India’s growth drivers intact; govt committed to reforms: FM

Although industrial growth slowed down to 6.3% in April 2011, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee held an optimistic view saying that the medium-term growth prospects for the economy remain buoyant

New Delhi: Dismissing fears of a slowdown, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today said India's growth drivers are intact and the Centre is committed to policy reforms, reports PTI.

"Though there is some slowdown in industrial growth, partly due to the base effect from the previous year, the growth drivers of the Indian economy remain broadly intact," Mr Mukherjee said at a seminar organised by his ministry and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Factory output slowed down to 6.3% (vis-à-vis a 2004-05 base) in April 2011, from 13.1% in the corresponding month of the previous year.

Mr Mukherjee said the medium-term growth prospects for the economy remain buoyant.

"I am confident that we are in a position to sustain high economic growth in the coming years and create a more inclusive outcome of our society," he said.

India aims to grow at 9%-9.5% during the XIIth Five-Year Plan, starting April 2012.

"It would imply raising the average growth rate by at least one percentage point from 8.2%, likely to be realised in the XIth Plan," he said.

Mr Mukherjee further said that the government was committed to policy reforms.

"Major steps have been taken to simplify and place the administrative procedures concerning taxation, trade and traffic and social transfers on electronic interface, free of discretion and bureaucratic delays," he said.

The Direct Taxes Code (DTC) is scheduled to become operational from 1 April 2012, while a constitutional amendment bill on Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced in Parliament earlier this year.

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Oil regulator refuses to recognise Reliance’s three gas discoveries

The DGH rejected the proposal to declare the discoveries as commercial, saying that Reliance and its Canadian partner Niko Resources had not provided results of tests done on individual wells to confirm the finds

New Delhi: In a disquieting development for Reliance Industries (RIL), oil regulator Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) has refused to accredit three natural gas discoveries made by the company at its KG-D 6 block, where revival of the sagging output depends on production from new finds, reports PTI.

The DGH rejected D-30, D-31 and D-34 finds in the KGDWN-98 /3 or KG-D 6 block as commercially exploitable discoveries on account of low reserves they may hold, sources privy to the development said.

RIL, which has seen output from its main fields in the eastern offshore block fall by over 20% since March last year, wanted to tie-up the smaller discoveries together to a common facility to produce 5.7 million metric standard cubic metres of gas per day (mmscmd)—double of what state-owned ONGC’s newest gas field, C Series, produces. But DGH rejected the proposal to declare the discoveries as commercial, saying that Reliance and its Canadian partner Niko Resources had not provided results of tests done on individual wells to confirm the finds.

Sources said it also turned down the indicative production profile made by RIL saying, “MDT tests used do not provide sustainable production levels, which is a requirement for evaluation of commerciality of discoveries.”

Reliance, in its proposal, had estimated in-place reserves of 749 billion cubic feet in the three finds, which would have needed $877.2 million in capital expenditure to produce peak rate of 5.7 mmscmd. The Mukesh Ambani-run company had in 2008-09 made four gas discoveries, D-29, D-30, D-31 and D-34 in the KG-D 6 block. In July 2009, it submitted a proposal for declaring them as commercial, a step after which the company could have firmed up investment proposal for bringing the finds into production.

Sources said DGH, in the first instance, rejected Declaration of Commerciality of all the four finds saying the gas volumes were too low to justify production. However, Reliance persisted with its claims and DGH declared D-34 as commercial with an estimated peak production level of 14.68 mmscmd over eight-year life of the field with $2.338 billion investment in development, they said.
 

RIL, however said that it has not received a copy of the report and therefore cannot comment on specific issues. In a release, RIL spokesperson said, "Reliance Industries strongly affirms that as a responsible Operator, it has fully complied with the requirements in the PSC at all times in conducting petroleum operations, and refutes any suggestion to the contrary. The KG D6 project is a significant contributor to the country’s economy and has been globally acclaimed for its cost effective, speedy, flawless execution & smooth commissioning."

On Monday, RIL shares closed 1.84% lower at Rs926.65 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex ended the day flat at 18266 points .

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SC agrees to hear Kanimozhi's bail plea, issues notice to CBI

The apex court has also asked the investigating agency to inform it about the status of trial in the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation case before a CBI special court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today sought the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) response on DMK MP Kanimozhi’s bail plea and also wanted to know the status of Rs200 crore allegedly given to Kalaignar TV, reports PTI.

Terming corruption as the worst form of ‘human rights violation’, the apex court asked the CBI to estimate loss accrued to the exchequer on account of licences issued to telecom operators during the tenure of A Raja as telecom minister.

A bench comprising justices BS Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar also asked the investigating agency to inform it about the status of trial in the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation case before a CBI special court.

The court granted a week’s time to the CBI to file its response on the bail plea of Ms Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar, MD of Kalaignar TV.

Ms Kanimozhi and Mr Kumar, named as accused in the second charge sheet for allegedly taking bribe of Rs200 crore, were arrested on 20th May after the special court dismissed their bail pleas in the case.

Both Ms Kanimozhi and Mr Kumar have 20% stake each in Kalaignar TV Pvt Ltd, which allegedly received Rs200 crore through a “circuitous” route from Shahid Balwa-promoted DB Realty.

Ms Kanimozhi, the 43-year-old daughter of DMK chief M Karunanidhi, and Mr Kumar have approached the Supreme Court against the order of Delhi High Court and the trial court which had refused to grant them bail in 2G case.

The high court had on 8th June dismissed their pleas after observing that they have strong political connections and that there was a possibility of they influencing witnesses.

Mr Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal, who has been left out from the list of accused, owns the remaining 60% share in the channel.

Ms Kanimozhi and Mr Kumar had moved the high court on 23rd May challenging the trial court’s order which had rejected their bail pleas.

The special CBI court had on 20th May rejected the bail pleas of Ms Kanimozhi and Mr Kumar and ordered their ‘forthwith’ arrest. They are currently lodged in Tihar Jail.

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