WHAT THE OTHER PAPERS SAY THIS MORNING

FINANCIAL TIMES

MPS SET TO GRILL TAX OFFICIAL
The UK’s top tax official is likely to be questioned by MPs today over leaked documents concerning the settlement of a tax dispute with Goldman Sachs. Dave Hartnett, permanent secretary for tax at Revenue & Customs, shook hands on a settlement last December that apparently waived a charge for interest, according to documents leaked to Private Eye magazine and published by the Guardian.

ACCORD REACHED ON AID TO INDIA
Andrew Mitchell has secured an agreement to provide aid to India over the next four years, in a move likely to trigger disquiet among some Conservative MPs. The UK spent £280m in India in 2009/10 – its largest bilateral aid programme – but the figure was dismissed by Mr Mukherjee as “peanuts” compared to the overall size of India’s economy.
WALL ST BRACED FOR TIGHTER RULES
US financial regulators yesterday issued proposed rules governing banks’ trading activities, opening the door to a last-ditch lobbying effort by Wall Street companies hoping to soften the blow of new restrictions on short-term trading and other risky bets for their own account. The so-called “Volcker rule” will be open for public comment until mid-January. It is expected to be effective by mid-July.

BELGIUM EDGES TO NEW GOVERNMENT
Belgium yesterday unveiled a major transfer of power from the federal to the regional level, paving the way for the formation of a new government amid increasing skittishness in international bond markets about its sovereign creditworthiness. The country has been without a permanent administration since April 2010, after the latest resurgence of a perennial linguistic dispute pitting Dutch-speaking Flanders against Francophone Wallonia in the South.

THE TIMES

CRACKS APPEAR IN THE ENERGY MONOPOLY AFTER SSE BREAKS RANKS FROM BIG SIX
Scottish and Southern Energy has moved to break up the monopoly it enjoys with the other big energy companies in an attempt to appease competition regulators and win back consumers’ trust. The company is planning to make all the electricity it generates available on the open market within months in a radical move that will shake up the industry.

BALFOUR SEES ROUTE INTO INDIA VIA PARTNERSHIP WITH TATA
Balfour Beatty is planning to take advantage of a $1 trillion spending spree on electricity, railways and water infrastructure in India by hitching a ride on Tata, one of the country’s biggest industrial names. The group has signed an agreement to set up a joint venture with Tata Projects.


The Daily Telegraph

BIRMINGHAM AWARDED AAA CREDIT RATING
Birmingham City Council has secured a AAA credit rating, paving the way for the country’s largest local authority to borrow from banks and the capital markets. Moody’s gave the council a AAA rating, while Standard & Poors’ awarded it a AA+, with a stable outlook – a more positive rating than enjoyed by the United States Federal government.

G20 URGED TO HELP END WORLD HUNGER BY STOPPING COMMODITY SPECULATION
More than 450 economists from 40 countries have urged G20 finance ministers to prevent financial speculation in commodity markets from driving up food prices and fuelling hunger. Economists signed a letter ahead of the meeting of G20 finance ministers in Paris later this week.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

INSPECTOR ENDORSES UK NUCLEAR INDUSTRY PRACTICES
The UK’s chief nuclear inspector said yesterday he saw no reason to curtail operations at existing nuclear power plants or change siting strategies for new reactors following the Fukushima disaster, effectively giving the green light for investments in new nuclear reactors.

COURT SENTENCES TYMOSHENKO TO SEVEN YEARS
A Ukrainian court sentenced former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years in prison on Tuesday for abuse of office in a politically charged ruling that drew criticism from the West and Russia. The prosecution of Ms. Tymoshenko, the opposition leader who was the driving force behind the 2004 Orange Revolution has become a litmus test for her rival, President Viktor Yanukovych.