Kejriwal opposes Centre’s move to privatise IDBI

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday opposed the proposed privatisation of the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) and supported its continuation in the public sector.

Kejriwal’s support on the issue came after a delegation of IDBI Officers Association met him here on Friday and expressed their opposition to the Centre’s reported move to dilute its stake in the bank to less than 50 percent.

“Kejriwal opposed the proposal to privatise the IDBI, which will adversely affect around 20,000 bank officers across the country. He assured the delegation that he will write to the prime minister to seek withdrawal of the proposed move,” a Delhi government official said.

The delegation said union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely said in his budget speech in the Lok Sabha on February 29 that the Centre had no obligation to hold a minimum 51 percent stake in the IDBI, thereby effectively announcing the government intention to privatise it.

The delegation members said the announcement was a breach of an assurance held out in parliament by the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in December 2003, when the issue of IDBI privatisation was last taken up.

The delegation said that increase in the IDBI’s non-performing assets was wrongly being projected as the reason to privatise it.

The IDBI officers pointed out that the NPA figures of Rs.19,000 crore were wrong since nearly 50 percent of this amount was recoverable dues and that too from big corporates.

Opposing the privatisation move, IDBI officers and other employees observed a four-day strike from March 28 to 31.

Government hikes entry fee to historical monuments

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) The government has increased the entry fee at 116 centrally-protected monuments under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The revised rates come into effect from Friday.

The enhancement comes after a period of more than 15 years as the last increase took place in 2000.

“The fee has been revised after calling for comments and suggestions from general public, tour and travel associations and ministry of tourism,” a ministry of culture statement said.

The enhanced rates are at par with entry fee at monuments abroad, the statement said.

For Indian nationals and citizens of Saarc and BIMSTEC countries (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal), the entry fee for World Heritage Monuments has been revised from Rs.10 to Rs.30 whereas for other monuments, it has been increased from Rs.5 to Rs.15.

Similarly, for the citizens of all other countries, the entry fee for World Heritage Monuments and other monuments has been doubled from Rs.250 to Rs.500 and Rs.100 to Rs.200, respectively.

A separate queue would be provided for high value ticket holders of Rs.750, Rs.500, Rs.300 and Rs.200 for ensuring smooth entry to the monument.

The government has also decided to provide better facilities to tourists coming to ASI monuments.

“Better facilities in the form of free bottled water, wi-fi connectivity, mementoes and CDs with pictures and films of monuments would be offered to tourists purchasing high value tickets of Rs.750 and Rs.300.

“This would also generate additional revenue for the government,” the statement said.

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