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Monday 30 April 2012

What if Parliamentary Panels report that castigated the government over the precarious health of Air India, with one of them saying "unscrupulous and vested interests" had worked overtime to "suck the life out" of the national carrier! Nothing to cha

What if Parliamentary Panels report  that castigated the government over the precarious health of Air India, with one of them saying "unscrupulous and vested interests" had worked overtime to "suck the life out" of the national carrier! Nothing to change. Government of India replicating the same to cripple Life Insurance and other Government Sector companies to Benefit Private capital and foreign Investors!Pranab Mukherjee and Kaushik basu has played an excellent Game in Washington to tame NDA , The rate fiasco has further pushed for Economic reforms. The Political Class inflicted with Anti National self interests incline to be enslaved by the Corporate Lobbying to maintain their enviable Luxurious status. The Parliamentary Panel reports are Nothing but Trash meant to Dupe the Vote Bank in the Murdered Indian democracy!
Indian Holocaust My Father`s Life and Time - Eight HUNDRED THIRTY ONE

Palash Biswas

What if Parliamentary Panels report  that castigated the government over the precarious health of Air India, with one of them saying "unscrupulous and vested interests" had worked overtime to "suck the life out" of the national carrier! Nothing to change. Government of India replicating the same to cripple Life Insurance and other Government Sector companies to Benefit Private capital and foreign Investors!Pranab Mukherjee and Kaushik basu has played an excellent Game in Washington to tame NDA , The rate fiasco has further pushed for Economic reforms. The Political Class inflicted with Anti National self interests incline to be enslaved by the Corporate Lobbying to maintain their enviable Luxurious status. The Parliamentary Panel reports are Nothing but Trash meant to Dupe the Vote Bank in the Murdered Indian democracy!

However,Two parliamentary panels have castigated the government over the precarious health of Air India, with one of them saying "unscrupulous and vested interests" had worked overtime to "suck the life out" of the national carrier.Expressing concern over the critical situation facing Air India, the Committee on Estimates said it "cannot help but opine that unscrupulous and vested interests have worked overtime to suck the life out of this public enterprise"."Failure to check its deterioration is nothing but utter callousness on the part of the government too," the Committee, headed by Congress MP Francisco Sardinha, said in its report in Parliament, while blaming the government for being "solely responsible for the company's financial woes".Pointing at the huge losses, the panel said it failed to understand "how the situation was allowed to deteriorate to this extent despite the fact that Air India was once a showpiece PSU and a matter of pride for the government".

Does it make any difference at all? The Ruling Hegemony has got an irrelevan issue named bofors Scam which has been already misused at highest level in the Power Politics and the Culprits Never Never booked. Now the old Gold Mined is used once agian to divert the Public attention to pass the Finance bill and all the anti peole laws needed for Economic Reforms. Not Poverty, not Education, not Helth, Not general life standard, even not anything related to public cause, the topmost Priorityis Economic Reforms and thePolitical class is united Rock solid.

In a bid to shore up revenues and unlock the value of its two prime real estate assets, cash- strapped Air India plans to lease out around 1.50 lakh sq ft office space at its Mumbai headquarters and the Airlines House, its registered office located in Delhi.

The national carrier recently invited expressions of interest to appoint a real estate firm to advice it on the deal.

India's Civil Aviation Minister notes 'phase of crisis' in nation's aviation sector

India's Minister of Civil Aviation Ajit Singh reiterated (26-Apr-2012) the "civil aviation sector is passing through a phase of crisis, where most airlines are incurring operational losses". He said the Government has taken several measures to "ameliorate the problems being faced by airlines and ensure long term viability of the sector":

A working group has been constituted under the chairmanship of Secretary, Civil Aviation with Finance Secretary, Secretary, Financial Services, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Director General of Foreign Trade to discuss the factors causing stress in civil aviation and to suggest solutions;
The issue of rationalisation of Value Added Tax (VAT) on aviation turbine fuel (ATF), has been taken up with the state governments;
Director General of Foreign Trade has allowed import of ATF by airlines on actual user basis;
A committee under the chairmanship of Secretary of Civil Aviation has been constituted to undertake formulation of a Civil Aviation Policy.
The Minister further noted the sector is "burdened with higher operating cost than their counter parts globally. This is mainly due to the high costs of ATF and the distorted and high rate of taxes on all services and commodities associated with the sector. Fuel, aircraft leases, airport charges, air tickets, air navigation service charges, maintenance costs, fuel throughput fees, into-plane fuel charges, are also subjected to service taxes".

According to analysts, the airlines could at best garner up to Rs 500 crore through the proposed leasing, considering the prevailing dull market conditions.

We have around 3 lakh sq ft space at our Nariman Point office in Mumbai and the Parliament Street office. Of this, over 1 lakh sq ft is under our use, while the rest is under- utilised. So we have decided to lease out around 1.50 lakh sq ft space," a source told PTI here.

Most of the floors of the 23-story sea-facing Air India Tower in Mumbai's prime business hub Nariman Point have been lying vacant for quite some time with the only major occupant being the software behemoth TCS.

"In the current climate, the rentals in Mumbai and Delhi are hovering in the range of Rs 300-325 per sq ft. At these rates, Air India can get up to Rs 500 crore from the two properties," a senior executive with a leading realty consultant said.

The executive added that the airline though could get some premium for being in possession of landmark properties but not very significant.

Air India expects the two landmark properties could evoke good interest from top government establishments, domestic and global corporates and financial institutions.

"Both these properties are the best addresses in the two cities. Besides they also offer good facilities and more usable areas. We expect a good response to our properties," they said.

"The demand (for commercial space) at Nariman Point is pretty much average though there is no fresh supply. In fact, some of the global banks are shifting out of the prime CBD (central business district) and are moving northward to the city," a highly-placed executive with a leading property brokerage firm said.

What may you expect while PMO and the Office of the Presidnt are misused to kill Coal India in the best interest of the Priavet Energy companies? GAAR is being made Toothless only to woo Foreign Capital? You may expect the Subsidy wiped out. Taxes overloaded against the Ninety Nine Percent and everything sold out without any Resistance whatsoever. tradeunios as well as so much so great ideologies are used as ATM machines! The President of the Nation is involved in Corruption Charges and the Army Chief has to come out against kickbacks in defence deals? ONGC auctioned breaking all norms shamelessly, Airline employees have to wait for Death in starvation and the money is diverted elsewhere and Public Revenue is meant for Bail out only?

India is likely to take the sting out of a controversial law seeking to crack down on tax avoidance by exempting small firms and individuals and stretching out its implementation over several months, in an attempt to calm jittery foreign and domestic investors.

The finance ministry is considering exempting transactions or tax-saving arrangements less than Rs 15 crore to ensure only corporate structures of significant size come under the ambit of the new regime, known as the General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR).

It is also considering implementing GAAR after several months or even in the financial year beginning April 1, 2013, a ministry official said. This will enable stakeholders to exhaustively debate the new rules, which will spell out how GAAR is to be implemented, and also enable investors to restructure their businesses to bring them in line with the changed tax code.

By the way it is good news that President Pratibha Patil has decided to forgo the proposed accommodation in Pune for her after retirement. President's office said she was pained by media reports about Patil's post-retirement home in Pune.RTI activists in Pune on Friday hailed the media and other supporters for their cooperation which they claimed prompted President Pratibha Patil to forego accommodation here allotted to her after her retirement.

ELEVEN years after he was caught on camera allegedly accepting cash in a sting operation, former BJP president Bangaru Laxman was today convicted by a trial court. He is the first to be convicted in the cases registered following Operation Westend, a series of sting operations conducted by involving a fictitious defence deal in 2001.

"The CBI has been able to establish the case of... Rs 1 lakh bribe against Bangaru Laxman. (He) stands convicted... under Section 9 (taking gratification for exercise of personal influence with a public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act," Court of Special CBI Judge Kanwaljeet Arora said.

Bangaru was taken to jail after the order was pronounced. The judge turned down his plea for bail, saying this could only be considered after the sentence was pronounced. The CBI is expected to push for the maximum punishment of five years at tomorrow's hearing on the sentencing.

The court had reserved its judgment in the case on April 3.

In its chargesheet, the CBI said Tehelka journalists had held eight meetings with Bangaru between December 23, 2000, and January 7, 2001, pretending to be suppliers of defence-related products. Bangaru's former personal secretary T Satyamurthy, a co-accused, had been granted pardon by a trial court after he turned approver.

Bangaru had to resign following the scandal.

In order to push the deal through, Tehelka journalists had also offered bribes allegedly to several senior Army officers and bureaucrats as part of Operation Westend.

On the other hand,the Home Ministry today issued a notification formally nominating master batsman Sachin Tendulkar, actress Rekha and industrialist Anu Aga as members of Rajya Sabha.The notification was issued a day after President Pratibha Patil gave her approval to the government's proposal to make them members of the Upper House.The names of Tendulkar, Rekha, and Aga were sent by the prime minister to the Home Ministry which forwarded them to the President for her approval.

Article 80 of the Constitution provides for nomination of persons having special knowledge or practical experience in matters such as literature, science, art and social service.

"I would like to congratulate the fourth pillar of democracy, that is the media. It is the media which gave support to the great cause of ours. We have been fighting it out for the last one year," said Lt Col (retd) Suresh Patil, who first released details of the government's plan to give land to the President.

Following a controversy, Patil today announced her decision to give up the accommodation to be built on a 2.6 lakh sq feet of defence land. Suresh had claimed a house with a plinth area of 4,500 sq feet is being built for the President by bringing down two British era bungalows.

"It is people's victory. I, on behalf of others, would like to thank every individual citizen who in every matter supported us in the struggle of ours to get the land from the President and give it back to the Army for use of defence personnel," said Cdr (retired) RW Pathak who was opposing the proposed accommodation since its announcement in August last.

Retired Major General Mrinal Suman hailed the President's decision and also the media.

"I would like to congratulate Suresh Patil who took up the cause of soldiers and at the same time I must also compliment the President. She has respected the wishes of the people and given up the land. Not very many politicians would have done that. The President deserves credit for having listened to the voice of people," he said.

Suman said it (President's decision) is "a great victory for the media and public opinion makers".

"I think it (decision) is going to be a trend-setter. Hereafter, the people will think twice before touching the defence land," he said.

Her decision to spend her retirement at a newly-constructed Pune house at government expense was a marked departure from a long-held tradition, besides the unprecedented opposition from a group of ex-servicemen.

Going by the tradition, retiring presidents spent the rest of their time in a government accommodation in the national Capital or went back to their respective home states.

Many officers who have served in Rashtrapati Bhavan in the past cannot recall another instance of a retiring president in recent times moving out of Delhi, and get the government to build a new house for him.

Following is the full text of the press release issued by Rashtapati Bhawan:

Pained at fallacious observations regarding post retirement home president of india decides to forego her proposed accomodation

The President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil has been reading and watching the unfolding of some fallacious observations regarding the accommodation in Pune which she was to occupy after relinquishing the office of the President. She chose not to react as she has always held herself answerable to the Constitution of our country and her conscience. It was expected that once the facts were made public it would convince the concerned people. But despite clarifications given by the President's Secretariat, it is unfortunate that the misgivings continue to persist.

What has pained the President the most is the fact that she is now being portrayed by some people as one who, by agreeing to accept a defence accommodation for her post retirement home, is insensitive to the cause of war widows and ex-servicemen. But facts are to the contrary. She has always been proud of our brave jawans who are ever-ready to display their spirit of sacrifice while defending our borders. She has the highest regards for our war widows who have lost their dear ones for the sake of security and integrity of the nation. To express solidarity, boost their morale and to gain first hand experience of the hardships faced by our Defence Forces, she visited far flung army establishments like those in Tangdhar, Bhadarwah, Leh, to name a few, and several distant inhospitable forward areas in the North East. She would be the last person to ever think of dislocating or coming in the way of creating facilities for our war widows and ex-servicemen.

Women's issues have always been her concern and those of war widows particularly occupy a very special place in her mind. She has worked relentlessly towards their welfare and would like people to know that as Governor of Rajasthan she personally wrote to 1192 war widows to help resolve their problems. Here is an article which appeared in the Hindustan Times a few years ago which said:

"Away from the media glare, Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Patil is quietly attending to problems of hundreds of war widows. She has asked the war widows to contact or see her personally. Over 1000 letters have been posted in the past one month as the Raj Bhavan gets deluged with responses. Now, Patil receives around two dozen letters every day while a number of widows of martyrs meet her personally with problems. Their letters are being forwarded to the concerned department in the State Government for suitable action." (Anjul Tomar, Jaipur May-2, 2005).

As Governor, she had instructed all the District Collectors of Rajasthan to inform her regularly about the progress in resolving the problems of war widows. Under her directions, a State Level Committee was constituted with the Director, Sainik Kalyan Board, Rajasthan as its Chairman to address the issues affecting the war widows on a priority. The District Collectors were also instructed to organize camps at Sub-Divisional level for hearing the war widows and to solve their grievances expeditiously.

She ensured that the newly constructed 'War Widows Hostel and Rehabilitation Centre' at Jaipur was allocated Rs. 2 crore from the Amalgamated Fund of the Governor to facilitate its smooth functioning. The District Sainik Kalyan Officers were invited to Raj Bhavan, Jaipur and were advised to make wide publicity about the Hostel and Rehabilitation Centre so that no war widow was denied the facility for want of information.

Once there was a news item in Dainik Bhaskar, Jaipur Edition of 9th March 2005 that the Headquarters of Western Army Command would be temporarily shifted to the War Widows Hostel & Rehabilitation Centre. She took up the matter with the Chief Minister of Rajasthan immediately. The then Chief Minister Smt. Vasundhara Raje promptly responded through her letter, that the headquarters of Western Army Command would be relocated elsewhere and that the War Widows Hostel & Rehabilitation Centre would not be utilized as Headquarters of Western Command or for any other purpose.

If as Governor she had pursued the matters of war widows with such passion and concern, and if she had objected to even the temporary shifting of the Western Command Headquarters to the War Widows Hostel and Rehabilitation Centre in Jaipur, would she ever think of dislocating or come in the way of creating accommodation for war widows or occupy a property allegedly meant for any such purpose as her post retirement home? The accommodation proposed to be allocated to her by the Ministry of Defence was never indicated as one earmarked for war widows. It was to be allotted to her for use as her post retirement residence only during her lifetime with no rights of ownership, transfer lease, etc. However, considering the fact that the issue has got linked with the issue of war widows accommodation by some people, the President has chosen to forego the aforesaid allotment of accommodation proposed to be made to her as her post retirement home in Pune.

Hope this will put an end to all misgivings in this regard.

In its report tabled on Friday, the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture said it was "disturbing" that Air India had been seeking financial help without even spending the entire amount allocated to it during the 11th Plan.

"The Committee is surprised to note that when the national carrier was knocking the doors of financial institutions to bail it out, it was unable to spend money it had been allocated during the 11th Plan period," the panel, headed by senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, said in its review of the Demands for Grants of Civil Aviation Ministry.

During the 2007-12 plan period, Air India spent Rs. 25,603 crore against a total allocation of Rs. 32,730.71 crore, leaving an unspent sum of Rs. 7,127 crore, it said, adding, "This is a disturbing scenario."

Asking the government and Air India to be "very careful" while implementing its revival and restructuring plan, the Standing Committee said the "greatest challenge" which they have to overcome on priority related to "HR (human resources) issues created due to ill-conceived merger plan".

Regarding Air India Express, it said that "special attention" must be paid to this Air India subsidiary, as its market share had dwindled from 6.2% in 2010-11 to 5.6% in 2011-12 (till this January), as did the number of its flights and passengers carried, "resulting in increase of its losses".

".... The main reason attributable to this situation is the withdrawal of its services from the lucrative Gulf routes," the report, tabled in Parliament, said.

The Standing Committee recommended that AI Express, with a fleet strength of 21 Boeing 737-800 planes, could be "used efficiently" as a low-cost carrier in the domestic market to strengthen its business operations.

Holding the government "solely responsible" for Air India's financial woes, the Committee on Estimates asked it not to "shy away from taking care of the interest liability on its loan and payments for acquiring new fleet, if the company is to stay afloat".

Hoping that restructuring would be carried out strictly in a time-bound manner, it said this was necessary as "much delay has already occured resulting in an unprecedented damage to the overall image and financial health of Air India".

The Estimates Committee also asked the airline to revisit its expenses judiciously and weed out unnecessary expenditure and the government to "give maximum attention" to ensure that it performed better in the years to come.

Airlines and other airport service operators, which have issued cheques amounting to Rs7.23 crore to AAI's Southern Region, have bounced. AAI is silent about it

Airlines such as Air India, JetLite, Paramount Airways, along with other parties operating at the airport, which have issued cheques amounting to Rs7.23 crore to airports under the Airports Authority of India's (AAI) Southern Region, bounced. The information furnished under a Right to Information (RTI) application.

The RTI application was filed by Pune-based activist Sanjay Shirodkar with AAI's Southern region, to seek the details of cheques it received from 2000, which later bounced. According to the reply, 25 cheques from 2006 till today, amounting to Rs5.8 crore, which were issued to Chennai and other airports controlled by it, got bounced. Mangalore airport received seven cheques of a total amount of Rs1.7 crore issued on 15th September 2009 by Air India which were dishonoured, while Hyderabad Airport was issued one cheque of Rs1.6 lakh, by Air Deccan, which bounced.

"I don't know if the amount has been recovered, compounded or settled. But I pity the aviation sector. While the ministry of civil aviation is talking about modernisation of all airports, there seems to be no co-operation in paying the fees by the airlines and other parties for using the airport," says Mr Shirodkar.

According to the list, Paramount Airways issued three cheques in 2007 and 2009 for a total amount of Rs4.1 crore, which bounced. Interestingly, Paramount, which was started in 2005, had to shut its operation two years ago after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had de-registered its three planes. The action came after the airline was embroiled in payment battle with GE Capital Aviation Service and Celestial Aviation Trading, its lessors. Paramount was the only airline to offer business class service at a cost which at price in par with the fares of economy class of other airlines.

The RTI reply also revealed that Air India issued eight such cheques of Rs1.7 crore, Air India Express issued seven cheques of Rs95 lakh, while JetLite issued five cheques amounting Rs28 lakh which bounced.

The national carrier Air India is also in deep financial turmoil. Recently the union government announced a financial restructuring plan for Air India where Rs30,000 crore will be infused in the carrier till 2020. The same goes for JetLite. According to a report, Jet Airways has phased out its low-cost service JetLite, which was launched in 2007 and rechristened it as JetKonnect—another low-cost brand. In the third quarter of FY11-12 Jet Airways lost Rs101 crore while JetLite had a loss of Rs21 crore. The financial crisis is the main reason for merging the low-cost brands.

An RTI application filed by Mr Shirodkar revealed that that Kingfisher Airlines had issued five cheques amounting Rs122 crore between August 25, 2011 and February 21, 2012 to the AAI which bounced due to insufficient funds. According to news reports, the AAI had not initiated any action against the airline.

Mr Shirodkar had also sought the list of instances of cheque issued to Pune and Ahemdabad airports, which were dishonoured.

According to the list, from 2000 to 2012, the Ahemdabad airport received cheques which later bounced from airlines such as Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways, SpiceJet, Indigo Airlines, and others like Flemingo Duty Free Shop, Blue Dart Aviation, Akbar Travels, etc. Interestingly, the reply received from the AAI relating to cheques received by the Pune airport which were dishonoured did not include a single airline company name but only included other parties operating at the airport providing services such as PK Hospitality Services, Mercury Car Rentals Service.

AIR India is showing signs of recovery after the Indian government approved its financial restructuring plan and agreed to inject fresh funds into its operations.

The US$600 million equity infusion that will take place over the next eight years will help the cash-strapped national carrier recast its debt servicing over a longer stretch. The airline currently forks out US$48 million in annual interest to banks.

Air India recorded a 7.9 per cent increase in passenger numbers and 46 per cent revenue growth in March, compared to the same month last year. The carrier performed particularly well on international sectors, recording almost 33 per cent year-on-year growth in revenue, which was catalysed by an eight per cent hike in load factor and higher yield of 28 per cent.

In 1Q2012, the carrier's yield on international routes increased by 18 per cent over the same period last year. Revenue from international operations for the quarter grew by US$9 million, while domestic business jumped by US$8 million.

Anil Punjabi, chairman-east, Travel Agents Federation of India, said: "It will be good for the trade if Air India revives and flies to many (new) sectors. This will also rationalise prices as demand is growing constantly."

Meanwhile,The ICICI Bank has asked embattled Kingfisher Airlines to top up its loan security or adjust the loan amount after the ailing carrier's stock took a severe beating in recent weeks, the airline said.

"There is absolutely no recall of the entire loan facility nor any notice for sale of securities," Kingfisher said in a statement.
ICICI Bank has lent about 4.3 billion rupees ($83.77 million) to Kingfisher.

Kingfisher, which has debts of $1.3 billion, is scrambling to raise funds after banks refused to lend more for its day-to-day operations.

India appears to be taking further steps to douse criticism of new legislation aimed at outlawing transactions that are designed to avoid taxes.

The General Anti-Avoidance Rules, or GAAR, which are part of a Finance Bill that will be debated in Parliament in May, have got foreign investors in a tizzy.

GAAR could introduce new capital-gains tax liabilities for foreign investors who invest in India through Mauritius. India and Mauritius have a tax treaty to avoid double taxation, but foreign companies might not get the treaty's protection under the new regulation if Indian officials feel those investments have been routed through Mauritius only to get tax benefits.

Many investors have been rattled by the prospect of paying capital gains taxes on Indian investment transactions they thought were tax-free. Government data show about 40% of the foreign direct investment India has received since April 2000 came from Mauritius.

The government has already backed away from some issues investors have with the law.

Indian officials last week said they might tweak the tax avoidance proposal to put the onus on Indian tax authorities to prove a transaction was structured with the intent of tax avoidance, instead of the current approach, which puts the burden on firms to prove their intent.

On Friday, India's Secretary for Economic Affairs R. Gopalan appeared to give a more concrete assurance of this change of tack.

Mr. Gopalan, in an interview to television channel CNBC-TV18, said the responsibility of proving tax avoidance will rest with Indian authorities.

The government also will not apply the rules retrospectively, Mr. Gopalan said. "We need to ensure that provisions under GAAR are transparent, tax-friendly and…not retrospective," he said.

And there's more apparent backsliding. A report in the Economic Times Friday indicated the government may leave small firms out of the purview of GAAR.

The report said the government could dilute the proposed GAAR regulations by only applying them to transactions or tax-saving arrangements valued at 150 million rupees ($2.9 million) or more.

The newspaper also said the government may defer the implementation of the legislation until April 2013 to allow businesses comply with the new rules.

New Delhi, in the federal budget presented in March, proposed to implement GAAR from April 1, 2012, which would give tax authorities power to immediately scrutinize any deal that they believe was designed to evade tax.

The details contained in the Economic Times, though, are unlikely to do much to improve the mood of foreign investors, who generally invest much larger sums than $2.9 million in India.

The proposed law was never intended to tax small investors and businesses in the first place. Instead, it was aimed at examining large deals for possible tax evasion through the use of innovative structures to circumvent the jurisdiction of Indian authorities.

Cautioning that governance concerns have weakened business sentiment in the country, the IMF today lowered India's growth projection to 6.9 per cent for 2012.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in January pegged Indian economic growth to expand 7 per cent for this year.

"In India, the lowered growth outlook in 2012 owes much to a slowdown of investment which partly reflects structural factors," the multilateral agency said.

IMF called for renewed efforts to revive the "flagging" structural reform agenda.

Apart from some financial reforms and measures to broaden the use of public-private partnerships announced in the 2012-13 budget, the implementation of reforms related to infrastructure is likely to proceed slowly, it noted.

IMF's Asia-Pacific Regional Economic Outlook released today also pointed out that domestic factors too have played a role in India's growth slowdown over the second half of 2011.

"Concerns about governance and slow project approvals by the government have weakened business sentiment, which in turn has adversely affected investment, along with cyclical factors such as global uncertainty and policy tightening...," IMF said.

However, the multilateral agency has retained India's growth estimate at 7.3 per cent for 2013. As per the IMF, the national economy grew by 7.1 per cent last year.

IMF also called for steps to improve investment climate, remove infrastructure bottlenecks and expand education opportunities, thereby boosting reforms.

"It is also important for India to make progress in reducing barriers to trade, in order to maximise the potential of its continuing demographic dividend," IMF said.

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