IRDA wants insurers to disclose pension benefits upfront

While issuing guidelines for pension products, IRDA said, “All pension products shall have explicitly defined assured benefit that is applicable on death, on surrender and on vesting, which is disclosed at the time of sale”

New Delhi: The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) on Wednesday asked all insurers selling pension products to disclose in the policy document maturity benefits, a move that will make it easier for individuals to opt for the best policy as per their needs, reports PTI.

While issuing guidelines for pension products, IRDA said, “All pension products shall have explicitly defined assured benefit that is applicable on death, on surrender and on vesting, which is disclosed at the time of sale.”

The new guidelines by IRDA will come into force from 1 December 2011. Existing pension products, which do not comply with the guidelines, will have to be withdrawn from 1 January 2012, it said.

The guidelines do away with the earlier requirement of providing a minimum guaranteed return of 4.5% on all pension products that did not find favour with life insurers.

The insurers at the time of sale of policies would have to make an illustration of the returns which it is expected to provide, in the range of 4%-8%, to the policyholders.

“The need for greater security of the pensioner’s fund and the stability and financial viability of the insurance companies need to be balanced for healthy growth of the sector,” IRDA said.

In September 2010, IRDA introduced guidelines for pension products which mandated returns on such products to be linked to the reverse repo rate and the minimum guaranteed return was fixed at 4.5%.

The guidelines did not find favour with insurers, who argued that they would be forced to invest only in debt instruments. Following this, there was a decline in the sale of pension products as private insurers did not come out with any regular premium unit-linked pension products.

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Environment ministry gives nod to Lavasa hill city project

The Union environment ministry granted clearance to the first phase of the Lavasa project, subject to “strict compliance” of certain terms and conditions

New Delhi: Lavasa’s multi-crore hill city project near Pune yesterday overcame the green hurdle with Union environment ministry granting clearance for its first phase subject to “strict compliance” of certain terms and conditions, reports PTI.

“The ministry, hereby, accords environmental clearance for the project as per provisions of Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 and its subsequent amendments, subject to strict compliance of terms and conditions,” a government order said.

The ministry’s decision came after the Maharashtra government filed a case against the promoters of Lavasa Hill City for alleged violations of the Environment Protection Act (EPA).

Filing of the case under the EPA was one of the key pre-conditions of the environment ministry for granting clearance to the first phase of the project.

“We have now got environment clearance from the ministry of environment and forests and the stakeholders will be happy to hear this," a relieved Ajit Gulabchand, chairman, Lavasa Corporation, told PTI.

He said the decision would also reassure hundreds of villagers and workers engaged in the construction of the hill city project.

The ministry had laid down five pre-conditions, as suggested by the Expert Appraisal Committee, for Lavasa to comply with before grant of environment clearance.

These conditions include demarcation of land usage which includes open spaces, diverting 5% of its expenses for corporate social responsibility, creation of an environment restoration fund, which in turn will be monitored by a verification and monitoring committee and a submission by the company that violations would not be repeated.

The ministry has set out a list of 47 conditions for Lavasa, to be followed in letter and spirit, which includes earmarking five per cent of the total project cost for CSR initiatives.

These also include having a separate budget for community development activities and income generating programmes over and above the vocational training for individuals to take up self-employment and jobs.

The ministry also asked Lavasa to submit its environment- related policy and plan of action to it within three months and abide by the written undertaking given to the government.

The project developers have been asked to make a clear demarcation of ‘no development and construction zones’.

The developers have been directed to avoid carrying out hill cutting, digging, excavation or any other activity involving generation of soil “as far as possible”.

“There shall be no discharge of any kind of effluents from any facilities, including the treated waste water, from the sewage treatment plant/effluent treatment plant. The entire treated waste water from STP/ETP shall be recycled,” the order said.

The ministry has set eight conditions for the operational phase of the project which include using solar power to illuminate common areas, lighting for gardens and streets in addition to provision for solar water heating.

“Six monthly monitoring reports shall be submitted to the ministry and its regional office at Bhopal,” the order said.

“We are committed to developing Lavasa as an economic, social and environmentally sustainable city and we will work closely with MoEF and Maharashtra government for a sustainable development within a pre-agreed framework, while creating replicable benchmarks,” a Lavasa statement said.

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TRAI extend deadline for sending views on 4G service

According to the International Telecommunication Union, the apex global body for telecom related subjects, the targeted peak data transfer speed for IMT-Advance technology will be up to 100 Megabit per second for high mobility and 1 Gigabit per second for low mobility

New Delhi: Heeding to the request of telecom industry, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday extended, for the second time, the deadline for sending comments on advanced mobile wireless broadband services, or fourth generation (4G), till 30th November.

The regulator has also extended the time for submitting counter comments on the paper ‘IMT-Advanced Mobile Wireless Broadband Services’ till 7th December, from 7th November earlier.

“Keeping in view the request of the stakeholders for extension of time for sending their comments and also the importance of the issue, all the stakeholders may now submit their written comments by 30 November 2011, and counter-comments by 7 December 2011,” TRAI said in a statement yesterday.

IMT-Advanced systems or 4G are latest mobile technologies that include improved performance capabilities that go beyond those of IMT-2000 (3G).

Earlier, TRAI had extended the deadline for sending comments and counter comments on the paper to 31st October and 7th November, from 20th and 27th September respectively.

TRAI, on 19th August, issued a pre-consultation paper on the subject for seeking stakeholder comments.

Key issues raised in the consultation paper are suitable spectrum bands, block size of spectrum to be auctioned, maximum spectrum permitted to bidder, eligibility criteria for bidding, roll out obligations, spectrum usage charges, quality of service parameters, security issues, among others.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, the apex global body for telecom related subjects, the targeted peak data transfer speed for IMT-Advance technology will be up to 100 Megabit per second for high mobility and 1 Gigabit per second for low mobility.

This theoretically means a person can download at least an hour length normal video within a minute while moving at a speed close to 100 kilometre per hour.

Last week telecom minister Kapil Sibal said that he expects 4G services will be launched in second half of 2012.

“We have large capacities in spectrum to move forward in 4G which is hopefully going to be launched towards end of next year. Later half of 2012...we should be ready to launch 4G,” Mr Sibal has said at an event.

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