Saturday, December 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

North CMs call for larger cooperation
New Delhi, December 7
Chief Ministers of northern states today underlined the need for larger cooperation among the states to bring about faster changes in the economic and industrial landscape of the region by pooling their resources.

Allianz group aggressive on expansion plans
Chandigarh, December 7
The $ one trillion Germany based Allianz group that has invested almost Rs 300 crore in the general and life insurance business in India is aggressive on expansion plans, “for which further investment will not be a barrier”, said Mr Mark J Purslow, Chief Executive Officer, Allianz Bajaj Life Insurance company in an exclusive interview to The Tribune here today. He was here on an official visit to the region.

How Punjab has messed up finances
P
unjab is wisely staying away from the CII’s Infranet-2001 beginning on December 12. It needs no lessons on infrastructure building. Its bureaucracy knows all about it. But where is the money to develop infrastructure?

Maruti considering 3 pc price hike
New Delhi, December 7
India’s largest car maker Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL) is considering a 3 per cent across the board increase in prices. The price hike is likely to be effective by month-end.

Foreign dancers perform to promote German luxury limousine during a reception in Shanghai on Friday. Foreign dancers perform to promote German luxury limousine during a reception in Shanghai on Friday. The domestic auto industry is seen as one of the hardest hit as cheaper imports after tariffs reduction will offer better product quality and services. China formally joins the WTO on December 11.
— Reuters


 

EARLIER STORIES
 

Inculcate work culture and cut holidays
A
lmost every year it is seen that a time comes when important institutions and public offices remain closed for days together at a stretch crippling the work and production across the country.


Mired in litigation with the MSEB over power-purchase and facing bankruptcy, ENRON is laying off employees.
(28k, 56k)

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Director of the International Monetary Fund's Independent Evaluation Office, right, meets reporters at the IMF in Washington on Thursday to discuss the financial situation in Argentina. The IMF has told Argentina that it isn't ready at present to rush in with new loans to help South America's second-largest economy stave off default on its huge foreign debt. IMF spokesman Thomas Dawson is at left.
— AP/PTI

Tatas pull out from AI disinvestment
New Delhi, December 7
The disinvestment plans for Air-India, was grounded today with Tata Sons, the only company left in the race for acquiring government’s 40 per cent stake in the international carrier pulling out its offer for want of an international partner.

Edge opens office in city
Chandigarh, December 7
Edge Immigration and Career Consultants, a company specialising in immigration to Canada, USA, New Zealand, Australia and International Education introduces its services in Asia Pacific region by opening its corporate office here today.

TV-18 shares
Mumbai, December 7
The Board of Television 18 India (TV-18) today approved a proposal to allot 7 lakh shares of Rs 10 each to its promoters and associates on preferential basis.

ROUND-UP

Thomas Cook net drops 33.18 pc
Mumbai, December 7
Thomas Cook India has posted a lower net profit by 33.18 per cent at Rs 9.12 crore for the 10 months ended October 31, 2001 as compared to Rs 13.65 crore in the year ended December 31, 2000.

  • $ 1.3b IMF loan for Pakistan

  • 13 pc growth in CTV sales: Cetma

  • Hyundai launches insurance venture

  • India, NZ sign IT pact

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North CMs call for larger cooperation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 7
Chief Ministers of northern states today underlined the need for larger cooperation among the states to bring about faster changes in the economic and industrial landscape of the region by pooling their resources.

“The growing North-South divide spilling over to social indicators, information technology, education and health has to be addressed within the framework of a broad cooperative mechanism among the northern states”, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh said while speaking at the Chief Ministers’ Conference organised by the PHDCCI here.

He said the broad parameters of cooperation should include agriculture development such as re-framing cropping pattern, switching over from foodgrain cultivation to cash crops, laying emphasis on social development and achievement of uniform tax system.

“It is a painstaking process but there is no shortcut. The major bottlenecks to growth in the region are run away population growth, growing fiscal deficit and growing number of redundant labour which increases the pension liability of the states”, he said.

Chief Minister of Haryana O.P. Chautala lent full support to the government of National Capital Territory of Delhi in the development of the National Capital Region and assured that his state will be eager to have joint ventures with Delhi and other neighbouring states for land development.

Finance Minister of Punjab Captain Kanwaljeet Singh said the state governments should accord highest top priority to export promotion while calling for greater regional cooperation for greater infrastructure development.

“We hope that a uniform legal framework for all states of the region will help in making feasible and viable upgradation and improvement of inter-state roads”, Capt Singh said.

Health Minister of Himachal Pradesh J.P. Nadda said the state government was giving focussed attention to knowledge-based industries.

“ We feel with its pristine, tranquil and pollution-free environment, our state is a special destination for high value software exports and institutes of excellence of information technology”, he said.
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Allianz group aggressive on expansion plans
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The $ one trillion Germany based Allianz group that has invested almost Rs 300 crore in the general and life insurance business in India is aggressive on expansion plans, “for which further investment will not be a barrier”, said Mr Mark J Purslow, Chief Executive Officer, Allianz Bajaj Life Insurance company in an exclusive interview to The Tribune here today. He was here on an official visit to the region.

Allianz that has tied up with Bajaj considers its entry into the life as well as general insurance segment (as Bajaj Allianz General Insurance), a major reason that will place it at an edge above the other players. “While the tie up with Bajaj will help the company to gain the faith of Indian customers, entry in to general as well as life insurance will be able to satisfy entire insurance needs of a person with us”, said Mr Purslow.

Determined to provide a stiff competition in the newly opened up insurance sector the company will have a multi-channel distribution policy where it has already tied up with Standard Chartered Bank for the distribution of its products and plans tie-ups with at least 10 more banks for the purpose.

The products that will be targeted at people from all the economic segments include basic economy packages, protected packages, and health packages for endowment, money back and other life insurance policies. “During the initial stages of expansion we will have a standard plan for the entire country after which products according to requirements of people of a specific region will be framed”, he said.

Presently the Aliens group is operating in more than 70 countries across the globe and is one of the top five asset management companies in the world.

Vast population, and a largely untapped insurance market is what makes India and China (were it entered more than three years back) the most attractive markets for us, says Mr Purslow. However being more liberalised, India holds better scope, he added.

In its one month of operations, the company has already sold 1,300 life insurance policies and in the general insurance sector where it entered around five months ago, it has sold more than 50,000 policies. “Apart from the advantage that the credibility Bajaj enjoys in the country, high awareness levels of the people are enabling us to perform well”, said he.

Emphasising on the importance of stability in the insurance sector, he said the company has never left any market it entered till date. “We are determined to be the best “to buy from, to work for and to invest in “, that is, we want to come up on the expectations of not only our customers but those of the employees as well”.

Already operational in Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Lucknow and Patna and by 2004 plans to be located in at least 500 places across the country. “We plan to mark our presence in every district throughout the country”, said Mr Purslow. 
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How Punjab has messed up finances
Nirmal Sandhu

Punjab is wisely staying away from the CII’s Infranet-2001 beginning on December 12. It needs no lessons on infrastructure building. Its bureaucracy knows all about it. But where is the money to develop infrastructure?

Last year the state government had invited Dr Montek Singh and Dr Rakesh Mohan, the official gurus on infrastructure, for a lecture at Punjab Bhavan in Chandigarh. Mr Parkash Singh Badal was present along with his bureaucrats. When Dr Ahluwalia questioned the wisdom of providing free, unmetered power supply to farmers and pointed a finger at the state profligacy, the meeting was hurriedly wound up as they all had planned to see a cricket match in the Mohali stadium. I was a witness to this official hospitality to the bureaucrats who wielded a clout in Delhi.

How the state government manages its finances is interesting. It procured paddy without realising that its treasury is nearly empty. It borrowed from the RBI to clear the farmers’ and millers’ dues, amounting to some Rs 800 crore. But the money was diverted to pay the staff salaries. It again went to the RBI for more loans. The latter asked for interest payable on the previous loan and refused another instalment.

Meanwhile, its coalition partner prevailed and abolished octroi from December 1 without giving the financially debilitated municipalities any alternative source of income. For five years the BJP had pressed for octroi removal without coming out with a viable alternative.

The near bankrupt condition of the treasury notwithstanding, the Punjab Advocate-General gave an undertaking on behalf of the state government to compensate the civic bodies for all the losses they suffer on account of octroi abolition. Any sensible government would have first appointed a committee to study the feasibility of octroi removal and put in place concrete measures to make good the municipalities’ loss before implementing its decision to help traders. But votes matter more to the ruling SAD-BJP combine.

Had there been a valid reason for the state’s messy finances, people would have gladly shouldered the burden. The Akali art of making money and squandering public resources would have been laughable had the public not been made to suffer. Paddy growers, millers, retired teachers of aided colleges, all waiting for their dues. Ever heard of an Akali, or any politician for that matter, going bankrupt? Any bureaucrat? Why do they join hands to make governments bankrupt?

The frauds they play easily expose them. Take the much publicised Rs 1,500 crore Vajpayee “bonanza” for Punjab for urban and road development announced in Amritsar last month. Much of it consists of loans, that too on high interest rates (13.75 per cent) from Hudco.

The World Bank sanctions softer loans at lower rates, but it has blacklisted Punjab because it wastes resources on populist schemes like free water and power supply. Nabard too stays away from the state for the same reasons, though officials will not admit this openly.

Incidentally, the state government’s debt has grown from Rs 11,000 crore to Rs 27,000 crore during the rule of Mr Badal. All that the CM is good as to pull the strings at the Centre and seek bailouts. Who, and for how long, will keep on rescuing the state from its suicidal financial policies? Is the state heading for a financial emergency?
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Maruti considering 3 pc price hike

New Delhi, December 7
India’s largest car maker Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL) is considering a 3 per cent across the board increase in prices. The price hike is likely to be effective by month-end.

In all likelihood, the price hike would go up to three per cent in 3 weeks time, informed sources said.

When contacted, Maruti officials confirmed the move but said “the extent of the (price) increase is being worked out.”

A 3 per cent hike would amount to an increase of almost Rs 6,530 over the ex-showroom price of ‘Maruti 800 Standard’, Rs 8,970 over that of ‘Alto LX’, and Rs 10,226 over that of ‘WagonR LX’.

After reducing the prices immediately after the budget, MUL had increased prices in May this year.

Traditionally, car sales pick up in the months of January, February and March, therefore, the decision to increase the prices of all the models of Maruti would not have been better timed, industry observers said.

Other car manufacturers might follow suit as in all likelihood car market would pick up during January-March next year, industry sources said.

Car companies, forced to sell below cost, primarily due to intense competition, might think in the direction of hiking prices from January 2002 onwards, industry observers said.

On the back of a 4.3 per cent increase in car sales in October, Maruti’s car sales went up by 10.81 per cent at 19,596 units over 17,676 units sold in the same month last year.

MUL is an equal joint venture between the government and Suzuki Motor Corp of Japan. PTI
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Inculcate work culture and cut holidays
H. L. Kumar

Almost every year it is seen that a time comes when important institutions and public offices remain closed for days together at a stretch crippling the work and production across the country.

Indians are very enterprising but lack work culture, discipline and punctuality which are great requisites for any programme to be successful. Development of culture of discipline as against the casual approach to work is the utmost need. For, there has to be right atmosphere to work.

This is the only country which has made Prophet Mohammed’s birthday a religious holiday when no Islamic country has done it. Neither Mahatma Gandhi nor Dr Ambedkar would have approved of their birthdays being exploited to reduce the GDP and promote an anti-work ethic. All this happens because our political masters conclude that the granting of such holidays gain them votes. Every time an old politician dies, a holiday is declared and Parliament is adjourned, adding to the damage he inflicts on the country.

When Winston Churchil died, Great Britain did not declare a holiday. In the U.S.A. work was stopped only for two hours when President Kennedy was shot dead. When Joseph Stalin passed away only two minutes’ silence was observed but in India not only were both Houses of Parliament adjourned but a public holiday was declared on the death of Stalin on March 5, 1953.

Even during a normal week, the staff working in public utilities and in the government do barely half-a-day work during the day. Between late arrival, tea and lunch breaks, and dealing with the personal works, government clerks, bank staff, railway and utility staff and so on end up working for three to four hours a day. In fact, we have become lazy people and get quickly bored with the work.

The reason why China is ahead of India is that the leadership in China is committed to advancing the country into the status of a prosperous great powers. Recently Mr Arun Shourie, Minister for Disinvestment has said in the Parliament that the Labour in China works seven days in a week, and takes only two days off in a month. Their normal shifts are of eight hours but they have to give a written undertaking that they would work 10 to 12 hours a day when required at no extra cost. The Chinese may not be democrats but they are fierce patriots. Our politicians, with some rare exceptions, are only committed to their own personal interest and have no consideration for the nation’s progress.

Strangely, bank holidays are not declared by the banks but by the state governments under the Negotiable Instruments Act. Declaration of holidays for banks should be left to their managements in the interest of national economy. Banking is dependent on the support services and infrastructure provided by the government. So the closure of Government offices directly affects banking.

It is reported that a Japanese on an average works 261 days in a year with 104 days off. When the government wanted to introduce the five-day week, workers and government employees resisted the move on the ground that they would become sluggish on Monday if they were to rest on Saturday and Sunday. On the other hand, it was welcomed in India and where six day work is carried on the demand to this effect by the workers and the trade unions bears the testimony. A European works, on an average on 225 days in a year whereas an Indian works on only for about 200 days.

An employee, whether in government service or serving in a bank is entitled to leave of all sorts. When an employee goes on leave, the work allotted to him suffers unless alternative arrangements are made. Besides, in Government offices several posts are kept vacant for years often without any valid reason, resulting in the accumulation of work.

The number of days on which schools and colleges work in our country is the lowest in the world. It would do immense good to curtail the holidays and make sure that all educational institutions work for a minimum of 225 days.

Some foreign banks work for seven days in a week and offer service for 24 hours of a day. Most of the nationalised banks in our country cater to the needs of the customers not even for eight hours a day and work only for a few hours on Saturdays. The less said about the rural banks, the better. Therefore, the best way to inculcate the work culture is to do away with surfeit of holidays and the sooner it is done the better.

The need and philosophy behind the holidays is that all work and no leisure leads to the loss of strength and interests. Therefore, for the best interests of production and efficiency leisure is a must so as to preserve the health and recuperate the strength.

It is high time the government comes forward with a rule fixing the total number of holidays for a year and allowing individuals to choose on which of the specified days they wish to take off. Hindus, Muslims, Parsis, Christians, Sub-Castes and Sub-sects, Punjabis, Andhras, Marathis, Tamilians, Bengalis, Oriyan, Keralites, Kannads, men and women from different backgrounds may choose to opt for different holidays during the year. The total number ought not exceed some reasonable figure like 10 or 12 days with a six days week and a fortnights privilege leave per annum which is good for ones health and efficiency at work.

The idea is not new and it cannot be implemented through official fiat alone. It must be made widely acceptable through a sustained educative campaign about how little we work as a nation.

One more point must be taken into consideration that who are the people who get enough of holidays and leave. This is a well established fact that the organised and job secured employees are precisely the kind of the people who clamour for holidays since they don’t lose out monetarily. Ask a cycle rickshaw puller how many days he works, ask a newspaper vendor how many days he works, ask a domestic-help how many days they work. The reply will be almost 365 days in a year.
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Tatas pull out from AI disinvestment
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 7
The disinvestment plans for Air-India, was grounded today with Tata Sons, the only company left in the race for acquiring government’s 40 per cent stake in the international carrier pulling out its offer for want of an international partner.

Tata Sons was looking for an international partner to complete the bidding process after Singapore Airlines parted ways saying the process was taking too long.

“No global aviation major has evinced any serious interest in the consortium in the aftermath of September 11 attacks on World Trade Centre and the resultant slowdown in the global aviation industry,” its Director (Finance) Ishaat Hussain wrote to Disinvestment Ministry informing about the pullout.

Privatisation of domestic carrier Indian Airlines too had fallen after the two bidders — Videocon and Hindujas — were disqualified by the government for different reasons.

“Unfortunately, given these circumstances, we have not been able to put together a consortium for the acquisition of government’s stake in Air-India,” Mr Hussain wrote.
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Edge opens office in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
Edge Immigration and Career Consultants, a company specialising in immigration to Canada, USA, New Zealand, Australia and International Education introduces its services in Asia Pacific region by opening its corporate office here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Anil Manocha, Senior Vice-President Edge said that we will be providing comprehensive service package to our clients with a major focus to the skill development and training while their cases are in process. He added that there is a shortage of qualified physician where provincial government and CIC have implemented one year pilot project aimed at selection of foreign doctors who will be trained in Canada and may then become eligible to Canadian licensing.

According to Mr Amit Mann, Regional Director, Edge, Canada will be starting a new project of processing of application where in digital images of documentation will be sent to visa offices abroad. The new pilot project is in force from October 1, 2001 to March 31, 2002 and will be limited to family class applications from India, Nepal and Bhutan. He said that current estimated implementation for C-11 is June 2002. 
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TV-18 shares

Mumbai, December 7
The Board of Television 18 India (TV-18) today approved a proposal to allot 7 lakh shares of Rs 10 each to its promoters and associates on preferential basis. The Board also decided to raise overall ceiling on the investment by foreign institutional investors, overseas corporate bodies and NRIs to 49 per cent of the capital, TV-18 said today. PTI
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ROUND-UP

Thomas Cook net drops 33.18 pc

Mumbai, December 7
Thomas Cook India has posted a lower net profit by 33.18 per cent at Rs 9.12 crore for the 10 months ended October 31, 2001 as compared to Rs 13.65 crore in the year ended December 31, 2000.

Net sales for the period under review stood at Rs 71.26 crore as compared to Rs 79.59 crore for the year ended December 31, 2000, Thomas Cook said here today.

The other income was at Rs 3.13 crore over Rs 6.06 crore in year ended December 31, 2000. PTI

$ 1.3b IMF loan for Pakistan

WASHINGTON: The IMF said it has approved a three-year 1.3-billion-dollar loan agreement for Pakistan.

The IMF has praised the military government in Islamabad for its recent economic reforms. The new IMF loan also means World Bank credits will continue.

“As a result of today’s decision, Pakistan will be able to draw about $ 109 million under the arrangement,” said William Murray, an IMF spokesman. DPA

13 pc growth in CTV sales: Cetma

NEW DELHI: The Consumer Electronics and TV Manufacturers Association (Cetma) today claimed 13.7 per cent volume growth in colour television (CTV) sales at 1.3 million units during October-November and said the industry was back on the growth path.

“According to figures received by Cetma, the CTV industry during October and November has grown by 13.7 per cent in volume and 3.6 per cent in value. Against 1.15 million CTVs with the value of Rs 1,400 crore sold in October-November 2000, the figure comes to 1.3 million units for Rs 1450 crore in 2001, Cetma President Rajeev Karwal said in a statement here.

There had been 8.4 per cent price erosion during the period under review which is why the value-wise figures are much lower than those clocking volume. PTI

Hyundai launches insurance venture

NEW DELHI: Hyundai Motor India today launched its automobile insurance marketing venture ‘Hyundai Assurance’ in alliance with private insurance player, Bajaj Allianz.

As part of the tie-up, the car maker will sell automobile insurance products to customers through its countrywide dealer network. PTI

India, NZ sign IT pact

NEW DELHI: India and New Zealand have signed an agreement on institutionalising a framework for cooperation and bilateral collaboration in the information technology.

The agreement will focus on facilitating partnership in technology and services within the IT sector. The agreement while recognising the potential for extensive trade between the two countries in the IT sector, underlines the need to tap opportunities in a more focussed and comprehensive manner.

The agreement was signed between Information Technology and Communications Minister Pramod Mahajan and New Zealand Minister for Information Technology, Communications and Commerce Paul Swain here today. PTI
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BIZ BRIEFS

Dr Morepen
New Delhi, December 7
Dr Morepen, a fully-owned subsidiary of Morepen Labs Limited, has acquired the brand Burnol from Reckitt Piramal Limited for Rs 8.95 crore to enter the Rs 210-crore antiseptic market, which opens a vast arena of opportunity for the company. UNI

Krishna Bank
Chandigarh, December 7
Lord Krishna Bank, has appointed Mr R.P. Gupta as its managing director and chief executive officer. Prior to this assignment with Lord Krishna Bank, Mr Gupta was working as Executive Director, Canara Bank. TNS

SBP branch
Chandigarh, December 7
State Bank of Patiala opened its 723rd branch at village Bilaspur, in Yamunanagar district today. The branch was inaugurated by Mr Rajiv Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, Yamunanagar. Mr J.R. Devgan, General Manager (Operation) of the bank presided over the function. TNS
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