118 years of Trust B U S I N E S S THE TRIBUNE
Sunday, December 6, 1998
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No immediate DoT corporatisation
NEW DELHI, Dec 5 — Immediate corporatisation of the Department of Telecommunications has been ruled out because of the balancing of growth of high returns market with the obligation to increase teledensity and reach out to the rural areas, the Chairman of the Telecom Commission, Mr Anil Kumar, said here today.

Market recovers from poll tremors
MUMBAI, Dec 5 — The Indian capital market swayed marginally to both sides with extremely narrow volumes as the operators remained confused and reluctant to take any risks during the week.

AGRO TECH '98

Subsidy doesn’t reach farmers: Pilot
CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — The farming community is passing through a critical period and the industry should come to its rescue, said Mr Rajesh Pilot, a former Union Minister and senior Congress leader, said at a conference at Agro Tech here today.

Haryana pavilion attracts farmers
CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — A large number of farmers and entrepreneurs thronged the Haryana Pavilion in Agro Tech to learn modern agricultural practices.

Kerala moots single window clearance
CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Speaking at a Seminar on “Agricultural business opportunities in Kerala”, during Agro-Tech ’98, Mrs Suseela Gopalan, Minister for Industries & Social Welfare, Kerala stated that the Kerala Government in the next session of the State Assembly would pass legislation to enable single window clearance of all projects in the State.

‘Involve private sector in water management’
CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Time has come to consider the involvement of the private sector in the management of water by the government. Economic and social advantage and disadvantages need to be evaluated in this regard.

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SIDBI to set up biotech fund
CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — The Managing Director of the Small Industries Development Bank of India, Mr Sailendra Narain, said today that SIDBI was committed to set up a Rs 50 crore biotechnology venture capital fund.

Tax and you

Eco-friendly polymer draws poor response
CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — The Indian Petrochemical Corporation Limited and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, has jointly developed a biodegradable polymer, which however has drawn little response from the domestic packaging industry owing to its high cost as compared to conventional plastic film.

MTNL resorting to buyback?
One of the hottest rumours doing the rounds at Dalal Street in about Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited.

FIPB okays Dupont, Philip Morris plans
NEW DELHI, Dec 5 — The FIPB today cleared 18 foreign direct investment proposals worth over Rs 400 crore, including one by French multinational Dupont.

700 databases from PSIEC on-line
CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — At a seminar on “on-line access to international databases and electronic data interchange” organised by the Punjab Small Industries & Export Corporation today, speakers from Dialog, USA highlighted the specific use of accessing online information.

Badal launches Satyam Net service
LUDHIANA, Dec 5 — The first private Internet service by Satyam Infoway was launched here today by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Privilege notice against Sinha
NEW DELHI, Dec 5 — Janata Party member Subramanian Swamy today issued a notice for breach of privilege against Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha for misleading Lok Sabha regarding the CBI inquiry against the Reliance Industries.

 

 
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No immediate DoT corporatisation
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 5 — Immediate corporatisation of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has been ruled out because of the balancing of growth of high returns market with the obligation to increase teledensity and reach out to the rural areas, the Chairman of the Telecom Commission, Mr Anil Kumar, said here today.

Addressing industry leaders of the telecommunications sector at a convention organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) and the Telecom Industry and Service Association (TISA) here, Mr Kumar said that the most challenging task before the government was to harmonise the conflicting interests of various industry seqments and arrive at a framework that addresses legal issues, moral and public accountablility in the new telecom policy expected to be announced shortly.

“We have to sort out the issues concerning licence terms, the complexity arising out of convergence of technologies, the norms for dealing with old and new licencees, separation of the network from service and enhance efficiency of DoT”, Mr Kumar said.

The Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Justice S.S. Sodhi, reqretted lack of transparency and uncertainly that had clouded the investment climate in the telecom sector.

Emphasising the need for putting in place an expeditious decision-making mechanism, Justice Sodhi said the new telecom policy should keep in view the rapid development of technology, particularly the aspect of conversion of technology.

The issues concerning high licence fees, which go into the general revenues of the state, also need attention since this deflects private operators from investing in infrastructure.

“We must not repeat the mistakes of the past. Prolonged delays in decision-making is a luxury that our country can ill-afford. It must also be borne in mind that the telecom sector was liberalised and privatised with haste without adequate restructuring of the existing set-up”, Justice Sodhi said. Top


 

Subsidy doesn’t reach farmers: Pilot
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — The farming community is passing through a critical period and the industry should come to its rescue, said Mr Rajesh Pilot, a former Union Minister and senior Congress leader, said at a conference at Agro Tech here today.

He said there was a need for a common approach on economic policies by rising above political interests. Economic policies based on common approach would be beneficial for all.

Though country had made a progress in agriculture but farmers were facing a financial crisis. Subsidy was not reaching farmers and only industrialists were gaining from it, he said.

Fertiliser plants was age old and no updating of machinery had been done. Cost of various inputs had gone up. Why the farmer was under heavy debt? such questions should be investigated by organisations like the CII.

He said the time had come for value addition in farming produces at the village level so that farming could be financially viable. There was a vast potential of rural employment in agriculture sector but right policies needed to be framed.

There was a need for changing bank credit policies in case of farming sector. Commercial banks should play a vital role. Credit schemes needed to be simplified.

He said that it was surprising that agriculture budget allocation had gone down in the past years despite the fact that India was a predominantly an agriculture country. The government should make provisions to save farmers from natural calamities.

He said that it was a good development that the industry was turning its attention towards the agriculture sector but this was limited only to “lip sympathy”. The industry should approach this sector “from their heart”.

He said during the liberalisation not much attention had been paid to the agriculture sector. What was happening in the advanced countries at research and technology level should be in the knowledge of Indian scientists and technologists.

Earlier, Mr Pilot had took a round of the fair. He had a chance meeting with Mr S.S. Dhindsa, Secretary General of the Shiromani Akali Dal, and both exchanged presantaries.

Speaking at the conference, Mr Manmohan Singh of the CII had some very harsh words to say. He said every Prime Minister had promised to do something for farmers but no one had gone beyond that.

Even industrialists think about farmers by sitting in five-star hotels or buildings like the one here of the CII but practically they were doing nothing for them. Farmers were not trusting businessman. There was a need to build trust among farmers and businessman, he said. Top


 

Haryana pavilion attracts farmers
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — A large number of farmers and entrepreneurs thronged the Haryana Pavilion in Agro Tech to learn modern agricultural practices. Farmers were desirous of adopting these practices and boost their agrarian production and thereby supplement their income. Entrepreneurs wish to gather information so as to enable them to produce farm machinery and equipment according to the needs of the farmers.

Haryana has made arrangements to satisfy visitors from all walks of life. Most of queries are regarding the industrial model township coming up at Manesar near Gurgaon. The Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation (HSIDC) acquired 1736 acres of land for setting up this industrial model township.

As many as 110 acres of land in Sector 3, has been allotted to vendors of Maruti Udyog Limited. The vendors are in the process of starting construction of their industrial units.

The HSIDC has also started development of necessary physical infrastructure for these allottees. Because of the project’s proximity to Delhi and Indira Gandhi Internatioal Airport, most of the industrialists are vying to set up their units over there. The area is well connected with the metropolis of Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Bombay by road and air. Four-laning of NH-8 from Gurgaon to IMT site is already in progress. Top


 

Kerala moots single window clearance
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Speaking at a Seminar on “Agricultural business opportunities in Kerala”, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) during Agro-Tech ’98 here last evening, Mrs Suseela Gopalan, Minister for Industries & Social Welfare, Kerala started that the Kerala Government in the next session of the State Assembly would pass legislation to enable single window clearance of all projects in the State.

As of now, “a green channel committee” had been clearing projects based on executive orders. With the passing of the legislation, the green channel committee would have the statutory powers to speed up the clearance of any project in the state and as a result help attracting fresh investments into the state.

The minister said that the State Government had entrusted the Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (KINFRA) to provide and develop world class infrastructure with a “walk in and manufacture” concept for entrepreneurs enabling them to get their projects off almost on a turnkey basis. She elaborated upon the food processing park in Kakkanchery in Malappuram district set up by KINFRA and the latter’s plan ahead to build a marine industrial park at Cochin within two months to tap the potential of Kerala’s traditional sea food industry.

Mrs Gopalan pointed out that welfare measures had been strongly implemented in Kerala along with decentralised planning of the various industrial sectors. This, she emphasised, should serve as a launch pad for industrial investment and higher productivity for investors in Kerala as well as other parts of the country.

In a presentation on “Agricultural Business Opportunities in Kerala”, Dr G.C. Gopala Pillai, Managing Director, KINFRA, said that apart from 10 investment areas already identified in Kerala by KINFRA. 40 more areas were being identified by UNIDO. Of the food, garments, technology and industrial parks coming up in Kerala, the proposed food park by KINFRA had been declared by UNIDO as a model park, he said. Kerala would soon see overseas ventures in meat processing, poultry, herbal gardening etc, and diversified food production, software, biotechnology, coir manufacturing and rubber and plastic production were poised to take off in a big way, the drawing board projects at present being focused on rubber, industrial townships, film and video parks etc.

The KINFRA food processing complex (KFPC), in the Calicut University area in Malappuram district had been created to encourage integrated, self-contained, industry-specific manufacturing environments conforming to the highest international standards.

Mr T.K.A. Nair, former Chief Secretary, Punjab, former Secretary to the Prime Minister and Member, Public Enterprises Selection Board, observed that the CII was playing a positive, catalytic role in bringing together business policymakers, consumers and investors to incorporate them in the larger framework of liberalisation and globalisation. He praised the Kerala Government’s initiatives in social infrastructure — especially health and education — and expressed hope that this would bloster all future industrial activities in the state.

Mr T.K. Manoj Kumar, Director, Industries & Commerce, Government of Kerala, said that high points of the Kerala Government’s efforts were the announcement of its new industrial policy and its proposed industrial parks, which were an investment opportunity for companies and individuals all over the country.

Mr I.S. Paul, Chairman, CII, Chandigarh Council, while welcoming the participants, hoped that the interaction would create a new business interface between Kerala and the rest of India.Top



 

Eco-friendly polymer draws poor response
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — The Indian Petrochemical Corporation Limited (IPCL) and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, has jointly developed a biodegradable polymer, which however has drawn little response from the domestic packaging industry owing to its high cost as compared to conventional plastic film.

The Chief Regional Manager of the IPCL, Mr Arunava Singhvi, while addressing an international conference on Agro Packaging organised here yesterday by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), said if used extensively in the agriculture and consumer sectors, the biodegradable material developed five years ago was capable of eliminating a great deal of pollution.The rough cost, which was double the conventional plastic packaging film, was proving to be a deterrent in the way of its acceptability in the domestic market. He said if 1 kg of conventional plastic film material cost Rs 40, the cost of the same quantity of biodegradable material was around Rs100.

Underlining the utilities of the freshness preservation bags(FPBs), Mr Amiram Zakay, an expert from Israel said the FPBs exposed food products to markets otherwise unreachable by extending the storage life and substituting the costly air freight to sea of surface freight. Besides being cost-effective, these bags increased the storage life manifold by slowing the ageing process without the use of any perservatives, he said. Even perishable papayas could be stored for as many as 16 days if put at a temprature of 10C.

Mr Zakay, said the bags were being introduced in India jointly by Israel-based Adamit Resources International Ltd and the agricultural and Processed Foods Export Development Authority. A Research and Development project to develop suitable bags made of different polymers for five varieties of mangoes such as ' Kesar', 'chausa', 'langra', 'dasehri' and 'banganpally' has already been initiated. More testing had been planned for including additional varieties of other fruits and vegetables in the coming months, he added.

The Business Development Manager of EI Dupont India Ltd, Mr Pradeep U. Rao, said the bags made of high-density polythene fibres offered a balance of physical characteristics combining properties of paper, film and cloth. He said these bags were extremely useful for packaging of seedbags, fumigation bags and basmati rice with a good printability and were difficult to tamper with.

Mr N.N. Veer of the IPCL said plastic was an inseparable part of packaging. He said plastic products and packaging were extremely useful particularly when the post harvest wastage of various food products was between 10 and 26 per cent. "Plasticulture, is an in thing especially in the field of agriculture as it is used for storage of foodgrains, irrigation pipes, canal lining, and nursery bags," he said.

Mr Raveen Chaudhary, General Manager of Rollatainers Ltd, stressed the need for proper training of the personnel handling packaging of milk in different milk packaging units.

Mr Amol Pendharkar, General Manager of Tetrapack India ltd, said the use of plastic in packaging of food items was rising at a rapid pace." So much so that soon you will be able to enjoy ready-to-serve kheer, dal and carrot juice in tetrapacks,"he said. Top


 

Involve private sector in water management’
By Sarabjit Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Time has come to consider the involvement of the private sector in the management of water by the government. Economic and social advantage and disadvantages need to be evaluated in this regard.

The view was expressed by Prof S.K. Sinha, National Professor of the Water Technology Centre of India Agriculture Research Institute at a conference on water management at Agro Tech fair.

He said the problem with India was that it was used to getting advice from the water-poor countries such as Isreal. No doubt, they were very competent people but do we lack such people? he asked. He said that the national water policy implicitly accepted many drawbacks in the management of water particularly in agriculture.

Mr R. Prasad, Member (Water Planning and Projects) of the Central Water Commission, said measures had been taken to protect towns and villages from flood comprising about 35 per cent of the total investment of about Rs 40 billion in the past five decades.

Ten national water ways had been identified for inland transport as it had been recognised as the cheapest mode of transport.

He said that it had been estimated that about 450 million tonnes of foodgrain required for projected 1.5 billion population by 2050 and to meet the food requirement an irrigation potential for 130 million hectares of food crops and 160 million hectares of all crops would have be created. This could not be possible without the better water management.

He said during the past five dacades the production of grains had gone up from 51 million tonnes to 198 million tonnes and it had happened due to the expansion of irrigation system in these years.

He said the water policy had assigned high priority to drinking water supply. In big states like Karnataka, Maharashtra and UP more than 90 per cent population had been covered under water supply schemes while smaller states like Punjab, Haryana etc 100 per cent coverage had been achieved. However, moot question with regard to the quality of drinking water remained unanswered.

He admitted that the maintenance of irrigation projects in the country was poor and provisions made for the upkeep of projects were not adequate. Among others who spoke were Mr M. Mehta, Mr P.L. Dhiwan, and Dr S.D. Khapur.Top



 

SIDBI to set up biotech fund
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — The Managing Director of the Small Industries Development Bank of India, Mr Sailendra Narain, said today that SIDBI was committed to set up a Rs 50 crore biotechnology venture capital fund. SIDBI was prepared to give a soft loan at the rate of 10 per cent especially to SSIs, as they were the future promoters of technology and products. Industry and associations must have liaison and the Biotechnology Consortium of India should join hands to help SSIs to avail the resultant benefits.

He was speaking at the international conference on Applications in Biotechnology in Agriculture and Industry organised by the CII at Agro Tech.

Mr Narain urged the Department of Biotechnology to bring research and financial institutions under one umbrella. He said SIDBI would come out with a directory of research and developmental activities undertaken by institutions and companies every year, initiate awareness and training programmes and improve linkages to harness western technological skill.

According to the SIDBI Manging Director the scope of biotechnology in food processing, medical innovations, agricultural inputs, enzyme development, food colouring, sweetening and food preservation. He pointed out that sub-Saharan Africa preferred to employ Indian biotechnology than one as the former was more suited to its requirements. This proved that the Indian technology had a high absorption level, added Mr Narain.

Mr Narain said SIDBI had been assisting small scale enterprises in the application of latest techniques. He cited the case of a Pune-based cottage cheese producing venture, with export to the Middle East. With the application of the latest techniques with SIDBI’s help, the shelf life of the cheese produced increased from one or two days to about one month, he said.

Mr Narain said disease-free food production must be the agenda of the biotechnologies and cost reduction and environmental protection being the other moot points. He said the conference was the right forum for industry, research people, government bodies and FIs to discuss the potentials of India and its global application. Laboratory researches must be remitted by the industry to scientists and not vice versa and research problems ought to be consumer-oriented.In his welcome remarks, Mr Deepak Mullick, MD, Advanta India Ltd, observed that the future of agriculture is in the biotechnology developments.Top


 

MTNL resorting to buyback?
By Ashok Kumar

One of the hottest rumours doing the rounds at Dalal Street in about Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL). The grapevine has it that MTNL is likely to become the first public sector corporation to buyback its equity, and that the proposal is being discussed in the Finance Ministry. Officals however, have pointed out that the proposal was at a preliminary stage and no decisions had been taken as yet. The buyback route is being studied since MTNL is a cash-rich company and will therefore be in a position to undertake the buyback proposal with ease. But why? Well, one of the reasons for the proposal is that the government may not be in a position to meet the disinvestment targets set for the financial year 1998-99 and this route may prove to be a good source for raising revenues. Other such cash-rich PSUs are also reportedly being identified for this purpose.

Now, if MTNL resorts to buyback then it, too, will have to, as per SEBI’s norms, extinguish the shares bought. This in turn will mean that the equity base of the company will shrink, which is the first issue that will have to be resolved. However, the fact remains that by reducing the equity, the MTNL will be able to report a higher earnings per share (EPS) then what the current equity base of Rs 620 crores yields. Furthermore, the reduction in equity and a consequent increase in EPS will help the government make further disinvestment at a premium. An improved EPS may also aid the fund in raising the efforts of the MTNL through a future issue of share.Top


 

Market recovers from poll tremors

MUMBAI, Dec 5 (IANS) — The Indian capital market swayed marginally to both sides with extremely narrow volumes as the operators remained confused and reluctant to take any risks during the week.

Having already discounted any political uncertainty the capital market recorded a marginal recovery at the beginning of the week and the operators sounded hopeful of better gains ahead.

According to traders, the sentiments improved as it became clear that there was no political threat to the BJP-led coalition government. After the ruling coalition’s debacle in the assembly elections in four states last month the political situation had turned a little fluid, but the main opposition Congress gave the BJP a reprieve saying it would not topple the government at this juncture.

This came as a positive signal to the market which had been waiting for crucial financial Bills, including legislation meant for opening up the insurance sector, to be presented in Parliament. Any political upheaval would have further delayed these bills which were being considered crucial for India’s economic reform. The insurance reform Bill was to pave the way for foreign private investment in the insurance sector.

Last Wednesday the stock prices were further lifted following news that Washington had waved certain economic sanctions against India and Pakistan. The White House move meant that investment banks of the USA Exim Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation could resume lending to India’s core sector.

Mirroring the trend the 30-share sensitive Index of the Bombay Stock Exchange (sensex) opened slightly higher and firmed up further on speculative purchases at 2816.59.

However, the market’s optimism did not continue the next day. The share prices dipped at the beginning hours of Thursday amidst confusion around the insurance reform Bill. Market sources were apprehensive about attempts at diluting the Bill by the BJP under pressure from the party’s hardliners.

According to reports, the BJP had been facing internal pressure for not pushing reforms “too far”, which could translate into further electoral debacles.

Traders said share prices edged down in extremely narow movements in the absence of institutional support. “Both speculators and operators were confused and were not willing to take any risk,” said Rasesh Maniar, a trader with the National Stock Exchange.

The ups and downs in the mood of the capital market continued on the last trading day of the week as well. The sensex again went up from 2804.46 to close at 2849.82 points on Friday. The sensitive index of the National Stock Exchange also went up by 11.30 points to close at 828.35.

Market operators have been closely watching the developments in Parliament since a lot depends on the approach of the government as well as the opposition parties to the insurance reform and other Bills which may affect the capital market critically.

In the forex market dealers were at ease. The pressure on the rupee due to political developments had reduced, dealers said. Midweek the rupee firmed up against the US dollar to close at Rs 42.53 compared to the previous day closing of Rs 42.56.

Forex dealers, however, believe that the rupee may come under renewed pressure around March and April. This expectation is based on reports taking rounds in banking circles about India’s worsening deficit. However, the six month forward premia remained steady at 7.42 per cent.Top


 

FIPB okays Dupont, Philip Morris plans

NEW DELHI, Dec 5 (PTI) — The FIPB today cleared 18 foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals worth over Rs 400 crore, including one by French multinational Dupont.

Dupont has been allowed to increase equity capital from Rs 235 crore to Rs 335 crore in its Indian subsidiary Thapar Dupont, which manufactures nylon tyre cord.

Dupont holds 95 per cent stake in Thapar Dupont. The ramining 5 per cent is held by Japanese conglomerate Mitsui.

US multinational Philip Morris has been allowed a massive expansion in its food processing subsidiary. Philip Morris is increasing the equity base of the wholly-owned subsidiary to Rs 70 crore from Rs 25 lakh.

The company has also been allowed to increase its product range items like cheese, cottage cheese and confectionary.

However, sources said the company would not be allowed to manufacture items which were reserved for small scale industries.

Another proposal by Kalyani Coke and Cogeneration Pvt Ltd to set up a 200 mw power project in Karnataka using imported Australian metallurgical coke was deferred by the FIPB for a week.

The project with a Rs 330 crore FDI envisages 65 per cent foreign equity from Tenaska Internation Energy, Maurtius.

The board cleared a proposal of Machino Polymer to sell equity of face value Rs 4.3 crore to its technology partner Montel North America.

The total cost of the acquisition, including premium on equity and issuance of preference shares, would be around Rs 23 crore.

Another proposal by House of Wax India Ltd, which manufactures high quality wax candles, to offer 24 per cent stake to Apollolys APS Denmark was also cleared.

Apollolys APS was allowed to take an equity in the company since the FDI was within the 24 per cent limit set for SSI units.

A proposal by British Gas India Pvt Ltd to enter into downstream investments was also recommended for approval by the board. The sources, however, said the approval would be linked to the policy decision on downstream investments by foreign holding companies.

A proposal by Allianz Alpic Finance to enter into financing insurance premia was disallowed by the board, since the activity was not among the permitted list, the sources said.Top


 

700 databases from PSIEC on-line
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — At a seminar on “on-line access to international databases and electronic data interchange” organised by the Punjab Small Industries & Export Corporation today, speakers from Dialog, USA highlighted the specific use of accessing online information.

There are over 700 databases on engineering goods, pharmaceuticals, textiles, electronic, telecommunication, which provide information on market reports, price trends, credit worthiness of buyers, the news wire reports, trade statistics and legislative developments available on the clicking of a button.

Although much information is available through the Internet these days, authentic, independent assessment of companies is only possible through accessing on-line information from Dun and Bradstreet, Standards and Poors’, Moody’s. Instant availability of information on specific products and countries was demonstrated live.

Capt Narinder Singh, MD, PSIEC, explained salient features of the On-line Information Service, which would be a big boon to industry. The PSIEC is the first agency in northern India to have on-line connectivity.

Mrs Surekha from the NIC demonstrated the nascent concept of electronic data interchange and electronic commerce. The NIC and the PSIEC will collaborate to promote electronic commerce in the state.

Mr Ramesh Inder Singh, Secretary Industries & Commerce, Punjab, exhorted the PSIEC to extend its on-line services to each focal point so that an industrialist sitting in his office could access on-line information on products, markets, patents technologies etc.Top


 

Badal launches Satyam Net service
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 5 — The first private Internet service by Satyam Infoway was launched here today by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. This, ready-to-use Internet service Satyam Online (www Satyam on line-com) with enable residents of the city to purchase an Internet account off the shelf. Anyone with access to a personal computer, a modem and a telephone line would now be able to get connected to the Internet in just five minutes.

The Chief Minister, while inaugurating this service, became the first recipient of the service, by logging on from the venue. While addressing the gathering, Mr Badal said that the Central Governments decision to privatise the Internet service would ensure the Internet for all becomes a reality.

Mr Badal hoped that the subscribers to this service would increase from 1.5 lakh to 20 lakh in two years from now. He lauded the decision taken by VSNL to reduce the subscription rates for internet by 20 to 30 per cent, which would make its use more popular among the masses.

The Chief Minister informed that Punjab had made its first satellite earth station at Mohali operational to provide data communication facilities to the software exporters. The State is now in the process of setting up an I.T. Park (Softop) at Mohali to provide conducive environment to the I.T. and electronic industry.

Mr Badal said that the State Government was taking certain key initiatives to promote the I.T. industry in Punjab. He informed that a separate Department of I.T. would be created and funds amounting to Rs 100 crore provided in the next three years across the State Government departments to meet ependiture on I.T. in governance.

Satyam Infoway would offer its Internet services using the world class 2mbps backbone network and the best of equipment manned by highly trained professionals. The Managing Director of Satyam Infoway, Mr Ramaraj, said that beginning with Ludhiana, the company would be covering other cities in the region. Mr Ramesh Inder Singh, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, and Mr Arun Goel, Deputy Commissioner, were also present.Top


 

Privilege notice against Sinha

NEW DELHI, Dec 5 (UNI) — Janata Party member Subramanian Swamy today issued a notice for breach of privilege against Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha for misleading Lok Sabha regarding the CBI inquiry against the Reliance Industries.

Addressing a news conference Dr Swamy said he had given the notice to Lok Sabha Speaker GMC Balayogi demanding that the Speaker summon the CBI records to ascertain the truth and initiate action against the Finance Minister.

Dr Swamy said while the CBI did seek permission to prosecute Reliance Industries way back in 1996 the Finance Minister said the enforcement agency gave no such proposal to the government. He charged Mr Sinha with deliberately and wilfully misleading the House with a motive to protect the Reliance Industries.Top


 

Tax and you
By R.N. Lakhotia

Q: I am permanently handicapped person and paying Income Tax regularly. Please advise me the following points:

(1) Whether I am entitled to get rebate under 88U from my employer directly.

(2) The total amount of exemption under this section is 20,000 and Rs 40,000.

(3) I am drawing handicapped allowance Rs 100 per month. Is this amount be considered for tax calculation.

(4) Whether I should pay tax and file the return to get rebate.

— S.S. Bath, Patti.

Ans: For a tax payer who himself is a handicapped person, tax deduction is permissible in terms of section 80-U of the Income-tax Act, 1961. The maximum amount which can be claimed as deduction under this section is Rs 40,000. The handicapped allowance received by you from you employer is fully taxable. Your employer can grant you benefit of tax deduction u/s 80-H. If the employer has already deducted tax at source without granting the above deduction, then you may file your Income Tax return and claim refund accordingly.

Q: I am a housewife. I purchased a plot from HUDA, Yamunanagar in 1987 for Rs 47000. I paid this price in six annual instalments upto 1993. Now I have sold the plot for Rs 95,000 in 1998.

Kindly intimate the amount which is taxable and what amount should I invest and in which scheme so as to get tax exemption.

— Renu Sharma, Chandigarh.

Ans: On the facts stated by you, you need not make any investment in any schemes so as to save tax in respect of capital gains accuring to you. This is because of the fact that taking into account the impact of cost inflation index, no Income-tax liability will arise to you on selling your plot.

Q: I am working as a Senior Executive with a limited company for the last four years. Earlier, I was working in the same group from 1994 to 1996 when I was shifted to this limited company. The salary was paid in cash. All this time I have been asking and requesting to let me know about my Income Tax returns and the tax, if, payable by me to be deducted. No satisfactory reply was given to me.

Suddenly this year at the time of filing of Form A-49 I came to know that my salary has been shown in the books from the month of Sept-97 only, whereas I have been working with the company and its associates since 1994.

From the earnings of my salary income I have built my home. Please advise whether I am liable for the payment of tax or penalty or the company is responsible for the payment of my tax and filing of my return. No TDS has been deducted from my Income.

However, I have been in the service for the last 27 years or so and aged about 49 years.

I think that the company should be responsible for deducting of tax and filing of Income Tax returns of its executives and we have never been guided by the officers incharge of these affairs of the company. Please guide me in the matter.

Ans: It is the responsibility of the company to deduct the tax at source and make necessary payment of such tax deducted at source of the Income-tax department. However, on the facts stated by you, it appears that the company might have paid salary to you but has not accounted for the same in its books of account. You should obtain a salary certificate from your employer. In the absence of the salary certificates, you will not be able to substantiate that you have received salary from your employers.

Q: I have a house, 2 acres of suburban agricultural land, and a shop. I wish to purchase 10 acres of agricultural land in some other State. The house, and 1 acres of land was inherited by me. an acre and the shop I bought myself. I cannot sell the shop because it is running. What must I sell so as to be able to buy the land I want to. I want to avoid tax (long term capital gains). As much as possible, I also cannot afford to lock up the money in Govt. schemes (to be able to buy the land). Can I show the land to be of business purpose such as site for School/Dairy/Godown or if I sell my house can I show it as a residence area, farmers do have such big houses, I pay tax upto Rs 5,000 p.a. and am a Trader.

— Raju, Punjab.

Ans: By selling agricultural land and making investment in another agricultual land, you can avoid payment of tax in respect of long-term capital gains.Top

 

Winter wear sales yet to pick up

WINTER is yet to arrive in its full glory. In Ludhiana hosiery sales have failed to pick up. Customers are offered one shawl free on the purchase of one.

Leather, jean jacket are still to catch the fancy of glamour-craving youth. Scrarfs, woollen caps are spotted only on infants and kids — that too after dusk while women seem to be comfortable in velvet suits and sleeveless sweaters. More sensitive ones throw an addition shawl over the shoulders. But thed need to take care of the head is not being felt. No wonder that knitted scrafs, pure shawls have few takers. However, girls sporting silk scrafs while driving is a fairly common sight.

There is a craze among youth for well-known brands. Mostrela has launched its international knitwear collection for women which are priced between Rs 556 and Rs 1195. The range of Monte Carlo, Oswal is quite vast. Their knitted tops cardigans come in all vibrant shades and known for five finishing. Not many are brand conscious while buying grandpa’s lois, quilts as local brands satisfy them with their quality durability. (TNS)

S P Godrej

Eminent industrialist S P Godrej has become the first Indian to be presented with the French Government’s coveted award “Officier Dans Ordre Des Palmes Academiques” for his outstanding contributions to the promotion of culture and education.

The award, comprising a medal engraved with two branches of an olive tree symbolising culture and education, was presented at the “Godrej Bhavan” in Mumbai on Friday night by Ambassador of France Claude Blanchemaison.

“The French Government decided to honour Godrej as a friend, eminent industrialist and distinguished citizen of India and the world”, the Ambassador said. Godrej had played a key role both as Allaince Francaise President and earlier as the Chairman of the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce. — PTI

Sex change

Smiling through tears of agony, Sanyaluck Peukphanmuk took in her surroundings after the two-hour operation in Bangkok’s downtown Vethani Hospital.

“I’m very happy that my dream has come true,” the 22-year-old Thai woman said, as she slowly opend her eyes. Two hours earlier, Sanyaluck had been a man.

Despite the excruciating pain, her smile was one of triumph at realising a life-long ambition, now shared by an ever-increasing number of Thais. Sanyluck is another satisfied customer of the booming sex change business in Thai hospitals, where thousands of people like her are on the waiting lists.

According to Preecha Tiewtranonda, chief surgeon at the Chulalongkorn Hospital and reputed to be Thailand’s top sex change specialist, the lists are growing daily. — Reuters

Pig-headed

A man protesting Mexico’s handling of a multi-billion-dollar bank bailout gave an official in charge an unwelcome gift: a pig’s head.

A member of the El Barzon debtors’ group used a conference, organised by the Mexican Institute of Financial Executives in Puebla, as the stage for his unusual protest against the $60-billion bank bailout.

“You all should pay, not the people,” the debtor, Rogelio Carbajal, shouted, as he shoved past security guards with the large pink head.

He finally placed it on a table in front of a stunned Javier Arrigunaga, who had been giving a detailed explanation of Fobaproa, the bank-rescue organisation that absorbed a mountain of bad debt, which followed the steep devaluation of the peso in 1994.— Reuters

Kate weds

British actress Kate Winslett, co-star of the blockbuster movie “Titanic”, married her boyfriend Jim Threapleton on Sunday in a low-key ceremony marked by tight security.

Bouncers checked invitations at the door of the family’s local church in the western town of Reading after details of the event leaked out.

“It was a normal wedding as far as we were concerned,” Vicar Henry Everett told Sky Television.

Winslett, 23, met her 24-year-old assistant film director husband last year in Morocco on the set of ‘Hideous Kinky,’ a movie yet to be released.

The pair announced last month they would marry but said the wedding would probably take place next year. — ReutersTop

  H
 
  Spain
CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 (TNS) — Low-powered tractor (upto 52 HP), soil preparation, drip irrigation, refrigeration systems for farms, complete feeding systems and laying batteries for poultry, silos for grain storage and artificial insemination of pigs and rabbits are some of the major attractions of the Spain pavilion at Agro Tech ‘98 here. Ms Maria E. Coumel, Commercial Counsellor of Spain in India, said that “Spanish technology is being appreciated for its innovative strengths and we believe our participation in Agro Tech ‘98 is a step forward in interaction and natural cooperation between the two countries.

Express card
NEW DELHI, Dec 5 — American Express today launched its first credit card in India with a monthly interset rate of 1.99 per cent. The Vice President and Country Manager, Mr Sanjay Rishi said that interest rate of 1.99 per cent lower than rate charged by many of the credit cards. The card has balance transfer service which allows card members to transfer their outstanding balances from other credit cards to the Amrican Express credit card. A person has to have a minimum gross taxable income of Rs 100.00 per annum to be eligible for membersip.

NFL dividend
Tribune News Service
NEW DELHI, Dec 5 — The National Fertilisers Limited (NFL) has paid a dividend of Rs 49.88 crore to the government. The Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, presented the dividend cheque to the Prime Minister here today. During the financial year 1997-98. NFL achieved an annual capacity utilisation of 114 per cent. Sales turnover of Rs 2.221 crore and net profit of Rs 236.18 crore.

Gold loses
NEW DELHI, Dec 5 (PTI) — Gold prices rolled down on the bullion market today on persistent fall in demand and closed with further losses while silver recovered on stockists support. Today’s quotations: silver .999 (ready) 7200 and delivery 7265. Silver coins buyer 10,500 and seller 10,600. Standard gold 4315, ornaments 4165 and sovereign 3725.

Euro
CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 (TNS) — The State Bank of Patiala organised a presentation on “Euro” for its customers engaged in export and import buisness here today. A similar presentation was held in Ludhiana yesterday. They were informed of the changes going to effect the world trade and forex market from January 1, 1999, when Euro currency will be launched. Mr Sita Rama Murthy, Chief General Manger of the bank, delivered the Keynote address.Top


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