- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 28, 2002

INDIA
Tax cuts sought to spur economy
NEW DELHI A government-appointed tax panel recommended major cuts in India's tax and duty rates yesterday to boost consumer spending and spur economic growth.
The panel's recommendations would make processed food, gas, air conditioners and cars cheaper. Corporate taxes would also fall, and shareholders would be allowed to retain a larger part of their capital gains.
Many of the recommendations are expected to be included when Finance Minister Jaswant Singh releases next year's budget in February.
The panel has suggested reducing excise duties on cars and air conditioners, from 32 percent to 20 percent; a 5 percent cut in import duties on petroleum crude and oil; and excluding lifesaving drugs and medical equipment from any duties.

NEPAL
Bribery probe targets newspaper owner
KATMANDU Nepal's anti-corruption body detained the owner of the Himalayan kingdom's largest newspaper Monday on suspicion of giving bribes to a government minister.
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority ordered Kailash Sirohiya to be placed in custody for investigation on charges that he bribed a minister to release a security deposit he had paid as part of an application to open a private television station.
"This is a strike against professional journalism," Mr. Sirohiya told reporters before he was taken away in a van guarded by armed police officers. Mr. Sirohiya owns Kantipur publications, which publishes the Kantipur Daily. It has a circulation of 100,000 and is the biggest newspaper in the country.

TAJIKISTAN
Border guards shoot, kill smugglers
DUSHANBE Russian border guards shot and killed three drug smugglers trying to cross from Afghanistan into Tajikistan with more than 242 pounds of unprocessed opium, the border guards' office said yesterday.
The smugglers were spotted as they crossed into Tajikistan about 118 miles south of the Tajik capital, Dushanbe. As the border guards tried to arrest them, the smugglers opened fire and attempted to flee back into Afghanistan, Col. Aleksandr Kondratyev said.
Col. Kondratyev said all three smugglers were killed by the border guards and that the sack containing the opium was confiscated.
About 20,000 Russian troops are stationed in former Soviet Tajikistan, helping the impoverished nation guard its long and porous border with Afghanistan. The border is a key point on the drug- smuggling route to Europe.

Weekly notes
Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev said Thursday that he was willing to consider extending Russia's lease on the Soviet-built cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for as long as 50 years. The Baikonur cosmodrome was a major player in the Cold War space race, launching the world's first satellite in 1957 and the first space traveler, Yuri Gagarin, four years later. U.S. Lt. Gen. Dan McNeill, the commander of U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan said yesterday that they were closing in on people suspected of being al Qaeda militants but said the job would be easier if Pakistan put more forces on its side of the border.

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