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  Question & Answer.  
Will the Minister of INDUSTRY be pleased to state:-
(a) whether Government have further reviewed their move to allow 100 par bent Foreign. Direct Investment (FDI) in Cigarette industry;
(b) if so, what are the major advantages to India`s economy that go in favour of permitting such investment;
(c) how far it is likely to go against the interests of indigenous Beedi industry especially the cottage industry and the workers engaged in it; and
(d) what decision has been taken in the matter?

(a) to (d): The existing guidelines for consideration of FDI proposals by FIPB do not stipulate any ceiling on the extent of foreign equity participation inter-alia in sectors pertaining to consumer non-durables which include cigarettes. However as there has been no precedent of 100% FDI approval in cigarettes so far, it was felt necessary to clarify the position vide Press Note No.11 (1998 series) dated 27th August 1998, that proposal for manufacture of cigarette with Foreign Investment promotion Board (FIPB) subject to the provisions relating to compulsory licensing under the Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951. This has been done with a view to lending greater transparency in decision making. Beedis and cigarettes generally cater to different market segments as is evident from the Beedi industry already co-existing with a growing domestic cigarette industry. Beedi workers are not likely to be adversely affected with the induction of 100% foreign direct investment as it encourages competitiveness only in the cigarette sector.

Will the Minister of INDUSTRY be pleased to state:-
(a) whether it is a fact that grant of patent of Basmati Rice to Texan Company Rice Tec Inc by the US Patent office in 1997 led to protests in the country?
(b) if so, whether any follow-up action has been taken by Government to build up a case for Basmati Rice;
(c) if so, the details thereof;
(d) what permanent steps are proposed to be taken to protect our Bio-diversity and prevent Bio-piracy; and
(e) whether any legislation in the matter is on the anvil; if so, the details thereof?

(a) to (c): The grant of patent to M/s Rice Tec Inc., Texas/ USA on Basmati Rice Lines and Grains by United States Patent Office has been viewed with concern in India. However, patents are granted by respective Governments under their patent laws and rights thereunder are restricted to the territorial boundary of that country. Whenever information is received about patents being taken on certain products which are not considered patentable, steps are taken to assess whether grant of patent can be challenged. An exercise is going on to assess whether the grant of this patent can be challenged.
(d) & (e): In order to protect our bio-diversity and prevent bio-piracy, a legislation on bio-diversity with the broad objectives of conservation sustainable utilisation of biological diversity, and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources, is being formulated by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Will the Minister of FINANCE be pleased to state:-
(a) whether Expenditure Reforms Committee(ERC) has submitted its reports to the Government in regard to Indian Investment Centre;
(b) if so, the details of the recommendation made in the report;
(c) whether the Government has accepted the recommendations suggested by the Commission; and
(d) if not, the reasons therefor and if so, the details thereof?

(a) to (d) : The Expenditure Reforms Commission (ERC) has presented reports concerning restructuring of the Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) in the Ministry of Finance. This report also covers the redefined role, functions and restructuring of the Indian Investment Centre (IIC). The recommendations of the ERC are under the consideration of the Government.

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