LIC's pension arm seeks PFRDA nod to invest in IPOs

New Delhi: LIC Pension Fund, an arm of the country's largest insurer Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), has approached interim regulator Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) seeking permission to invest in initial public offers (IPOs), which will help it take part in the government's divestment programme, reports PTI.

"At present, pension funds are not able to invest if companies that are not listed. We have written to PFRDA to consider this," LIC Pension Fund CEO H Sadhak told PTI when asked whether the company is interested in taking part in the government's disinvestment programme.

"If they allow us, then we will be investing... Once the guideline comes, it will be uniform, so everyone will be able to invest," he added.

The government targets to raise Rs40,000 crore through disinvestment this fiscal. It has already mopped up Rs1,000 crore by divesting stake in Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam, and about Rs1,000 crore through Engineers India's follow-on public offer.

Coal India's Rs15,000 crore IPO is open for subscription. On Day 2, the issue was over-subscribed 1.71 times.

Besides, many more public issues are expected to hit the market this fiscal.

LIC Pension Fund was formed by LIC after being appointed the fund manager to operate the New Pension System for the government employees by PFRDA.

Initially, the government launched the New Pension System for central government employees, joining service on or after 1 January 2004, but it was extended to all citizens from 1 May 2009.


Job visas only for well-paid foreigners: Govt

New Delhi: In an attempt to prevent foreigners filling non-technical jobs, India has made it clear that they would be taken in only for highly-skilled work and provided they draw a salary of not less than $25,000 a year, reports PTI.

In an order, the home ministry nullified a labour ministry circular that capped foreign workforce to one per cent of the total strength in any project, with a minimum of five and maximum of 20 people.

The nullification of restriction on numbers would help power and steel projects in particular.

"An employment visa is granted to a foreigner if the applicant is a highly skilled and/or qualified professional, who is being engaged or appointed by a company/organisation/ industry/undertaking in India on contract or employment basis," according to the home ministry guidelines.

Besides, the ministry made it clear that employment visa shall not be granted for jobs for which qualified Indians are available and also for routine, ordinary or secretarial/ clerical jobs.

"The foreign national being sponsored for an employment visa in any sector should draw a salary in excess of $25,000 per annum," it says.

However, this condition of annual floor limit on income will not apply to ethnic cooks, language teachers (other than English) and staff working for the embassy/high commission concerned in India.

The labour ministry had ordered that visa applications could be cleared by the Indian missions abroad at their level if the foreign national is skilled and qualified professional, technical experts, senior executives or in managerial positions and those kinds of skills which are not available in India.


Diesel prices should be deregulated as early as possible: PMEAC

New Delhi: The prime minister's economic advisory panel has said that diesel prices should be freed from government control "as early as possible", a suggestion if accepted will lead to a price hike of Rs2.87 per litre, reports PTI.

"I think the sooner it (deregulation of diesel prices) is done the better... I think it should be done as early as possible," Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) chairman C Rangarajan told PTI.

The government had on 25th June deregulated petrol price and said the same for diesel will be done soon. But with inflation rate continuing to remain at unmanageable levels, the government put-off the decision as any further hike in diesel price would lead to cascading effect.

At present the retail price of diesel is Rs2.87 a litre short of cost of production.

Oil secretary S Sundareshan earlier this week stated that "there is no thinking at this juncture" to deregulate diesel prices as "it will be unfair" to increase rates when inflation is already high.

Finance secretary Ashok Chawla had also said that it will not be a wise or prudent thing to deregulate price of diesel at a time when inflation is running so high.

Wholesale price inflation rose to 8.62% in September from 8.51% in the previous month.

Mr Rangarajan said it would be appropriate to deregulate diesel prices when inflation reaches 7% from 8.62%, adding that inflation is likely to reach 6.5% by December.

The government, on 25th June, had decontrolled petrol price and had said that diesel would move in free price regime shortly. At that time, an ad-hoc Rs2 a litre increase in diesel price was brought into effect.

Since the 25th June decision, petrol prices have been raised twice, once in September and second time during the last week to reflect the rising trend in international crude oil prices.


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