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`Give me a chance to counter charges': Sinha


Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, July 31

THE Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, today said that he was determined to reply in detail to each of the charges levelled against him and the Government over the alleged mishandling of the Unit Trust of India's (UTI) affairs.

Mr Sinha, who was not allowed by the Opposition members to complete his reply to the debate on the UTI fiasco in Rajya Sabha today, also promised to talk on the telephone calls ostensibly traced to him and some of his Ministry officials from the former U TI Chairman, Mr P.S. Subramanyam.

The Minister, who appeared to be in a combative mood, amidst rumours about his resignation, said that the UTI issue had taken six hours of the Rajya Sabha, covering over 20 speakers.

``I am determined to reply to each of the points raised during the debate. Parliamentary democracy demands that I should be given a chance to speak, after I have patiently heard out all the vicious tongue lashing unleashed on me,'' he told newsmen.

Mr Sinha hinted that the furore created by the Opposition was due to some ``uncomfortable facts'' mentioned by him during his reply.

He had during his brief reply referred to the US-64 increasing its equity exposure from 28 to over 60 per cent between 1992 and 1996. This period corresponded to the rule of the Congress (I).

He also mentioned that although the Joint Parliamentary Committee of 1992 had recommended that UTI should not offer assured return schemes if there was an equity component, the trust did not heed this warning.

``It is not as if investors of UTI have lost money. The corpus is still there. Only the value of the investments held by the US-64 and the trust have suffered an erosion,'' he said.

Pic.: The Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, addressing newspersons outside Parliament House after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned on the UTI issue on Tuesday.

Picture by Kamal Narang

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