AFTER numerous delays, India and Myanmar have finally inked the agreement for the ambitious Rs 535.91-crore Kaladan project that is expected to benefit India economically and increase trade connectivi

On the heels of fixing a higher minimum export price (MEP) on basmati and non-basmati rice on March 5, 2008, the Government on Thursday night hiked the MEP on basmati rice further to $1,100 per tonne

Starting with the Taxation Enquiry Commission (1953) to the Committee on Pricing of Irrigation Water (1992) we have routinely heard discussions on improving the management of irrigation systems.

At Rs 1.92 lakh, Maruti is the cheapest small car now Nano, the Rs 1 lakh car, could expect some competition from Maruti's user car business, True Value.

Eco impact study on Tanzania project Hydrology studies are being undertaken and the Tanzania project would not start until Norconsult comes up with the report.

Nagarjuna Fertilisers and Chemicals Ltd (NFCL) has completely exited from the inter-State mega power project under construction in Udupi, Karnataka, selling its 26 per cent stake to the Lanco group.

Launches pilot project in Maharashtra M. Somasekhar Hyderabad, March 5 The successful e-Choupal model of ITC has provided impetus to an experiment in healthcare

New Delhi expects SAFTA to make concrete progress as quickly as possible, leading to an increase in regional trade. Last November, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, had directed the Commerce Ministry to examine the possibility of reducing the 744-item trade negative list for the SAARC least developed member countries (LDCs). That direction has just been fulfilled with the recent announcement that the list will be restricted to just 500 items. In fact, the enhanced trade liberalisation programme affecting the LDCs within SAARC has been speeded up by New Delhi, under which the im port duty on all items outside of the negative list will be zero from January 1 this year instead of from next year. The message being sent out by New Delhi is clear: It expects the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) to make concrete progress as quickly as possible, leading to an increase in regional trade. The Union Commerce Minister, Mr Kamal Nath, said as much when he announced the initiative at the third SAFTA Council meeting in New Delhi earlier in the week. Indeed, New Delhi's earnestness in this direction is underscored by the fact that it has taken trade-promotion steps not only at the SAARC level but also bilaterally, with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh being offered special trade incentives last year. Now, with the LDC negative-list announcement, Bhutan, Nepal and the Maldives have been brought under the incentive ambit. Clearly, these measures should strengthen regional cooperation generally, and SAFTA, in particular, the latter being more important because of the engine-driver role it has been accorded in the SAARC set-up. But since it takes two hands to clap, there is a strong chance of the trade-promotion initiative stalling because of the lack of progress on the most-favoured-nation status issue. Briefly, in contravention of SAARC (and WTO) guidelines on the subject, Pakistan has till now not accorded India such a status which, among other things, has affected SAARC's march towards effective regional cooperation. Of interest is the fact that India accorded Pakistan the status some years ago. At the Delhi meeting of the SAFTA Council, the Pakistani representative did say that Indian and Pakistani banks may be allowed to open branches, but one will have to wait for some concrete development before hailing the statement. Several regional schemes are in the pipeline such as operationalising the development fund and setting up food bank and a South Asian university. Preliminary work on a services agreement has also been kicked off with the completion of a regional study on the potential of such an accord. Being the two largest economies in the grouping, both India and Pakistan will have to join hands if the SAARC promise is to be fulfilled. As of now, only New Delhi has been extending its hand, which is simply not enough for SAARC to have a bright future.

Is global steel giant ArcelorMittal diversifying into the energy sector, especially oil and gas? Asked this question, Mr Aditya Mittal, the Chief Financial Officer of the company said: "India is an energy-deficient country and we are already working with the Government.' The London-based, ArcelorMittal has 27 manufacturing plants across the globe. China and India figure prominently in the company's global business strategy, he said, not explaining the diversification into the energy sector. Speaking on

NTPC Ltd plans to spend about Rs 7,341 crore for setting up the second phase of Barh super thermal power project in Bihar. "The company has accorded the investment approval for Barh Super Thermal Power Project, Stage-II (2 X 660 MW) in Bihar at an appraised estimated current cost of Rs 7,341 crore,' it said in a filing to Bombay Stock Exchange. The first stage consisting of three units of 660 MW each is under implementation.