New Delhi: Finance minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday said the government will not reduce the import duty on crude oil. He said the reduction “in import duty on crude oil has no impact on administered prices”.
Crude prices in the international market stand at more than $120 (Rs5,088) a barrel and have resulted in oil-marketing companies in India registering losses.
Chidambaram also said there is scope for a further cut in cement prices, beyond the reduction already offered by cement makers.
Meanwhile, the Union cabinet has decided to set up a science and engineering research board that will aim at boosting basic research and also provide necessary autonomy, flexibility and speed in shaping research and delivery of funds to scientists.
Chidambaram said the board, chaired by India’s science and technology secretary, will have administrative and financial autonomy. It will be able to sanction individual projects of up to Rs75 crore.
The cabinet also approved the setting up of mechanisms that will help create a pool of skilled personnel in 21 high-growth sectors such as automobiles, banking, retail and tourism.
Also, the cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) gave its approval for relaxation of the mandatory condition under Backward Regions Grant Fund, or BRGF, in Jharkhand.
Pending a litigation before the Supreme Court on constitution of panchayats in the state, CCEA has decided that Jharkhand can draw funds from BRGF through village councils and traditional tribal bodies.
Dow Chemical did not disclose risks: complaint
New Delhi: A few shareholders of Dow Chemical Co. have complained to the US market regulator that the company did not disclose the risks to its investments in India due to the pending issues related to the former Union Carbide facility in Bhopal.
In their complaint, a copy of which is available with ‘Mint’, an institutional investor and eight other shareholders have asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate and take appropriate enforcement action for the “dramatic, undisclosed information” related to Dow’s potential liabilities in India.
A gas leakage from the Union Carbide facility in 1984 had killed thousands of people. Dow Chemical, which acquired Union Carbide later, is facing demands from several quarters to compensate the affected people and pay for environmental damages.
India’s department of chemicals and petrochemicals had filed an application before the Madhya Pradesh high court, seeking Rs100 crore from Dow Chemical for environmental remediation at the Bhopal site.
“Dow Chemical has not notified shareholders of this pending application for remedial funds; most significantly, the company has never indicated in its shareholder reports that these remaining liability issues are an impediment to investing in India,” the complaint said.
Quoting documents from the Prime Minister’s Office, the complaint added that Dow Chemical’s $1 billion (Rs4,240 crore) in proposed investment may be at issue due to the failure to resolve the Bhopal issue.
Currently, Dow Chemical is in the process of investing Rs300 crore for a research and development facility in Pune and another Rs600 crore for a plant in Dahej along with Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals Ltd. Padmaparna Ghosh
PNB targets 22% net profit growth in FY09
New Delhi: State-run lender Punjab National Bank , or PNB, is aiming at 22% growth in net profit during 2008-09 on the back of a robust loan growth, chairman K.C. Chakrabarty said on Thursday. The lender’s net profit grew by 33% to Rs2,049 crore in 2007-08, boosting share price by 5.8% in a firm Mumbai market.
The net profit in the fourth quarter of 2007-08 was Rs543.76 crore, up 129% from a year ago, primarily on account of a write-back of provisions made earlier in the year towards retirement benefits of employees.
The bank transferred an undisclosed amount out of its reserves on provisioning towards retirement benefits.
J.M. Garg, executive director, said the bank had headroom under capital adequacy norms to provision transfer of funds out of its reserves.“We are targeting a net profit growth of 22% for 2008-09,” Chakrabarty said.
On Wednesday, Chakrabarty said the bank was not planning to cut deposit and lending rates in near future as it wanted to maintain a healthy net interest margin of 3.5-3.6%.
“We are aiming at a deposit growth of 18-19% and credit growth of 20% in 2008-09,” he said on Thursday.Reuters and Sanjiv Shankaran