KOCHI l MONDAY l SEPTEMBER 23, 2019 l `7.00 l PAGES 34 l LATE CITY EDITION FUEL PRICES KEEP CREEPING UP FOR SIXTH STRAIGHT DAY Petrol rose by D1.59 a litre in last six days, the most since daily price revision began in 2017, due to attack on Saudi oil facilities GLOBAL OIL RATES UP AFTER SAUDI ATTACK PETROL COSTS COULD RISE FURTHER Petrol is now at I73.62 a litre in Delhi, the national benchmark. Diesel, which rose I1.31, is at I66.74/litre there. The Sept 14 attacks lead to a 15% spike in global crude prices. Though oil has since cooled, it is still over $64/barrel, a $4 rise in a week. Tensions are high after Saudi and US held Iran responsible, and analysts said it would add a risk premium to oil prices ■ ■ Saudi Arabia supplies around 17% of India’s crude oil and 32% of LPG, and is key to our energy security after US sanctions on Iran. Riyadh has now sought deferment of some LPG supplies India’s retailers consider a 15-day average of global prices before fixing rates. Prices could rise further if rates stay at current levels 2,00,000 TONNES OF LPG SUPPLIED BY SAUDI ARABIA TO INDIA EVERY MONTH CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Welcoming President Trump at the ‘Howdy Modi’ rally in Houston, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “When I met him for the first time, Trump told me that India has a true friend in the White House.” The promise has been kept. Trump reciprocated by saying under Modi, the world is seeing a strong, thriving, sovereign India Trump harps on border security for India EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE US President Donald Trump on Sunday alluded to the difficult relationship India has with Pakistan, saying border security is important for both the US and India. He said this at the ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston after Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced him to a gathering of over 50,000 cheering IndianAmericans as a person he admires for the concern he has shown to make America great. Recalling his first interaction with Trump, he said, “The US president told me India has a true friend in the White House,” adding his presence at Houston’s ‘Howdy Modi’ event was a big testimony to that relationship. Describing the event as showcasing the heartbeats of BJP may field Kummanam in Vattiyoorkavu A R U N L A K S H M A N @ T’Puram THE BJP is likely to field senior leader Kummanam Rajasekharan in Vattiyoorkavu in the assembly byelection to be held on October 21. K Surendran and Sobha Surendran are being seriously considered for Manjeshwar and Konni. Sobha is the frontrunner for Konni. P K Krishnadas and Ravisha Tantri Kuntar are the two other names being discussed for Manjeshwar. In Ernakulam, it could be A N Radhakrishnan, C G Rajagopal or B Gopalakrishnan. The BJP core committee meeting in Kochi on Sunday decided to forward the list to New Delhi for final clearance after getting the state NDA leadership’s approval. After quitting as Mizoram governor, Kummanam challenged Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvananthapuram in the Lok Sabha elections. He lost, but cut the Congress candidate’s lead to 2,836 in the Vattiyoorkavu assembly constituency. In the 2016 assembly election, Kummanam had lost to K Muraleedharan (Cong) by 7,622 votes ● More on P5 WITH THIS ISSUE THE ESSENTIAL CAMPUS DIGEST YOUR LIFE COACH 34 PAGES, INCLUDING 16 OF edex + 4 PAGES OF KOCHI EXPRESS the two largest democracies in the world, Modi said the bilateral relationship has reached new heights. Re c i p ro c at i n g M o d i ’s warmth, the US president described Modi as America’s greatest, most loyal friend, and said he is doing an exceptional job for India. Trump also said he was committed to taking on Islamic terrorism for which he got a standing ovation from the gathering including Modi. Modi arrived at the crowded stadium in Houston to a rousing reception. Welcoming him, Houston’s mayor Sylvester Turner said that Indians have been a key figure in the development of his city and handed over the keys of the city to him. “In Houston, we say howdy in more than 140 languages,” Turner said, “and this morning we are saying howdy to Modi!” Houston has one of the largest concentration of desis in America and Indian-Americans from other regions of the US too had come to see Modi in person. Sporting caps sporting the Indian tricolour, Bhavin Parikh of Sacramento said he and his wife Shipti were there to show their support for the Indian prime minister. “We are big fans of Modi and what he is doing for India,” Parikh told AFP . Earlier in the day, Trump said he and his “friend” Modi will have a “good time” at the mega event. “Will be in Houston to be with my friend. Will be a great day in Texas!” Trump tweeted. Modi reciprocated with a tweet: “It surely will be a great day! Looking forward to meeting you very soon @ realDonaldTrump.” “He (Modi) asked if I would go with him and I’ve accepted and we’re going to have a good Admire President Trump’s sense of leadership, he has made US economy strong again - Narendra Modi Tax cuts: India hopes to draw Apple from China J AYA N TA R O Y C H O W D H U R Y @ New Delhi INDIA expects the huge slash in the tax structure for new companies to 15% to act as a lodestone for biggies such as Apple to relocate to India from China with which the US is locked in a trade war. “The top consideration of (low corporate) tax is now being fulfilled by us. No country (in the region) is offering 15% tax without surcharge for a new unit being set up … so the logic (of relocation) is in our favour,” said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a select briefing here on Sunday . ART 370 TALKING POINT BEFORE POLLS: SHAH EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Mumbai THE removal of special status to Jammu & Kashmir was the main talking point ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly polls, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Sunday, with analysts saying that the election would be a referendum on the Centre’s dilution of Article 370. Addressing a rally here to explain his gover nment’s decision on Kashmir, the BJP national president said, “I am happy that the campaign for the state polls is beginning with the discussion on our decision to remove special status to Kashmir. This is the first election after the dilution of Article 370 and people of Maharashtra should decide whether they want to side with parties that espouse the cause of nationalism or promote their own dynasties.” Criticising Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for calling the Kashmir move a political issue, Shah said the BJP views it from the perspective of patriotism and added, “Three generations of the BJP have given their lives for Kashmir.” Pakistan-occupied Kashmir () would not have come into existence had former PM Jawaharlal Nehru not declared an untimely ceasefire with the neighbour, the Union home minister claimed. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the country’s first home minister, should have handled the issue, not Nehru, he added. The government had announced slashing of corporate taxes to 22% last Friday. The new rates are in line with many global trade partners, including the US, which had cut rates to 21% two years ago. Sitharaman had also announced that new units would be taxed at an even lower 15%. And new units of even those established by existing players would qualify for lower taxes. “For example, Apple and its eco-system can now move … if they find it more attractive to relocate to India,” said Sitharaman. Apple’s biggest mobile assembler Foxconn has already moved to India and is believed to be planning to expand its facilities here. And many of its suppliers and sub-suppliers are thinking likewise. Besides Apple, a large number of other American companies are considering relocating out of China due to high tariffs imposed by US President Donald Trump on imports from Doubling farm income: Niti doesn’t seem keen K U M A R V I K R A M @ New Delhi DOUBLING of farmers’ income by 2022 is an ambitious target of the Modi government. But the Niti Aayog, the government’s premier think-tank that is meant to provide “critical knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurial support,” has not held a single meeting on how to go about it since 2015. All that the Niti Aayog has done is to bring out a policy paper called “Doubling farmers’ income: Rational, strategy pros, pects and action plan.” It was prepared in March 2017 by its member, Ramesh Chand, and unveiled at the third meeting of the Niti Aayog’s governing council on April 23, 2017 in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, chief ministers and Governors. “(The) Niti Aayog did not conduct any meetings on doubling of farmers’ income since 2015,” it said in a reply to an RTI application by this newspaper. It has also “not held any meetings with state governments or CMs on the matter,” it admitted. VIGILANCE PROBE Audit had unearthed rigging of flyover tender A J AY K A N T H @Kochi EVEN as Vigilance and AntiCorruption Bureau (VACB) is digging out evidence to prove former PWD minister V K Ebrahim Kunju’s role in the Palarivattom flyover scam, new documents reveal that massive irregularities in awarding the project to RDS Project Ltd were first unearthed by Accountant General (AG) of Kerala. Documents accessed by Express from the state secretariat show letters were sent between Roads and Bridges Develop- PM Modi and I have come to Houston to celebrate everything that unites India and US - Donald Trump ment Corporation of Kerala (RBDCK) and Kerala Road Fund Board (KRFB) on the AG’s 201415 audit findings that revealed violations in the tender process. In a letter sent to RBDCK managing director, KRFB Chief Executive Officer (CEO) had sought details after the audit report mentioned in detail the violations by the agencies concerned to favour RDS Project, which constructed the flyover, in the tender process. The contract for the `42-crore project was awarded in 2014 and the flyover was opened in 2016. Within three years, it had to be closed down after the structure started developing cracks. PWD officers said the vigilance team had seized the letters as part of the investigation. “The audit report had clearly outlined the irregularities. The accused in the case are all part of the conspiracy,” said a senior PWD officer. The vigilance probe had already found that the request by RDS Project for a mobilisation advance was not discussed in the board meeting of RBDCK and the same was forwarded to the state government for approval without the approval of the board. Even in the agreement signed between RBDCK and RDS Project on March 4, 2014, there was no clause for releasing the mobilisation ad● More on P6 vance. The audit report had clearly outlined the irregularities. The accused involved in the case are all part of the conspiracy A senior PWD officer that country. Other factors such as rising labour cost and arbitrary changes in law have also disturbed European and Japanese firms, many of whom are in the process of shifting base, mostly to neighbouring Vietnam and Asean countries. She added that logistics and factors such as stability rule of , law, comfort levels about language etc., besides taxes would weigh in on investment relocation decisions. CONTINUED ON: P7 time,” Trump said minutes before he boarded Marine One from the White House lawns. “I hear it’s a tremendous crowd,” he added. Trump said he accepted the PM’s invitation to join him in Houston several weeks ago. “I love India,” Trump said. Taglined ‘Shared Dreams, Bright Futures’, the event focused on the contribution of Indo-Americans in the US and the strong partnership between the US and India. A cultural programme preceded Modi’s address, showcasing the diversity in the Indian-American community. Around 400 desi artists performed in the 90-minute music and dance show. “Our hope is that each person sees themselves in at least one form of expression and recognises that whatever mix of Indian and American they are, it is just right,” Heena Patel, CEO of MELA Arts Connect gram, told PTI. EXPRESS READ Byelection: Pala goes to polls today; 13 in fray Kottayam: The byelection to the Pala assembly seat, which became vacant following the demise of Kerala Congress leader K M Mani, will be held on Monday. Voting will be from 7am to 6pm. A total of 13 candidates are in the fray. P5 BIG PICTURE: After devastating flood, the state manages to bolster its image of being a major destination by finding new ways to attract tourists. Express takes a look | P2
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