Artha Vividha
States Spend More on Social Sector, Rural Infra: Jaitley
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said with the 14th Finance Commission having substantially raised the states' share in central taxes, states should raise expenditure on social sector and rural infrastructure, in line with the union budget's focus. "It is quite obvious that what the states are getting now is more than what they were getting in the 13th Finance Commission. It may have come down in one or two heads but substantially the overall volumes have increased," Jaitley said while addressing the conference of state finance secretaries here. "The onus is now actually on the states to spend and how and where to spend." "There is now an important national focus on increasing expenditure on social sector, infrastructure creation in rural areas. And, therefore, states must focus on those areas," he said. "The tendency to spend it on non-developmental activities may in the short term appear to be attractive but in longer run it doesn't reap results," he added. The 14th Finance Commission has substantially raised the states' share in central taxes to 42 percent, an increase by 10 percent. Jaitley also said since allocation to each state is based on Finance Commission rules, there is no bias or interference from the Centre. "It is not loosely defined, it is very specific that which state gets how much allocation. The amount allocated to all states is the same and there is hardly any discretion that the Centre has. So whatever the Finance Commission has decided in terms of percentages, it is the right of the states in federal politics," he said. The finance minister also emphasised the need for states to stick to fiscal discipline so as to maintain global credibility. "The kind of effective expenditure we make at the Centre and the states will determine India's overall growth. There is a tendency to spend on short-term goals. We have to stick to fiscal discipline which will maintain our global credibility," Jaitley said.
Aus-Ind Consortium Wants To Restart Historic Kolar Gold Mine
An Australian-Indian consortium wants to restart gold mining in a district in Karnataka that helped symbolise former British rule in India and produced some 25 million ounces over 150 years before being abandoned due to low bullion prices. Mining in Karnataka's Kolar gold field ended in 2001 as gold prices slumped. But a government tender could lead to mining leases held by Bharat Gold Mines Ltd sold to the highest bidder and operations resume. A restart would come amid resurgent gold prices and steps by the government to monetise some of the estimated 20,000 tonnes of gold held by the country's citizens and slow imports to free up capital to strengthen its economy. India is one of the world's largest importers of gold, but mines only a pittance on its own. National demand reached 654.3 tonnes in the second half of last year, the third highest year on record, according to the World Gold Council. Australian miner Citigold Corp, which has been conducting field visits to the Kolar sites since 2006, has agreed to partner with Indian conglomerate Essel Group to tender for the assets from the government. "India can be a challenging place to work and partnering up with a solid local partner is key to making this happen," Citigold executive chairman Mark Lynch told Reuters. "We made sure we did our homework." In the early years, the gold mine, sported a sprawling estate for its operators, with its own golf course and tennis courts. British engineers also constructed the world's longest transmission line with the highest voltage at the time to meet the hydro power needs of the mine. By the 1920s 24,000 workers were employed, with Europeans holding most of the top jobs. The mines were nationalised in 1956 - nine years after the end of British rule - and by 1980 were running at a loss, though it would be two decades before operations ceased.