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THE Union Cabinet has approved amendments to the Agriculture Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Act (APEDA Act) for registration of intellectual property and patent rights by APEDA. This would help APEDA in protecting India's farm products like basmati rice from patent violations.

“The registration of basmati rice, etc as a geographical indication under the geographical indications (GI) of goods (registration and protection) Act 1999 can be initiated and APEDA can effectively protect the Geographical Indication in India and abroad,” information & broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi said. After the amendment is passed by Parliament, APEDA would be able to fight cases abroad whenever violation takes place. "If basmati is registered by India under GI, producers from others countries cannot sell their rice as basmati," a trade expert said. The government may introduce an ordinance to amend the APEDA Act.

The Cabinet also gave its approval to review the print media policy and allow publication of Indian editions of foreign magazines. With this decision, foreign magazines can come with India editions with local as well as global content at cheaper prices. As of now, foreign publications are allowed to take out only facsimile editions.

“The Cabinet today gave its approval to review the 'Print Media Policy' by allowing of Indian editions of foreign magazines publishing news and comments -- periodicals falling under the news and current affairs category with 26 per cent foreign investment," Mr Dasmunshi said.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) decided to provide a Rs 79 crore bail-out package for 10 sick PSUs. The package will be used for liquidating outstanding dues, salary and wages for a period of five months from January 2008 to May 2008. The loss-making PSUs that would benefit are Bharat Wagon Engg Co Ltd, Hindustan Cables, HMT Ltd, HMT (watches) Ltd, HMT (Chinar Watches) Ltd, Hindustan Photo Films, Instrumentation Ltd, National Instruments Ltd, Triveni Structurals Ltd and Tungbhadra Steel Products Ltd.

The Cabinet also authorised the department of consumer affairs (DCA) to finalise a framework for government-togovernment purchases of pulses from Myanmar. DCA would put the framework for import of up to one million tonnes of pulses every year from the neighbouring country with the aim of stabilising prices in the domestic market.

The Cabinet also gave its approval for signing of the agreement between India and Latvia for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

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