Need new guidelines on natural resources’ allocation: Assocham

Assocham said that fresh guidelines are needed to avoid controversies, which stall progress of vital infrastructure projects

Calling for urgent consultations between the government, CAG and business bodies, industry chamber Assocham said fresh guidelines are required on allocation of natural resources to avoid fears of undue benefits to project implementers.

“There is no way the price of products and services could be made affordable if the basic natural resources, on which the projects are based, are priced high through auctions or government’s price discovery,” the industry chamber said in a statement.

It said that fresh guidelines are needed to avoid controversies, which stall progress of vital infrastructure projects, while referring to a draft report of CAG on allocation of coal blocks.

“We are for reasonable restrictions on firms against trading these resources and benefiting by simply selling the licences to others at higher price or gaining any other unjustified benefit by firms that get access to natural resources at nationally agreed consensual price,” the chamber added.

It also called for an agreement among all stake holders on pricing and method of selection of project awardees to keep the products and services affordable, while a reasonable return is available to the implementing firms on their respective ventures.

The chamber also said that in a recent meeting with prime minister Manmohan Singh, its delegation, led by president RN Dhoot, had pointed out that pricing the natural resources high would spill into huge rise in project costs and make the products/services too expensive.

“There should be a national consensus on what should be the method of pricing and what should govern the pricing in order to provide affordable products and services from infrastructure projects like power, telecom, drinking and irrigation water, ports and airports, roads, etc,” Assocham said.

Pointing out that the government benefited the most in 3-G auctions for spectrum as they were sold for premium, the chamber said that now the successful bidder are finding it difficult to provide service, especially to the rural consumers, who need it most.

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No proposal to shift the insurance sector to a paperless model

The insurers issue the electronic policies only at the option of the policyholders thus the paperless model is unlikely to create inconvenience to the illiterate and rural population of remote villages

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has reported that there is no proposal to shift the insurance sector to a paperless model. The insurance companies could continue to issue paper insurance policies. However, where an insurer issues e-insurance policies, the company shall do so at the option of the policyholder by utilising the services of an insurance repository licensed by the Authority. All such insurance policies in electronic form shall be treated as valid insurance contracts. The objective of an insurance repository is to provide policyholders a facility to keep insurance policies in electronic form and undertake changes, modifications and revisions in the insurance policy with speed and accuracy to bring efficiency, transparency and cost reduction in the issuance and maintenance of insurance policies.

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No need for signature attestation for opening FDs, lockers: RBI

The RBI said that attestation by two witnesses would be needed in case the person uses thumb impression while opening fixed deposits or lockers

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) asked banks not to insist on attestation of signatures of persons wanting to invest their funds in fixed deposits schemes or opening a bank locker.

The RBI, however, said that attestation by two witnesses would be needed in case the person uses thumb impression while opening fixed deposits or lockers.

“We further clarify that for various forms... only thumb impression(s) shall be attested by two witnesses. Signatures of the account holders need not be attested by witnesses,” RBI said in a notification.

The notification was being issued in view of the clarification sought by certain banks, RBI said, adding, “banks are advised to ensure strict compliance of the instructions”.

RBI has issued the notification after consulting the Indian Banks' Association.
The central bank, about a year ago, had received complaints that banks were insisting on attestation of signature by witnesses while it was required only for thumb-impression.

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