–Minister Sharma: FDI in rail, construction still on Cabinet agenda
–Cabinet to mull FDI in railway, construction
–Trade minister: Need to withdraw export duty on iron ore pellets
–Have reservation about iron ore pellets export duty
–Talking to fin min on iron ore pellets duty withdrawal

NEW DELHI – The Union Cabinet may consider allowing foreign direct investment in railways and relaxing FDI rules for construction sector despite the model code of conduct being in effect, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said today.

“Final decision will be taken by the Cabinet (FDI in railways and construction) and of course it will get reflected. Whatever is decided, will get reflected in the updated FDI policy,” Sharma told reporters.

He said the Union Cabinet has still not met to decide on these two proposals. “Once the Cabinet meeting is fixed, and  he agenda comes, you will get to know,” Sharma said. The updated FDI policy of the country covering all major policy decisions in 2013-14 will be finalised by the end of this month.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, under Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has proposed to allow 100% FDI in high-speed train systems, suburban corridors, and high-speed tracks.

The Cabinet was to meet today but the meeting got postponed. However, the new date is still not decided, official sources said.

The Election Commission has announced Lok Sabha elections schedule Wednesday following which the model code of conduct has come into effect. The code bars ministers from announcing financial grants, making promises of construction of roads or make ad-hoc appointments in governments and public sector undertakings, which may influence voters.
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EXPORT DUTY
The finance ministry and commerce ministry to lift the 5% export duty levied on iron ore pellets. He said that his ministry has reservations because “it’s a value added product and duty per se is a disincentive.”

“What actually is getting exported is not even 1.5% of the total capacity. Therefore, we should be encouraging (exports),” he said. The duty was imposed on Jan 27.

On release of duty refund claims of exporters, Sharma said both ministries are discussing the matter. “Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher and Revenue Secretary are discussing the issue.” Exporters have claimed that the duty refund claims have touched 120 bln rupees.

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