Govt should not be running airports and airlines, says Hardeep Singh Puri

The government should not be running airports and airlines, Civil Aviation Minister said on Sunday, adding that he hopes to privatise Air India during 2020.

His remarks come at a time when the government has opposed the Union Cabinet’s approval on August 19 to lease out the to under the public-private partnership (PPP) model for a period of 50 years.

Addressing a virtual meet on Namo app, Puri said, “I can tell you from my heart the government should not be running airports and the government should not be running airlines.”

The Centre-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) owns and manages more than 100 airports, including the one in Kerala’s capital city.

On Air India’s privatisation, Puri said, “As a going concern, one that is attractive to potential bidders, we should privatise it (Air India). And I am hopeful that we will be able to complete that privatisation process during this year.”

Last Tuesday, the Central government extended by two months the deadline for placing bids for Air India till October 30 as the Covid-19 fallout has disrupted economic activity globally.

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Cheaper diamonds bring life into the hidden world of gem trading

For the past six months, the global diamond hubs in Antwerp, Belgium, and have been at a standstill, with cutting and polishing factories closed and trading floors shuttered. Now, a capitulation on prices by the biggest miners is sparking the industry back to life.

After refusing to budge on diamond prices during much of the pandemic, and Russian rival Alrosa PJSC decided last week they saw enough signs of recovering demand and seized the opportunity, cutting some prices by almost 10 per cent. The impact was instant, as rough diamond buyers snapped up about half a billion dollars in uncut gems, according to people familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

The resurgence came the same week Tiffany & Co. said its jewelry sales were improving monthly, adding to optimism the entire industry is rebounding. The developments will bring relief to a supply chain that’s been paralyzed since the pandemic hit, with jewelry stores closed, cutters and polishers stuck at home and traders locked out of key producing countries.

“The worst I think is past us and there are reasons

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Montenegro Votes In Tense Election Dominated By Church Row

Montenegrins voted in force Sunday in an election that could weaken the three-decade domination of a pro-West party after a year of protests and high tension with supporters of the influential Orthodox church.

A dynamic reformist to some and a corrupt autocrat to others, President Milo Djukanovic has led the Adriatic nation for half of his life, taking it from the end of communism in the 1990s to independence from Serbia in 2006 and more recently into NATO, to the dismay of Russia.

His Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) has never lost an election.

But its majority in parliament is razor thin, and this year the party faces a challenge from an emboldened right-wing and pro-Serb opposition that wants closer links with Belgrade and Moscow.

The run-up to the election was marked by inflammatory rhetoric from both sides, with police warning of possible unrest on voting day.

But the polls closed without major incidents at 1800 GMT and turnout was high despite the coronavirus pandemic.

An hour before voting ended nearly 75 percent of registered voters cast ballots compared to under 71 percent in the last poll in 2016, according to the election monitor CeMI.

“I hope that everything will

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States to bear interest burden for borrowing Rs 2.35 trn shortfall in GST

States will have to bear the interest burden if they decide to borrow the entire Rs 2.35 trillion shortfall estimated in goods and services tax (GST) revenue: that’s the second option proposed the central government has proposed to raise resources to compensate states amid inadequate cess collection.

The finance ministry, in a letter to states, Saturday shared the details of the two options, which states will examine over seven days. The Council, which met Thursday, will convene again after for discussions.

The centre gave states two options at the Council meeting for compensation: they can either borrow up to Rs 97,000 crore, which is a shortfall arising out of implementation or the entire Rs 2.35 trillion, which accounts for the Covid-19 situation.

States, if they take up the first option, will have to borrow Rs 970,00 crore through issue of debt under a Special Window coordinated by the Ministry of Finance. In case of the second option, the entire shortfall of Rs 235,000 crores may be borrowed by states through issue of market debt.

As second option, “the interest shall be paid by the States from their resources,” said the finance ministry’s letter.

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