The Mint Report for 30 December 2009

The Mint Report for 30 December 2009

The 13th Finance Commission submitted its report to President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday. The report deals with the devolution of central tax receipts between the centre and state governments. Mint has learnt that the commission has recommended fiscal consolidation. It is also calling for reforms in expenditure management and says the centre could offer states a larger portion of surcharges and cesses. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has said the recommendations of the commissions would be reflected in next year’s budget.

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Pranab Mukherjee also spoke out on India’s budget deficit on Wednesday. He said the deficit was not sustainable and that the government would have to balance the needs of the economy with the capacity of the economy to bear the deficit. India’s budget deficit is expected to reach 6.8% in the year ending March 2010.

After a year of declines, India’s steel companies are expected to see higher prices in 2010. Last week Tata Steel increased its steel prices by Rs2,000 per tonne. And SAIL cancelled its rebate of Rs750-1,500 per tonne, which it started offering in November.

NTPC’s price dispute with Russian company Technoprom may have left its project in Barh in Bihar in limbo, but the company is looking to revive the plant through another deal. NTPC is considering awarding the contract for power plant equipment to BHEL. NTPC and Technoprom were locked in a dispute after Techoprom demanded an additional Rs1,700 crore for work on the project because steel prices had gone up. The contract between the two companies was worth Rs2,066 crores.

Cox and Kings says one of its units has acquired Australian companies MyPlanet Australia and Bentours International. The company has not disclosed the value of the deal, but says it was through the earn-out mechanism. Cox and Kings also says it did not use funds that it raised through its recent IPO.

The Indian government has placed an order to buy H1N1 vaccines from abroad. It will import 1.5 million doses, which will start being available in January. Earlier the government had said it would import 4 million doses, but it now expects domestic vaccine makers in India to be able to supply the rest.