The Hindu Business Line - - THINK -

Jan­uary 14, 1999

Duty on im­ported sugar in­creased to 20 pc

The Gov­ern­ment has hiked the ba­sic cus­toms duty on im­ported sugar from 5 per cent to 20 per cent. The de­ci­sion comes after con­sid­er­able lob­by­ing by the sugar in­dus­try which had been seek­ing a min­i­mum 40 per cent duty to thwart the threat of largescale im­ports at "dumped" prices. The Rev­enue Depart­ment will be is­su­ing a no­ti­fi­ca­tion to this ef­fect to­mor­row. The coun­ter­vail­ing duty of ₹850 per tonne im­posed along with the ear­lier 5 per cent ba­sic cus­toms duty has been re­tained, tak­ing the to­tal im­port duty to around 27 per cent.

Cab­i­net ap­proval for re­vised EGA Bill

The Union Cab­i­net has ap­proved a re­vised Es­sen­tial Com­modi­ties (Amend­ment) Bill, 1998 which seeks to tighten pe­nal pro­vi­sions against hoard­ers and black­mar­ke­teers. Sources said that the re­vised Bill has kept in­tact most of the pro­vi­sions of the Es­sen­tial Com­modi­ties Act, 1955, in­clud­ing the clause per­tain­ing to the reg­u­lar trial of of­fend­ers and the max­i­mum im­pris­on­ment up to seven years. As against this, the orig­i­nal Es­sen­tial Com­modi­ties (Amend­ment) Bill, 1998 had pro­posed all of­fences to be tried in a sum­mary man­ner by Spe­cial Courts that would have re­duced the max­i­mum im­pris­on­ment pe­riod to two years.

Nod for eq­uity swap in oil cos

The Gov­ern­ment has cleared the sale of ten per cent of its eq­uity hold­ing each in the state-owned oil com­pa­nies — ONGC, IOC and GAIL — and five per cent each in VSNL and MTNL, ei­ther through the cross-hold­ing method or through buy­back of shares. The Cab­i­net ap­proval for this method of divest­ment on Wed­nes­day will en­able the Gov­ern­ment to raise well over Rs. 5,000 crores — the tar­get set for dis­in­vest­ment.

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