|Saturday, April 15, 2000,
Tandon for hire &
fire labour policy
Polluting diesel goes popular, at
hire & fire labour policy
NEW DELHI, April 14 The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today urged trade unions to adopt a positive and supportive attitude towards economic reforms saying the Government wanted them to be partners in the reform process.
Inaugurating the 36th session of the Indian Labour Conference here, Mr Vajpayee said labour, capital, management, society and the State are tied to each other by bonds of harmony and not of contradiction and conflict. Speedier and more balanced economic reforms are called for to achieve the goal of creating one crore jobs per year, he added.
The Labour and Employment Minister of Punjab, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, who also spoke at the conference said there was a need to adopt a policy of hire and fire in the interest of economic growth. He said such a step would ultimately benefit the labour force as, at present, the employers go for capital intensive industry instead of labour intensive industry because of stringency of labour laws. Such a step if initiated would create more avenues for employment, he added.
The Prime Minister in his speech touched on the rigid labour laws in the country saying we cannot ignore the stark fact that improper employment, planning and inflexibility in labour deployment in the face of changing market conditions is one of the reasons for industrial sickness. The changes in the labour laws have not kept pace with changes in the rest of the economy, he added.
The Prime Minister said there was a paradoxical situation in India as new industrial investment was showing a preference for projects that depend the least on labour despite the country being a labour-abundant economy.
He said his Government was committed to broadening, deepening and accelerating the scope of internal reforms to increase the prosperity of all Indians, especially the poorest and most deprived. At the same time, we are following a cautious and carefully calibrated policy towards globalisation so that we can best protect and promote our national interests, including the interests of our kisans and our mazdoors.
Referring to the Central public sector undertakings, the Prime Minister said the interests of its employees would be fully protected and their problems would be satisfactorily resolved in the ongoing efforts to restructure and revive PSUs.
There is a big challenge of how to revive thousands of sick industrial units all over the countryin the large, medium and small-scale sectors. Vast productive resources worth tens of thousands of crores are lying idle in these units, at a time when we cannot afford to waste even a single investible rupee, he told the conference.
He said there was a growing belief that the nation cannot reap the full benefits of economic reforms unless we reform both the labour laws and the administrative machinery that implements them.
He said the capacity of both the public sector and the organised private sector to create fresh industrial employment was very small compared to the needs of the society and this was a cause for serious concern.
Mr Balramji Dass Tandon spoke at length on the issue of industrial sickness. He said that while deciding the cases of closures, priority should be given for settling the workers dues. He was of the view that a mechanism should be developed in such cases to pay the workers either their part or full wages. There was a need to develop an alternate mechanism for determination of sickness at an early stage so that the necessary interventions could be made at a lessor cost.
The Minister said there was a need to evolve unit and workers specific education schemes so that the labour could keep up with the technological changes and the growing number of mismatch and ultimately the present work force going jobless could be checked.
Speaking on the problems faced by migrant labourers, he stressed for identification and registration of such workers so that their problems could be solved. For this, he desired that a mechanism be developed which should be able to ensure the due registration of migrant workers in host State and without causing any harassment to the workers so as to provide civic amenities and to check the problems of law and order.
Mr Tandon also called
for regulatory provisions of the Contract Labour
(Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 so as to reduce the
wage gap between regular and contractual worker instead
of straightway going for abolition of the contract
35 pc of
SSI units face closure in Patiala
RAJPURA, April 14 The failure of the Punjab Government to release the promised subsidy and overall ongoing recession in trade and business have led to closure of 35 per cent of the total small scale industrial units set up at this sub division of Patiala district.
Encouraged by the Government announcement that all those entrepreneurs who would set up industry at this one of the three oldest focal points in the State would be given 25 per cent subsidy on the entire loan they raised from banks and financial institutions, as many as 110 small scale units were set up here. However, discouraged by the lackasaidical attitude of the Government to honour its commitment about the subsidy, coupled with other losses suffered by industrialists, 35 units have already been closed down.
The financial health of the remaining units is no better. If the Government continued to withhold the subsidy, the day is not far when these units would also be forced to down their shutters.
Mr Aman Saggi, Managing Director of Delcray Cables Private Limited, explains that they had set up this unit in 1997 at a whopping investment of Rs 60 lakh. They raised a loan of Rs 30 lakh. One year after this unit became functional, they applied to the Industries Department for the 25 per cent subsidy which came to about Rs 11 lakh. Notwithstanding repeated visits and paying official expenses, their subsidy has not been released so far.
Whatever subsidy, if at all it is paid, would now be set off against the 16.32 per cent interest on the loan that we have to pay, says Mr Saggi and adds: This has, obviously, ruled out the profitability of our units.
Mr Saggi says this years Budget has made matters worse for Indian industrialists. The government has globalised more than 800 items such as plastic goods, food items, petroleum products, engineering items, machinery and chemicals.
Local industrialists cannot compete with multinational firms in globalised items for various reasons. First, foreign companies get loan from their banks at the rate of 6.5 per cent as against the 16.5 per cent rate of interest charged by Indian banks and financial institutions from the local industry. Secondly, foreign companies have highly sophisticated machinery and their functioning is computerised. They require far less manpower than local industrialists. They produce the same item at a far cheaper cost than the Indian industry. Therefore, Indian industrialists are destined to be doomed due to the entry of foreign companies.
Mr Ranjit Singh, Vice-President of the Small Scale Industries Association, says that there is no availability of raw material in Rajpura. They have to transport raw material such as brass, alloy steel and S.S. sheets either from Delhi or Bombay. The transportation of these items from these far flung cities add to the manufacturing cost of their items and reduce their profitability to the minimal.
Mr Singh maintains that the economy of Rajpura totally depends on seasonal industry like rice-sheller, door closers and biscuits. He fears that if these units are closed down, the economy of this sub division will be in a shambles.
Mr R.P. Verma, GM Amber Enterprises (India) Private Limited, says P.S.E.B. officials harass them and add to their sufferings. First, they make unannounced power cuts ranging from six to eight hours. Secondly, they unnecessarily continue to find faults with meters installed at their premises. Since all meters are sealed by the P.S.E.B. and their tampering entails heavy punishment including a jail term, who would take the risk of tinkering the meters. And yet P.S.E.B. officials accuse them of getting their meters reset or they advance the argument that their meters run slow. On one pretext or the other they slap fat bills. And if they are entertained, they do not find any fault with meters!
P.S.E.B. officials, on the other hand, discount the allegations as canard. They assert that some of the industrialists get their meters reset. In doing so they cause loss to the P.S.E.B.
Mr Balbir Singh, General Secretary of the association, says hike in octroi rates and unbridled powers given to those who man octroi posts have led to the exploitation of industrialists. He explains that hot rolled rod, if treated as loha rod the octroi is charged at the rate of Rs 4 per quintal. Intriguingly, if the same rod is treated as M.S. round, the rate of octroi is Rs 17 per quintal, although the material is the same.
unanimously accuse the Government of not allotting
industrial plots to genuine entrepreneurs. Most of the
plots allotted under the off-the-shelf scheme
have been lying vacant for the past several years. It
appears the allottees got these plots allotted only for
speculation purposes. Those entrepreneurs who really want
to set up industry can ill-afford to buy plots from the
open market. Why does the Government not resume the plots
who have not set any units till now? they ask.
& Sachs to quit from venture
PARWANOO, April 14 Fichtel & Sachs AG of Germany has decided to exit from its local unit, Sachs India Ltd. at Parwanoo, thus making a way for the original promoter Mr A. Dasgupta to take control of the operations.
The German automobile component had picked up 51 per cent stake in Sachs India formerly known as Sirmour Sudburg Auto Ltd. at Parwanoo in 1997 through a preferential allotment of shares as part of a BIFR rehabilitation scheme.
Fichtel Sachs is part of Mannesman Sachs Group of Germany and is one of the largest manufacturing of shockabsorber. The decision follows the Mannesman decision to exit from two wheeler and shock absorber markets across the globe.
The preferential allotment would be later transferred to A. Dasgupta. The transfer of shares is going to be on the basis of goodwill and was not likely to involve any cash transaction, as a result, it would result in the withdrawal of Mannesman Sachs nominees and appointment of A. Dasgupta as Managing Director.
Fichtel & Sachs has
in fact gone back on its plan to increase its
shareholding in Sachs India at Parwanoo from 51 per cent
to 80 per cent, instead, it has decided to exit the
venture by selling the entire stake to the Indian
promoter group comprising of individuals including A.
Dasgupta, CS Mathur and NV Raman.
NEW DELHI, April 14 (PTI) CII has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Offshore Development Company (ODC) of Namibia aimed at promoting bilateral economic relations between two nations.
The ODC, a private company with minority Government shareholding, is the umbrella organisation charged with regulation, monitoring and promotion of Namibias Export Processing Zones regime.
CII will promote transfer of technologies to interested parties in Namibia, not only on contract basis, but also through direct investment and setting up of joint ventures by Indian corporates.
Business matching between Indian companies who have technology to offer and Namibian companies who have specific technology demands would be carried out through development of a network of databases with information on key technologies and core capabilities.
Training programmes for Namibian industry with a focus on technology management, project management and entrepreneurship development, would be an important part of the cooperation agreement.
The ODC operates the Indian Exim banks credit line to Namibia from the Namibian side.
To promote investment by
Indian corporates in Namibia, CII and Indian companies
based in Namibia would conduct sectoral surveys to
identify investment opportunities with special focus on
small and medium enterprises, a CII release said.
BANGALORE, April 14 With e-commerce sites and dotcoms surfacing by the dozen every day and in the knowledge that the customer is king in the wired world, a Bangalore-based firm has set up a round-the-clock customer relations facility on the Net.
With speed being of the essence, it took just nine weeks for P.V. Kannan, Managing Director of Banyan Venture Partners, and Prakash Gurbaxani, the Chief Executive Officer, to set up 247customer.com, a facility that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Banyan Venture Partners, set up two months ago by Kannan, formerly of Kana Communications, S. Nagarajan and Sudhakar Kosaraju, has pumped in most of the $20 million in the Web-enabled customer relationship management solutions and services company floated by Gurbaxani.
The company will set up, manage and maintain web-enabled e-communication centres for the e-com sites and dotcoms across the globe.
For instance, Amazon.com has 1,500 people in Seattle answering queries of all kinds from sales to after sales from customers. The traffic is too heavy for them to deal with, so they may outsource to meet the pressure of volumes. This is where we come in. There is no reason why the queries cannot be answered from Bangalore as the Net has crossed all barriers, said Gurbaxani.
Its going to be a huge space. About 100 to 200 companies will spring up in the next couple of years because the market is huge. What will matter is the quality of the team and multiple leaders are bound to emerge in specific areas. We will be focussing on e-retailing and financial institutions, said Kannan.
And, typical of the services sector, employment opportunities are high. A recent study by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) and McKinsey on the key IT opportunities and their value creation potential by 2008 says that the customer interaction segment is expected to be worth $ 33 billion.
Besides wealth creation, this will open up significant employment opportunities for youths who do not necessarily have software engineering skills but would like to be a part of the global Internet revolution, said Gurbaxani.
The e-communication centres would be equipped with web-based enterprise interaction management technology infrastructure from market-leading technology providers like Kana Communications Inc.
Is the company trying to
exploit the adage that labour in India is cheap,
therefore business in customer relations will be good?
Its a common misconception that labour is
cheaper here. Its the quality level that is the
first criteria and the driver, not the cost, said
widen Indias tax base
CHANDIGARH: Indias tax base is very small. Only 2 per cent of the population pays taxes. To attract global investment, India needs to build world-class infrastructure. Mrs S.P. Kaur, Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, in an interview with Tribune News Service explains how the tax base can be widened. Here are excerpts.
Q: What is the 1/6 Scheme about?
The scheme refers to the 1/6 Economic Criteria scheme for widening of the tax base.
Q: What are the six economic criteria?
If you live in any of the notified cities under the scheme and are not an existing taxpayer or already filing a return, you are required to file a return in Form 2C regardless of whether you have taxable income. The criteria are: (a) Occupation of a house/shop of certain size. (b) Do you own/lease a motor vehicle? (c) Did you incur any expenditure on travel abroad for yourself or anyone else last year? (d) Are you a subscriber to a telephone? (e) Are you the holder of a Credit Card, not being an add-on card, issued by any bank or institution? (f) Are you a member of a club where the entrance fee is Rs 25,000 or more?
It is compulsory for persons to file a return if they are covered under any one of the criteria. If this is not done they are liable to a penalty U/S 271F of Rs 500.
Q: What are the cities notified for the north-west region?
Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar. The F.M. has also notified Patiala for the current financial year in the Union Budget.
Q: What has been the response to the scheme?
The scheme has attracted a good response in most of the cities. People are coming forward to file returns but there is still great potential. Punjab is a state with a high per capita income and there is no reason why our share and contribution to this nation-building scheme cannot be much larger.
Q: All 2-C filers under the 1/6 scheme will shortly be entitled to online allotment of PAN.
An additional benefit is ease in obtaining Income-tax clearances for travel abroad etc.
Q: If someone has a tax problem, what is the grievance mechanism?
Special hotlines have been set up in various cities. In addition you can use the grievance redressal mechanism on our website ccit.nwr.org. We also have PROs in each office to help you settle your tax affairs.
Q: Where is Form 2-C available?
NEW DELHI, April 14 (PTI) Even as strict Euro II norms on emission standards for automobiles comes into effect from this month, environmentalists are crying hoarse over appearance of new diesel auto models on the roads causing overdieselisation of the air.
According to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), almost half of the new cars now being purchased in Delhi are diesel models. Delhi which has the largest market for cars in the country outpacing two-wheelers is likely to have over 800,000 vehicles on its roads by 2010.
The trend towards dieselisation of private vehicular fleet has grown rapidly over the last few years and is extremely dangerous for a variety of reasons, including the fact that diesel emission are carcinogenic and negate the Supreme Court order to keep check on vehicular pollution in Delhi, says Sunita Narain, Director, CSE.
The Environment Pollution Authority, Prevention and Control (EPA), appointed by the Supreme Court to consider the issue of pollution in the national capital region, had in its report last September also recommended a ban on diesel driven private vehicles.
It is the entry of diesel which is more of a problem in Delhi. Diesel releases respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM), which causes worst damage as they can penetrate deep into the lungs, unlike petrol which spews carbon monoxide, says Shekhar Singh, environmentalist at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA).
Put on the defensive, auto manufacturers argue that diesel cars are just a minuscule of their production. Besides they have the technology to contain pollution.
Our new diesel cars account for less than half per cent of our total production. Out of the seven models with over 20 variants we have only one variant of one model in diesel cars, says Arun Arora, Information Officer, Maruti Udyog Limited.
He also points out that Euro II norms do not talk about diesel or petrol but emission norms.
Vehicles conforming to the Euro II norms will have emissions which will be controlled by technology which will definitely bring down the level of pollution, says Dr S. Dutta, senior scientist, Central Pollution Control Board.
According to Euro II norms, CO limits for diesel cars is 1.0g per km, and 2.2 g/km in petrol cars, the hydrocarbon limit would be 0.7 gm per km in diesel and 0.5 gm per km in petrol.
However, environmentalist Iqbal Malik says the consumption of diesel is increasing at a rapid pace - six times the amount of petrol. In 1990, Indians consumed 25,000,000 tonnes of diesel, by 1996 it was 30,000,000 and by 2000 it is likely to be 40,000,000 tonnes.
In similar vein, Prof A.K. Attri of School of Environmental Sciences, JNU points out that although pollution levels would be contained, the problem would still be there if new diesel vehicles outnumbered the others.
He also blames this to diesel distortion to the misuse of subsidy.
There are no disincentives to discourage the misuse of diesel unlike other countries like Singapore where no private vehicles ply on diesel fuel.
In the West, diesel is preferred because pollution caused by petrol is creating a greater problem. But, the only reason diesel is being promoted here is because it is cheaper, says Singh.
In fact, the trend is being encouraged by the enormous difference in petrol and diesel prices - a result of the Governments fuel pricing policy, says Narain.
While, the transport sector uses 70 per cent of the diesel produced in the country, the urban population uses 70 per cent of the kerosene meant for the rural poor, she sums up.
Also the country does not gain by going for diesel. Internationally, both diesel and petrol are almost of the same price, it is cheaper in India because of a strong lobby which has made the price of diesel an administered one, says Singh.
Finance to diversify
VOLEX Finance and Industries Ltd is setting up computer embroidery units as a part of its diversification plans. Two sites near Delhi have been identified for the project which is likely to go to stream by July this year. The immediate project cost in Delhi is around Rs 4 crore with four computerised machines which will be increased to 20 machines in the next five years. A similar unit is also being set up in Bangkok.
Volex started its business of leasing and hire purchase in 1984 with a paid up capital of Rs 100 lakh which was raised to Rs 10 crore with a public-cum-rights issue in 1994 and expanded its business. The gross total income of the company has risen from Rs 43.10 lakh in 1990 to Rs 287.54 lakh during 1998-99, according to a company press release issued here today.
The company is also making a foray into software development and internetting e-commerce activities. Initially, an amount of Rs 2 crore is being invested and the company expects a turnover of Rs one crore in the very first year.
Best Indian sites.com
Best Indian Sites.Com has decided to award Best Indian Sites every month. The best site will be ranked according to its contents and the presentation in the individual category among five-six sites in each segment.
The promoters have come up with the site http://www.bestindiansites.com. The site at present contains 19 categories - bank, Bollywood, city, corporate, cuisine, education, employment, entertainment, fashion, government, health, IT company, languages, maps, news, photo gallery, sports, tourism and webzine.
Allwonders.com has come out with the website 123world.com which is a directory listing official sites of the world. The site is planned to be a global web directory based on block concept. Initially the project has been divided in 69 blocks including seven wonders, airlines, airports, astronomy, banks, taxation, television, politics, amusement and theme parks, cities, countries, cooking, chamber of commerce, department stores, fashion houses, health, hospitals and IT companies.
economywatch.com is a complete vertical portal on Indian economy for the internet surfers search for quality information on Indian economy. This website is a useful resource for business professionals, students and general public alike as the site contains a comprehensive coverage of facts and figures about Indian economy. economywatch.com would be the largest databank on the Indian economy, providing the quality information on Indian economy.
SOFT Corner Cyber Solutions
www.thebloodbank.org is the first philanthropic site on the internet imparting information regarding blood donation and blood donors.
According to Soft Corner Cyber Solutions Ltd, the company which has promoted the site, the site is aimed not only at the people in metros but also at the masses all over the world, the towns and small cities, the hinterlands, wherever it is possible to obtain an internet access.
It provides a large and
constantly increasing database of potential and healthy,
voluntary blood donors to individuals, hospitals and
clinics requiring blood. It provides an alternative to
the necessity to go to blood centres and have to wait for
blood, in dire and very pressing medical circumstances.
Logging into the site would mean instant access to people
all over the world who are able and willing to donate
blood, according to a company press release issued here.
NEW DELHI, April 14 (UNI) Tata Engineering is working towards introducing two new petrol-driven variants of its small car Indica, powered by a multi-point fuel injection (MPFI) engine, by the end of this month.
The new cars would be Euro-ii emission norm compliant, company sources told UNI here.
Senior Company Executive Rajiv Dubey confirmed the plans but refused to state a time frame for introduction of the new models. We will introduce at least two new MPFI versions of the petrol Indica soon...we wont be able to disclose anything else about the launch schedule or the indicative price at present, he said.
The 75 bhp MPFI Indica is being rolled out to meet the new Euro-ii emission norms which have come into effect beginning April 1, 2000. The Indicas diesel version is already Euro-ii compliant.
Meanwhile, riding on increased demand for its small car, the company has sold 7,270 units of Indica in March, 2000, making Indica the second largest selling car in the small car segment.
The company, however, missed the 60,000 total sales target for the year having sold 57,160 cars till March, 2000. The company also exported 510 units during the fiscal.
The company had completed its booking commitments in December, 1999, and is selling on an average nearly 5,900 cars per month.
In January, 2000, Tata Engineering had announced standardisation of the 5-speed gear-box across its models and also launched the Euro-ii diesel model of Indica. Indica is currently retailed through 56 dealers in the domestic market.
Tata Engineering had earlier this year announced its foray into the luxury segment of the passenger car market with the 1900cc Magna.
The car, to be available in both petrol and diesel versions, will be the flagship car of the Telco portfolio. To be priced between the Mitsubishi Lancer and the Mercedes E-class, the car will also be available in higher powered engine versions.
The Magna is a rear-wheel drive sedan, powered by a two-litre engine. The car has been developed with different trim levels.
The company is also studying the feasibility of introducing a mid-size offering on the Indica platform. The studies are on but no definite time frame has been set for the launch.
Besides, the company had also unveiled a two-seater concept sports car on the Indica platform Aria. Developed along with an idea of Italy, the car has been conceived with a 140hp, four-cylinder engine and a maximum speed of 225km/hr.
NEW DELHI, April 14 (PTI) PHDCCI today said a package for financing small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should be developed to help the credit starved sector.
Banks, the Government and the industry should sit together and develop a package for financing SMEs who are being provided only 7 per cent credit against 20 per cent received by the banks are fear psychosis of lending to SSI sector due to npas and lack of collateral security, it said.
The chamber said
interest rates were too high for the SMEs and suggested
they should be provided bank finance at (plr) and added
that floating interest rates would also be useful in
making projects more viable.
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