The Mint report for 17 November 2009

The Mint report for 17 November 2009

New Delhi: Mukesh Ambani laid out his plans for the future of RIL on Tuesday. Talking to shareholders at the company’s annual meeting, Ambani said RIL would return to its project of setting up a new refinery in Jamnagar. When it comes up, refinery will produce 580,000 barrels a day. RIL will also increase its exploration programme including in the KG D6 block where it currently drills for gas. Ambani also announced a new initiative into renewable energy with research into biofuels, solar energy and fuel cells.

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Troubled airline Air India now has a cost-saving plan for the future. Nacil, the company that runs Air India, and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, have together prepared at least 70 cost-cutting schemes for Air India. The cost-cutting measures could save the airline about Rs5,000 crore. While the exact measures are not known, Air India has indicated they include cutting down non-core activities, phasing out foreign pilots, reducing the fleet network, rationalizing routes, and closing offices where Air India is not flying.

Air India could also start getting government funding by January. Nacil says it expects to get a first installment of about Rs400 crore by January.

The government’s food security bill is supposed to provide low-cost food to India’s poor, but it may not see the light of day anytime soon. The UPA has decided not to introduce the bill in the winter session of Parliament, which begins on Thursday. Part of what’s causing the UPA to back down is the size of the commitment. If the food security bill comes into place, it will cost Rs70,000 crore. Another problem is the lack of clarity. For example, there’s no consensus on how many Indian’s should be considered below the poverty line. The bill will also require the government keep a large stock of food.

The global perception of India is that it remains as corrupt as it was last year. Transparency International’s 2009 Corruption Perception Index for India remains at 3.4, the same as last year. But India’s ranking has gone up to 84 out of 180 countries. Last year India’s rank was 85. At the top of the list are countries like New Zealand, Denmark, Singapore and Sweden, all of which score more than 9 points on the index.