The Mint Report for 22 February 2010

The Mint Report for 22 February 2010

With just four days to go for the Union Budget, the UPA government has indicated it will continue to focus on welfare programmes and rural infrastructure. On Monday, President Pratibha Patil addressed a joint session of Parliament outlining the government’s agenda for the next one year. On top of the list was inclusive growth and protecting people from the effects of both the economic crisis and last year’s poor monsoon. Patil also announced a new scheme for distributing liquefied petroleum gas to rural India and providing electricity to everyone by 2012. And while Patil’s speech mentioned a commitment to the food security bill for India’s poor, but did not provide a deadline.

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In other news, Star Aviation plans to be one of India top regional airlines, but it’s already trimming its operations. The airline has told Mint it plans to lay off most of its 140 employees, but could start hiring again when its commercial operations take off. Star Aviation says it plans to start flying commercially in late May or early June.

Reports say Reliance Industries Limited has sweetened it offer for control of bankrupt petrochemicals company LyondellBasell. The new bid is thought to be worth $14.5 billion. LyondellBasell had earlier rejected bids from RIL worth $13.5 billion and $12 billion.

In auto news, Hero Honda could be eyeing opportunities in Africa. An analyst report from the brokerage India Infoline says the company is looking at exporting its motorcycles to African countries. But executives at Hero Honda have told Mint the company has no specific plans. As part of its 1984 agreement with Honda Motor, Hero Honda is not allowed to sell motorcycles to most of the big markets where Honda Motor already has assembles its own products.