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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

SEBI mulls extending trading hours
New Delhi, July 13
Market regulator SEBI today said it was looking at extending trading hours at the bourses but any early decision on it is unlikely. "This issue will take a while," SEBI chairman C B Bhave told PTI while giving details of how the issue is being discussed at a high- level committee of the regulator.

Quote correct PAN or pay more tax
New Delhi, July 13
Tax assessees may have to shell out higher tax at 20 per cent on their non-salary income in case they do not quote their correct Permanent Account Number(PAN).

Hyderabad Metro Project
Andhra to invite fresh bids
Hyderabad, July 13
The Andhra Pradesh government has decided to invite fresh global bids for the Rs 12,200-crore Hyderabad Metro Rail Project that was taken away from Maytas Infra after funding related problems.

Pranab to head GoM on 3G spectrum
New Delhi, July 13
The government today constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) to look into pricing and auctioning of the spectrum for 3G telephony.



EARLIER STORIES



An electric car is displayed at an electric and clean auto show in Beijing on Monday. More than 50 Chinese clean cars and battery makers gathered in the capital on Monday to showcase their latest models to potential buyers as China’s government vows to take the lead in electric car industry.
An electric car is displayed at an electric and clean auto show in Beijing on Monday. More than 50 Chinese clean cars and battery makers gathered in the capital on Monday to showcase their latest models to potential buyers as China’s government vows to take the lead in electric car industry. — Reuters
Indian visitors meander past the Andhra Pradesh stall at the 65th Travel and Tourism Fair in Kolkata on Monday. Twenty-two Indian states and nine countries took part in the three-day fair which concluded on Monday.
Indian visitors meander past the Andhra Pradesh stall at the 65th Travel and Tourism Fair in Kolkata on Monday. Twenty-two Indian states and nine countries took part in the three-day fair which concluded on Monday. — AFP

Despite slowdown, telecom industry’s revenue up
New Delhi, July 13
Country’s telecom market continues to remain insulated against the global slowdown and this was reflected in the 2.6 per cent growth in its gross revenues, which stood at more than Rs 40,000 crore in the quarter ending March 31.

89 lakh GSM mobile users added in June
New Delhi, July 13
GSM mobile operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar have together added 89 lakh new users in June this year, taking the total mobile subscriber base to 31.58 crore.

Sterlite bags Rs 372-cr BSNL contract
Bangalore, July 13
Sterlite Technologies Limited today announced that it had won a Rs 372-crore contract from BSNL for enabling a Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) Network based on Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology. Sterlite was awarded a major share of the total outlay of project, amongst competition from global players. The contract will be executed within 2010-11.

Import duty on gold, silver hits Kanchipuram silk industry
Chennai, July 13
Silk units making the traditional Kanchipuram saris are beginning to feel the squeeze of the customs duty slapped on gold and silver import announced in the Budget. The precious metals are used in embroidered silk saris.

ArcelorMittal faces trouble in Canada
Toronto, July 13
Labour trouble is brewing at ArcelorMittal Dofasco, the Canadian subsidiary of the global steel giant, with its slag-recycling workers on the warpath over contract terms.

ONGC to pump in $730 m in Cairn’s oilfields
New Delhi, July 13
State-run ONGC will invest about $730 million in Cairn India's main Rajasthan oilfields despite the project offering negative returns.





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SEBI mulls extending trading hours

New Delhi, July 13
Market regulator SEBI today said it was looking at extending trading hours at the bourses but any early decision on it is unlikely. "This issue will take a while," SEBI chairman C B Bhave told PTI while giving details of how the issue is being discussed at a high- level committee of the regulator.

There has been demand for extending the trading hours beyond 0955 hours to 1535 hours as part of efforts to align business with the markets in Asian region to guard against the lagged effect on Indian scrips.

"Actually this issue (extending market hours) got discussed in our secondary market advisory committee but there the participants pointed out that there are lot of practical nitty-gritty that needs to be sorted out before the decision is taken," he said.

Citing some of the issues, he said, "If you are having trading between 5 in the evening till 11 at night then how do people do the banking transactions during that time. If somebody has to bring in additional margin where is the mechanism to bring that." The second, Bhave said, "If you close the trading window at 11 o'clock at night then you would be still be doing T+2 (Trading plus 2 trading session) or would be declaring this session as part of the next day session.

"So lot of issues, which have not really to do with the policy but administrative issue, need to be sorted out. So they decided to have a committee of the exchanges which will go into this and then come back to the advisory committee," Bhave said.

Asked if the regulator had any intention of changing terms of trade, including the system of circuit breaker to curb the volatility, he said, "In fact, there is no proposal to change the system. We are handling the problem in the reverse direction.

"People say why did you close the market for the whole day. I think it was May 18 after the election result because everybody knew results are there and the market is going up you could have given two-hour halt or something like that and allowed the price to go wherever it wanted," he said.

Stating that at 12 o'clock on May 18, when the trading was halted for the day, the order book revealed only buy order but hardly any sell order, Bhave said that the circuit breaker helped halt crazy driving up of the prices and the market came to balance the next day.

Elaborating the event on May 18, when trading was suspended for the day after the second circuit breaker was applied following about 2,100 points surge in the Sensex, he said at one instance the market closed in 10 seconds and next in the 15 seconds. People did not get opportunity to cover the position, so the next day they were able to cover as the supply came in, he said and answered in a negative if there was any hanky-panky that caught his attention. — PTI

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Quote correct PAN or pay more tax

New Delhi, July 13
Tax assessees may have to shell out higher tax at 20 per cent on their non-salary income in case they do not quote their correct Permanent Account Number(PAN).

"The deductee (person from whose income tax is deducted), shall mandatorily furnish his PAN to the deductor failing which the deductor shall deduct tax at source (TDS) at higher rates," says the Finance Bill for 2009-10.

The proposal will apply for incomes, other than salary, like interest, rent, royalty etc.

Non-residents would also come under its ambit.

The government proposes to make amendments in the Income tax Act to charge those not quoting PAN at a higher tax rate from April 1 next year.

The Bill says the deductor will deduct tax above the rates than prevailing rates or 20 per cent, whichever is higher, in case the TDS assessee does not furnish his PAN.

Tax consultant Deloitte Haskins & Sells partner Neeru Ahuja said in most cases, 20 per cent is higher than the prevailing tax rate of TDS. As such, the tax liability may increase to 20 per cent, if PAN is not quoted correctly.

She said earlier companies were running after vendors to quote correct PAN, but now vendors will have the onus to take the PAN and quote it correctly.

In fact, people who have interest income or other income which is not taxable should also fill a form (15 G) and senior citizens (above 65 years of age) or pensioners (form 15H) and quote their 
PAN in the form, if they do not want to be taxed.

The tax department has its own logic making the PAN numbers mandatory.

"In a number of cases, the non-quoting of PANs by deductees is creating problems in the processing of returns of income and in granting credit for tax deducted at source, leading to delays in issue of refunds," government said.

All existing assesses or taxpayers or persons who are required to furnish a return of income, even on behalf of others, should have a PAN.

Also, anyone who intends to enter into financial transactions should have a PAN. Over 75 lakh PANs are issued every year. — PTI

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Hyderabad Metro Project
Andhra to invite fresh bids

Hyderabad, July 13
The Andhra Pradesh government has decided to invite fresh global bids for the Rs 12,200-crore Hyderabad Metro Rail Project that was taken away from Maytas Infra after funding related problems.

The process will be initiated on July 16 and completed by November 15, according to state Municipal Administration Minister Aanam Ramanarayana Reddy.

"We want to put the Metro on tracks within the next three to four years," the Minister told reporters soon after a high-level review meeting on the HMR Project, chaired by Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy here today.

Last week, the state government cancelled the contract awarded to Maytas Infra-led consortium after it failed to tie up funds despite a three-month extension. Maytas Infra is promoted by kin of disgraced Satyam founder B Ramalinga Raju.

Failure to mobilise funds forced the government to take stock of the project and firm up a decision on cancelling the award.

Accordingly, the Chief Minister discussed the project with the Municipal Administration Minister and top officials here today.

"Everything else about the project, including the cost, will remain the same. If necessary we will utilise the viability gap fund offered by the Government of India," Ramanarayana Reddy said.

In view of the past experience, the bid security for the project was enhanced from 0.5 to one per cent, implying that the successful bidder would have to pay Rs 120 crore to the state government. — PTI

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Pranab to head GoM on 3G spectrum
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
The government today constituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) to look into pricing and auctioning of the spectrum for 3G telephony.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will head the GoM while Union Ministers P Chidambaram, Sharad Pawar and A Raja will be members of the group, reports said.

The auctioning of the 3G spectrum will revolutionise the way data is received and transferred on mobile phones in the country. But the auction has been on hold for more than six months now as the differences between the two ministries over the pricing of the spectrum are still to be resolved.

Deciding the number of operators in each telecom circle, the reserve price for 3G and broadband wireless services (Wi Max) and the fee to be paid by mobile operators to the auctioning party are among the key terms of reference of the GoM.

This is the second time that a GoM has been set up on the 3G spectrum issue. Before the end of the term of the previous UPA government also a GoM had been set up, again under the chairmanship of Pranab Mukherjee.

But, before it could sort out the differences between the two ministries over various issues, the term of the government ended.

The decision to set up the GoM comes after the government last month decided to auction 3G spectrum at a reserve price of Rs 4,040 crore to at least six private operators besides state-owned MTNL and BSNL.

The decision was reached following the meeting between the Finance Minister and Communications Minister A. Raja.

Raja had even then maintained that no final decision had been taken and it would be either the Group of Ministers or the Cabinet that would take a call on the spectrum reserve price.

In the Budget for 2009-10 also, the Government has proposed to collect a whopping Rs 35,000 crore from the auction of 3G spectrum.

Initially, six private operators, apart from state-owned MTNL and BSNL, are expected to be allowed to offer 3G services that enable high-speed Internet, videos and many other value-added services on the mobile phone by the end of the year.

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Despite slowdown, telecom industry’s revenue up
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
Country’s telecom market continues to remain insulated against the global slowdown and this was reflected in the 2.6 per cent growth in its gross revenues, which stood at more than Rs 40,000 crore in the quarter ending March 31.

According to the telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the gross revenue of the telecom sector for the period under review stood at Rs 40,444.66 crore, as against Rs 39,408 crore in the previous quarter.

The state-owned operators - BSNL and MTNL - together earned Rs 10,599 crore, while the number of private players in the country together had earnings of Rs 29,846 crore.

TRAI said India's total subscriber base reached 429.72 million by March-end, as against 384.79 million for the quarter ending December, registering a growth of 11.68 per cent. While the teledensity, too, increased 36.98 per cent from 33.23 per cent in the previous quarter, the subscriber base of wireless and wireline increased to 391.76 million and 37.96 million, respectively.

As has been the trend in the past few months, the rural wireline subscriber base, however, decreased from 10.68 million to 10.58 million, a decline of 0.93 per cent.

According to TRAI, the ARPUs (average revenue per user) continued to fall, decreasing 6.82 percent from Rs 220 in December-end to Rs 205 in March.

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89 lakh GSM mobile users added in June

New Delhi, July 13
GSM mobile operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar have together added 89 lakh new users in June this year, taking the total mobile subscriber base to 31.58 crore.

According to the date released by the GSM representative body Cellular Operators' Association of India (COAI), the pace of monthly addition has picked up from 83 lakh new users in May, but is still slower than April's 89 lakh new users and 1.08 crore in March.

Top mobile operator Bharti Airtel added 28.18 lakh new subscribers in June, a marginal increase from 28.13 lakh in the previous month, COAI said.

Vodafone Essar, however, saw growth in new subscribers slowing as it added only 23.68 lakh in June against 25.38 lakh new in May this calendar, it added. — PTI

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Sterlite bags Rs 372-cr BSNL contract
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 13
Sterlite Technologies Limited today announced that it had won a Rs 372-crore contract from BSNL for enabling a Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) Network based on Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) technology. Sterlite was awarded a major share of the total outlay of project, amongst competition from global players. The contract will be executed within 2010-11.

BSNL plans to implement FTTH network in 25 cities across the country covering 20 lakh subscribers by 2012. This will provide subscribers access to unprecedented bandwidth and speeds (in excess of 100 Mb/s) as well as multitude of applications ranging from utility applications such as video conferencing and high-speed gaming.

The current phase of the FTTH network would be capable of providing high-speed Internet, IPTV (internet protocol television) solutions, VoIP (voice over Internet protocol), and other value-added services to about 500,000 subscribers. BSNL will be the first telecom company in the country to deploy commercial scale Fibre-to-the-Home network.

Kuldeep Goyal, chairman and managing director of BSNL, said up to five per cent of all Indian households would have FTTH by 2011.

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Import duty on gold, silver hits
Kanchipuram silk industry

N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 13
Silk units making the traditional Kanchipuram saris are beginning to feel the squeeze of the customs duty slapped on gold and silver import announced in the Budget. The precious metals are used in embroidered silk saris.

"The production cost of silk saris has gone up again and this in turn will affect sales", rued Kanchi Silk Manufacturers Association president YM Narayanasamy. He said gold and silver prices had already risen earlier due to online trading and a customs duty of Rs 200 per 10 grams of gold and Rs 1,000 per kilogram of silver had added to the industry’s burden.

“Silk manufacturers using artificial fabrics can increase their sales as their fake silk saris cost much less than the original Kanchi silk saris, the prices of which had to be increased steeply to meet manufacturing costs”, said Narayanasamy.

He said the Tamilnadu government had earlier levied 4% tax on gold and silver zari (a type of thread made of fine gold or silver wire that is woven into silk saris). On top of this workers’ wages had been hiked to stop them from migrating to other industries being set up in the district, he said. “The additional production costs cannot be passed on to customers by silk manufacturers without adversely affecting their sales. As it is the Kanchi silk units, one of the country's most well-known traditional industries, were already facing a crisis”, he added.

Narayanasamy said to protect these units the central government should withdraw the customs duty on gold and silver and the state government should scrap the 4% sales tax on zari.

Tamil Nadu Handloom Weavers Union general secretary E Muthukumar said any further increase in gold and silver prices would hit the silk industry that he noted was feeding over 100,000 weavers in Tamil Nadu. “If sales are affected the manufacturers too would be hit. It would also lead to large-scale joblessness among the weavers who are unlikely to get alternate employment”, he added.

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ArcelorMittal faces trouble in Canada

Toronto, July 13
Labour trouble is brewing at ArcelorMittal Dofasco, the Canadian subsidiary of the global steel giant, with its slag-recycling workers on the warpath over contract terms.

The steel workers at the company's plant at Hamilton near Toronto are employed by MultiServ, a Pennsylvania-based US company, which has a slag-recycling contract with ArcelorMittal Dofasco.

The steel workers have voted for strike after failing to reach an agreement over renewal terms for their contract. The contract for 150 of them expired on July 4.

After voting for strike when the workers showed up for work at the plant Friday, they were "escorted out" of the plant by supervisors for MultiServ.

The workers said they came to work despite their decision to go on strike from July 4 because they wanted to resolve the issue with their employers.

Tony DePaulo, leader for United Steelworkers, said MultiServ wants to cut their wages by 15 percent and reduce pension and other benefits.

He said MultiServ "is a very profitable company that is using the current economic conditions as an excuse to make long-term and structural changes to their livelihood. This is just a snapshot of what's happening all over. There is no way the union is giving those concessions."

But a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania-based firm said they are "ready and willing to get back to the bargaining table and work together on an agreement that both of us can accept and which will preserve our price competitiveness in an increasingly cost-conscious steel industry that has been hit hard by the economic downturn."

Headquartered at Hamilton near here, ArcelorMittal Dofasco has operations in Canada, the US and Mexico. — IANS

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ONGC to pump in $730 m in Cairn’s oilfields

New Delhi, July 13
State-run ONGC will invest about $730 million in Cairn India's main Rajasthan oilfields despite the project offering negative returns.

The board of ONGC has approved its 30 per cent share of the $2.431 billion revised field development cost proposed by Cairn India for the Block RJ-ON-90/1, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora informed the Rajya Sabha today. ONGC will invest $729.43 million.

"Under the existing set of fiscal terms and conditions, ONGC has negative net present value for its investment in the revised field development plan," he said. The project offers negative returns to ONGC as the firm is liable to pay royalty on the entire crude oil production from the Rajasthan fields despite having just a 30 per cent share. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Interest rates likely to go up: SBI
Kolkata:
The country's top lender, State Bank of India, sees interest rates likely rising by 25 to 100 basis points in six months if liquidity in the system is not managed well, its chairman said on Monday. "Going ahead, there is a possibility of interest rates going up ... if liquidity is not managed well, when the busy season picks up, that is in the second half of the (fiscal) year," OP Bhatt said. — Reuters

Oil slips below $59
London:
Oil prices fell more than $1 to below $59 a barrel on Monday, slipping towards a seven-week low on concerns about the state of the global economy as equities markets tumbled. Oil prices dropped 11 per cent last week in their biggest weekly decline since late January as investors talked of the possibility of another dip in economic activity before the onset of recovery, which could delay a rebound in demand for fuel. — Reuters

Air India’s loan guarantee
New Delhi:
Export-Import (EX-IM) Bank of US on Monday said it has approved $2 billion loan guarantee of Air India for buying Boeing aircraft. The loan guarantee is for the purchase of aircraft from Boeing. The loan is being given by J P Morgan Chase, the spokesperson said, but refused to give further details about the Boeing and Air India deal. — PTI

Cellebrum is Spice Digital
Chandigarh:
Cellebrum Technologies, a part of $1 billion Spice Group, is undergoing a brand change and will now be known as Spice Digital. This change is a part of the brand change exercise at Spice Group under which all major group verticals and companies will be brought under the Spice brand umbrella, said Saket Agarwal, CEO, Spice Digital. — TNS

World Energy Fund
Chandigarh:
DSP BlackRock Investment Managers on Monday announced the launch of DSP BlackRock World Energy Fund. The scheme is a feeder fund into the BlackRock Global Funds (BGF) —World Energy Fund which invests in equity securities of Oil & Energy companies. The New Fund Offer (NFO) will commence on July 10 and close on July 31. — TNS

Axis Bank net up 70 pc
Mumbai:
Private sector lender Axis Bank on Monday reported a 70 per cent jump in its net profit at Rs 562.04 crore for the first quarter ended June 30, 2009, over the corresponding period a year ago. Total income of the bank also rose to Rs 3,864.13 crore during the first quarter of the current fiscal (2009-10) from Rs 2,891.24 crore in the corresponding period a year ago. — PTI

BSNL plans CDMA expansion
New Delhi:
BSNL will spend Rs 349.31 crore in 2009-10 to expand its CDMA-based wireless services while the other PSU, MTNL, has no such plans in this segment. In a written reply to a query in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State of Communications and Information Technology Gurudas Kamat said. — PTI

NMDC pacts
New Delhi:
State-owned mining giant NMDC has clinched a 33-44 per cent lower rate on the long-term contracted prices for iron ore with Japanese and South Korean steel mills for the current fiscal. "We have entered into the contract at the same rate as of Rio Tinto," NMDC chief Rana Som told PTI over phone from South Korea. — PTI

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