Plan panel, home ministry lock horns over Unique Identity project

The home ministry has expressed strong objection to the UIDAI’s proposal to extend the mandate for collection of data beyond the limit of 20 crore enrolments. However, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia Friday threw his full weight behind the UIDAI saying the project should continue

New Delhi: The home ministry and Planning Commission have locked horns in a big battle over which organisation will carry out the bio-metric collections for the ambitious Unique Identification Number project, reports PTI.

While home minister P Chidambaram has written a letter to prime minister Manmohan Singh seeking an early meeting of Cabinet to take a “final decision”, home secretary R K Singh has said that till the decision is taken “this impasse will continue”.

The home ministry has expressed strong objection to the proposal of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to extend the mandate for collection of data beyond the limit of 20 crore enrolments.

The ministry wants a clear decision as to which organisation will carry out a bio-metric collection in the field, a letter written by Mr Singh to Cabinet secretary Ajit Seth said.

However, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia Friday threw his full weight behind the UIDAI saying the project should continue.

“In our view, it should continue. This can be done, parallel with whatever others (home ministry) are doing.

Whatever UIDAI is doing is the right thing to do and it should be continued”, he said.

Mr Chidambaram wrote a strong letter to the prime minister urging him to instruct the Planning Commission to immediately bring a note to the Cabinet so that a final decision could be taken in the matter.

“In my respectful submission, it would not be in the interest of the government to allow the controversy to be played out in the media,” he said in the letter.

Mr Ahluwalia said that commission has sent a Cabinet note and hoped that it would come up before the Cabinet on Wednesday.

At the centre of the controversy is the collection of bio-metric data of all residents. While the home ministry has maintained that the Registrar General of India under it has been mandated to collect the data through the National Population Register, the Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI wants the mandate beyond 20 crore.

The UIDAI has already collected information about 170 million people.

In his letter, Mr Chidambaram said the Registrar General of India has been tasked with the duty to collect the bio-metric data of all usual residents in the country.

The project is proceeding well and is expected to be completed by mid-2013, he said.

However, he added that the UIDAI has also been authorised to collect bio-metric data of up to 200 million people and the UIDAI wants to have its mandate extended.

Recalling that he has spoken several times to Mr Ahluwalia and requested the Planning Commission to bring a note to the Cabinet for obtaining a decision, the home minister said “I think it is important that there is clarity on the issue so that the work of capturing bio-metrics can go forward, hence, the need for an early decision.

He also complained that “some inspired stories” have appeared in the media painting the MHA black and presenting distorted facts.

The home secretary, in his letter to the Cabinet secretary, said that the ministry finds it difficult to understand that while the UIDAI is willing to accept the documents which have been issued by third party persons who are not even present at the time of enrolments, it finds it difficult to accept the data collected by the government servants for processing.



Share prices to move sideways: Friday Closing Report

Nifty to move in the range of 4,950 and 5,085

Positive earnings reports helped the market settle higher for the third consecutive week. We had mentioned in our yesterday’s closing report that we may see the Nifty reaching the level of 5,050. We saw the index breaching this level in the initial hours of trading itself. Now we may see the benchmark making a sideways move in the range of 4,950 and 5,085. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) saw a huge volume of 82.12 crore share on which the Nifty closed at its highest in the past 33 days (including today).

The market opened in the green for the second day in a row following better-than-expected quarterly results and supportive cues from the Asian markets which were in the positive in morning trade. The Nifty opened 27 points higher at 5,045 and the Sensex surged 99 points to 16,745 at the opening bell. Brisk buying in blue-chips supported early gains.

The market extended its gains as IT major Wipro’s third quarter results were in line with analysts’ expectations. The benchmarks continued to remain range-bound in the positive zone till the noon session after which sharp sell-off, following a dismal opening of the key European indices, pulled the market lower. The market fell to its intraday low in post-noon trade with the Nifty dropping to 5,004 and the Sensex declining to 16,612.

Also news during the second half of the trading session that the Supreme Court set aside the Bombay High Court judgement asking Vodafone International Holdings to pay income tax of Rs11,000 crore, holding that tax authorities do not have jurisdiction on an overseas transaction, is expected to boost M&A deals in India.

Gains in banking, auto, power and capital goods in the last hour once again gave the market the much-needed boost helping it scale its intraday high. At the highs, the Nifty climbed to 5,064 and the Sensex advanced to 16,788.

Making a recovery from the lows of the day, the market closed near the intraday high. The Nifty settled 30 points higher at 5,049 and the Sensex finished 95 points up at 16,739.

While the market closed higher, the advance-decline ratio on the NSE was in favour of the decliners at 630:794.

The broader indices witnessed a flat close with the BSE Mid-cap index up 0.18% and the BSE Small-cap index adding 0.08%.

Positive results from banking majors enabled the BSE Bankex (up 3.51%) close at the top sectoral gainer. It was followed by BSE Consumer Durables (up 2.31%); BSE Power, BSE Oil & Gas (up 1.04% each) and BSE Auto (up 0.74%). The laggards were BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (down 2.01%); BSE Healthcare (down 0.37%); BSE Metal (down 0.32%) and BSE TECk (down 0.08%).

Bajaj Auto (up 6.18%); ICICI Bank (up 5.81%); Jindal Steel (up 3.35%); BHEL (up 3.09%) and Hero MotoCorp (up 2.63%) were the top Sensex gainers today. the major gainers were ITC (down 3.59%); Mahindra & Mahindra (down 2.67%); Maruti Suzuki (down 2.62%); Hindalco Industries (down 1.98%) and Coal India (down 1.86%).

The top performers stocks on the Nifty were Bajaj Auto (up 6.63%); Axis Bank (up 6.59%); ICICI Bank (up 6.25%); Kotak Bank (up 4.36%) and BHEL (up 4.18%). ITC (down 4.40%); Dr Reddy’s (down 3.48%); Reliance Power (down 2.46%); Reliance Infrastructure (down 2.40%) and Maruti Suzuki (down 2.19%) were the key losers on the index.

Markets in Asia closed higher on good demand for government bonds in Spain and France gave rise to speculations that the European Union is on track towards finding a solution to the debt crisis plaguing the continent. This apart, positive earning reports from the US banks also supported investor interest. However, a flash reading of the Chinese Purchase Managers’ Index for January at 48.8 almost unchanged from 48.7 in December, raised concerns.

The Shanghai Composite gained 1%; the Hang Seng rose 0.84%; the KLSE Composite advanced 0.39%; the Nikkei 225 surged 1.47%; the Straits Times climbed 1.36% and the Seoul Composite jumped 1.82%. On the flip side, the Jakarta Composite declined 0.36%. At the time of writing, the key European markets were trading in the red and the US stocks futures were mixed.

Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of shares totalling Rs626.14 crore on Thursday. On the other hand, domestic investors were net sellers of stocks amounting to Rs246.59 crore.

Glenmark Pharmaceuticals’ US arm, Glenmark Generics, has received final approval from the US health regulator for its generic two oral contraceptives tablets. The approvals are for the oral contraceptive products Norethindrone and Ethinyl Estradiol (Alyacen TM 1/35) tablets in different strengths. Glenmark Pharma closed 1.34% lower at Rs316.10 on the NSE today.

United Spirits, a part of Vijay Mallya-led UB Group, today said its shareholders have approved to raise up to $225 million through issue of Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds (FCCBs). At current exchange rate, $225 million would be over Rs1,130 crore. The scrip dropped 2.61% to settle at Rs619.90 on the NSE.

Ramky Infrastructure today said its subsidiary has signed a pact with NHAI for widening Hospet-Chitradurga section of National Highways in Karnataka, entailing an investment of Rs1,033.65 crore. The company has formed a special purpose vehicle, Hospet Chitradurga Tollways, to undertake the project to be implemented under National Highways Development Project (NHDP) phase III on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) mode. The stock jumped 4.92% to close at Rs219.75 on the NSE today.


RIL net profit falls 13.6%, Company approves buyback at Rs870 per share

For the third quarter, RIL reported a net profit of Rs4,440 crore compared with Rs5,136 crore even as its  total revenues increased 40% to Rs87,480 crore from Rs62,399 crore same period last year

Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), India's largest petro-chemicals company said its third quarter net profit fell 13.6% due to weakness in economic conditions that resulted in reduced earnings in its refining and petrochemicals business.

For the quarter to end-December, RIL said its net profit fell to Rs4,440 crore from Rs5,136 crore while total revenues increased 40% to Rs87,480 crore from Rs62,399 crore same period last year.

In a press release, Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, RIL, said, “The global nature of our businesses and weakness in economic conditions resulted in reduced earnings in the quarter, particularly in our refining and petrochemicals businesses. Notwithstanding these challenges, Reliance has delivered reasonably robust results with high operating leverage. Our focus remains on enhancing shareholder value by leveraging an exceptionally strong balance sheet, operating top decile assets and investing prudently in future growth engines.”

In a separate statement, the company said its board of directors unanimously approved the buyback of up to 12 crore fully paid up shares at a price of Rs870 per share from the open market. The share buyback size will be Rs10,440 crore. The maximum buyback price represents a nearly 10% premium over the last closing price of Rs792.65 on 20 January 2012, the company said.


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