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Competition panel decision put off

August 26, 2004 11:26 IST

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday deferred a decision on the appointment of a chairman to the Competition Commission, while it approved amendments to the Banking Regulation Act to give powers to the Reserve Bank of India to issue licences to multi-state cooperatives, and also bring them under the ambit of the Deposit Credit Insurance and Guarantee Scheme.

It also approved the bid of Dubai Port International to develop and operate the international container and transhipment port at Cochin for 30 years.

The meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided to postpone the issue of whether the Competition Commission should be chaired by a judge, despite an advice from the Advocate General supporting the position.

The law ministry has approved the same, but both the finance ministry and the company affairs ministry have said the selection should not be restricted to judicial persons only.

The Cabinet also approved the amendments to the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act of 1956, and the Depositories Act to demutualise the stock exchanges in the country.

Both the bills had lapsed with the dissolution of Lok Sabha, and the approval would enable the government to reintroduce them in Parliament. The amendment to the Banking Regulation Act of 1949 follows a Supreme Court order on the subject.

The changes in the SCRA was required to enable the Securities and Exchange Board of India to approve the demutualisation scheme of the stock exchanges.

The bills had been introduced in Parliament by the former government on the basis of the recommendations made by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the stock scam of 2001.

The changes in the Depositories Act of 1996 would also give a statutory backing to the derivatives market, which are outside the purview of the definition of securities so far.

Earlier, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs awarded the contract for the development of an international container transhipment terminal at the Cochin port to Dubai Ports International for Rs 2,118 crore (Rs 21.18 billion). The contract on build-operate-and transfer basis has been given for a 30-year period to the UAE-based company.

Dubai Ports International has offered the highest bid for gross revenue share of 33.3 per cent to the Port Trust.

The CCEA also approved a hike in the outlay for the Technology Mission on Cotton to Rs 568.17 crore (Rs 5.68 billion), including a central share of Rs 472.6 crore (Rs 4.73 billion) during the 10th Five Year Plan.

The implementation of the Mission is expected to increase cotteon production to about 215 lakh bales annually by the end of the plan period. The productivity is also expected to touch 388 kg per hectare from the current 269 kg and enhance large-scale employment in the sector.

On the lines of the India Pakistan and India Bangladesh bus service, the Cabinet on Wednesday approved the institutionalisation of the already existing bus services with Nepal.

The finalisation of the protocol and the statewise schedule by designated bus operators with their counterparts in Nepal would now also include representatives from the ministries of external affairs, home, defence, commerce and revenue.

The Cabinet has ratified the Intergovernmental Agreement on Asian Highways on an ex post facto basis. The Agreement was signed at the 60 th session of the UNESCAP at Shanghai in China in April this year. This will formalise the coordinated development of the continent's highways to a minimum acceptable standard.
BS Economy Bureau in New Delhi