Nation
We are ready to face Parliament on chopper scam: Defence minister

Defence minister AK Antony said all wings of the government including the ministry, IAF and SPG had “followed all the procedures. In spite of that one thing is clear that something happened somewhere”

Bracing to face opposition heat over the chopper scam in Parliament, defence minister AK Antony on Tuesday said government has “nothing to hide” and is prepared for a discussion even as he played down reports of his resignation.

 

“I will do my duty. I am now getting ready for the Parliament session. We will explain everything to Parliament. We have nothing to hide. Our hands are very clean,” Mr Antony told reporters on being asked whether he would resign.

 

Reacting to BJP’s allegations that the defence ministry was ‘sleeping’ over the reports of corruption in the Rs3,600 crore deal for 12 VVIP choppers, he said, “I cannot wake up anybody who is sleeping”. The defence ministry had started taking action on the issue from day one when first media reports in this regard came in, Mr Antony said.

 

Addressing the media at a BrahMos Aerospace function, he said there were no differences between different ministries on the process to scrap the deal and the whole government was working together. Mr Antony said he was “sad and upset” over the controversy which had erupted despite all precautions having been taken. “Now we are preparing to face Parliament.”

 

The minister was asked if he was sad over the whole episode and was resigning on the issue taking a high moral ground. Mr Antony said he was upset over the alleged scam as despite blacklisting six firms in one scam for which he was accused of slowing down modernisation, such an incident has happened as “there was no end to human greed and still greedy people were working around the world.”

 

Mr Antony said in the procurement process for the AgustaWestland choppers, all wings of the government including the ministry, IAF and SPG had “followed all the procedures. In spite of that one thing is clear that something happened somewhere.” “It is the decision of the government that we must get to the root of the controversy to find out the truth and must find out the culprits. And whosoever is responsible, must be brought to justice at the earliest and then ensure maximum punishment. It is the resolve of the entire government,” he said.

 

Asked about the reason for the government to take a series of actions in the last one week after it waited for one year for details from Italy and the UK, the defence minister said, “When the report came that the CEO of the company (Finmeccanica) was arrested, we decided to refer the matter to the CBI.”

 

Last Tuesday, Finmeccanica CEO Giueseppe Orsi and AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini were arrested by Italian investigators in connection with the alleged scam in which Rs362 crore have been allegedly paid as kickbacks.

 

The minister said he has taken a series of actions including referring the matter to the CBI, suspending the deal and payments for it after the reports of the arrest came in.

 

The minister said efforts were on to get reports from the Italian courts conducting the inquiry into the alleged chopper scam and the Italian government.

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MCX-SX to incentivise brokers, intermediaries and retail investors from next month

Under the scheme, brokers and other market intermediaries will be given incentives for a specified period of time to bring in liquidity and generate investor interest in those securities which have limited trading activity


MCX Stock Exchange (MCX-SX) on Tuesday said it will launch incentive schemes for brokers and intermediaries to enhance liquidity in illiquid securities in the equity and derivatives segments from March 2013.

 

“MCX-SX will introduce liquidity enhancement scheme (LES) in equity and equity derivatives segments with effect from 6 March, 2013,” the stock exchange said in a statement.

 

This is the first national exchange in the country to offer incentives for liquidity enhancement in the equity cash market, it added.

 

Under the scheme, brokers and other market intermediaries will be given incentives for a specified period of time to bring in liquidity and generate investor interest in those securities which have limited trading activity.

 

There are more than 2,000 illiquid stocks on leading exchanges. The exchange said the scheme would benefit all participants across various segments of the market.

 

MCX-SX said the market maker performing up to 90% of its obligation during the month in 25 securities would be entitled to receive an additional incentive of Rs21 lakh per month. In case of 40 securities, the member would be entitled to receive an additional incentive of Rs50 lakh per month.

 

“All passive orders will entitle the member/investor to receive about 50% of the transaction cost received by the exchange from the active order,” it added.

 

The schemes would offer incentives for contributing to liquidity in all equity and equity derivative instruments at MCX-SX with a special focus on Futures contracts of 50 securities as notified by the exchange.

 

“Market makers will be obligated to contribute to genuine participation and will be incentivised at a higher rate compared to other participants. Payments to members would be made on a fortnightly basis,” MCX-SX said.

 

Additionally, incentives would be provided for retail clients, dealers and proprietary traders to create a liquid order book based on genuine end users' participation. These incentives are available for a period of four months, from March to June.

 

MCX-SX said all retail investors/clients would be entitled to Rs100 per day for trading in equity cash and equity derivatives, while top 10 registered dealers from each region (North, South, East and West) would receive a monthly incentive of Rs1 lakh, with the best performer receiving an additional Rs1 lakh in each region.

 

Last week, MCX-SX, the third full-fledged equity bourse after BSE and NSE, had begun trading in equities and equity derivatives.

 

Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) earlier this month had allowed stock exchanges to introduce incentive schemes for brokers and intermediaries to enhance liquidity in illiquid securities in the equity cash segment.

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Govt sends revised Food Bill to law ministry

As per the revised Bill, the proposes to give legal right to over 5 kg of foodgrain at Rs1-Rs3 per kg per month to about 70% of the population

The government has revised the Food Bill and now proposes to give legal right to over 5 kg of foodgrain at Rs1-Rs3 per kg per month to about 70% of the population, as suggested by the Parliamentary panel, food minister KV Thomas said.

 

A revised bill has been sent to the law ministry for approval, after which it will be moved to the Cabinet, he added.

 

In the original bill which was introduced in December 2011 in the Lok Sabha, the government had proposed giving 7 kg of wheat (Rs2/kg) and rice (Rs3/kg) per month per person to “priority households”, while at least 3 kg of foodgrain at half of the government fixed support price was proposed for the ‘general’ households.

 

“We have accepted most of the recommendations of the Parliamentary panel. The revised bill has been sent to the law ministry for vetting. After we receive its comments, we will place the Bill before the Cabinet,” Mr Thomas said.

 

The minister said the government would not withdraw the existing bill and rather move amendments to incorporate changes as suggested by the panel and some states.

 

“We have accepted panel’s recommendation to do away with priority and general classifications of beneficiaries and provide uniform allocation of 5 kg foodgrain (per person) at fixed rates to 67%-70% of the country’s population,” Mr Thomas said.

 

The minister said that 2.43 crore poorest of poor families under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) would continue to get supply of 35 kg foodgrain per month per family.

 

According to sources, the food ministry has revised the bill after consultation with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who has strongly favoured higher allocation for AAY people.

 

The food ministry is working closely with the Planning Commission to finalise the criteria for excluding 30%-33% of population from the benefits of the Bill, he added.

 

“The Planning Commission’s formula for exclusion of population will be given to the states. On that basis, states will be allowed to include or exclude beneficiaries,” the minister said, adding the Centre has taken into account the state governments' views in the revised Bill.

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