue”, the minister said earlier in the day.

The Indian rupee plummeted 27 paise to a 28-month low of Rs50.07 per US dollar in the Interbank Foreign Exchange.

A weak rupee aggravates the inflationary pressure as landed cost of imported commodities goes up. The country depends on imports to meet 80% of its crude oil requirement. It also imports a large quantity of vegetable oils and pulses.

Food inflation, which hurts people most, had crossed the double-digit mark for week ended 8th October.

The general inflation, measured by movement in the wholesale prices, has remained stubbornly over 9% since December 2010. The RBI has already raised the benchmark interest rates by 350 basis points since March 2010.

However, a strong dollar is a cause of celebration of exporters, who have shown a good performance. Exports have grown by over 50% during April-September despite weak demand in the US and Europe.

The RBI had earlier intervened briefly in the forex market to check rupee slide, even when it wants the market forces to determine the currency value.

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Govt working to make private sector bribery criminal: PM

“To meet the requirements of the UN Conventions against corruption, we have introduced a Bill in Parliament to make bribery of foreign public officials an offence. We are considering changes in our laws to criminalize private sector bribery,” prime minister Manmohan Singh said

New Delhi: With the alleged involvement of big corporates in a spate of scams apparently weighing on his mind, prime minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said government is considering changes in the laws to make private sector bribery a criminal offence, reports PTI.

Speaking at the Biennial Conference of India’s premier agency, CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) and state anti-corruption bureaux, the prime minister said India has ratified UN Conventions against corruption and to meet its requirements a slew of measures which include amendments in laws pertaining to anti-graft measures.

“To meet the requirements of the Convention, we have introduced a Bill in Parliament to make bribery of foreign public officials an offence. We are considering changes in our laws to criminalize private sector bribery,” he said.

But the prime minister did not provide any details of how private sector bribery will be dealt with.

He said the government is working on ways and means to minimize discretionary powers of public authorities and the issue of a public procurement law to minimize irregularities in the award of government contracts worth thousands of crores of rupees every year.

The prime minister however said, “Whatever we might do to minimise the opportunities for corruption, the sad reality is that we cannot build a totally fool-proof system. There will always be some instances of corrupt practices in the work of public authorities.”

He urged the CBI that people indulging in corruption must realise that that they cannot possibly get away from the law and would sooner rather than later suffer the consequences of their wrongdoing.

“There is a need for speedy and thorough investigation into allegations of such wrong doings, followed by expeditious prosecution to bring the guilty to book. This would act as a powerful deterrent against corruption,” he said.

The prime minister said expectations from the CBI are well known but need repetition because this because sometimes in the routine of daily work the larger scheme of things are forgotten.

“We expect from the CBI the highest standards of honesty and professionalism and a total disregard of any extraneous considerations, particularly political pressure, in its work... And professionalism demands facelessness, in the best traditions of our civil services,” he said.

He cautioned ‘premature publicity’ given to cases can harm the cause of justice.

“We must also not forget the distinction between a deliberate attempt at wrongdoing and honest mistakes, sometimes inevitable in decision-making processes under conditions of uncertainty,” the prime minister said.

On the CBI director’s concerns of pending sanctions of prosecution and delay in trials, prime minister Manmohan Singh said government has decided that if an authority refuses to grant permission for investigation or sanction for prosecution, the reasons for such denial would have to be informed to the next higher authority.

“Delay in the trial of cases remains an area of serious public concern. To reduce pendency of CBI cases under trial, we have taken a decision to set up a committee under a retired Supreme Court judge to review cases pending trial, which are more than ten years old, and suggest ways and means for their speedy disposal,” he said.

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SC notice to CBI on bail plea of Satyam’s Ramalinga Raju

The Supreme Court today refused to give interim relief to Satyam founder B Ramalinga Raju and his brother B Rama Raju saying they have delayed in approaching it. The apex court, however, agreed to give an early hearing to their pleas and issued notice to CBI for 3rd November, after the Diwali break

New Delhi: Satyam founder B Ramalinga Raju and his brother B Rama Raju, arrested in connection with the multi-crore accounting fraud involving the IT firm, will have to remain in jail during Diwali as the Supreme Court today refused to give them interim relief saying they have delayed in approaching it, reports PTI.

The apex court, however, agreed to give an early hearing to their pleas and issued notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for 3rd November, after the Diwali break.

“Why you delayed in filing the petition,” the bench asked when senior advocate Ashok Desai, appearing for the brothers, pleaded for interim relief saying five other accused in the case have recently been granted bail by the apex court.

Apart from the two brothers, former chief financial officer Vadlamani Srinivas also moved court seeking bail.

The apex court had on 12th October granted bail to five other accused in the case.

The former Satyam employees, who were granted bail, are its former internal chief auditor VS Prabhakar Gupta besides executives G Ramakrishna, D Venkatpathi Raju and Ch Srisailam.

The fifth accused, who got the bail, is the former auditor of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Subramani Gopalakrishnan.

The five had approached the apex court challenging the 30th August order of Andhra Pradesh High Court which had rejected their bail pleas.

Of the total 10 accused in the case, Satyam’s founder B Ramalinga Raju's younger brother B Suryanarayana Raju and former PWC auditor T Srinivas had already been granted bail by different courts earlier.

For his alleged role in the accounting fraud, Satyam Computer’s founder and its former chairman Ramalinga Raju had been arrested first in January 2009 but his bail was cancelled in October last year by the Supreme Court.

While cancelling his bail, the apex court had stipulated that the accused would file another bail application only after 31 July 2011, if the trial in the case is not completed in the local court.

Following cancellation of his bail on the CBI’s plea, Mr Raju had surrendered on 10th November last year before a Hyderabad court adjudicating the country’s biggest corporate fraud, allegedly to the tune of Rs14,000 crore.

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