The Mint Report for 16 March 2010

The Mint Report for 16 March 2010

Bhel may have picked up a lucrative contract in Sudan, but that project is under attack from some potential investors. American pension funds like California’s CalPERS and Colorado’s PERA have written to the company asking it to put an end to its operations in Sudan. Many investors want companies to stay away from Sudan, where a civil war has killed 300,000 people and displaced another two million. Bhel has a contract to design and build a 500MW power plant in Sudan worth $457 million.

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The government is considering new criteria for companies bidding on highway projects. Under the new proposal, companies bidding for projects worth less than Rs2,000 crore will need to have a net worth of at least 25% of the project cost. The net worth requirement reaches 50% of project cost for contracts valued at Rs2,000-3,000 crore. For any project worth more than Rs3,000 crore the bidder will have to show a net worth equal to the project cost. The National Highways Authority of India has long struggled to find a way to judge if companies can actually pull off highway projects.

Renault-Nissan will bring a new player to India’s market for small cars. The company says it plans to start selling its Micra hatchbacks in the country from July. Its sales target is 80,000 units in the year ending March 2011.

Rajasthan gets the lion’s share of funds from the government’s NREGA programme. The rural development ministry says the state received 19% of the Rs31,149 crore allotted to the programme this fiscal year until 11 March. Uttar Pradesh is next, getting 15% of the total funds so far this fiscal year. The NREGA programme guarantees at least 100 days of work every year to one member of every poor rural family.