NHAI misses target for highway upgradation in Q1

The total length of highways upgraded in the first quarter this fiscal was 19.6% lower, at 417km, than the achievement of 518.91km in the April-June period of 2010, the study by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation said

New Delhi, Sep 11 (PTI) The National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) performance with respect to the upgrade of highways was dismal in the April-June quarter this year, as neither did it meet the target, nor did its efforts surpass the actual achievement in the same quarter last fiscal, reports PTI.

NHAI upgraded 417km of highways during April-June this year, 28.2% lower than the target of 580.70km for the period, a new study by the ministry of statistics and programme implementation stated.

The total length of highways upgraded in the first quarter this fiscal was 19.6% lower, at 417km, than the achievement of 518.91km in the April-June period of 2010, the report said.

During the April-June quarter this fiscal, the NHAI had set a target to spend Rs8,672 crore, but it could only spend Rs6,030.23 crore, which is 30% less then the envisaged expenditure on highways projects.

However, the NHAI’s expenditure on highways upgrading work in the April-June period was higher than the Rs3,966.54 crore it spent in the same period last year.

The authority aims to upgrade 2,500km of highways this fiscal.

The road transport and highways ministry has set a target for awarding 7,300km of road upgrading work in the current fiscal. India has a large network of 3.3 million km of roads, out of which national highways constitute only 70,548km. To augment the network, the government plans to build 35,000km of roads by 2014.

The government is looking at an investment of over Rs2.64 lakh crore in the road sector in the next five years, of which the private sector would contribute over 65%.

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New Mines Bill to be tabled in winter session in Parliament

Mines secretary S Vijay Kumar said, “There is no delay. We have sent the Cabinet note on the draft bill to Cabinet secretariat and other concerned ministries. It will soon come up before the Cabinet for approval”

New Delhi: The new Mines Bill, which provides for sharing of profits and royalty with project-affected people, is likely to be introduced in the winter session of Parliament, reports PTI.

The Bill, earlier supposed to be tabled during the just-concluded monsoon session, has not yet been placed before the Cabinet despite the fact that it was approved by a ministerial panel in July.

When asked, mines secretary S Vijay Kumar told PTI, “There is no delay. We have sent the Cabinet note on the draft bill to Cabinet secretariat and other concerned ministries. It will soon come up before the Cabinet for approval.”

He added that “the draft bill is now likely to be introduced in Parliament in its next session after the Cabinet approval”.

In July, the ministerial panel, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, had approved the draft bill, which provides 26% profit-sharing with displaced people by coal mining companies.

For the non-coal miners, the new law will provide for payment to the displaced an amount equivalent to royalty paid to the state government.

The draft Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation (MMDR) Bill, 2011, seeks to replace more than half-a-century old law under the same name.

The draft bill also proposes to set up a district development fund, where the money accumulated from the 26% profit sharing by coal miners and an amount equivalent to 100% of royalty for non-coal miners, will be deposited and will get spent on local population and area development, the draft bill has proposed.

Apart from compensating the displaced people through profit-sharing and royalty, the draft bill also says that the mining firms will have to bear a combined cess up to 12.5% on the royalty paid to states and the Centre, as per the new mining bill.
This includes 10% cess to state governments on the royalty payment, while 2.5% levy will be charged by the Centre as cess.

However, industry chambers like Ficci and Assocham are opposed to the draft bill, saying that it would make India most-taxable country for the miners.

Seeking a revision of the draft proposals, Ficci in its representation to the prime minister had said that new proposals would lead to such a situation, where total payable tax on coal would be at over 61 per cent, making the industry unattractive.

It has also projected that taxes on iron ore mining would be around 55%, while for bauxite, it would zoom to 110%.

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August inflation to remain close to 10%; another rate hike likely

“Headline inflation is expected to rise to around 9.7% for August... which is likely to prompt the RBI to raise the repo rate by 25 bps in the upcoming mid-quarter review. However, inflation is expected to ease in the subsequent months which suggests that policy rates may be close to a peak,” ICRA economist Aditi Nayar said

New Delhi: With headline inflation hovering around the 10% mark, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is likely to raise its key policy rates again in its mid-quarterly review of the credit policy later this week, reports PTI.

The inflation numbers for August will be released on 14th September, while the RBI’s mid-quarterly policy review is slated for 16th September.

Experts said the headline inflation in August is expected to be close to the double-digit mark which will keep RBI on the path of tight monetary policy.

“We expect inflation numbers to be in the range of 9.5%-10% for August... RBI is likely to hike rates by 25 basis points in its mid-quarterly review,” Crisil chief economist DK Joshi said.

He said pressure would be on all fronts, including food, non-food primary articles and manufactured items.

“Inflation is mostly borad-based. So, there will be pressure on each segment of the basket starting from food to manufacturing,” Mr Joshi said.

Inflation, as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), stood at 9.22% in July. It has been above the 9% mark since December last year.

RBI has hiked its key policy rates 11 times since March 2010 to tame inflation.

India Inc has said that repeated rate hikes have affected investments by raising borrowing cost.

The economy grew by 7.7% in April-June, the slowest in six quarters.

“Inflation for August is expected to be around 9.7% due to higher price of primary articles. Mostly, inflation is broad-based and not limited to any particular segment,” Standard Chartered Global Research senior economist Anubhuti Sahay said.

The sustained price pressure, she added, could prompt the RBI to continue with its tight monetary policy.

“RBI is likely to hike policy rates by 25 basis points in the upcoming policy review,” Ms Sahay said.

While food inflation is close to double-digit mark, the rate of price rise of non-food primary items is over 11%.

Meanwhile, manufactured inflation, which constitutes over 65% of the WPI basket, is over 7%.

Experts also said that after a final rate hike on 16th September, The RBI may go for a halt in its monetary tightening policy.

“Headline inflation is expected to rise to around 9.7% for August... which is likely to prompt the RBI to raise the repo rate by 25 bps in the upcoming mid-quarter review.

However, inflation is expected to ease in the subsequent months which suggests that policy rates may be close to a peak,” ICRA economist Aditi Nayar said.

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