|B U S I N E S S||
Tuesday, December 8, 1998
Patent Bill may be
introduced next week
not soft towards West on dumping
7 Punjab projects cleared
industrial complex planned near Ludhiana
to invest Rs 2,000 crore in shares
amendments to hit industry
no relief to steel sector
may be introduced next week
NEW DELHI, Dec 7 The Patent Bill, permitting exclusive marketing rights to drug and pharmaceutical firms, is likely to be introduced in Parliament next week, the Union Minister of Industry, Mr Sikander Bakht said here today.
Speaking to newspersons on the sidelines of a seminar: Patent Cooperation Treaty, jointly organised by FICCI, IIPD and WIPO here, Mr Bakht said the government has enough support to see the Bill through.
The Patent Act is being amended to fulfil Indias assurance to provide legally-backed patent cover to foreign pharmaceutical and agro-chemical manufacturers to WTOs dispute settlement body following a complaint lodged by the USA and the European Union.
The minister said with accession to the Paris Convention Treaty (PCT), it would be possible for the applicant to file its international applications with the patent office from today.
Mr Bakht said India has entered into an understanding with some countries who have agreed to designate their patent offices as International Search Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority for India.
The government has approved an ambitious programme, involving an estimated cost of Rs 75 crore for the modernisation of the patent office.This project has three main components computerisation of all operations, development of infrastructure and human resource development.
Conceding that the present office lacks necessary resources and expertise to deliver services to the users. Mr Bakht said the government is planning to set up a national patent office conforming to the standards comparable to the best in the world.
The Deputy Director General of World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), Mr Francois Curchod, said henceforth Indian applicants will be able to take advantage of the simpler, economic and cost effective PCT route to file international applications and obtain patents in foreign countries.
CHANDIGARH, Dec 7 The Project Approval Board of the Punjab Government at a meeting held here today under the chairmanship of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, approved seven projects entailing an aggregate investment of Rs 214 crore in textiles, tourism, food processing etc.
The projects together involved an equity participation of Rs 84 crore and will generate direct employment for 1,500 persons. The projects include:
(i) Yogendra Worsted Ltds worsted spinning project will manufacture pre-dyed woollen worsted/acro wool yarn with a capacity of 4,000 spindles in Ludhiana district with a capital of Rs 14 crore in the assisted sector with PSIDC.
(ii) Birla VXL Ltd., a company of the SK Birla group, is setting up a project for the manufacture of spun silk yarn in the assisted sector with PSIDC at Amritsar with an investment of Rs 18 crore. Masuzawa & Co. of Japan is participating in the equity capital of this project to an extent of 25 per cent and also extending subordinated loans. As a result, the Japanese company will have a core presence in the project.
(iii) The Board also approved a three-star hotel at Anandpur Sahib as a joint venture of Punjab Tourism and ITDC at a capital outlay of Rs 6.45 crore. ITDC and PTDC will hold 51 per cent and 49 per cent equity shareholding respectively in the project.
(iv) A 100 per cent EOU project for fruit & vegetable processing will be set up in the joint sector by Punjab Agro Industries Corpn. (PAIC) along with Himalayan Vege-Fruits Ltd. at an estimated cost of Rs 9.70 crore in Patiala district. The project will have a composite capacity to process, 5,400 tpa of Frozen fruits, vegetables and assorted fruits. Technology is being provided by York International, USA.
In another significant
decision, the meeting approved investment of the Shamken
group in Dwarikadish Spinners Ltd., a 100 per cent
export-oriented cotton-blended yarn project, a joint
sector with PSIDC already under implementation at Lalroo
at a cost of Rs 54.70 crore.
Government not soft towards West on dumping
NEW DELHI, Dec 7 (PTI) The government said today it was not soft towards western countries in respect of anti-dumping laws and that definitive anti-dumping duties were imposed in 24 cases while provisional duties were recommended in seven cases under the Act.
I am denying the suggestion that we are soft either in terms of law or action towards western countries in dealing with anti-dumping rules, Commerce Minister Ramakrishna Hegde told the Rajya Sabha while responding to supplementaries during the question hour.
Listing several countries, including the USA, China, Japan, Korea, and Canada, Hegde said goods imported from these countries were subjected to anti-dumping laws.
The minister said it was not true that the newly created Directorate of Anti-Dumping was hesitant to take action against big countries. There is no discrimination though there was some delay in taking decisions.
Hegde said: It is
not true that sugar imported from Pakistan is being
dumped in India. Sugar import is among the several
measures undertaken to improve relations with Pakistan
and also a step towards achieving free trade by 2003 A.D.
among SAARC countries.
New industrial complex planned
LUDHIANA, Dec 7 The Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation has proposed to set up a mega industrial complex, spreading over 2,000 acres of land on the Kohara-Machhiwara Road. This was announced at a seminar-cum-audio video presentation arranged by the PSIEC here today.
Capt Narinder Singh, Managing Director of the PSIEC, while addressing the gathering said that the industrial complex was being proposed keeping in view the persistent demand for industrial plots and to regulate the mushroom growth of industry in the outskirts of Ludhiana.
He informed that the proposed complex would have separate pockets for dyeing and electroplating, hosiery and textile, hand tools, auto parts, cycle parts, fastener units, besides having a residential sector.
coops 'to change'
CHANDIGARH, Dec 7 The changing global economic order will induce drastic changes in the concept, objective and operation of the cooperatives the world over in general and the developing countries like India in particular.
This is what was felt by experts, officers and cooperators assembled here for a three-day national seminar on "Cooperative Policy, Law and Administration" organised by the Punjab Government in collaboration with the Union Government, National Cooperative Union of India and International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Speaking at the inaugural session of the seminar today, Mr K.K. Taimini, Regional Coordinator of the Cooperative Reform Programme of the ILO, said that by 2000 and beyond three areas would become very important for the cooperatives. First food security, secondly its protection, distribution and access and third social services.
He said that it was being felt that the state would steadily withdraw from the social sector areas like health, education and old age security and the private sector (market) would not take much interest in these areas as these were not very lucrative. So, cooperatives would have a role to play in these sectors, he added.
He said that countries where cooperatives were strong would not face the problems of economic melt down as in some of the Asian countries. There was no scope of flight of capital to other countries from those areas where cooperatives were health institutions, he added.
Pakistans government has invited bids from domestic and foreign investors to buy a 26 per cent stake in Habib Bank Ltd.
Habib Bank has a network of 1,721 branches in Pakistan and 65 branches overseas, including the USA, Britain, Australia and West Asia.
Total assets of the bank are estimated at $ 5.813 billion by the governments Privatisation Commission.
Pakistan has so far privatised 102 public sector undertakings, including 87 industrial units, since the start of the privatisation programme in 1991.
The government intends to privatise state-controlled units, including Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL), Sui Northern Gas Company, Karachi Electric Supply Corporation and Pakistan Steel. AFP
Pakistans software exports are worth not more than $ 4 million while India is earning $ 4 billion annually, a gathering at the opening of a new Petroman computer training institute in Sargoda was told.
The Petroman works under Perac, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Production, to open and run computer training centres in the country.
The Perac Chairman said that at present 11,000 students were getting computer training annually at 22 Patroman campuses in different parts of Pakistan where uniform curricula had been introduced.
Punjab Governor Shahid Hamid said that Korean export earnings were 12 times more than that of Pakistan. This, he said, was due to better quality of education there. He regretted that allocations for education and health in Pakistan were far below the requirement. ANI
Tubes & tyres
Pakistan has imported tyres and tubes worth Rs 500 million from India in 1998-99 so far, an official of the Export Promotion Bureau has said.
The government, for the first time, allowed the import of second-hand tyres and tubes from India in its 1997-98 trade policy, boosting trade in the two items.
The Pakistani Commerce Ministry had given permission for the import of second-hand tyres and tubes from India despite protests from local industrialists who claimed the move would have negative repercussions for the domestic sector.
Pakistan is meanwhile set to export twice the amount of sugar it did last year. It has recorded a bumper harvest of about 55 million tonnes of sugarcane that would yield nearly four million tonnes of sugar in 1998-99.
Standard and Poors has lowered Pakistans long-term debt from CCC to CC with a negative outlook. Short-term debt was reaffirmed at C.
The downgrade came after the Pakistani government failed to pay $ 13 million in interest due for November 20 on a $ 300 million bond issue.
Standard and Poors underscored, however, that Pakistan has a 10-day grace period to make the payments but said it estimated the country had a $ 5 billion financing gap in the current fiscal year and that its reserves had dwindled to about $ 400 million. AFP
Pakistan is expected to produce 10.2 million bales of cotton this year, up from 9.2 million bales in the previous year.
Exporters said they anticipated an exportable surplus of 1.5 million bales after meeting local demand. One bale contains 375 pounds.
I think Pakistan can earn about $ 200 million by exporting the surplus of 1.5 million bales, said leading exporter Shakoor Dada.
Market sources said Pakistan could get better prices as the USA, China and India had reported below target cotton crops this year.
MUMBAI, Dec 7 (PTI) Equities rallied smartly lifting the sensex by 72 points on the stock market in the wake of fresh buying by operators coupled with sustained and heavy purchases by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and domestic institutions.
Prices started off on a strong footing on reports of the Life Insurance Corporations (LIC) investment plans in equities and the Russian Governments decision to resume imports from India, bolstered by fresh purchases from FIIs and LIC.
LIC, which has been a net buyer all through last two months, was said to have planned to invest Rs 2,000 crore into equities in 1998-99 with a major part of Rs 1200-1300 crore in the secondary markets and Rs 700-800 crore into PSU divestment.
The decision by the Russian Government to use Rs 1500 crore annually from its escrow account to import medicines, food and equipment from India was also expected to lead to huge benefits to some pharmaceutical and other export-oriented companies, market sources said.
The BSE sensitive index opened steady at 285.45 and gradually moved upwards to close near the days high at 2921.80 as against last Fridays close of 2849.82, netting a gain of 71.98 points. The BSE-100 index spurted by 32.22 points to 1298.71 from previous close of 1266.49.
Dealers said the low badla of about one per cent at the turn of the settlement and backwardation charges in Britania and Tata Power indicated the short position of the market inducing operators to cover their holdings.
FIIs were net buyers in pharma scrips like Novartis, Glaxo, German Remedies, Pfizer, Smithkline Pharma, Dr Reddys Lab besides software, domestic institutions, led by LIC picked up shares of Telco, SBI and Titan watch in good quantity.
As a result, Sesa , Goa , Raymond Ltd., Dr Reddys Lab and Smithkline Pharma hit the upper circuit breaker.
The BSE-200 and the Dollex were quoted substantially up at 301.23 and 117.81 compared with last weekend closing of 294.10 and 115.10 respectively.
ITC was the most active
scrip with a turnover of Rs 160.64 crore of the total
volume of business of Rs 1069.38 crore. Other top traded
scrips were Satyam Computer (Rs 159.13 crore) Pentafour
Software (Rs 68.34 crore) SBI (Rs 67.40 crore) and Telco
(Rs 65.63 crore).
amendments to hit industry
IN a bid to provide incentives in the form of sales tax exemption and deferment to certain new and the sick industrial units in the state, the Haryana Government proposes to introduce rule 28-B to the Haryana General Sales Tax Rules, 1975. However, the manner in which the statutory rules have been sought to be amended is highly unlawful and objectionable from the point of view of the persons likely to be affected. In a draft notification bearing No GSR-100/H.A. 20.73/S. 64/98, purported to be published in the Haryana Government Gazette (Extraordinary) on September 16, 1998, the State Government has invited objections and suggestions with the stipulation that the draft of the rules proposed will be taken into consideration by it on or after the expiry of a period of 10 days from the date of publication of the notification.
What is suprising is the fact that the copies of the official gazette were made available to the public subscribing to the same only on November 20, 1998 and it has been provided in the draft notification that the draft of the rules will be considered by the government on or after the expiry of 10 days from the date of publication which was September 16, 1998. One therefore is at a loss to see as to how the objections and suggestions to the proposed rules could be sent within 10 days in the absence of the official gazette?
Whether the State Government has now given a final shape to the draft of the rules without providing a reasonable and fair opportunity to the public of giving objections and suggestions to the proposed amendments is anybodys guess. Needless, however, to say that the persons likely to be affected by these amendments have a statutory right under Section 64 of the Haryana General Sales Tax Act, 1973 to be heard before the State Government proceeds to make rules for carrying out the purposes of the Act.
The State Government is repeating the same mistakes while introducing rule 28-B to the Haryana General Sales Tax Rules, 1975 which continue to exist till today in rule 28-A.
A careful reading of the proposed rule 28-B reveals the State Government intends to restrict the scope of the benefits of tax exemptions and deferment to the notified units as compared to the one provided earlier in rule 28-A. The most disturbing feature of the proposed amendments is that the benefit of purchase tax is sought to be completely taken away as is provided in clause (i) and clause (1) of sub-rule (2) of the proposed rule 28-B. Both these clauses provide that the eligible industrial unit shall be entitled to the benefit of tax exemption barely on the sale of finished products. However, this situation runs quite contrary to the provisions of section 13-B of the Haryana General Sales Tax Act, 1973 which is the substantive law governing the tax exemption and deferment to the industrial units.
The question therefore is
when the law-makers while enacting the provisions of
section 13-B intended to provide for complete exemption
to the units on purchase as well as sales, why the State
Government should not give full effect to this intention
and spirit? The very purpose of giving benefit of
exemption gets defeated if complete exemption both on
purchases and the sales is not provided to the units.
relief to steel sector
The Centre has slapped anti-dumping duty on hot-rolled coils to boost the steel sector. Prices of steel items have started moving up.
The anti-dumping duty has been imposed only on imports from two of the three CIS countries Russia and Ukraine. Bulk imports are from Kazakhstan.
Hot-rolled coil is also imported from Japan, China, South Korea and South Africa. The two countries covered by this decision can route their goods through other countries.
A few Indian companies have their mills in Kazakhstan. L.M. Mittal-promoted Ispat Karamet has been dumping hot-rolled coils in India at prices as low as $ 175 to 180 per tonne.
Some time back this group got the best iron ore mine of the country at a throw-away price. This raised a storm. The group has got exemption from anti-dumping duty from the BJP-led Central Government. Only recently the Centre reduced the Customs duty on kerosene from 30 per cent to 0 per cent for the benefit of the top company in the country. These two instances point to the prevailing situation.
The decision on anti-dumping duty has no effect in bolstering the sagging steel sector. Industry wanted from the Government a trigger price mechanism. This could stall all imports below a price band either through quantitative or price restrictions. Apart from the big players, the Government should look at the steel producing units at the lower spectrum.
This secondary sector is getting wiped out of the market due to wrong central excise policies and power tariffs. SAIL and other large units are dumping material in the market at a heavy discount and bearing heavy losses. The Government gave some Rs 5,000 crore to SAIL under Steel Development Fund at a nominal interest of 3 per cent. Unfortunately, SAIL has neither paid the interest nor the instalment on the plea that it is running heavy losses. This means SAIL should go on incurring losses and the Government should continue to make up these losses at the cost of smaller units. Under these circumstances there is hardly any chance for the steel sector to look up.
NEW DELHI, Dec 7 (TNS) Punjab National Bank donated Rs 3 lakh to Armed Forces on Armed Forces Flag Day today. Mr Rashid Jilani, Chairman and Managing Director, PNB, presented the cheque to Mr George Fernandes, the Defence Minister of India.
U.S. $ Rs. 42.57/58
The RBI reference rate was Rs 42.57.
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