Financial sleuths can now share info with foreign counterparts

New Delhi, Mar 29 | Updated: Mar 30 2007, 05:30am hrs
Aimed at curbing money laundering, the government on Thursday allowed Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU-IND), the central agency for monitoring suspect financial transactions, to ink pacts with its overseas counterparts for sharing information.

The information or documents received this way would be treated as confidential and subject to official secrecy. The agreements envisages that such information would not be disseminated to any third party, information and broadcasting minister P R Dasmunsi said after the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) met on Thursday.

The areas of information would include screening and processing requests from foreign FIUs, disseminating information to them, besides establishing and maintaining relationship with them, he said.

Cabinet has also allowed Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum to charter ships directly for oil transportation instead of going through the governments ship chartering agency Transchart.

The petroleum ministry has been pitching for direct ship chartering by the oil public sector companies as it would provide a level playing field with private sector oil companies who had complete charge of their logistics arrangements. BPCL and HPCL will now set up chartering cells and may continue to seek advice of Transchart.

Big Moves

Has allowed Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum to charter ships directly for oil transportation
Has decided to acquire two passenger-cum-cargo vessels that would cost Rs 82.35 crore
Gave approval to get six Landing Barges at a cost of Rs 51.06 cr.

The Cabinet has also decided to acquire two passenger-cum-cargo vessels that would cost Rs 82.35 crore. The vessels would each have a capacity to ferry 250 passengers and carry 100 metric tonnes of cargo. The vessels will provide transport facilities to the Islanders in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep, Dasmunsi told reporters. They would be obtained during 2009-2010 through a competitive bidding format, he said.

The CCEA also gave its approval to acquire six Landing Barges at a cost of Rs 51.06 crore. The delivery of barges will be obtained within 24 months starting from December, 2007, he said.

The Cabinet also approved an Rs 2,610.14 crore package to Bhutan for providing project assistance and development subsidy under the neighbouring countrys extended Ninth Plan.

Indias package for Bhutan's extended Ninth Plan (July 2002-June 2008) will cover Development Subsidy, Government of India Project Tied Assistance and Refunds and Subsidies.

The CCEA has also approved the proposal for a special grant of Rs100 crore each to Mumbai, Madras and Calcutta Universities to set up centers of nana-sciences and medical-technology/bio-medical technology-in a phased manner. The special grant has been sanctioned to these universities on the occasion of 150th year celebration for their research projects.