Sardar Patel’s statue gets more money than that allotted for women’s welfare!

Photo Courtesy - NDTV
Photo Courtesy – NDTV
New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley set his maiden budget of the new mandate and while few chunks of money were flown across various sectors, there came 200 crores which were allotted to build a statue of Sardar Vallabhai Patel in Gujarat.

Last year, initiated by the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the state government had started collecting funds and iron for the ‘Statue of Unity’ which is being built off the river Narmada. The 200 crore allotted is also higher than the money allotted for women’s welfare, which is 150 crores.

Anandiben Patel, Modi’s successor has promised to start work on the 182 metre tall statue which is going to be the biggest in the world if things work out right bettering the Statue of Liberty which stands at 93 meters and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. Critics haven’t taken the news very well saying there is no need of an iron and bronze statue where one-third of the population is living in poverty.

The social media did not take this news kindly either. Sunita Narain tweeted “Rs 200 crore for statue and Rs 50 crore for 50 million people who depend on #handloom sector. What does this say of priorities? #Budget2014”.

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Arun Jaitley: “favour fiscal deficit over mindless populism”

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New Delhi: In his indication regarding the upcoming budget, Arun Jaitley has said that the next budget will be about revival of the economy listing out the challenges of the government. He highlighted the problem of fiscal deficit and also gave an overview of Iraq crisis, which is affecting the world economy. In his address at Institute of Chartered Accounts of India, he said, “the rate of inflation compared to last year have somewhat come down but was still beyond the acceptable limits.”

In his speech, he also stressed about the unstable tax regime which is one of reason of loss of credibility in the Indian economy. While stressing on the problem of Inflation and high fiscal deficit, he commented that both combined with two years of sub-five percent growth are harmful for the economy; rainfall deficit and Iraq crisis being one of the major reasons for it.
He also spoke regarding the scarcity which can only be managed through food-stocks of the country. Regarding legislation, the investors also get scared due to slow processes. He also pointed out that at a time when lakhs of decisions come, the country needs to be put back on the rails.

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Food Security Act implementation delayed

The Food Security Act implementation has been delayed by 3 months which was scheduled to be come into effect from 5th July. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh and Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan discussed the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a meeting and announced about the extended time period.

The Act serves to priority households, entitling per person per month 5 kgs of food grain, and eligible households who giving them up to 35 kgs per household per month. Children between the age group of 6 months to 6 years fall under the free charges meal. “I will meet state food ministers on July 4. State can identify the criteria on the beneficiaries of food security act implementation,” said LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan.

Local Authorities and Panchayati Raj Institutions are responsible for proper implementation of the Bill in their respective areas, and may be given additional responsibilities in due course of time. The act has already been implemented in few states namely that of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Bihar while for a handful of few, states it is still to come into effect.

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Govt postpones hike in natural gas prices, Reliance suffers setback

New Delhi: In a major setback to Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), the NDA government on Wednesday decided to postpone the proposal for revision of natural gas prices by three months in the wait for a comprehensive review which would be acceptable to all sectors.

Representational Image. Reuters
Representational Image. Reuters

The current rate of USD 4.2 per million thermal units (as per British standards) will continue until September end, said Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

The new Government was intending to hike the prices from July 1 to USD 8.4 per million thermal units, a decision taken by the previous UPA government. In this regard, the Oil Minister has been in discussions with the Prime Minister since Friday and postponing the hike until September was seen as the best solution.

The repercussions of every dollar hike would lead to an increase in gas prices upto Rs 1,370 per ton rise in urea production cost and 45 paise per unit increase in electricity tariff. Additionally, it will lead to a minimum of Rs 2.81 per kg increase in CNG price and Rs 1.89 per standard cubic meter hike in piped cooking gas.

The gas price revision was one of the immediate decisions the government intended to take to revive investor interest in the stagnant oil and gas sector. The country’s natural gas output has been on the decline. It has spiralled down to 35.4 billion cubic metres (FY14) compared to 47.56 bcm the previous year.

A panel headed by C.Rangarajan had proposed the the hike in natural gas prices which was to take effect from 1 April, however, with the general elections around the corner, the proposal was deferred.

However, there are some issues in implementing Rangarajan’s formula, such as whether Reliance Industries’ foreign partners- BP and Niko resources- should be allowed to charge the higher prices, whether the pricing should be on gross calorific value or net calorific value, among others.

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Jaitley writes clearing party stand, Bedi to join Anna from Saturday

Anna Hazare with Arun Jaitley

Anna Hazare’s fast aimed at the passage of the Jan Lokpal bill entered the second day today at the Yadavbaba temple in the village near Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district. Hazare, who had initially written a letter to Arun Jaitley, on 30th Nov earlier this month seeking the opposition’s help however went on to criticize the BJP along with the Congress stating that neither of them has taken a conscious effort in both the Houses to see the bill pass through on his inaugural day.

In a letter that has been released today on the official website of Arun Jaitley, the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha has replied to Anna Hazare clearing his party’s stand in a letter that says, “It appears that the Government is not sincere in getting it placed on the said agenda. I can assure you in view of the public position my party has adopted that we will be second to none in pursuing this issue. I am sending this detailed response to your letter so that the position my party and I have taken becomes clear.”

The movement that did show some rays of weakening out after Arvind Kejriwal moved away to go into active politics however might actually find success as passing the bill is probably the only exit plan left to the UPA Government who faced a horror drub including in the capital earlier this week. Minister of State V Narayanasamy on Wednesday said, “The government is taking all sincere steps to pass the Lokpal Bill. I have given a notice to the chairman of the Rajya Sabha for taking up the bill… The government is ready to debate and discuss it.”

In other reports, Kiran Bedi has decided to join hands with Anna Hazare and fast with him from this Saturday. In a tweet, the retired IPS officer stated, “Joining Anna from this Saturday in his Fast for Lokpal bill. Shall give to it whatever it takes. Waited for last 3 years. Now no more!”