The Indian government has taken a slew of measures to increase availability of sugar, pulses and other commodities. It hopes that rates of the sweetener, being sold at nearly Rs50 a kg, would start declining in a week
Under attack over the rise in prices, the Indian government on Wednesday took a slew of measures to increase availability of sugar, pulses and other commodities and hoped rates of the sweetener, being sold at nearly Rs50 a kg, would start declining in a week's time, reports PTI.
To increase the availability of sugar, the government relaxed the norms for processing of raw sugar and allowed duty-free import of white sugar till December-end.
A host of decisions, including selling of two-three million tonnes of wheat and rice in the open market over the next two months and asking state-owned trading firms to intensify import of pulses, was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Prices chaired by prime minister Manmohan Singh.
Food & agriculture minister Sharad Pawar told reporters that the prime minister would convene a chief ministers' meeting in the last week of this month to discuss the price situation and take stern action against hoarders.
These steps, Mr Pawar said, "would definitely impact the price situation. Prices would come down in four to eight days."
The government has come under intense criticism from all parties, including UPA partner Trinamool Congress, for rising food inflation, which soared to a decade's high of about 20% in December.
Mr Pawar said as the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government has not allowed processing of imported raw sugar, the Union government has relaxed the Central excise duty rules enabling mills to carry out refining elsewhere.
Nearly nine lakh tonnes of imported raw sugar are lying at Kandla and Mundra ports following the restrictions imposed by the UP government in November 2009.
This apart, several state governments have been advised not to impose value added tax (VAT) on imported sugar. They have also been asked to take stringent measures to check hoarding and black-marketing.
The Union government may increase the subsidy on imported edible oil from the prevailing rate of Rs15 a kg. The subsidy scheme for public distribution of imported edible oil under the states will continue till 31 October 2010. It was to earlier supposed to lapse on 31st March.
Cooperative major National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) and the National Consumer Cooperative Federation (NCCF) will be authorised to distribute subsidised imported oil and pulses in states that are not implementing the scheme.
Lack of clear regulation led to an absurd tussle between SEBI and Reliance Mutual Fund over the duration of the statutory warning in the Fund’s ad.
Lack of clear-cut regulation from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on how to calculate the duration of the statutory warning (on the investment risks involved) in mutual fund advertisements has led to a frivolous tussle between Reliance Mutual Fund (RMF) and the market regulator. The tussle has ended with SEBI asking RMF to follow the rules, without being able to prove the precise nature of the violation.
The market watchdog had issued a show-cause notice to RMF and Reliance Capital Asset Management Ltd (RCAML) for Reliance Infrastructure Fund’s recent advertisement, saying that the statutory warning (“Mutual Fund Investments are subject to market risks, please read the scheme information document carefully before investing”) ran for less than 5 seconds, which violated the SEBI circular of 26 February 2008. RMF was asked to withdraw its advertisement immediately. RMF complied and thereafter ran a new advertisement in which the standard warning was for a duration of six seconds.
Dr KM Abraham, a member of SEBI, in his order issued on Wednesday, stated that RMF had failed to prove that the statutory warning in the advertisement ran for five seconds, even though SEBI, in its notice to RMF, did not mention the actual duration of the statutory warning. He could only claim that the statutory warning in the ad was meant for informing and protecting investors.
SEBI merely charged that the duration of the statutory warning in the CD submitted by RMF was less than 5 seconds. Besides, it argued that if RMF had complied with the SEBI circular, it would not have withdrawn the commercial immediately after the order! This is strange logic. It is as if a motorist, having being asked to pull aside, is asked to prove that he did not violate traffic rules. And also asked, if there was no violation, why did he pull aside?
The source for all this confusion is SEBI itself. While it is bothered that the statutory part of the ad must run for 5 seconds, it has not bothered to specify how to calculate this time period. In a hearing on 1 October 2009, the RMF counsel contended that the measurement of the audio-visual component ought to be from the point at which either the audio or the visual starts, to the point when the last of the two components stops. SEBI had no counter-argument to this view.
To bolster its case in this inane issue, RMF obtained an opinion from an ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) specialist who had stated that the advertisement submitted to SEBI was indeed coherent and comprehensible.
The SEBI circular dated 26 February 2008 increased the mandatory duration of the standard warning in audio-visual advertisements from two seconds to five seconds.
MITRA, an organisation representing NGOs, has written to the state CM demanding a CBI probe into the series of unsolved attacks on activists
Mumbai–based Movement against Intimidation Threat and Revenge against Activists (MITRA) has asked Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the series of attacks on activists as well as the recent murder of right to information (RTI) activist Satish Shetty.
Pune-based Satish Shetty on Wednesday was killed at Talegaon on the outskirts of Pune. He was known to have opposed land deals for the Mumbai-Pune Expressway Project and mega-projects involving nefarious land deals in the Pune area.
MITRA, on behalf of all activists and non-government organisations (NGOs), has demanded a CBI probe into Mr Shetty’s murder and into the role of the police, politicians and builders and others with vested interests, who they allege could be responsible for the killing. It has also requested a personal intervention by the chief minister to probe the unsolved attacks on activists in Mumbai.
According to police officials, Mr Shetty was attacked with a sword by unidentified people while he was out for his morning walk today. He later succumbed to his injuries, after being rushed to a hospital.
A few days back, Citispace founder Nayana Kathpalia was attacked at her residence in Churchgate, south Mumbai. Reportedly, two men fired a round at her residence in the early hours of Friday last week, but no one was injured.
Moneylife had earlier reported on a series of attacks on activists in the past, which are still unsolved.