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NEW DELHI-Back to Trickle-Down Planning

NEW DELHI Back to 'Trickle-Down' Planning B M THE Industry Minister, Charanjit Chanana, has been devoting himself with special zeal to the public sector ear project after the takeover of Maruti. His approach to a variety of foreign interests for collaboration on the project, as with several other similar projects which are being proposed to foreign consortia and multinationals, is as open-ended as it is possible to make it. What are expected are offers of collaboration which will be considered by the government here without laying down prior stipulations of any kind. The field is, therefore, open to the highest bidder. The project is, for the same reason, not to go through the conventional pre-project feasibility studies or scrutiny by the Planning Commission or the other elaborate procedures which apply to projects of this kind and size.

NEW DELHI- Coal Another Wild Experiment

with reference to the specific needs and conditions of India's export and import trade.
If the EXIM bank is to effectively discharge its responsibilities, it must have adequate technical capabilities in project appraisal, project financing. conventional financing techniques of short, medium and long term credits, legal and commercial expertise in drawing up oversells contracts of a wide range of projects, expertise in international marketing and commercial and financial intelligence, expertise in international banking and money market instruments, etc. At present very few- hanks in India, including the IDBl. ran boast of having developed Mich a package of technical expertise and competence within them. Therefore, it would be necessary for the EXIM hank- to devote considerable effort in the initial years to developing a cadre of technically competent personnel. The success of the bank hinges to a large extent on the quality of its technical personnel. It has to succeed by sheer wits' rather than by the extent of its fond disbursements to the export sector.

NEW DELHI-Unconvincing Economic Recovery

Unconvincing Economic Recovery B M IN spite of some pick up in economic activity following a normal monsoon and a bumper kharif crop, official circles in New Delhi still display an unusual lack or boldness and assurance about prospects for the new year. This is a little out of character for the present political leadership which gained power with a sweeping electoral majority a, year earlier. What seems to be sapping the leadership's confidence is that even as economic activity has picked up and trends in production in several cirtical areas, among them power, coal and steel, are beginning at last to show some improvement since August-September, there is an eruption of mass and sectional agitations on a widespread scale. The embarrassment on thus account has only been compounded for the leadership by factional infighting within the ruling party which too has been growing in scale and intensity. The mood of nervousness in ruling party circles was perhaps best illustrated by the Finance Minister's remarks at a meeting with the Forum of Financial Writers on New Year's eve that the spreading sectional agitations may well undo whatever little has been achieved in recent months and upset all his calculations.

NEW DELHI- Arithmetic Is All

Arithmetic Is All B M THE draft of the new Sixth Plan is said to be ready except for the last- minute touching up of the draft before it is presented to the Union Cabinet and afterwards to the National development Council in the second or third week of January, The full meeting of the Planning Commission under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister on December 26 has given the necessary clearance to the official planners in this connection. The meeting itself was a strictly closed door affair and nothing of what happened at the meeting has been allowed to leak out. In any case, a striking feature of the exercise on preparing the new Plan has been that it has been kept as a confidential departmental affair after the release last August of the so-called framework of the new Plan. Equally striking has been a marked lack of public interest in this work.

NEW DELHI- Political Fall-Out of Farmers Agitations

December 20, 1980 whether of Indira Gandhi or of Morarji Desai, can afford a successful liberation struggle of that kind. At any rate they would want to keep away from it. Indira Gandhi, therefore, has thought of the only policy open to her

NEW DELHI-Red Carpet for Foreign Oil Companies

Red Carpet for Foreign Oil Companies B M THE Petroleum Ministry has selected 28 blocks on-shore and off-shore which will be offered to foreign Companies for oil exploration on production-sharing basis. Preliminary bids are also said to have been received by the Ministry from 40-odd companies, including some of the oil majors. Detailed discussions will be held with foreign bidders to finalise the exact terms and conditions on which they undertake exploration work. These are expected to be completed by the close of the first quarter of next year. If everything goes smoothly, the foreign oil companies should be back in India in full force after the monsoons next year.

NEW DELHI-FICCI s Charter of Demands

NEW DELHI FICCI's Charter of Demands B M THE special Supplement to the latest issue of the fortnightly publication of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Economic Trends, which gives the FICCI's midterm review of the economy is noteworthy. The government, it says, has initiated a number of "constructive" measures in the last four months after a series of discussions with all interests concerned, It lists among these measures the industrial policy statement, the export promotion measures, the change in convertibility clause, increase in the rate of interest on debentures along with enhancement of the debt-equity ratio and, finally, the decision to allow investment of petrodollars in the corporate sector without such investment being tied to transfer of technology. The FICCI heartily welcomes all these and similar measures. But, considering the trends in the first half of 1980-81, it says "it does appear that there are certain issues which have yet to be resolved".

NEW DELHI- Who Needs Institutions

NEW DELHI Who Needs Institutions?
B M INDIRA GANDHI in her second spell as the Prime Minister is obviously very much in a hurry. She is anxious, it appears, to accomplish things in as many months as it took her years during her first tenure in that capacity. The environment right now is very much reminiscent of what prevailed in 1974-75 before the formal Emergency was proclaimed. This is, of course, not to say that there will be a repeat performance in that direction in all its formal details. There can be variations of sorts.

NEW DELHI-Other Side of Non-Performance

NEW DELHI Other Side of 'Non-Performance' B M 'NON-PERFORMANCE' proved to be an extremely effective slogan against the Janata, government. The same criticism is now being levelled against the present government and it is causing not a, little discomfort to the ruling net up. But there is an interesting and signi- ficant difference in the responses of the previous government and the present one to such criticism.

NEW DELHI- Taming of the Chief Ministers

Taming of the Chief Ministers B M THE passing of a resolution by a majority vote at a conference of Chief Ministers is something which is simply not clone. That was at least the position till the other day when a conference of Chief Ministers convened by the Union Finance Minister to discuss the question of replacing sales tax by additional excise duties was held. But this wholesome and time-honoured tradition and convention, wholly in tune with the spirit and letter of the Indian constitution and necessary for conducting Centre-state relations on healthy lines and in the spirit of co-operation and not confrontation, was thrown to the winds with extraordinary arrogance and cynicism at this conference. The consequences of this can only be grave and far-reaching for the federal system and the polity. They transcend the rather limited question of replacing sales tax by excise duties or even the wider question of Centre-state financial relations.

NEW DELHI-Happy Days Are Here Again

Happy Days Are Here Again B M INDUSTRY circles are delighted, even jubilant, over the "constructive dialogue", as their leaders put it, that the leaders of the government have entered into with them, with the Prime Minister herself actively participating in it. Their latest meeting with the Prime Minister, with the Finance, Commerce, Industry and Labour Ministers in attendance, seems to have been especially gratifying for them. If so far only the Finance Minister had been fortheoming and directing come-hither looks at them, the Prime Minister has now lent the full weight of her authority behind the overtures to industrialists to take advantage of the government's responsive mood towards their needs and aspirations in order to help them step up production and investment.

NEW DELHI-Wooing the Oil Majors

NEW DELHI Wooing the Oil Majors B M THE response to the so-called oil crisis and the intolerable burden it is supposed to be putting on the Indian economy is unfolding along predictable lines. Since effective and meaningful measures to restrain consumption of oil are virtually ruled Out as too hurtful of the efficiency of the economy, there is a desperate search for other ways to meet the crisis. One of these ways, of course, is to seek additional and larger credit lines for financing imports' of crude oil and oil products on a sizeable scale. This is how combined with opening the door wide for foreign private capital to come in not only to supplement the foreign exchange resources of country but, more importantly, to impart greater dynamism and efficiency to the Indian economy and its growth processes. At least this is how official circles are beginning openly to redefine the role of foreign, aid and foreign private capital, the occasional stray references to desirability of promoting self-reliance as a political talking point notwithstanding.


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