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Nod to Bill restricting foreign funds

November 10, 2006 11:18 IST
The Union Cabinet today approved a draft Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Bill, 2006, which seeks to restrict organisations of a political nature, associations engaged in news, current affairs and mass communication and correspondents and editors from receiving foreign contribution.

"The Cabinet today decided to repeal the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and introduce in its place a new draft bill, which will regulate the amount of foreign contribution coming into the country," Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters after a meeting.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, which also met today, referred the proposal for setting up Petroleum and Petrochemical Investment regions to a group of ministers.

"There were one or two outstanding issues because of which the proposal has been referred to a GoM, to be set up," the minister said.

Chidambaram said a paper on prices of essential commodities could not be taken up since it was circulated late. The CCP, however, decided to allow export of 2000 mt of masur dal and 200 mt of green gram to Sri Lanka as a humanitarian measure.

Officials said the preamble of the draft FCR Bill had been reworded to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or hospitality for any activities detrimental to national interest.

While utilisation of foreign contribution has been allowed through more than one bank, administrative expenses have been capped at 50

per cent of the contribution and expenses beyond that level can be incurred only with the prior approval of the central government.

Some new provisions have also been included; for instance, the one on suspension of registration certificate for a maximum of 180 days and the provision for compounding of certain offenses under the Bill.

The CCEA approved an additional capital investment of Rs 168.97 crore (Rs 169 billion) for the Bina Extension Opencast Project of Northern Coalfields Ltd. Approximately six million tonnes of non-coking coal would be produced per year, which is suitable for thermal power plants.

A proposal to provide project-specific funds to the tune of Rs 392 crore towards the road share of the Munger Rail and Road bridge project in the 11th Plan was also cleared. The project is likely to be completed in 2009-10.

The CCEA also agreed to exempt 12 projects for four-laning and six-laning of National Highways under the National Highways Development Project II and III A from the Public-Private-Partnership Appraisal Committee procedures.

Chidambaram said the projects were being exempted since in eight of them bids had been awarded before the PPP committee was set up on October 27, 2005.

In the remaining four projects, the bids were decided before that date.

BS Reporter in New Delhi
Source: source