New Delhi

Onus of pulses procurement may go to states

The government is planning to shift the responsibility of procuring and distributing pulses to states while the Centre will play a supervisory role in the functioning of Rs 11,000 crore price stabilisation fund (PSF).
Since the fund is huge and the procurement has to be completed within a specified period, states will do a better job if they are provided the necessary policy support and funds, sources in the consumer affairs ministry said.

FinMin may set fiscal deficit target in a range

The finance ministry may set a range for fiscal deficit target in budget FY19 instead of an absolute number, giving itself a window for sudden and structural changes that may become necessary during the year, sources said.

It being the last full budget before the general elections in 2019, the government may be tempted to step up expenditure and offer poll sweeteners. Such steps, however, would have adverse impact on fiscal deficit. Setting the target in a range could save government the blushes.

Bank of India seeks to exit STCI Finance this fiscal

As part of its drive to monetise non-core businesses and strengthen the capital position, Bank of India has invited fresh bids for selling its 29 per cent stake in the state-run STCI Finance in the current fiscal.

The state-run bank is seeking new bids for the stake, as bids in the previous round last year fell short of its price expectations.

STCI Finance Ltd is a non-banking finance company majority-owned by government institutions.

Excise duty cut on petrol, diesel likely

Consumers could expect relief from the surging price of auto fuels as the government may opt for another round of excise duty cut on petrol and diesel in the forthcoming Union budget. By doing so, the government aims to tame inflation and prevent rising crude oil prices from adversely affecting the retail price of these two commonly used products.

Sources said that Rs 2 per litre cut in excise duty on petrol and diesel might be announced by the government as a shield to prevent a further spike in prices of auto fuels.

AI gives preferential treatment to Jayant Sinha’s son

Air India’s favouritism to political class continues. Amid talks of ending VVIP culture, the cash-strapped airline earlier this month was generous enough to upgrade junior civil aviation minister Jayant Sinha's (in pic) son's travel to New York from New Delhi to business class without charging anything extra for the comfort. The divestment-bound Air India was benevolent to the minister’s kin but at the expense of almost 300 other fliers.

Federal Bank net jumps 26% on better core income, asset quality

Kerala-based private lender Federal Bank on Monday reported a 26 per cent rise in its October-December net profit at Rs 260 crore, buoyed by a healthy rise in core income and a drop in dud assets.

The Aluva-headquartered bank’s its net interest income rose 20 per cent to Rs 950 crore on a 22 per cent surge in advances and stability in net interest margin, which is maintained at 3.33 per cent.

Reverses on account of a surge in yields impacted the non-interest income, which declined to Rs 230 crore against Rs 275 crore in the year-ago period.

DoT firming up plans to allow BSNL get 4G in exchange of fresh equity

The telecom department may soon approve Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL)’s 4G spectrum funding proposal through additional equity to the government. The decision would be taken up by the telecom commission and before being tabled at cabinet. The department last week received the BSNL board’s proposal seeking 4G spectrum financial assistance from the government in exchange of fresh equity in the PSU.

Upcoming airport projects not sufficiently ambitious

Vistara, the joint venture carrier operated by Tata-Singapore Airlines, has completed three years in the Indian market. It has been a late entrant to the world’s fastest growing market but has caught up fast by expanding fleet and adding new cities to its network. The airline serves 22 destinations with over 700 flights a week with a fleet of 17 Airbus A320 aircraft. It is gearing up to launch international operations and may soon join the league of airlines designated by the Indian government to fly overseas.

Coal scam: SC unhappy with tardy pace of probe

The CBI’s special investigation team (SIT) on Monday told the Supreme Court that it would examine the bank account details of persons who had visited the official residence of its former chief Ranjit Sinha, who had allegedly tried to scuttle the probe in coal scam cases.

AI to be split into 4 units; at least 51% in each up for sale

A few days after clearing the decks for foreign airlines to pick up 49 per cent in Air India, the government has proposed splitting the national carrier into four parts and bid them out separately, offering at least 51 per cent stake in each of the them to private investors. Junior aviation minister Jayant Sinha on Monday said the core airline business comprising Air India and its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express would be offered as one company while its regional arm, ground handling, and engineering operations be sold separately in the same process.