Our Bureau

New Delhi, April 8

THE Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Friday approved a proposal for furnishing a guarantee to domestic financial institutions (FIs) for settling the dispute with various stakeholders of the 2184 MW Dabhol power project.

"We are negotiating with all parties concerned for settling the issue amicably," the Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, told newspersons after the Cabinet meeting, which was chaired by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh.

The CCEA, however, did not take up the issue of raising prices of petrol and diesel, Mr Mukherjee said. Indicating that there would be no immediate hike in the price of petrol, he said there was no discussion on the issue in today's meeting of the Cabinet.

A proposal to sell the Government's residual shares of Hindustan Zinc Ltd was also not taken up, he added.

The CCEA also approved a scheme to strengthen the distribution network of PDS kerosene and domestic LPG to reach the targeted segment of the population.

The new scheme includes creation of infrastructure facilities and setting up block wholesale points that would initially be implemented in about 600 blocks.

Further, the CCEA gave its approval for the implementation of the Central Sector Scheme for seed upgradation with a total outlay of Rs 159 crore in the Tenth Plan.

The Union Cabinet also gave a six-month extension to Indian television news channels to restructure their equity holdings to meet the Government standards.

"The existing policy requires the news channels to adhere to an FDI cap of 26 per cent and the Indian entity is required to have not less than 51 per cent in the venture. But for a variety of reasons, many existing news channels have not been able to conform to this changed system. In six months' time, all channels have to restructure their equity in adherence to the norms," the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr S. Jaipal Reddy, said while briefing newspersons after the Cabinet meeting.

"There will be no further extensions," he added.

The Cabinet approved a proposal for allowing Indian Oil Corporation to directly charter ships for oil imports, instead of going through the Ministry of Shipping's chartering agency, Transchart.

The Cabinet approved the decision after the Committee of Secretaries recommended the amendment in the existing policy on charter of ships for imports by IOC on an experimental basis, Mr Reddy said.

The Cabinet also decided to set up Second Administrative Reforms Commission to prepare a blueprint for revamping the public administration system across the country.

The Commission would go into the whole gamut of issues relating to public administration and submit its report to the Government within one year of its constitution, Mr Reddy said.

A sum of Rs 8 crore has been provided towards expenditure of the ARC, Mr Reddy said, adding that the panel, to be created as a commission of inquiry with its Chairman enjoying Cabinet rank, would have four members and a member-secretary.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 9, 2005)
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