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23 Nov 2012
Clears 9.5% stake sale in NTPC, may get `13,000 cr; however, under pressure puts B’desh land swap deal on hold Price control now covers 348 drugs as against 74 earlier

While deferring the legislation to operationalise land swap agreement with Bangladesh for want of political consensus, the Union cabinet on Thursday approved the national pharmaceutical pricing policy as well as disinvestment in National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC).

With the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and Trinamool Congress vowing to oppose redrawing the map, the cabinet with met here under the chairmanship of prime minister Manmohan Singh deferred decision on the constitution amendment bill, titled ‘Implementation of India-Bangladesh Land and Boundary Agreement and Protocol to Land Boundary Agreement’. The legislation envisages handing over 111 enclaves under adverse possession to Bangladesh in exchange of 57 enclaves.

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As the BJP and TMC are firmly against the agreement, the government sources say it was necessary to explore political consensus to muster two–third majority necessary for approving any Constitutional amendment. Bangladesh government has been pressing India to expedite the ratification of the protocols signed in 2011.

Drug Policy: The cabinet, however, cleared the new drug policy, as the Supreme Court was breathing down its neck to devise a policy by next Tuesday. According to new policy cleared by the GoM led by Sharad Pawar on Wednesday, the price control shall now cover 348 drugs instead of just 74. It also debars the companies from using the wholesale price index to raise the prices of the essential medicines on their own every year as they will have to seek approval from the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority whenever they want to raise the prices of the items covered under the Drug Price Control Order.

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Any composition change in the controlled formulations will go back to the authority, so as to prevent the companies circumventing the price control by adding new ingredients to the essential medicines, taking advantage of the loophole allowing them freedom to price combinations at any price.

A major relief to the consumer comes from the new policy envisaging the price cap based on the simple arithmetic average of all drugs in a segment with more than one per cent market share, instead of the weighted average. Thus the weightage of the market share will not be reflected in the ceiling price of the essential drugs.

NTPC: The cabinet approved to disinvest 9.50% stake in the NTPC. Hoping to garner around Rs 13,000 crore. It further reallocated four coal blocks to the state-run company, which had been taken away from it earlier. The cabinet has cleared sale of about 783.3 million shares, resulting in 9.5% dilution in government stakes.

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