Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Employment Policies and Social Sustainability: The Human Dimension in the Global Economy

Speech by John Lipsky, First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
At G8 Social Summit 2009
Rome, Italy, March 31, 2009 

I would like to welcome you to this session and also to thank the Italian Government for organizing this meeting. The issues being discussed here are central to the IMF’s mandate, as laid out in our Articles of Agreement: It is “to facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade and to contribute thereby to the promotion and maintenance of a high level of employment and real income.” Of course, the global economic crisis we are facing today serves to underscore the central importance of these issues.

The Economic and Financial Crisis

As we are all aware, we are confronting a major challenge. Our latest projection is that world output will decline by between 0.5 and 1.5 percent in 2009, with only a very gradual recovery beginning in 2010. The crisis began in advanced economies, but it has spread to emerging and low income countries, and the ranks of the unemployed are swelling everywhere. And this worrisome trend isn’t likely to be reversed quickly.

Even these grim projections assume the implementation of strongly supportive policy actions, without which the outcome would be far worse. In discussions with our global membership about how unprecedented global cooperation will be needed in order to overcome this crisis, we have emphasized four key messages:

• First, priority must be given to supporting financial sector restructuring wherever normal credit channels have ceased to function effectively. Our long experience has demonstrated clearly that a sound financial sector is a “sine qua non” for economic recovery. Already, public funds are being used for this purpose, but more will be required. Such efforts may be politically difficult and controversial, but they also are necessary if satisfactory growth is to be re-established any time soon.

• Second, expansionary monetary and budget policies are needed to support aggregate demand both this year and next. However, with the impact of monetary policy weakened by financial system problems and with interest rates in key economies already approaching zero, innovative credit policy also may be needed in some economies. At the same time, fiscal policy inevitably has to play a key role. The IMF recommended an overall discretionary fiscal stimulus for the G20 economies of 2 percent of GDP in 2009 and 2010, with the distribution across countries depending on their specific conditions. By and large, countries have responded appropriately and decisively to this recommendation for 2009, but more likely will be needed next year. In every case, however, care should be taken to ensure that medium-term fiscal sustainability can be preserved.

The recommended fiscal expansion will have a significant impact on labor markets: assuming that it raises GDP growth by 2 percentage points—close to the mid-point of our estimated range—about 20 million jobs would be saved in the G-20 countries alone. Moreover, the unprecedented simultaneity of the policy response is proving to be powerful. According to IMF analysis, fully one-third of the beneficial growth impact of the anticipated 2009 fiscal action stems from international spillovers.

• Third, with emerging market economies suffering from both a drying up of capital flows and weakened exports—in several cases despite fundamentally strong domestic policies—the Fund needs to step in to directly provide much-needed financing and to catalyze financing from others. In response to this need, as I will describe in a moment, we are increasing our lending capacity and undertaking fundamental reforms to make our lending facilities more appropriate and effective.

• Fourth, low income countries are especially vulnerable and can ill afford a significant slowdown in economic growth. The Fund and its international partners must play their critical supporting role, including by significantly increasing concessional lending.

Safeguarding Globalization’s Benefits

In addition to the actions I just outlined, it is important to ask whether the crisis suggests that even more fundamental changes to our global economic system are needed. Some perspective is appropriate: World trade grew by five times in real terms since 1980, rising as a share of world GDP from 36 percent to 55 percent. Financial integration also intensified: Total cross-border financial assets more than doubled as a share of global GDP since 1990, rising from 58 percent to more than 130 percent. These developments shouldn’t be taken for granted.

At the same time, legitimate concerns have been raised about the potential social costs of an increasingly integrated global economy, most notably rising inequality. In the current crisis, some observers also have questioned whether globalization is conducive to sustainable growth. While such questioning is natural, it seems to me that the post-1990 phase of globalization has been extremely positive on balance, accelerating growth and helping to bring literally hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

This positive view certainly remains dominant: Despite the almost unprecedented economic pressures of recent months, no country has responded by trying to close itself off from global markets. Indeed, G-8 leaders—including the participants in this Summit—have spoken forcefully against both trade and financial protectionism and have committed themselves to enhancing global economic cooperation.

Nonetheless, a crisis-heightened challenge exists to ensure that the benefits of globalization are fully grasped and broadly shared. The Fund has been engaged in meeting this challenge. For example, our October 2007 World Economic Outlook focused on the theme of Globalization and Inequality. Our analysis suggested that it is the specific form of recent technological advances, rather than globalization per se, that has contributed most to rising inequality. In fact, our research indicates that increased trade integration is associated with a decline in inequality (Although the most recent phase of financial integration may have been associated with higher inequality).

There is no doubt, however, that we can and should do better at spreading the gains from global integration. Thinking beyond the current crisis, there are several basic ways this might be accomplished:

• Reducing labor market rigidities enables workers to pursue changing opportunities by lower the costs and risks of job changes.

• Workers should receive support and assistance in the process of reacting to economic evolution. Improved education and training helps workers keep up with technological advances and to upgrade skills.

• Strengthened social protection measures, such as more effective unemployment benefits, also can ease the transition process and encourage skill upgrading.

• Policies that increase the availability of finance to the less privileged and that advance trade liberalization—for example by helping to increase agricultural exports from developing countries—also would help spread the benefits of globalization.

These policies—and others—are relevant even in the current crisis environment. For now, it will be necessary to focus on strengthening and better targeting social safety nets and on providing opportunities for displaced workers to regain employment as rapidly as possible. Such measures also would boost automatic stabilizers, thereby supporting near-term fiscal expansion, but without creating sizable long-term fiscal obligations.
As alluded to earlier, increased global integration also creates broader macroeconomic challenges. The current crisis has demonstrated that we need more cooperative and coordinated efforts to ensure that the benefits of globalization can be sustained. Shocks to large and systemic countries can transmit rapidly to the rest of the world through both trade and financial channels.

The IMF emphasized these risks during the innovative Multilateral Consultation on Global Imbalances we sponsored in 2006 and 2007 with the euro area, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Early and decisive implementation of the recommended policies that emerged from the Consultation would have reduced considerably the risk of a subsequent financial and economic crisis, not least because it would have raised savings in those countries where the household sector was accumulating excessive debt, and increased consumption in countries where saving was exceptionally high, and where growth was unusually dependent on external demand. More recently, we have seen all too clearly the need for a coherent international approach to financial regulation and supervision.

The Role of the Fund

Let me now turn to the role the Fund is playing in the context of the crisis, and how we are working to contribute to both economic and social sustainability.

• First, the Fund is providing very significant financing—more than $50 billion to date—to countries hardest hit by the global recession, including several emerging market countries here in Europe that are suffering from a drying up of capital inflows. The Fund’s resources have cushioned the painful economic adjustment currently underway, although these countries’ circumstances remain difficult.

• The design of Fund programs has reflected the need for increased social protection. For example, Hungarian low-income pensioners were excluded from otherwise unavoidable benefit reductions. In Ukraine, authorities are committed to appropriating more funds for unemployment insurance. In Pakistan, social safety net spending is being tripled. Subsidies and social assistance for low-income groups also have been protected in El Salvador and Belarus. Working in close collaboration with the World Bank, Fund programs also seek to improve benefit targeting.

• Second, the Fund’s members just last week approved a set of far-reaching reforms to the way we lend. Most notably, we have created a Flexible Credit Line for countries with a track record of strong policies. Once approved, these loans can be disbursed quickly and without traditional ex-post performance criteria, if and when the need arises. We intend that this new facility will make it far more likely that countries will consult with the Fund well before they are in serious difficulty, thereby contributing importantly to crisis prevention.

• Third, we have increased the amounts that we can lend. Normal access limits are being doubled, giving confidence to countries that adequate resources will be available to meet their basic financing needs, while helping to avoid the worst effects of the “sudden stop” in capital flows that already has taken place.

• Fourth, the Fund is redesigning its lending policies for low-income countries, in order to strengthen our capacity to provide concessional short-term and emergency financing. The IMF’s objective is to at least double its concessional lending capacity.

• Fifth, our members are organizing to increase the Fund’s resources. As many of you are aware, the Japanese government already finalized a $100 billion loan to the Fund and we anticipate commitments for significant additional resources at this week’s G-20 Leader’s Summit. This historic initiative will provide confidence that the Fund will have financial resources adequate to deal with any eventuality.

• Last, but certainly not least, the IMF is focused on learning from the ongoing crisis to help ensure that the global economy will become more resilient. We are working closely with other international organizations to help national authorities strengthen their financial supervision. And we are enhancing our ability to identify, and communicate effectively about systemic risks. In particular, the G20 Leaders requested the Fund to assess the implementation of anti-crisis monetary and budget policies, to collaborate with the WTO to guard against the risk of growing protectionism, and to produce an early warning exercise jointly with the Financial Stability Forum.

In summary, we are facing the most difficult economic challenge in many decades, requiring a coordinated response on several fronts. It is critical that we not allow our current difficulties to obscure the important gains that increased global integration has delivered, and I am confident that we will not. The Fund has been seeking to respond quickly and creatively to help our members deal with their near-term problems and to ensure that the global economy emerges stronger and more resilient from this exceptionally difficult period. In all our efforts, we remain alert to the social dimensions of our actions and on the essential point that a nation’s economic policies must be aimed at improving the lives of all its citizens. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues around the world towards this overarching and enduring goal.

A Flood of new Trade Restrictions followed the last G20

The G20 Commitment against Protectionism must be a real one

The last G20 meeting was held on 15th November. At that meeting delegates pledged to resist protectionism. Almost immediately on their return to their capitals G20 countries, producing 56% of global steel (66% if you exclude the EU steel production), took protectionist actions (see attached documents).

Recent steel-specific government measures provide graphic evidence of intense protectionism in steel markets outside the EU as the economic crisis deepens.

“We have witnessed an explosion of steel trade restrictive and distortive measures by virtually all of our major trading partners over the last months in response to contracting global steel demand”, explains Gordon Moffat, EUROFER Director General. Most disruptive are new export incentives aiming at exporting the way out of the domestic steel crisis instead of effectively addressing issues such as excess capacities fuelled by massive subsidization, in countries such as China”, adds Gordon Moffat.

Domestic steel support measures include a wide range of import barriers and export incentives restricting and potentially distorting steel trade flows:

Applied steel import tariffs have been increased (India, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia, Vietnam)

Automatic steel import licensing has been made restrictive through additional administrative control and delay, and inspection tightened with additional cost burden for import business (India, Malaysia, Thailand)

Mandatory standard certification requirements (India, Indonesia, Malaysia)

Intensifying steel product-specific use of fiscal export incentives by increasing export VAT rebates and zeroing of export taxes (China) 

“Buy national steel” clauses (USA, Iran)

“Pressure from the combined effect of this unprecedented proliferation of steel trade restrictions is building up and will unavoidably trigger massive diversion of steel towards the EU market once demand picks up”, warns the EUROFER Director General.

“At a time when EU steel producers are continuing individually to take drastic measures to bring output into line with demand, we call on the Commission and the member states to take vigorous action to secure open markets. In particular, the upcoming G20 summit should make a real commitment against protectionism by adopting a stand-still and transparency covering any measure with potential direct or indirect trade restrictive or distortive effect, whether or not it is within WTO limits”, concludes Gordon Moffat.

SAIL sets high production, sales targets for FY ’10

Secretary (Steel) Shri P.K. Rastogi (left) and SAIL Chairman Shri S.K. Roongta exchanging the MoU documents at Udyog Bhawan today.

New Delhi: 

Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has finalised its target to produce around 12 million tonnes of saleable steel during financial year 2009-10. The higher target has been set despite the current economic slowdown. The broad details of SAIL’s production plan were formalised today through the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for 2009-10 with the Ministry of Steel, Govt. of India. Secretary (Steel) Shri P.K. Rastogi and SAIL Chairman Shri S.K. Roongta signed the MoU at Udyog Bhawan in the presence of senior officials of the Ministry of Steel and SAIL Directors. 

The MoU also focuses on production of higher volume of value-added steel products of over 3 million tonnes during the year to meet the growing requirements of high-end user segments. The MoU sets a challenging target of achieving a sales turnover of over Rs. 40,000 crore during 2009-10. 

In the MoU, SAIL has also firmed up its techno-economic targets. These include achievement of lower specific energy consumption, as well as higher levels of blast furnace productivity, e-procurement, etc. 

SAIL has attained ‘Excellent’ rating in MoU score for the last six consecutive years. The company has also received Merit Awards from the Department of Public Enterprises for its performance on MoU parameters during the last three years. It is expected that for 2008-09 too, the company will maintain its ‘Excellent’ rating in performance.

Million TETRA Terminals shipped by Motorola: A Global Industry Milestone

Committed to leveraging its global portfolio of mission-critical communication solutions to serve the India market 

New Delhi, – 31 March, 2009 – Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), world leader in the development and deployment of TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) communication solutions, announced the shipment of its one millionth TETRA terminal. The customer receiving this milestone terminal is the Jordan Armed Forces (JAF).

Motorola’s TETRA solutions in India continue their stronghold in the public safety sector while gaining fast traction in large and strategic infrastructure projects including metros and airports. Recently, Motorola won contracts to build digital trunked radio communication network (TETRA) for Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad International Airports to serve their round-the-clock mission-critical communication needs. Motorola’s journey with TETRA contracts in India started with a Metro project in 2001. Motorola’s communication solution also serves key rail network in India as well as the needs of the three wings of the National defense forces.

Subodh Vardhan, sales director and country head, Government & Public Safety, Motorola India, said, “Design for use is our philosophy, which stands for our commitment and support to designing and deploying devices that address the unique requirements of high risk situations. It enables users to focus on the mission, not the technology. We pride ourselves in working very closely with our customers, and incorporate their feedback and learning into the design and development of our products to ensure that our systems are not only reliable but also support the emotional and physical state of our users”

Government agencies, security agencies and first responders around the world use Motorola’s mission-critical technologies to step up security and save lives. Motorola is also a leader in setting up Government Radio Networks, a form of unified communication platform that helps multiple government agencies to collaborate and link over a common platform; examples include the city of Shanghai where Motorola’s Government Radio Network (GRN) was implemented. This system, along with several other Motorola systems in Beijing, has successfully provided full-fledged communications service during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where 60,000 TETRA radio sets were used by the various agencies supporting the games in China. South Korea has also implemented a GRN system using Motorola’s solution and it is one of the largest radio networks in Asia. Similarly, in the United Kingdom, the Airwave project enables 200,000 users to collaborate over a common platform. 


Motorola’s complete portfolio of TETRA solutions includes infrastructure, terminals, applications and services that are now in use in over 85 countries worldwide. Motorola has a long history of innovation in the two-way radio industry that stretches back to 1938 with the introduction of the Police Cruiser Radio Receiver and has helped maintain its position at the forefront of TETRA. Recent innovations include:


· The TCR1000 TETRA Radio - the smallest, full-function body worn TETRA radio available for covert operations


· The MTP850Ex TETRA portable terminal – a class leading ATEX device allowing use when in environments containing potentially explosive gas and dust

Largest Business Area in SMS group adopts traditional name SMS Demag to become SMS Siemag

As of end of March 2009, SMS Siemag is the new name of the company that has up to now been known as SMS Demag – a leading supplier of metallurgical plant and rolling mill technology for the steel and aluminum industry. It is the largest company in the SMS group in terms of order intake and sales. This explains why the range of products and services will remain the same, while in the future the name will recall the roots of the company founded more than 130 years ago by the Weiss family of entrepreneurs.
Given that all the shares in the SMS group are once again under the control of the Weiss family, the Chairman of the SMS group, Heinrich Weiss, stated that “by taking this step, my family is continuing the tradition of our family-owned company.” That tradition stretches back to the second half of the 19th century when the company was founded in the Siegerland region of Germany. What was set up as a forging business in Siegen in 1871 evolved into Siegener Maschinenbau AG (Siemag) in 1918. It started producing rolling mills in 1927.

SMS group is, under the roof of the holding SMS GmbH, a group of companies internationally
active in plant construction and mechanical engineering for the steel and nonferrous metals industry. It consists of the two Business Areas SMS Siemag and SMS Meer, which jointly form SMS metallurgy. In 2008, some 8,400 employees worldwide generated a turnover of more than EUR 3.5 bn.
So, by acquiring leading companies in metallurgical machinery and plant construction including Schloemann, Concast, MAN-GHH as well as Demag, and because of the company’s own vigorous growth,
these beginnings led to today’s SMS group that consists of Business Areas SMS Siemag (metallurgical plant and rolling mill technology) and SMS Meer (tube, long product, press and forging technology).
Now that the metallurgical branch of the former Mannesmann Demag AG acquired in 1999 is fully integrated, the largest Business Area in the SMS group has revived the traditional name of
SMS Siemag.

Motorola Introduces Next-Generation Digital Home Management Solution for MSOs

--New NBBS version offers a single, flexible and comprehensive software platform to remotely manage all devices in the digital home, reducing operational expenses and improving customer care

HORSHAM, Pa., March 30, 2009 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ -- Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) today announced the release of Motorola's NBBS DOCSIS(R) (SNMP) Remote Device Management Module. An industry-leading service assurance platform, the NBBS remote subscriber device and service management software offers comprehensive, life-cycle management of wired and wireless customer premises equipment (CPE) and other devices, for cable and WiMAX. The unified platform provides a flexible IP-based solution for managing devices from data and digital voice modems to integrated Wi-Fi(R) gateways and video set tops. It is the first open management platform designed to support cable set tops and customer premise equipment (CPE) from a range of manufacturers, and is designed to ensure the highest levels of customer satisfaction at a low total cost of ownership. 

NBBS unifies device management at a time when consumers are expanding both the number and types of data devices in the home. As the home network grows increasingly complex, consumers are actively seeking help from MSOs for technical support, regardless of whether the devices originate from the operator. The new NBBS module will enable MSOs to monitor and manage gateways, modems, and set-top devices as well as perform LAN configuration and application-level download management The end results of adopting NBBS are fewer calls to customer support, and faster resolution for customers. 

"Motorola understands that cable operators are dealing with rapidly expanding device portfolios," said Alan Lefkof, corporate vice president and general manager, Broadband Home Gateways and Software, Motorola. "With NBBS, operators can have their CPE management keep pace with the evolving device environment. In addition, the need for remote management is critical to avoiding significant incremental support costs, while retaining customers. The NBBS platform offers operators an automated solution that addresses both cost reduction and customer churn by delivering increased levels of service." 

NBBS works with any protocol and any domain, and supports all common device management interfaces, including SNMP, OMA-DM, TR-069, CLI, and HTTP-based web interfaces - providing the ultimate access to a range of devices for service provisioning, ongoing management, and support. Its broad support for multiple interfaces also allows NBBS to manage the widest variety of third-party devices and perform the following functions: 

  -- Individual or en masse updates to device software and configurations
  -- Advanced services configuration and management
  -- Real-time CPE monitoring and troubleshooting
  -- Provisioning, monitoring, and analysis
  -- Proactive detection of video faults and of slow IGMP response
  -- Fault and event correlation for single or multiple set-top devices

NBBS provides an industry-leading level of home network monitoring and management. It has already been deployed by more than 20 network operators, including many of the world's major service providers, and is currently used to monitor and manage millions of CPE devices worldwide. The NBBS remote subscriber device and service management software platform helps Motorola deliver fully integrated and customizable media solutions for a personalized, rich media experience direct to the consumer. 

Motorola Evoke

Full feature phone is packed with integrated widgets, real Web browsing and IM-style messaging

LIBERTYVILLE, Ill., March 30, 2009 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ -- Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) today introduced Motorola Evoke(TM) QA4, a socially-inclined device with a 2.8" full touch-screen that keeps you constantly connected. Evoke supports different messaging styles with a full touch-screen QWERTY keyboard and slide out traditional keypad. Customize the home screen content with integrated widgets and personalized RSS feeds(1), and use the full HTML browser(1) to share pictures, videos and more online. 

"We understand the importance of having a mobile phone that helps you stay connected simply and seamlessly with your friends and family, whether you prefer to talk, text or network," said Mark Shockley, corporate vice president and general manager, Motorola Mobile Devices. "Motorola Evoke offers the cutting-edge convenience and instant gratification of a full touch-screen, intuitive online browsing and the ability to stay plugged in on your terms." 

Constantly Connected 

Whether you stay connected through phone calls, messaging, Web feeds, social networks or all of the above(1), Evoke meets your preferences. The device offers multiple ways to make a phone call with a physical slider keypad and intuitive dialing features on the touch-screen. Equipped with an accelerometer, turn Evoke on its side to reveal a full-touch QWERTY keyboard for easy texting(1). Home screen messaging icons, predictive text and IM-style messaging(1) make it easy to follow the back-and-forth of multiple conversations. Evoke also places a premium on clear and convenient communication with noise reduction technology to help lower background noise on phone calls and Bluetooth(R) technology to keep in touch hands-free(2). 

Stay Smart 

It's easy to customize Evoke and bring the content that's important to you straight to the display. Use integrated widgets(1) to access real-time information, social networking sites, and personalized RSS feeds(1) from the Web such as weather, sports scores, stock reports, news headlines and more(1). You decide which widgets appear on your home screen and which are hidden. 

Your Info at Your Fingertips 

Use Evoke to let others feel like they're with you as you snap pictures and record video. Fast Web connectivity lets you easily publish photos and clips taken with Evoke onto your favorite blogs and sharing sites such as Picasa(TM)(1,3). Touch the screen for instant access to a full HTML browser(1) and use quick-start widgets to easily bring up popular sites such as MySpace and YouTube(TM)(1,3) . Built-in integration with MySpace also lets you keep close tabs on friends and post instant updates to your profile in one easy step(1). 

CERC restructures unscheduled interchage REGIME

Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has notified new regulations on Unscheduled Interchange (UI) for electricity grid operations and also the amendments to Indian Electricity Grid Code (IEGC). Both these regulations will come into force w.e.f. 1st April, 2009. The main objectives of the restructuring of UI regime are to enforce grid discipline and to rationalize the UI rates for the entities who abide by the specified grid operation parameters. Simultaneously, CERC has also narrowed down operational frequency range for the Indian Electricity Grid with the objective of improving the quality of supply. 

Sending a clear message that UI is not a route for trading of electricity, CERC has for the first time specified limits for the overdrawl from the grid within the permissible operating range. This is in accordance with the philosophy that main purposes of UI are enforcing grid discipline and providing for settlement rates for unintended UI Interchanges. This step should force the distribution utilities to go for planned procurement of electricity and thereby creating environment for investors to set up new power plants. Presently, many utilities postpone setting of power projects and rely on overdrawals from the grid for meeting the consumers’ demand. 

UI rate vector has also been restructured. Now, there is a differential between the rates applicable to UI (overdrawl and under drawl as against the schedule) within the normal permissible limits and the rates applicable to those entities who resort to excessive overdrawal and endanger the grid security. In other words, UI regime now differentiates between a normal operator and an habitual overdrawing entity. 

The permissible operating range for the grid has been narrowed down by 0.4 Hz. As against the earlier operating range of 49.0 Hz to 50.5 Hz, the new operating range will now be 49.2 Hz to 50.3 Hz. Prior to introduction of ABT regime in year 2002, the frequency in some of the regions such as Southern Region used to be as low as 48.0 Hz. resulting in burning of motors and sub-optimal operation of appliances. The frequency band was then narrowed down from 49.0 Hz to 50.5 Hz. There was now a general feedback from the stakeholders that frequency band needed to be further tightened. The new tighter frequency band would lead to better quality of supply to the consumers. For example, the water pumps would run at speed closer to design speed and deliver higher output. The Commission intends to further review the operating range in near future. 

The other main features of the new regulations are: 

a) The entities overdrawing from the grid below the permissible frequency of 49.2 Hz would be required to pay additional UI charge. 

b) Even for the operations within the permissible frequency range, overdrawl beyond the permissible limits would make the entities and the officer in-charge such as CEO or MD liable for penal action under sections 142 and 149 of the Electricity Act, 2003. 

c) The UI rates for the generators where tariff is regulated by the Commission have been made symmetrical for over generation and under generation. 

d) CERC would review the UI charges and the additional UI surcharge rate every six months or earlier, if required, keeping in view the prevailing fuel prices and the requirements of maintaining grid discipline. 

e) Any surplus amount left in UI pool is to be used for supporting the transmission schemes of strategic importance or for providing ancillary services by the grid operators.

Mineral production during December 2008

The mineral production from mining and quarrying sector in December 2008 was higher by 6.4% compared to that of the preceding month. The mineral sector has also shown a positive growth of 3.03% during the current financial year i.e. April-December 2008-09 as compared to that of the previous year. The mineral production in December 2008 was higher by 1.03% as compared to that of the corresponding month of previous year. 

The total value of mineral production (excluding atomic & minor minerals) in the country during December 2008 was Rs.8849 crore. The contribution of coal was the highest at Rs.3763 crore (43%). Next in the order of importance were: iron ore Rs.1754 crore, petroleum (crude) Rs.1601 crore, natural gas (utilized) Rs.834 crore, limestone Rs.203 crore and lignite Rs.179 crore. These six minerals together contributed about 94% of the total value of mineral production in December 2008. 

Production level of important minerals in December 2008 were: coal 478 lakh tonnes, lignite 22 lakhs tonnes, natural gas (utilised) 2698 million cu. m., petroleum (crude) 29 lakh tonnes, bauxite 1295 thousand tonnes, chromite 298 thousand tonnes, copper conc. 13 thousand tonnes, gold 177 kg., iron ore 181 lakh tonnes, lead conc. 11 thousand tonnes, manganese ore 197 thousand tonnes, zinc conc. 107 thousand tonnes, apatite & phosphorite 139 thousand tonnes, dolomite 307 thousand tonnes, limestone 175 lakh tonnes and magnesite 23 thousand tonnes. 

In December 2008 the output of chromite increased 52.33%, apatite & phosphorite 26.34%, manganese ore 23.82%, iron ore 18.31%, lignite 14.05%, bauxite 8.99%, coal 8.90%, magnesite 7.05%, dolomite 4.95%, limestone 3.31%, zinc conc. 2.87%, natural gas (utilized) 2.08% and petroleum (crude) 1.30 per cent. The production of copper conc. remains at the level of previous month. However the production of gold decreased 2.75% and lead conc. 10.01 percent.

Re-structuring the paid-up capital of United Bank of India

Modifying its earlier approval of 18th April, 2006, the Union Cabinet today approved the restructuring of the paid-up capital of the United Bank of India, a nationalized bank, on the following lines – 

To reduce the paid-up equity capital of the United Bank of India to Rs. 266.43 crore, Government will take a return of excess paid-up capital of Rs. 1266 crore and simultaneously will infuse this amount in the ‘Capital Reserves’ of the Bank. Additionally, Government will subscribe a sum of around Rs.800 crore ( Rupees Eight hundred crore) in innovative Tier I capital instruments of the United Bank of India, in two tranches of around Rs. 250 crore in 2008-09 and around Rs. 550 crore in 2009-10. 

The restructuring of the paid-up capital would improve key financial indicators of the Bank and additional capital funds would enable the Bank extend more credit to the productive sectors of the economy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS World Faces Crisis Crossroads at G-20 Summit, Says IMF

Financial sector cleanup seen as top priority
Stimulus should be carried into 2010 to sustain recovery
IMF head hopes for substantial increase in Fund resources 

Leaders of the Group of Twenty (G-20) advanced and emerging market economies gathering at a summit in London next week face a crossroads in the global economic crisis, with the opportunity to spur a recovery next year if they take the right action, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said.

In a video conference with journalists based in London, Paris, and Washington, Strauss-Kahn outlined five key subjects on which the IMF wanted to see progress at the summit to combat the worst economic downturn in 60 years, in addition to considering how to improve regulation of the fractured global financial system.

• Cleanup of the financial sector. Strauss-Kahn said cleaning up the balance sheets of banks and getting the financial sector working again was critical to reviving world growth. “Countries can do it in different ways, but they have to do it and do it now.”

• Ensuring fiscal stimulus is available for next year. Strauss-Kahn said that governments around the world had done very well in announcing stimulus plans to counter the downturn and create jobs. But they now needed to ensure that efforts were sustained in 2010.

• Helping emerging markets hit by the crisis. Although the crisis did not start with emerging markets, the collapse of trade finance and the drying up of capital flows is hurting many emerging markets. The IMF needs enough resources to assist emerging markets, otherwise a collapse in emerging economies would have a devastating impact on developed economies, reinforcing the crisis.

• Aiding low-income countries. Some of the world’s poorest countries are being affected by the slowdown in world growth, with exports “falling off a cliff” and the prices of commodities and flows of aid falling. Strauss-Kahn said he wanted to ensure a doubling of IMF concessional lending to low-income countries to safeguard them during the crisis.

• Boosting IMF resources. The IMF hopes to at least double its lendable resources to more than $500 billion so that it is ready to help out and provide confidence that economies will have access to funds during the crisis. Japan has provided $100 billion in extra money and the European Union has committed EUR 75 billion. 

Crucial meeting

Strauss-Kahn said that it was vitally important that the G-20 leaders reach agreement at the April 2 meeting in London. “If there’s a big clash it will not be good for confidence,” he declared.

He hoped that the meeting would show unity and leadership. Although the world faced a different situation from 1944, the changes agreed in London could amount to the same strategic shift that took place with the creation of the IMF and the World Bank at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire toward the end of World War II.

In addition to endorsing his five-point IMF agenda, he wanted to see steps agreed to start reforming the international financial system, including regulation of tax havens, rating agencies, and hedge funds.

“I’m not expecting something very new. What I expect is the commitment of world leaders to take a step forward and to make it rapidly.”

Global activity is now projected to contract by ½ to 1 percent in 2009 on an annual average basis—the first such fall in 60 years, the IMF has said. Global growth is still forecast to stage a modest recovery next year, conditional on comprehensive policy steps to stabilize financial conditions, sizeable fiscal support, a gradual improvement in credit conditions, a bottoming of the U.S. housing market, and the cushioning effect from sharply lower oil and other major commodity prices.

As the crisis gets prolonged, emerging market and low-income countries are suffering more. So far the IMF has lent $50 billion to help a number of crisis-affected countries and is in talks to lend far more, which is why the multilateral institution is attempting to dramatically increase its lendable resources.

Big overhaul of IMF lending

To complement the proposed big increase in IMF resources, the Fund has announced a major overhaul of how it lends money by offering higher amounts and tailoring loan terms to countries’ varying strengths and circumstances.

The IMF announced on March 24 the creation of a new flexible credit line for countries with very strong fundamentals, policies, and track records of policy implementation. Once approved, these loans—a type of insurance policy for strong performers—can be fully disbursed when the need arises rather than being conditioned on compliance with policy targets as in traditional IMF-supported programs.

The 185-member institution also announced that it would double nonconcessional loan access limits, enhance its traditional Stand-By facility, and simplify lending terms. Complementary reforms of concessional lending instruments for low-income members are also in train.

Huge change in philosophy of IMF

Strauss-Kahn said the lending overhaul amounted to a huge change in the philosophy of the IMF because of the shift away from insisting on sometimes onerous terms for lending which had resulted in a stigma attached to borrowing from the IMF, particularly in Asia and Latin America.

IMF loan conditionality is being adjusted so that economic structural reforms agreed with a country will be monitored in a broad context. The change is also applicable to low-income countries. 

The Managing Director said that lending reforms would be followed by further changes to country representation at the Fund, with emerging markets and low-income countries being given a bigger say. He expected the G-20 summit to bring forward the process of reform of the quota systems that determines country representation.

Together, the G-20 represents around 90 percent of global gross national product, 80 percent of world trade (including trade within the European Union), as well as two-thirds of the world's population. It comprises 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus the European Union, represented by the rotating Council presidency and the European Central Bank. The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and the President of the World Bank, plus the chairs of the International Monetary and Financial Committee and Development Committee of the IMF and World Bank, also participate.

PM’S remarks at the meeting with captains of industry

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, had a meeting with the captains of industry in New Delhi today. Following is the text of Prime Minister’s remarks on the occasion:

“We had met in the first week of November last year, in the shadow of the meltdown which had originated from global macroeconomic imbalances, and problems in the financial sector of the developed world, and reached the shores of the rest of the world. India had also started experiencing the first shock waves of export demand attrition and constriction of capital inflows. Besides, the Indian financial sector was facing a liquidity shortage. Overall sentiment had also been dampened by the impact of the crisis on global and domestic capital markets and the consequent attrition of the savings of many individuals and corporates.

Many valuable suggestions were received in that meeting. These related to the need to maintain adequate liquidity, problems of credit flow and credit cost on the domestic and foreign fronts, special issues of certain stressed sectors, possible fiscal and other measures, and steps to ensure that domestic industry is not adversely affected by the dumping of products by other countries.

I had immediately after the meeting constituted an Apex Group under my Chairmanship to monitor the developments in the economy and take the necessary measures. Since then, the Government and the RBI have, from time to time, come out with measures which were considered necessary and possible. The RBI has steadily adjusted the policy rates downwards and has announced a number of steps in support of MSMEs, NBFCs, and the housing and export sectors. Guidelines have also been issued for restructuring of loans, increasing the rates on non-resident deposits and relaxing the criteria for external commercial borrowings. The Government has announced two stimulus packages, one in December 2008 and the other in January 2009. In these packages, and in subsequent announcements in the Interim Budget, a number of measures have been taken to provide relief to exporters; CENVAT, service tax, and duty concessions to industry; and support to infrastructure projects, and to increase Government expenditure despite an elevated level of fiscal deficit. The Government has also been in touch with banks and has been monitoring the sectoral credit flows, especially by the public sector banks. The Cabinet Secretary has been interacting with the Chief Secretaries of States, as almost the entire additional budgeted amounts have been released to the States and their role in ensuring expenditures on ground is now crucial.

While we need to bear in mind that the time taken for these steps to take effect varies across measures and sectors, there are signs of improvement in sectors like steel and cement. The auto sector after a difficult patch seems to be showing signs of recovery. Food grain production for 2008-09 is likely to be in excess of 228 million tonnes. The rural demand for goods and services appears quite robust and the outlook in the agricultural sector gives room for optimism.

At the same time, we are aware of the problems that persist in certain sectors and sub-sectors, particularly where export dependence is high. We are monitoring these sectors. We are aware that a big push to infrastructure would have a counter-cyclical influence and have taken steps to ensure that this happens in 2009-10 and beyond. On the credit front, the figures of the RBI at the end of February 2009 indicate that while the credit growth of public sector banks on a year-on-year basis this year has been 23 per cent against 21.9 per cent of the corresponding period of 2007-08, the credit growth of private banks and foreign banks has been of the order of one-third to one-fourth of what it was a year ago. While public sector banks have reduced the prime lending rates in the last three months between 150 and 200 basis points, other Scheduled Commercial Banks are yet to respond in equal measure. With ample liquidity and low inflation, there is scope perhaps for a further moderation in interest rates. Domestic credit flow for productive needs has to be definitely maintained at reasonable cost.

We are, therefore, in a situation where on the one hand we are decidedly better placed than most countries in the world, on the other hand, there seems to be uncertainty on how developments abroad, positive and negative, will affect us. To tackle a regime of low inflation and demand uncertainties across sub-sectors of the real economy, to ensure that the financial sector remains healthy and supportive, to husband foreign exchange reserves responsibly, to sustain a high level of expenditure bearing in mind the need for fiscal discipline, and to act continuously to improve general sentiment are challenges that we confront as a nation. We need to be particularly sensitive to the impact of the slowdown on the weakest in the organized as well as the unorganized sectors. We must meet the challenge of job losses caused by the slowdown. These are challenges which can be understood and met only if all the stake-holders concerned continuously exchange ideas and support each other with confidence in the future, and concern for the well being of all. I have great faith and confidence in India’s entrepreneurs and particularly in the wisdom and experience of captains of industry assembled here today to meet the challenges confronting our economy. The world today looks at India with respect and hope: respect for our calibrated reforms which have resulted in growth with justice, and hope that India would be an engine of global growth for the world economy. I am confident that we will all work together to fulfil these expectations, and secure the growth essential for our people. I would now request your comments and your assessment of the present economic situation and the steps taken so far and to suggest what needs to be done in the immediate as well as medium term future.”

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mechel Announces Bridge Loan Extension

Moscow, Russia – March 26, 2009 – Mechel OAO (NYSE: MTL), one of the leading Russian mining and metals companies, announced a two month extension of its bridge loan taken for the acquisition of Oriel Resources Ltd..

On March, 25, 2009, following negotiations with the banking syndicate which provided Mechel a one-year loan for the Oriel Resources Ltd. (United Kingdom) acquisition, an agreement for a two month payment term extension was reached. The new payment date is May, 15, 2009.

The prolongation period will be used to complete negotiations with the bank participants of the syndicate aiming at refinancing the bridge loan with long term instruments.

Mechel is one of the leading Russian companies. Its business includes four segments: mining, steel, ferroalloy and power. Mechel unites producers of coal, iron ore concentrate, nickel, steel, ferrochrome, ferrosilicon, rolled products, hardware, heat and electric power. Mechel products are marketed domestically and internationally

Global hotel prices drop 12 percent : Mumbai tops the list with biggest fall of 41%

Mumbai, 25h March, 2009: The average price of a hotel room around the world fell by
12 per cent last year, according to the latest Hotel Price Index™ from Hotels.com®, the global hotel specialist. The Hotel Price Index looked at hotel prices* for the period October to December 2008, compared to the same period the year before.

Hotel prices in North America fell by the greatest extent - down 12 per cent - with Europe dropping 10 per cent in Q4 2008 compared to the year before. On average hotel prices today are only one percent higher than they were five years ago.

The Asia Pacific region recorded its first year-on-year drop in hotel room prices since 2004. This drop was comparatively small, falling by only two per cent overall, however with substantial drops in many large Asian cities including Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing and Mumbai.

Mumbai topped the list of biggest falls in hotel prices around the world, with a drop of 41%, in the wake of a sharp fall in demand for the city’s hotels following the terrorist attacks. Other cities to experience substantial declines were Manila, down by 32%, Sydney (-22%), Seoul (-20%), Singapore (-14%) and Beijing (-13%).

Asian cities recording moderate drops in hotel prices include Bangkok (-3%); New Delhi
(-4%); Kuala Lumpur (-5%) and Tokyo (-6%).

Destinations with generally more expensive hotels have shown significant price falls as well, including Moscow (-17%), New York (-22%), Paris (-10%) and Dubai (-8%).

The Hotels.com Hotel Price Index tracks the real prices paid per hotel room rather than advertised rates. It is based on prices actually paid by customers for 68,000 hotels across 12,500 locations around the world. The international scale of Hotels.com (in terms of both customers and destinations) makes the Hotel Price Index one of the most comprehensive benchmarks available.

David Roche, President, Hotels.com Worldwide, says: “The latest Hotel Price Index shows the economic downturn is now affecting hotel prices on all continents. Our report shows that hoteliers around the world are being forced to cut rates to fill their rooms.”

“The good news is that there are many bargains to be had for travellers. This year really will be the ‘year of the deal’,” he said.

Mr Roche said destinations traditionally considered too expensive for many budget - conscious travellers are now offering considerable savings. For example, hotel prices are down in many popular cities such as London, down by 24 per cent, New York 22 per cent and Barcelona, which is down 21 percent, making it an ideal time to visit these favoured destinations.

“For travellers from any part of the world, this is a great time to explore: hotels have not offered such good value since January 2004. The indications are that 2009 will continue to be a good year for travellers,” Mr Roche concluded.

Contestants crossed 25 per seat in 11th General Elections from 3 to 5 upto 6th Elections

A close look on the average number of contestants per seat for the successive Lok Sabha elections brings out some interesting facts. For instance, on an average, there used to be only around three to five contestants per Lok Sabha seats till as late as sixth Lok Sabha elections in 1977. 

For the first Lok Sabha in 1952, there were 1874 candidates for 489 seats averaging 3.83 contestants per seat, in 1957 there 1519 contestants for 494 seats averaging 3.07 per seat, in 1962 there were 1985 candidates for 494 seats averaging 4.01 per seat and in 1967, the number of Lok Sabha seats significantly increased to 520 for which 2369 contestants were in fray thus averaging 4.55 candidates per seat. 

Similarly, in 1971, elections were held for 518 seats for which a slightly higher number of 2784 candidates were in fray averaging 5.37 contestants per seat but in 1977 with another significant hike in the number of Lok Sabha seats to 542, the number of contestants per seat came down again to 4.50 per seat as there were only 2439 candidates were in fray for these 542 seats. 

However, this trend (of having 3 to 5 candidates per seat) witnessed a big shift in 1980 when the elections for the seventh Lok Sabha were held. There were 4629 candidates wooing the voters for 542 seats, thus averaging 8.54 contestants for one the one Lok Sabha seat. 

With constant increase in the number of contestants in the successive Lok Sabha elections, the average of per seat contestants also continued to rise gradually but in 1996, a sudden hike in average with 25.69 candidates per seat indicated an abnormal shift. For the 11th Lok Sabha, there were a record number of 13952 candidates were in fray for 543 Lok Sabha seats, bringing the average of per seat contestants to 25.69 from 15.96 in the previous elections held in 1991. 

Obviously, this prompted the Election Commission of India to hike the amount of the security deposit from a merely Rs. 500 to a whopping Rs. 10,000 which apparently, helped in bringing down the number of contestants per seat to 8.75 candidates in 1998 Lok Sabha elections when after a long gap, the total number of contestants was less than 5000 (4750 to be precise) which only rose marginally in 1999 general elections to 4648 candidates averaging 8.56 candidates per seat. In 2004, the figure of contestants again crossed 5000 mark with 5435 contestants in fray for the same number of 543 Lok Sabha seats averaging just over 10 contestants per seat.

First Oil & Gas from the Shenzi Field in Deepwater Gulf of Mexico

BHP Billiton announced today that first oil and natural gas production has commenced from the Shenzi development in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The tension leg platform (TLP) has a nominal capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil per day and 50 million cubic feet per day of natural gas, on a 100 percent basis.

The Shenzi facility is located approximately 120 miles (195 kilometres) off the Louisiana coastline and is installed in approximately 4,300 feet (1,300 metres) of water on Green Canyon Block 653, making it the second deepest TLP in the world.

J. Michael Yeager, Chief Executive, BHP Billiton Petroleum, said the development came on-stream ahead of schedule and within budget and is another important milestone in the expansion of Petroleum's operated projects.

"Shenzi joins the already producing Neptune field as the second BHP Billiton operated, standalone, deepwater facility in the Gulf of Mexico. Together with Genghis Khan, Atlantis and Mad Dog, the company has realised a significant increase in production in the region after considerable investment and technical focus."

"This achievement reflects a well executed work plan in a complex deepwater environment. This is a credit to the project team whose strong performance has allowed the company to safely deliver a world-class project and add to a growing Petroleum asset portfolio," added Mr. Yeager.

The Shenzi field comprises four blocks: Green Canyon 609, 610, 653 and 654. Initial field development includes seven subsea wells tied back to the TLP, with full field development expected to expand to a total of 15 producing wells and future water injection wells. Crude oil is transported via a 20-inch diameter pipeline connecting to Ship Shoal 332 B, while natural gas will be exported via the Cleopatra pipeline (where BHP Billiton has a 22 percent equity share).

BHP Billiton is the operator with 44 percent equity. Joint interest participants are Hess Corporation and Repsol, each with a 28 percent equity.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


HOUSTON - Halliburton (NYSE: HAL) has been awarded a major contract extension by Salym Petroleum Development N.V. (SPD) for exploration and production services in Western Siberia, Russia. Valued at approximately (USD) $100 million, the four-year contract calls for the provision of directional-drilling, measurement-while-drilling and logging-while-drilling, along with drilling fluids and cementing services and continues Halliburton’s proven record of service delivery in the SPD fields for the last three years. The new wells to be drilled, with an average true vertical depth of 2,600 meters, include 400 S-shaped wells, plus directional and extended-reach wells.

The SPD oilfields -- located in Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug, 120 kilometers southwest of Surgut -- include West Salym, Upper Salym and the Vadelyp fields.

"SPD’s 'drilling-the-limit' approach challenges us to continuously improve our performance,” said Iain Dowell, Halliburton’s country vice president for Russia. “We have established a high benchmark in terms of well quality and deliverability for its Russian drilling operations.”

Halliburton’s proven capabilities delivered under the initial contract include:

· Establishing a record drilling time of 5.6 days, when the average drilling time for S-shaped wells in Western Siberia ranges between 23 and 28 days for wells up to 2,800 meters deep;

· Customizing Halliburton's BOREMAX® II high-performance, water-based drilling fluid system to reduce treatment cost per foot drilled and minimize the environmental impact; and

· Delivering zonal isolations for the life of the well through deployment of dedicated crews and harsh-environment cementing units.

About Halliburton

Founded in 1919, Halliburton is one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry. With more than 55,000 employees in approximately 70 countries, the company serves the upstream oil and gas industry throughout the life cycle of the reservoir – from locating hydrocarbons and managing geological data, to drilling and formation evaluation, well construction and completion, and optimizing production through the life of the field.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Using Chlorine in Swimming Pools Safely and Economically: OSEC-NXT Membrane-Type Electrolysis System with Improved Electrolytic Cell

The OSEC-NXT membrane-type electrolysis system from Siemens offers swimming pool operators a safe, reliable and economically efficient alternative to chlorine production. Two configurations are offered for six different production capacities ranging from 6 to 60 kilograms of equivalent chlorine per day to meet the disinfection requirements of various size swimming pools. High-quality materials that are especially resistant to chemicals and temperature fluctuations are used for the electrolytic cell. The optimized temperature-monitoring function ensures reliable operation. Thanks to the integrated ChemWeb server, operating parameters or setpoints can be checked or altered via the Internet once the correct password has been entered.
Like its predecessor OSEC-NT, the OSEC-NXT membrane-type electrolytic chlorination system produces sodium hypochlorite directly on site through the electrolysis of brine. As a result, it is unnecessary to store chlorine gas and handle hazardous chemicals. Two configurations of the OSEC-NXT system are available, with six different production capacities of 6 and of 12 to 60 kilograms of equivalent chlorine per day. A product tank, brine tank, rectifier, control panel, softening system and mounting space for two dosing pumps are all integrated into the system. The product and brine tanks of the larger capacity system are offered separately.
The OSEC-NXT system produces hypochlorite at three times the strength of typical on-site systems, while still maintaining benefits of the low concentration such as greater stability and safety than commercial hypochlorite. In addition, as almost no salt remains in the product, the application will not increase in salinity.
For the optimized electrolytic cell, high-quality materials that are especially resistant to chemicals and temperature fluctuations have been used. The system also features an integrated output controller that ensures a high level of reliability and operational safety. The temperature of the system is monitored constantly so that, at the installation site, the operating parameters of the electrolytic cell remain independent of ambient influences and always within the optimum range. This increases the service life of the system.
The new membrane-type electrolytic chlorination units are equipped with a clearly laid-out touch panel for easy operator control. The scope of supply also includes a ChemWeb server, which makes it possible to check or alter operating parameters or setpoints via the Internet once a password has been entered.
Compared to conventional chlorine-gas installations, electrolytic systems that work on the basis of the open tubular cell or membrane method feature safety advantages in that it is no longer necessary to transport or work with chlorine gas cylinders. The chlorine gas room which is mandatory for chlorine gas installations and must contain safety equipment such as spraying devices is also not needed if this technology is employed.
Apart from cleaning swimming-pool water, electrolytic systems are suitable for disinfecting drinking water, water in breweries and the beverages industry, or service water in the canning and food industries. They can also be used to disinfect industrial process water or to treat cooling water in order to prevent biological growth.

Deputy Commerce Minister Zhong Shan’s Visit to India

Zhong Shan, Deputy Minister of Commerce, met on March 19 with Pillai, Commercial Secretary of Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The Two Sides exchanged views on further expanding bilateral trade and investment, trade imbalance, trade frictions and commodity inspection and quarantine.

Chinese side attaches great importance to the development of China-India economic and trade relations, and is willing to promote and expand bilateral trade and investment. China expressed grave concerns on the India’s frequent trade remedy investigations against Chinese products and India’s discriminatory restrictions on Chinese toys. Chinese side asked India Side not to indiscriminatingly take trade remedy measures and to lift the discriminatory restrictive measures against Chinese products, which are in violation of WTO rules. The Chinese side expressed that, the two countries should implement the consensus reached in Washington G20 summit and joint efforts in fight against trade protectionism, that the two sides should solve problems of bilateral trade through strengthening government communication and consultation and promoting business dialogue.

Indian side said that India shall study and formulate relevant standards for toy safety as soon as possible, which shall apply uniformly for all imported and home made toys, so as not to discriminate against Chinese products. India is willing to solve problems of special safeguard and anti-subsidy investigation that the Chinese side shows concerns through working-level consultations.

The Two Sides agreed to establish a working group mechanism under the joint committee for regular communication and consultation on trade issues.

Siemens to Supply Complete Electrical Solution for Newsprint Paper Machine

Order from Palm Paper for New Facility in England:

The Siemens Industry Solutions Division is providing the electrical equipment for a new newsprint paper machine belonging to Papierfabrik Palm. The paper machine, PM7, will be installed at the new Palm Paper mill in King´s Lynn, Great Britain, and is designed for an annual production of 400,000 metric tons of newsprint. The order is worth more than ten million euros and commissioning of the paper machine is scheduled for the fall of 2009.

With headquarters in Aalen, Papierfabrik Palm produces newsprint and untreated corrugated cardboard paper on six paper machines at three different locations. At the moment, the company is building a new factory in King´s Lynn, around 150 kilometers to the north of London. This new facility is to supply the British media industry with newsprint, most of which has been imported up to now. The heart of the new factory is the new paper machine PM7, which has a net working width of just under eleven meters and a planned production speed of 2,200 meters per minute. It will be able to produce around 400,000 metric tons of newsprint a year. Production will be based completely on waste paper. The paper machine is being supplied by Voith Paper, Heidenheim.

Siemens is supplying all the electrical equipment for the paper machine on the basis of Sipaper, a solution platform developed for the pulp and paper industry. The scope of supply includes sectional drives for the paper machine and two slitter winders with an installed power of 35 megawatts as well as high and low-voltage motors and distribution transformers for the entire paper factory.

The “Power Infeed TM” power supply concept will be used for the first time for a newsprint paper machine. This method allows large amounts of power to be fed in at reduced investment costs, lower power consumption and, at the same time, higher availability. “Power Infeed” also reduces the tendency to oscillate and enables a space-saving design for the paper machine drive.

Important reasons for winning the order were the interface-free, all-round Sipaper solution and the “Power Infeed” concept for implementing large drives in paper machines.

Siemens Modernizes Rebar Rolling mill of Ferriera Valsabbia:

Capacity Rises by 25 per cent to 750,000 metric Tons per Year
As part of a two-stage modernization project completed at the end of 2008, Siemens VAI Metals Technologies increased the annual production capacity of Italian steel producer Ferriera Valsabbia to 750,000 metric tons of reinforcing steel. The prime reasons for achievement of this approximately 25 per cent increase in output were the installation of a hot-charging system for billets as well as a system for single-bar high-speed delivery that allows rolling speeds of up to 27 meters per second in two-slit rolling mode.
The aim of modernizing the rolling mill of Ferriera Valsabbia, which is located in Odolo in the province of Brescia, was not only to expand production capacity but also to increase the flexibility of the facility. The new rolling mill is designed to process billets with square cross-section of 150 x 150 millimeters and length of 9 meters. This results in rebars with diameters of between 8 and 40 millimeters. In two-slit rolling mode, the maximum bar diameter is 20 millimeters. The re-heating furnace, which has a capacity of 100 metric tons per hour if the billets are cold-charged, can be accelerated to up to 130 metric tons per hour with the help of the hot-charging system supplied by Siemens.
For the rolling line, Siemens supplied 14 new Red-Ring stands and modernized the existing seven stands. The rolling line now allows the rapid replacement of rollers and stands and thus a flexible changeover to different end products. Bar transfer to the new 64 meter-long cooling bed takes place by means of a lifting apron with magnetic brakes or alternatively by means of a high-speed bar delivery system. The latter is designed in such a way that individual steel bars can be transferred to the walking rakes even in two-strand rolling mode. This makes it easier to count and bundle the bars later. Thanks to the high-speed delivery system, rolling speeds of up to 27 meters per second are possible compared to the fifteen meters per second when lifting aprons are used. The scope of supply also included all the shears of the rolling line, the cold cutting area as well as
machines for counting and bundling the steel bars. Siemens was also responsible for the lubrication and hydraulic systems and supervised the installation work and commissioning of the rolling mill. Siemens also supplied consulting services in order for Valsabbia to apply for the safety certifications of both individual machines and overall plant, as required by Italian / European regulations.
Siemens VAI had received the order to modernize the rolling mill in 2006. The project was carried out in two phases: during 2007 and during 2008. Existing equipment and spatial restrictions had to be taken into account in the project planning process in order to minimize down times and production outages.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS To Help Countries Face Crisis, IMF Revamps its Lending

IMF Survey online

March 24, 2009

IMF announces major overhaul of its lending and conditionality framework
Includes new credit lines for strong-performing economies that need insurance
Revamp complements IMF moves to sharply boost lending capacity

As part of moves to support countries during the global economic crisis, the IMF is beefing up its lending capacity and has approved a major overhaul of how it lends money by offering higher amounts and tailoring loan terms to countries’ varying strengths and circumstances.

The IMF announced the creation of a new flexible credit line for countries with very strong fundamentals, policies, and track records of policy implementation. Once approved, these loans—a type of insurance policy for strong performers—can be fully disbursed when the need arises rather than being conditioned on compliance with policy targets as in traditional IMF-supported programs.

The 185-member institution also announced that it would double nonconcessional loan access limits, enhance its traditional Stand-By facility, and simplify lending terms. Complementary reforms of concessional lending instruments for low-income members are also in train.

“These reforms represent a significant change in the way the Fund can help its member countries—which is especially needed at this time of global crisis,” said IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn. “More flexibility in our lending along with streamlined conditionality will help us respond effectively to the various needs of all our member countries—especially emerging market and developing countries. This, in turn, will help them to weather the crisis and return to sustainable growth.”

G-20 summit

The overhaul was approved ahead of the meeting in London of the Group of Twenty (G-20) major industrialized and emerging market economies, when leaders are expected to discuss a major boost to IMF resources. A substantial increase in the IMF’s resources is required to give full confidence to countries that the Fund will have sufficient money available should they need to borrow or provide themselves with insurance.

Japan has already provided the IMF with an additional $100 billion to bolster the Fund’s lendable resources during the current crisis, and the European Union has committed €75 billion. Efforts are under way to further increase IMF resources in the runup to the April 2 summit. Before the Japanese announcement, the IMF had $250 billion to lend.

Tough times for emerging economies

Emerging market and developing countries are facing increasing difficulties around the world because of the spreading global economic crisis, with external financing drying up, exports dropping sharply, and commodity prices falling. As the crisis becomes more prolonged, a growing number of countries will find room for policy maneuver increasingly limited. Large-scale financing from the IMF can cushion the economic and social costs of these global shocks and even help avert full-blown crises if assistance is requested early on.

Global activity is now projected to contract by ½ to 1 percent in 2009 on an annual average basis—the first such fall in 60 years, the IMF has said. Global growth is still forecast to stage a modest recovery next year, conditional on comprehensive policy steps to stabilize financial conditions, sizeable fiscal support, a gradual improvement in credit conditions, a bottoming of the U.S. housing market, and the cushioning effect from sharply lower oil and other major commodity prices.

In response, the IMF is working to help countries caught up in the crisis. It has lent $50 billion so far and it must be fully prepared to assist members as needed going forward. It is also providing policy advice and assessments of actions taken to combat the crisis.

The revamp of IMF lending will enable it to help countries more nimbly as the impact of the crisis grows. One objective of the lending overhaul is to encourage countries to come to the IMF as early as possible, rather than when their problems have become intractable.

“Today’s action represents an important evolution in the Fund’s lending framework” said John Lipsky, the IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director. “We arrived at these reforms by listening to our membership, consulting with a variety of stakeholders, and reviewing past experiences. These reforms will pave the way for countries to better work with the Fund on crisis prevention and crisis resolution and complement our ongoing effort to increase significantly our overall lending resources.”

Key elements of the lending overhaul

Modernizing conditionality. The IMF aims to ensure that conditions linked to IMF loan disbursements are focused and adequately tailored to the varying strengths of members’ policies and fundamentals (there have been criticisms in the past that some IMF loans had too many conditions that were insufficiently focused on core objectives). This modernization is to be achieved by relying more on pre-set qualification criteria (ex-ante conditionality) rather than on traditional (ex post) conditionality. In addition, structural reforms will from now on be monitored in the context of program reviews, rather than through the use of structural performance criteria, which will be discontinued in all Fund arrangements, including those with low-income countries.

Flexible Credit Line (FCL). The IMF is introducing this new credit line to provide large and upfront financing to members with very strong fundamentals and policies. As access to the FCL is restricted to those members that meet strict qualification criteria, drawings under it are not tied to policy goals agreed with the country. The flexibility built into the design of the FCL relates to its uncapped access, its long repayment terms (3¼ –5 years), its unrestricted renewals, and its dual-use for contingent (precautionary) and actual balance of payments needs.

Enhancing Stand-by Arrangements (SBA). The reforms also provide flexibility in lending to countries that may not qualify for the FCL and need similar insurance. These countries can count on High Access Precautionary SBAs (HAPAs) as a regular lending window. Like the FCL, precautionary SBAs take account of country-specific circumstances and can be frontloaded based on the strength of a country’s policies and the external environment.

Doubling lending access limits. Normal access limits for countries are being doubled. The new annual and cumulative access limits to nonconcessional lending are 200 and 600 percent of quota, respectively. These higher limits give confidence to countries that adequate resources will be accessible to them to meet their financing needs. There continues to be scope for higher access under intensified scrutiny by the IMF’s Executive Board.

Simplifying cost and maturity structures. To create the right incentives for borrowing from the Fund, the cost and maturity structures for Fund lending are also being overhauled.

Simplifying lending toolkit. As part of the reforms, certain seldom-used facilities are being eliminated. They include the Supplemental Reserve Facility, the Compensatory Financing Facility, and the Short-Term Liquidity Facility—the main features of the latter are encompassed by the new FCL.

Reform of facilities for low-income countries. The Fund is also redesigning lending facilities for low-income countries to strengthen the IMF’s capacity to provide concessional short-term and emergency financing. The IMF’s objective is also to at least double its concessional lending capacity for low-income countries.

Successful placement of EUR 1.1 bn convertible/exchangeable bonds

Luxembourg, March 24, 2009 (19:30 CET) – ArcelorMittal is pleased to announce the successful placement of its EUR 1.1 billion bonds convertible and/or exchangeable into new and/or existing shares due April 1, 2014 (the Bonds”), announced earlier today.
Commenting, Aditya Mittal, CFO ArcelorMittal, said: "To receive such a positive response to the issue in the current economic climate is particularly pleasing, and we believe represents a strong indication of confidence in ArcelorMittal. The convertible bond brings multiple benefits to the company, enabling us to extend the maturity of our debt and diversify our debt structure, as well as further enhancing our liquidity”.
The principal amount of the Bond issue is EUR 1.1 billion, following an increase by the issuer from the initial amount of EUR 750 million. The offering may be further increased up to a maximum of EUR 1.25 billion if the over-allotment option granted to the Joint Lead-Managers and Joint Bookrunners is exercised in full and by March 30, 2009 at the latest.
The nominal value of each bond corresponds to EUR 20.25, providing a premium of 32% above the reference price (VWAP between launch and pricing) of ArcelorMittal shares on Euronext Amsterdam. The conversion / exchange ratio of the Bonds will be one new or existing ArcelorMittal share per Bond, The Bonds will bear interest at 7.25% payable semi-annually and will be redeemed at par on April 1, 2014. The Bonds may be redeemed at the option of the issuer at any time on or after April 19, 2013 subject to certain conditions. Settlement and delivery of the Bonds is expected to take place on April 1, 2009.
The Bonds were offered by way of a private placement to qualified investors within the meaning of Directive 2003/71/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of November 4th, 2003, in accordance with the respective regulations of each country in which the Bonds are offered. The Bonds were not offered or sold in the United States of America, Australia, Canada and Japan.
This offering was lead-managed by CALYON and Société Générale Corporate & Investment Banking acting as Joint Lead-Managers and Joint Bookrunners, with Natixis and Rabobank as Co-Lead Managers.

After the Storm: The Future Face of Europe’s Financial System Statement by Marek Belka

Director, European Department, International Monetary Fund
At the IMF – Bruegel – Belgian National Bank Conference
Brussels, March 24, 2009

When seeing the title of this conference, many of you may have thought that we are a bit optimistic. Indeed, “the storm” is certainly not yet behind us. However, the key word of this title is not “storm”, but “future”. We are here to discuss what kind of financial system Europe wants to have when this storm is over, and what public policies can do to establish such a system.

When facing a storm, a sailor’s immediate reflex is to focus on navigating the waves. Surviving wave by wave. This attention for the immediate danger is, of course, essential. But a sailor’s chances of survival are greatly enhanced when he can, at the same time, set course toward a safe harbor rather than allow the waves to determine his destiny. Amidst all the crisis headlines, this conference is intended to discuss a “safe harbor”, a post-crisis “destination” for the financial system.

It is urgent that we think about this destination. The financial system today is partially dysfunctional, not only because of losses, but also because of uncertainty. Business models, financial sector practices, and market segments have failed. In many respects, financial intermediation needs to be reinvented. At the same time, a global regulatory response is underway to address the perceived failures that have caused this crisis. Such a response is desirable and necessary, but it also adds to the uncertainty. The sooner public policymakers can lift the fog and clarify the future rules of the game, the sooner financial sector participants will be able to devise new practices and new business models, and return to a new sort of normalcy. We hope that this conference will contribute to accelerating this process of restoring visibility of the future of the financial system.

What kind of financial system should Europe aspire to? The 1957 Treaty of Rome put forward the objective of a single financial market. Despite the costs of the crisis, which will undeniably be large, the rationale for such a single financial market remains compelling. Financial integration allows investors to seek higher returns and lower risks through diversification, and it enables borrowers to finance themselves less expensively and more reliably in deeper and more complete financial markets. This provides immediate benefits to consumers and businesses and, through interaction with other economic developments such as technological innovation, allows faster productivity and economic growth. Moreover, for the EU, an integrated financial market is an essential complement of integrated markets for goods and services. The case for a single financial market is perhaps even more obvious when looking at the alternative: there is no rationale for having 27 separated and artificially isolated financial systems functioning in autarky. The achievements of the EU’s New Member States over the past ten years, realized with the help of capital and financial services provided by citizens and companies from the Old Member States, clearly illustrate the benefits and the potential of a single financial market, even if recent developments may also illustrate the accompanying transformation of risks.

This crisis was not caused by financial integration. It has long been understood that integrated financial markets can allow the transmission of shocks, which has happened in an unprecedented way. But these shocks themselves were caused not by financial integration, but by a combination of flawed financial innovations, incentive problems, inadequate and sometimes faulty regulations, and macroeconomic policies. Part of the reason why the crisis took on such a global scale is the fact that many of these causal factors had been mirrored in financial and prudential systems around the world. Beyond these specific causal factors, perhaps the main underlying problem is the inadequacy of existing financial stability frameworks in the face of the sophistication and cross-border integration of modern financial systems.

The solution is to reform and modernize these financial stability frameworks, rather than to abandon the quest for an integrated, dynamic, efficient, and innovative financial system for the EU. What Europe needs is financial stability arrangements that will enable the development and integration of its financial system, while containing its risks. Europe can only lose from a return to repressed financial systems, and if policymakers give in to the temptation to engage in financial protectionism, this could be as damaging as trade protectionism was during the Great Depression.

Informed by the Larosière Report, as well as the Turner review and other thoughtful documents, EU leaders will make important decisions on Europe’s financial stability arrangements in the months to come. In making those decisions, they will shape the future face of Europe’s financial system, because financial intermediation is shaped by regulation and supervision perhaps more so than any other economic activity. For all its costs, this crisis presents a historic opportunity to put in place a sound financial stability framework for Europe that will foster the kind of high-performing integrated financial system that Europe’s citizens and businesses deserve. Doing so will require brave and far-reaching decisions, and a willingness to abandon old red lines. However, if the ongoing crisis has demonstrated anything, it is the immense importance of getting financial stability arrangements right.

The Turner review puts the choice that policymakers now face very clearly and very accurately: either we opt for “more Europe” or we will end up with “less Europe”. Either we opt for more integrated European financial stability arrangements, or we will end up seeing the prospect of an integrated financial market slip away from us, just when we were getting so close. There is no doubt in my mind which of the two is the better choice for Europe’s citizens.

The Larosière group has delivered an impressive piece of work in a very short time. Its proposals are ambitious, far-reaching, and well thought-through, but also achievable in relatively short order. Notably, the recommendations to establish a European System of Financial Supervisors and a European Systemic Risk Council deserve strong support. The Turner review added complementary proposals and additional perspectives to the debate. Let me comment on some of the specific issues that have been put on the table by these two important documents.

Both reports recommend the establishment of one or more EU-level prudential agencies. However, whereas the Larosière report proposes an integrated system of financial supervisors, including three cross-border Authorities, the Turner review emphasizes the need for a single regulator. The reality is that Europe needs both. Some European supervisory and regulatory system combining features of both proposals would probably be the best solution. The Turner review also argues for a rapid cross-sectoral integration of the EU’s pan-European prudential agencies, whereas the Larosière report puts this forward as a desirable medium-term objective. Given how much cross-sectoral integration has taken place in European financial systems, both proposed approaches deserve careful consideration. Regardless of its design, in my view it is essential that an EU-level prudential agency be given adequate resources, independence, and binding powers over national supervisors. A toothless agency is not going to solve the frequent home-host conflicts and distrust that have been such obstacles to integration and coordinated crisis management. Finally, national prudential agencies will have to work closely and in tandem with the future EU-level agencies. To do so, giving these national agencies an explicit and strong European mandate would be very useful.

In view of the experience with the Icelandic banks, both the Larosière report and the Turner review put the “single passport” in question. Yet, branch-based cross-border banking has been an important driver of financial integration. More importantly, it is a driver whose potential only became clear in the last few years, as the European Company statute made it possible for financial institutions to organize branch-based cross-border operations much more efficiently. There are inherent problems with branch-based banking as currently organized under the single passport, as it involves citizens of one country becoming dependent on the deposit insurance and financial stability arrangements of another. However, these problems can and should be resolved without undermining the single passport itself.

Which brings me to my final point. The underlying reason why the Larosière report and the Turner review have little choice but to propose increased host country control over branches is that they opted against tackling the underlying problem of crisis resolution. They do not fundamentally question the fact that crisis resolution remains a purely national affair. In essence, their reasoning is that, given that crisis resolution is national, a real single financial market (including with a single passport) is beyond reach. I think that we need to reverse this logic. The rationale for having a single financial market is much stronger than the rationale for maintaining the status quo on crisis resolution. We need to find ways to organize EU-level systems of crisis resolution for Europe’s cross-border banks. This is not impossible. Technically, there are many available options. The challenges are to overcome the political resistance and to ensure that any cross-border crisis resolution framework is incentive-compatible. In October 2007, the ECOFIN adopted a set of crisis management principles. These principles are, in many ways, an important part of the solution. The problem is that the incentives are missing for decision-makers to adhere to these principles in the heat of a crisis. What we need is a framework that ensures the consistent implementation of these principles.

Europe finds itself at a juncture. There are genuine risks that the global financial crisis and the policy reactions to it will derail the 52-year old quest for a single financial market. This can and should be avoided. Much depends on what policymakers will decide in the next few months. An ambitious overhaul of the EU’s cross-border financial stability arrangements, opting deliberately for “more Europe”, gives us the perspective of a well-performing and stable financial system. The opportunity should not be missed.

Japan, World Bank to Host Pakistan Donors Conference

Tokyo, March 24, 2009 ─ The Government of Japan and the World Bank will co-chair a Pakistan donors conference in Tokyo on April 17 to mobilize international support for the country’s financing and development needs.
Pakistan has experienced severe external and internal shocks in the past year, and is confronting a very difficult macroeconomic situation in the face of a rapidly deteriorating global economy. The Government of Pakistan has taken steps to stabilize the economy and to develop programs to protect the country’s poorest people.

However, with dampened external demand for its exports, an inflated import bill, and low investor confidence, Pakistan needs additional assistance from the international community to restore economic stability and bring its economy back to a higher growth path.

International donors will be asked to help Pakistan through this challenging period.

India could be an engine for global economic revival: RBI governor

IBEF: March 16, 2009

New Delhi: The Indian economy is likely to recover much earlier from the impact of the global downturn than other countries, according to Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country's central bank's governor, Mr D Subbarao, who however did not forecast the timeline for the same. Mr Subbarao, currently participating in the Group-20 meet being held at London, told a prominent global broadcaster that India could be an engine for global economic revival.

"India can be a growth engine. Not that India can recover ahead of the world. But when recovery starts, India's recovery is going to be sharp and rapid," said Subbarao. He further added that the slowdown has hit the Indian economy in financial and manufacturing sectors, and it is difficult to predict when the economic recovery will occur.

However, India's financial sector still remains sound, safe and well-capitalised, thanks to the prudent policy actions initiated by the government and the Reserve Bank, the governor said. Major actions taken include the two stimulus packages announced by the government and several key interest rate cuts by RBI.

Mr Subbarao also claimed that India had benefitted from globalisation and would continue implementing similar strategies. “Globalisation is a double-edged sword. It comes with benefits and costs, so I don't think pulling out of the global system is an option for any country,” he added.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ombudsman: OLAF failed to respect principle of presumption of innocence

The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has criticised the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) for not respecting the principle of the presumption of innocence in an investigation. This follows a complaint from a British consultant, who argued that letters which OLAF had sent to his former and current employers implied that he was responsible for serious irregularities in the framework of EU funded projects in which he was involved. According to him, this seriously damaged his reputation. 

OLAF replied that the letters only requested information and did not cast any suspicion on the complainant. The Ombudsman, however, concluded that OLAF had indeed used incriminating language in its letters. He took the view that OLAF failed to respect the principles of fairness, proportionality and the presumption of innocence.

The case

In April 2006, a British consultant, who worked for different firms on EU funded projects, lodged a complaint against OLAF with the Ombudsman. He stated that letters OLAF had sent to his former and current employers asking for information accused him of serious irregularities when working as a team leader on EU funded projects. He stated that OLAF damaged his reputation and limited his chances of continuing his work in this field. Moreover, he complained that OLAF failed to inform him about the inquiry against him.

OLAF explained that it had received anonymous allegations against the complainant regarding possible irregularities in the framework of EU funded projects in which he was involved. OLAF opened a formal investigation and sent out letters to obtain more information. OLAF insisted that its inquiry had fully respected the principle of fairness. 

The Ombudsman acknowledged that, in order to carry out its investigations, OLAF needs to request information from third parties. He took the view, however, that, when making such requests, OLAF, like any other public authority, is obliged to respect the principle of the presumption of innocence. The Ombudsman noted that the letters stated that OLAF already possessed evidence that the complainant had committed serious irregularities. This wording was neither necessary nor proportionate. In the Ombudsman's view, OLAF did not respect the principles of fairness and impartiality and, most importantly, the principle of the presumption of innocence. He asked OLAF to inform all parties involved about the outcome of its investigation.

Motorola handheld mobile computer is first to enter ActiveMine(TM) partner certification program

TORONTO, Mar 23, 2009 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX News Network) -- 

 Industry-leading MC9090 handheld mobile computer combined with Snively software provides real-time information to mobile mine managers

Active Control Technology Inc. (TSX-V:ACT) today announced that Motorola's rugged MC9090 handheld mobile computer has become the first product to enter the new partner certification program for ActiveMine(TM), the premier wireless voice communications and locating system for mines. 

The industry-leading MC9090 handheld mobile computer, combined with an innovative new software application from ACT vendor partner, Snively Inc., will enhance the operational and safety benefits available with ActiveMine. The MC9090 enables the reading and transmission of data from mining equipment via a bar code and future RFID integration. In addition, the MC9090 provides real-time access to voice and text communications for improved productivity and streamlined operations. Built to withstand extreme environments and loaded with Snively software, it will be distributed exclusively through a partnership with Snively. 

The software application, called Safety Tracker, was designed by Snively to meet the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) compliancy and reporting requirements. By putting more information in the hands of mine managers, the MC9090 aids in trouble-shooting, decision-making and preventing unsafe equipment from entering mines. Safety Tracker runs on Active Mine's wireless mesh Wi-Fi network to provide real-time data about equipment via the network. In addition, the MC9090 can be used to control other devices that operate on the ActiveMine network optimizing their performance. 

"This new offering will help ActiveMine customers to get more out of their mine," said Steve Barrett, President and CEO, Active Control. "Mine managers will gain access to real-time information about key assets, allowing them to maximize output and minimize downtime." 

Active Control's field testing of the MC9090 is underway now. This ruggedly constructed mobile computer from Motorola has already received Europe's ATEX intrinsically safe (IS) standards approval, and is expected to receive MSHA certification by April, 2009. 

Under ACT's new certification program, products and applications to be used with ActiveMine undergo rigorous testing to ensure they are compatible with the system. The program will expand the number of products and applications available for use with ActiveMine, and will drive incremental revenues for Active Control through sales and services generated by new certified offerings. 

About ActiveMine 

The ActiveMine communications, data and tracking system enables monitoring of production, personnel and equipment in all types of surface and underground mining environments, including coal and hard rock mines. ActiveMine is positioned to bring to mining what the Internet brought to the world. The system is designed to: 

  - Provide the world's first standards-based wireless Wi-Fi + IP network for the underground mining industry with a 54Mb wireless backhaul.
  - Provide full duplex, clear voice communications and tracking as   required by law in US underground coal mines.
  - Provide ample bandwidth to move existing legacy applications onto a   single standards-based network, eliminating multiple proprietary   networks.
  - Enable the deployment of an unprecedented array of new IP-based   applications in mines - applications that are not possible with   proprietary and antiquated wired networks.
  - Enable the deployment of any Wi-Fi device in mines, thereby driving the   availability of new devices, controlling costs, and freeing mine operators from being locked into proprietary technology.

About Motorola 

Motorola is known around the world for innovation in communications and is focused on advancing the way the world connects. From broadband communications infrastructure, enterprise mobility and public safety solutions to high-definition video and mobile devices, Motorola is leading the next wave of innovations that enable people, enterprises and governments to be more connected and more mobile. Motorola (NYSE: MOT) had sales of US $30.1 billion in 2008.

About Snively 

Mentor, Ohio-based Snively Inc. was founded in 1990 as an application development firm. Today, the company's primary industry focus is manufacturing/distribution with a strong focus on WMS systems bar-coding, RFID and automation implementations. For the mining industry, Snively has developed Safety Tracker, a custom software application that meets MSHA compliancy and reporting requirements. Safety Tracker can be used to track and inspect high value and safety-related mine equipment, and other inventory.

About Active Control Technology 

ACT designs and markets wireless network control and communication systems for buildings and mining. Located in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, the company trades publicly on the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol ACT.