LIC’s market investments to top Rs2 lakh crore in FY11-12: MD

As per the Insurance Act, 50% of investments made by an insurance company have to be in government securities and about 15% in infrastructure-related areas. The balance 35% can be invested in other areas like equities and debentures

New Delhi: The country's largest insurer Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) today said its total investments in the market will cross Rs2 lakh crore this fiscal, reports PTI.

"Our investments will be more than last year... We will top last year's total investment of Rs2 lakh crore this year," LIC managing director Thomas Mathew told reporters on the sidelines of a Ficci event here.

He said the company had invested Rs40,000 crore in equities last fiscal and this year, it will be above that.

LIC is the largest domestic institutional investor in the Indian market.

As per the Insurance Act, 50% of investments made by an insurance company have to be in government securities and about 15% in infrastructure-related areas.

The balance 35% can be invested in other areas like equities and debentures.

"Depending on the business, we will decide on this year's investment. Hopefully, business will be good this year," Mr Mathew said.

Mr Mathew said LIC will participate in the government's Rs40,000 crore disinvestment programme in the current fiscal.

"Earlier, we participated in all the government public offers. This year also, when government public offers come, we will participate," Mr Mathew said.

The government plans to raise Rs40,000 crore through a stake sale in different PSUs in 2011-12. So far this fiscal, it has already raised over Rs1,100 crore through divestment of its stake in Power Finance Corporation.

Public stake sales by a host of companies, like ONGC, SAIL, Hindustan Copper, BHEL and NBCC, among others, are also in the pipeline.

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Anti-doping agency chief says sports federations protected players who used banned drugs

Rahul Bhatnagar, director-general of the National Anti-Doping Agency, says that since the credit for winning medals passes on to the sports bodies, the authorities would ‘manage’ the drug testing results

As the doping scandal involving some of the country's top athletes deepens, it seems that the wrongdoing could not have been committed without the knowledge of the sports authority, and that this illegal practise has been revealed only because drug testing has been entrusted to an independent body over the past couple of years.

The Sports Authority of India is investigating an embarrassing doping scandal after eight athletes tested positive for banned anabolic steroids a fortnight ago.

Mandeep Kaur, Sini Jose and Ashwini Akkunji, three of the country's 2010 Commonwealth and Asian Games gold medal winning relay team, have been suspended along with five other lesser known athletes after testing positive.

The latest high-profile cases are in addition to the 122 other positive cases the country's National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) has detected, involving mainly wrestlers and weightlifters, since May 2010.

Before NADA was set up two years ago, the test samples were collected by the Sports Authority of India (SAI). "It was a clear conflict of interest," says Rahul Bhatnagar, director-general of NADA. "It was like the coaches themselves being deputed to give the samples. The lab would check the samples and the reports would go back to the SAI and the (respective) federation would do the results management."

Mr Bhatnagar explained that the various sports federations spend on the sportspersons and since the credit for winning medals goes to these bodies, the players were protected by the authorities. "Now we are doing it (testing). We have no personal interest in protecting the athletes. So this has been exposed."

NADA collected 2,800 samples last year and has conducted 1,480 tests till July this year.

"When the athletes come up before the hearing panel, most of them say that they do not know how the (illegal) substances got into their body," Mr Bhatnagar said. "Some drugs can get into your system as part of food contamination, but steroids are a serious matter."

Now, some of the athletes who have tested positive are claiming innocence and blaming their coaches. But the NADA chief says that the buck stops with the athlete. "It is very clear in the rules that if any banned substances are found in the body of an athlete s/he will be held responsible for this."

Of course, the sportspersons share a close relationship with the coaches and support staff, like doctors, physiotherapists and officials of the sports federations. "So, it is their responsibility to ensure that they do not consume substances that are banned and not to abet such acts," Mr Bhatnagar said.

Last week, Dr Sajib Nandi, a former medical officer of the National Institute of Sports, said he has substantial evidence to prove that organised doping was going on at the institute with the involvement of top officials. Dr Nandi also met sports minister Ajay Maken and informed him about these illegal practises going on at the institute, in Patiala.

NADA is an autonomous body set up under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports with the objective of rooting out doping from sports. The organisation, which has been in operation since 2009, follows the code of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Asked about who pays for these banned substances, Mr Bhatnagar explained: "When a training programme is drawn up for athletes, the government provides the funds to SAI which conducts the training camps, for food, boarding and lodging. A fixed amount is also sanctioned for food supplements (Rs250 a day for top athletes). So the federation could provide the money either from their funds, or athletes could buy these banned drugs on their own."

NADA works through an Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel and an Anti-Doping Appeal Panel. It has a budget of Rs3 crore this year, for its expenditure on staff and materials, like drug-testing kits and the lab costs. While the kit costs about Rs700, the laboratory charges Rs4,390 for tests of samples from players participating in national competitions and Rs8,000 for sportspersons in international competitions.

NADA sends the samples collected for testing to the National Dope Testing Laboratory, also based in Delhi. The laboratory, also an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, is one of 36 labs around the world that are accredited by WADA. Tests of national as well as international athletes are conducted here.

The anti-doping agency organises educational programmes on the problem of drugs, wherever sports events or training sessions are held across the country. "Our experts, doctors, sports science doctors, legal experts have detailed sessions with players to explain the ill-effects of doping and what they are allowed to consume and what they are not allowed to consume."

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Iran threatens to cut oil supply to India: Report

"If the problem over crude oil payments is not resolved, it's very likely that Iran won't authorise crude oil shipments to India in August," Fars quoted Central Bank of Iran governor Mohammad Bahmani as saying

Tehran: Iran on Monday threatened to cut oil supplies to India by the beginning of August if billions of dollars in what it said are overdue payments for crude oil are not made, reports PTI.

The semi-official Fars news agency quoted an unidentified senior oil ministry official as saying it will not authorise shipments of crude oil to India as of 1st August if overdue payments are not made.

The semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Central Bank of Iran governor Mohammad Bahmani as saying that India owes Iran about $5 billion.

A plan for India to funnel oil payments to Iran through Germany's central bank in April was scrapped at a time when Tehran faces international sanctions over its controversial nuclear programme.

"If the problem over crude oil payments is not resolved, it's very likely that Iran won't authorise crude oil shipments to India in August," Fars quoted the official as saying.

India reportedly imports 12 million barrels of crude oil, or more than 12% of the nation's total requirements, every month from Iran. This makes Iran the second-largest supplier after Saudi Arabia.

The semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Mr Bahmani as saying that the problem over overdue payments has nothing to do with the banking system but 'political issues.'

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