WTO expects substantive negotiation to resume from September

Kolkata: The World Trade Organisation (WTO) expects the Doha Round of negotiations to resume from September and the talks to be more substantive this time leading to agreements in at least 15%-20% of the pending issues, reports PTI.

'Serious discussions are likely to begin from September as the overall environment for talks has become conducive,' WTO deputy director general Harsha V Singh said on the sidelines of an Indian Chamber of Commerce interactive session.

"The talks have continued for quite some time. Now the ambassadors are discussing things in close sessions. Almost 80 per cent of the issues are resolved," he said while addressing a seminar organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce.

He identified special safeguard mechanisms for agriculture, non-tariff measures in anti-dumping and a few areas in environmental goods and services, and fisheries as the areas expected to figure in the talks.

More market access to developed countries, as desired by India, is another issue likely to come up for negotiations.


Cairn Energy Plc in talks to sell stake in Indian arm

New Delhi: Scottish oil explorer Cairn Energy Plc today said it is in talks to sell stake in its Indian unit, Cairn India, which owns the massive Rajasthan oilfields, reports PTI.

Though Cairn Energy did not identify the suitor, speculation is rife that it could be India-focused miner Vedanta Resources Plc.

"The board of Cairn Energy Plc confirms that discussions are taking place with a third party in respect of the disposal of an interest in Cairn India Ltd," the London-listed firm said in a brief press statement.

A Vedanta spokesperson declined to comment.

Cairn Energy holds 62.36% stake in Cairn India.

"There can be no certainty the contemplated disposal will occur or as to the terms of any such disposal," the statement said. "A further announcement will be made when appropriate."

If it is successful, Vedanta will be the only second large miner in the world after BHP Billiton to have interest in oil.

Vedanta has iron ore, zinc and copper mines.

Sir Bill Gammell-run Cairn Energy may retain a controlling interest in Cairn India even it sells up to 12% interest for Rs7,741 crore at today's closing price.

The talks are advanced and billionaire Anil Agrawal-controlled Vedanta may be discussing a range of options, including an equity stake, asset purchase or a complete takeover of Cairn India.


Cashless medical facility likely to resume in a week

New Delhi: Suspended since July, the cashless treatment facility by PSU insurers is likely to be restored fully in Delhi hospitals within a week, but the insured might have to pay higher premiums for treatment in super specialty medical centres, reports PTI.

"I am hopeful that cashless mediclaim treatment would be fully restored in seven days. Going forward we will see the component of co-pay gaining more importance. There would be different premiums for different hospitals," Max Healthcare Institute MD Pervez Ahmed said after a CII initiated meeting of hospitals and the Third Party Administrators (TPAs).

Sources said in a week's time each hospital would work out a package rate with the TPAs, which are the facilitators between the insured and the insurer.

IRDA chairman J Hari Narayan had yesterday said the costs of treatment could vary from hospital to hospital in the coming days.

"Markets will get segmented and certainly there would be differential pricing. We have moved away from administered pricing and now prices have to be left to market forces," he had said.

From 1st July, public sector insurance companies had taken off about 150 hospitals from the list of preferred provider network (PPN) that provide cashless hospitalisation services to policy holders under the mediclaim scheme.

Later, the insurers had partially restored the cashless facility for emergency, ICU, cardiac care and trauma.

Mr Ahmed said the hospitals, within 24 hours, would give all the rates to the TPAs, following which they would fine tune different packages for hospitals.

"The insurance companies have asked the TPAs to work on their behalf. Now there would be individual negotiations between hospitals and TPAs. We will do it in seven days and restore the cashless mediclaim fully," he added.

At present, health insurance is a loss-making proposition for many insurance firms as they give more in claims than they collect from premiums. In fact, the claim ratio, which measures this trend, is about 130% for the industry.

There are about eight crore mediclaim policy holders in the country.

Four insurance companies-New India Assurance, United India Insurance, National Insurance and Oriental Insurance-stopped the cashless service because of alleged over-billing by some private hospitals.

Mr Ahmed said in the current scenario, standardised rates are not possible. "The insurers would accept the propositions of the TPAs. We will involve insurers for refining the products," he said.


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