NEWS FROM SIKKIM: Sikkim Four lined up for divestment

NEWS FROM SIKKIM: Sikkim Four lined up for divestment – Public Sector Units to now go into private hands or public to come out of the red, very wise move ?!!

Four Public Sector Units under scanner - going into private hands or public ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Gangtok, Aug. 11: A process to divest four PSUs in Sikkim, including two which had been set up before the state’s merger in 1975, has started.

The Sikkim government has agreed in principle to disinvest or privatise Sikkim Jewels Ltd, Sikkim Time Corporation, Government Fruit Preservation Factory, and Sikkim Precision Industries Ltd, a state notification issued in the last week of July says.

“A committee has been formed under my chairmanship to see how these units have been performing for the past seven-eight years. The emphasis will be on the last two years of the units, their products and demands. More or less, the units should be self-reliant but at the moment, they are not doing well,” said state chief secretary T.T. Dorji.

The other members of the high-level committee are additional chief secretary, finance secretary and law secretary. The industries secretary will be the committee secretary. The committee has been tasked to decide on the procedure to be adopted for the disinvestment. It will submit its recommendations to the state government within three months.

The chief secretary said that the PSUs are more or less dependent on the state government.

“We have to see how the units are faring and whether they should be disinvested or made into joint ventures,” he said.

“The products should have to be globally competitive or we have no choice but to discontinue (backing them). We will look into the products and see whether these have markets. We need to have a re-look and decide whether to go for privatisation or joint ventures.”

The 13th Finance Committee had recommended that all states draw up a roadmap for closure of non-working PSUs by March 2011 and consider their divestment.

“This is an issue that is discussed annually. Every year, the state government has been giving signals to the units that they have to be viable and self-sustaining. We cannot extend time every year. This time we are taking a re-look and will come up with a decision,” said the chief secretary.

Regarding the future of the employees in these units, Dorjee said the committee would be looking into every aspect while drafting its recommendations.

The oldest PSU in the state is the Government Fruit Preservation Factory (GFPF) based at Singtam in East Sikkim. It was established way back in 1956 and produces 40 odd items including pickles, juice, ketchup, jam and marmalade with most of the raw material procured from the local farmers.

There are 90 employees in the factory.

Spread over 10 acres, the GFPF is said to be in a financial mess for the past decade like the other three (see chart).

Sources said although the GFPF had shown tangible improvement in certain sections like reduction in cost of production, aggressive marketing, expansion of markets in the past eight-nine months, deeply ingrained problems remained and are expected to remain so till there is a complete re-haul.

There are two more PSUs under the state government, the Directorate of Handicrafts and Handlooms established in 1957, and the Sikkim Khadi and Village Industries Board set up in 1978.

Nothing has been said about their disinvestment yet.

MEANWHILE

Security alert in the State for I-Day – good move, precaution always much better than cure ?!!

From Haal Khabar
By Pravin Rai

Gangtok, August 11, 2010: Security has been beefed up across the state ahead of the Independence Day celebrations.

“Vigil has been stepped up in Sikkim”, Mr.N.Sridhar Rao, DIG Range said here today. Checking of vehicles at key entry points in Rangpo and Melli and patrolling in Capital areas, guest houses and hotels across the state had been intensified since last week, informed Mr.Rao.

A strict watch is being kept to thwart any anti-social elements. The Panchayats at the village levels have also been asked to keep a tab on new faces or any unclaimed baggage and articles at public places.

At specific venue of the celebrations, particularly the Paljor Stadium in the capital, where the day will be organised and its VIP areas are under round the clock vigil informed Mr.Rao. “Keeping in view of the national security, the central and state intelligence agencies have been alerted”, he added.

It is also informed that security arrangements have also been tightened at crowded places including market areas, bus terminus and public places.

Alleged fraudster denied bail by CJM, sent to 7 days’ police remand

Rajesh Jhunjhunwala - the conman who couldn't get away, high-flying days now over forever ?!! (TT)

From The Sikkim Report staff reporter

Gangtok, Aug 11, 2010: Rajen Jhunjhunwala, who was arrested by Criminal Investigating Department (CID) on Monday, August 9, for alleged fraud in getting a contract from RMD department in July 2010 to maintain and operate Khanchendzonga Tourist Villa cum-Socio-Cultural Amusement Park of Ranka, was produced before the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate on Tuesday, 10th August. The court denied bail to the accused and sent him to 7 days’ police remand for further investigation.
It may be recalled that, on the basis of a compliant by RMDD, State Vigilance department detained the accused at Rongpo check post on August 9 when he was reportedly trying to cross the border “in the disguise of a labourer” and subsequently handed him over to CID.

RMD department became suspicious about the contractor after noticing discrepancies in his financial documents submitted with the tender and reported the matter to Vigilance. According to CID, the discrepancies are in regard to a Rs.25 lakh cheque of UCO Bank, Alipore Branch and TDR of Rs.1.5 crore from Allahabad Bank, Tollygunge, West Bengal.

Taxi fare increases by 15% – against fuel price rises only, what about cost of living ?!!

From The Sikkim Reporter Correspondent

Gangtok, Aug 11, 2010: State government has revised the taxi fare to 15% through Notification on 7 August 2010. It has directed the State Transport Authority to revise the fares with immediate effect.

The new enhance rate will pinch the purse of the commuters a little more. The revised rate will be as follows: from Gangtok to India Press Rs.14/, India Press gate Rs.11/, Burtuk Swastik Rs.16/, Congress Bhawan Rs. 8/, TNHS Rs.12/, Lower Sichey Bye Pass Rs.18/. Arithang Middle Rs.10/, Deorali Rs.9/, Tadong Convoy Ground Rs.14/, District Court Rs 14/, Tadong Bazaar Rs16/.

Gangtok to Namchi via Damthang Rs105/, Jorethang via Melli Rs.112/, Siliguri 143/ Kurseong Rs.210/, Kalimpong Rs.100/, Darjeeling via Peshok Rs.150/, Bagdogra Rs155/, New Jalpaiguri Rs.155/, Jaigaon Rs.230. Regarding the Government’s decision to revise the rate, Local Taxi Drivers’ Association said that they are not satisfied with the new rates.

MEANWHILE

Taxi fare revised, drivers not satisfied – sorely need more or just being greedy ?!!

Traffic Jam at Gangtok Taxi Stand - need an equitable roundup ?!! (Darpan)

From Haal Khabar
By Pravin Rai

Gangtok, August 11, 2010: In order to stabilize the fuel price hike, the state government had revised the compensation package, increasing 15 to 20 percent in the current fare, for the taxi drivers in the state by issuing notifications on August 7 but the drivers are unhappy and not satisfied, as such.

Earlier, the rate for local taxis per km. was fixed at Rs 9.85 upto 50 km and at present the revised rate had gone up to Rs 11.32.

It is also learnt that the state government has revised the fares by issuing notification after 4 years. The previous notification was issued on 1st September, 2006.

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