After much deliberation 59 ministers were sworn in on Thursday and on Friday the action had started as ministers took charge of their portfolios. In their first interactions with the media many of them gave clues on how they planned to proceed. Petroleum minister Murli Deora said that the Cabinet would take a decision on the deregulation of petrol and diesel prices in 6 weeks. Company affairs minister Salman Khursheed said that the would reintroduce the Companies Bill. On Satyam scandal, he said that he had asked the Serious Fraud Investigation Office to chalk out a strategy for prosecution along with the CBI. And minister for commerce and industry Anand Sharma said he would work to intensify India’s trade engagement with the world.
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Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has promised more economic and financial reforms, a focus on infrastructure creation and emphasis on inclusive growth. In his first press conference after taking charge Mukherjee reiterated that the government would strive for balance.
“I have no hesitation in saying that along with reviving the momentum of growth and employment creation, our government will strengthen the various ‘inclusive’ elements in the coming budget,” he said.
The stock market reacted positively to the statement of intent by the finance minister. Pranab plans to present the full budget for 2009-10 in the first week of July.
Bharti Airtel has revived merger talks with South Africa’s MTN group. If the merger goes through, it would create one of the largest mobile phone companies in the world, with close to 200 million customers and combined revenues of at least $20 billion or Rs94,400 crore. The two companies will engage in exclusive negotiations till the 31 July, 2009. The announcement came almost exactly a year after the two firms broke off merger talks because of differences over who would control the combined entity. National corporate editor Josey Puliyenthuruthel talks about the significance of the deal.
Television—and advertisers —just can’t get seem to get enough of cricket. The IPL just got over but with other high-profile tournaments coming up ensure that advertising money keeps flowing to channels telecasting these matches, while non-sports channel lose advertising revenue.
Riding high on the cricket craze in the country, sports channels are walking away with a large chunk of the advertising pie. There are a number of international cricket tournaments scheduled for the entire year like ICC Champions Trophy and Champions League.
“There is clearly no cricket fatigue because interest from advertisers has been phenomenal. We’ve got 10 sponsors and over 20 advertiser on spot-buys buying advertising time at Rs4 lakh as against Rs2.25 lakh last time, ” says R.C. Venketeish, managing director, ESPN.
To woo back big advertisers, the non-sports channels are reworking their programming strategy and are holding back major plans for the lean cricket seasons.
The estimated 40 million workers who have kept their retirement money with the state-run Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation will receive a return of 8.5% in 2009-10, thanks to new private sector fund managers who injected a dose of competition and a rise in bond prices after October.