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Wednesday, September 2, 1998
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Snap G-7 summit
ruled out

BONN, Sept 1 — Germany said today the economic and political crisis in Russia could become dangerous but ruled out a snap summit of the G-7 powers.

Scheme for hill women
in October

SHIMLA, Sept 1 — The LIC will launch a special group insurance scheme for women living in the remote hill areas in October. A separate report from Chandigarh said that the
LIC will soon launch a new health policy called “Jeevan Asha.”

Farmers’ clubs honoured
CHANDIGARH, Sept 1 — Nabard’s two-day state-level review meet on farmers’ club programmes in Punjab and Haryana concluded here today.

Traders react in share price index pit at the Sydney Futures Exchange during a break in hectic early trading on Tuesday. Following the American market fall overnight, the Australian sharemarket and futures also lost ground.
SYDNEY : Traders react in share price index pit at the Sydney Futures Exchange during a break in hectic early trading on Tuesday. Following the American market fall overnight, the Australian sharemarket and futures also lost ground. AP/PTI

Russian bear shakes US markets
NEW YORK, Sept 1 — Stock prices nosedived on the US exchanges with Dow industrials losing 6.4 per cent on frantic sales by investors nervous over collapse of the Russian economy, the Asian meltdown and possible slowdown in the US economy.

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50 years on indian independence

Bank of Punjab offers to pay power bills
PANCHKULA, Sept 1 — Residents of Panchkula can pay their electricity bills through Bank of Punjab’s branches in Sectors 7 and 11 here free of charge.

Escorts, Yamaha to stay equal partners
NEW DELHI, Sep 1 — Escorts Ltd has ruled out any change in the equity status of the Escorts Yamaha Motor Limited — its joint venture with Japan-based Yamaha Motor Corporation.

Patent office to be upgraded
NEW DELHI, Sept 1 — The government is working towards declaring the patent office as an international search authority and an international preliminary examination authority, the Union Industry Minister, Mr Sikander Bakht said here today.

 

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Russian bear shakes US markets

NEW YORK, Sept 1 (PTI) — Stock prices nosedived on the US exchanges with Dow industrials losing 6.4 per cent on frantic sales by investors nervous over collapse of the Russian economy, the Asian meltdown and possible slowdown in the US economy.

Yesterday’s loss at the Dow wiped out all this year’s gains.The Nasda composite index, heavily weighted with technology stocks, saw its worst one-day loss, wiping 140.43 points or 8.57 per cent to touch 1,499.25 as “bluest of blue” chips took the beating.Asia—Pacific stock markets opened lower with Tokyo stock prices hitting a new 12-year low in early trading.

The Nikkei average fell immediately after the market opened, dropping over 440 points at one point to hit an intra-day low of 13,664.74, the lowest since 1986.

Last Friday, the Nikkei average fell below 14,000 for the first time since March, 1986.Australian markets were down 2.5 per cent, New Zealand down 3.7 per cent, Hong Kong lower by 3.6 per cent, Singapore down 2.2 per cent and Taiwan down 4.4 per cent.

According to reports here, Taiwan is considering banning short selling to arrest fall in stock prices.One of the major concern was said to be the fluid political situation in Russia and years that the Communists might again take over with President Yeltsin’s position becoming shaky.

Moreover President Clinton is not going for the Moscow summit with any bailout proposal.The panic started with reports indicating that American banks might have lost millions of dollars in Russian investments and the South Asian crisis is affecting the profitability of international corporations.

Malaysia today imposed sweeping currency controls designed to fend off currency speculators and shelter its embattled economy from the Asian financial meltdown.In what is seen as a last-ditch effort, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced the government would set a fixed exchange rate for the currency and allow it to be traded only within the country.

Mr Mahathir said there would be no value attached to the ringgit outside Malaysia after October 1. All Malaysian currency in banks overseas will have to be brought back to the country by then.It’s a last resort measure, Mr Mahathir said during a live interview on state television.

The ringgit has lost nearly 40 per cent of its value against the US dollar since the Asian contagion broke out in July, 1997. Malaysia went into formal recession last week as the government announced that economic growth shrank by another 6.8 per cent in the second quarter of 1988.Top


 

Snap G-7 summit ruled out

BONN, Sept 1 (Reuters) — Germany said today the economic and political crisis in Russia could become dangerous but ruled out a snap summit of the G-7 (Group of Seven) western powers.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl said he was in constant contact with leaders of the Group of Seven industrialised countries to coordinate a response to the crisis that has jolted foreign investors and markets.

“We are interested in a stable Russia.... and we must say this to those responsible (in Moscow),” Mr Kohl told reporters here.“You all know from the news how important, significant and possibly also dangerous developments in Russia are,” Mr Kohl said.

He said there was no immediate need for a meeting of G-7 members — the USA, Germany, Japan, Britain, France, Canada and Italy — although, his Finance Minister Theo Waigel said a meeting was possible. In London, current G-7 Chairman Britain said it was considering calling a meeting of the group but wanted to see a new government in Moscow first.Top


 

LIC to launch health policy
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Sept 1 — The LIC will soon launch a new health policy called “Jeevan Asha” covering about 30 diseases.Addressing a press conference on the 42nd anniversary of the LIC, Senior Divisional Manager R.C. Agarwal said this policy was an improvement over Asha Deep I and Asha Deep II.

Reacting to the proposed privatisation of the insurance sector, Agarwal said that private companies were interested mainly in pension and group insurance and not in life insurance.

To face competition from the private sector, the LIC is improving its services through computerisation.Pension and group insurance have been brought under a division with a view to developing this unit into a subsidiary of the LIC Housing Corporation.

The Chandigarh division has, during 1997-98, sold 94,473 new policies for a sum assured of Rs 542.51 crore and a premium income of Rs 21.92 crore, showing a growth of 11.1 per cent in policies, 19.7 per cent in sum assured and 20.3 per cent in first premium over last year.

During the year, the division settled 54,475 maturity claims amounting to Rs 59.68 crore and 1276 death claims for Rs 8.28 crore. The number of outstanding claims also came down. As on March 31, 1998, only 0.48 per cent maturity claims and 1.39 per cent death claims were outstanding.

For its outstanding performance, the division has won the Chairman’s Shield.For 1998-99 the division has fixed a targets of Rs 625 crore for new business, 1,06,000 new policies and Rs 27 crore as Ist premium income.In the fields of pension and group insurance the division has achieved the budgeted targets on all counts for the eighth year in succession. The division introduced 192 new schemes covering 28,337 lives with Rs 382 lakh premium income.

The LIC provides on-line customer service. Policyholders can get revival and loan quotations on demand. The change of address can be incorporated on-line. The division has installed front end computers in all its 20 branches.

JALANDHAR: Starting from 212 branches in 1956, the LIC today has 2046 branches of which 1,600 are fully computerised.Briefing the media here, Mr R.C. Madhu, Senior Divisional Manager of the LIC, said the Jalandhar division has achieved about 22 per cent of the yearly budgeted target.

“We have underwritten 19,171 policies as on August 15 this year. We have done Rs 114 crore worth new business and have registered 30.34 per cent growth over last year.

”The Dhanvarsha-13 scheme, launched recently, has collected more than Rs 5.50 crore, he said.The LIC has set up grievance redressal cells in all zonal/divisional and branch offices. It has paid Rs 6,677 crore to 56.52 lakh claimants during 1997-98. The percentage of outstanding claims is negligible at 2.74 per cent.Top


 

Scheme for hill women in October
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Sept 1 — The LIC will launch a special group insurance scheme for women living in the remote hill areas of the country in October.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Ashok Shah, Senior Divisional Manager, said that bread-earning women living below the poverty line would be covered in 47 districts spread over seven states in the first phase. In Himachal Pradesh Chamba, Kangra, Mandi, Kulu, Bilaspur and Sirmour districts have been selected for the scheme.

The members will contribute a premium of Rs 25 annually, while a matching amount will be paid by the social security fund.In the event of death, except in accident, an assured sum of Rs 5,000 would be payable to the person nominated the deceased member.

The members would also be entitled to Rs 25,000 in case of death in accident or permanent disability due to accident.Mr Yashwant Sinha, Finance Minister, will launch the scheme on October 18 at Mana, near Badrinath, in Uttar Pradesh.

It has also launched a scheme to advance loans for repair and improvement of old houses under which 80 per cent of the cost of repairs or 20 per cent of the cost of house, whichever is less, would be provided as loan.Top


 

Bank of Punjab offers to pay power bills
Tribune News Service

PANCHKULA, Sept 1 — Residents of Panchkula can pay their electricity bills through Bank of Punjab’s branches in Sectors 7 and 11 here free of charge from today.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Sarabjit Singh, Executive Director of the bank, said anybody can deposit the electricity bills and he or she need not be a Bank of Punjab customer.

The bills have to be deposited through cheques drawn on any bank in Panchkula, Chandigarh or Mohali only. If successful, this service will be extended to Yamunanagar, Karnal and Panipat. The Haryana Vidyut Parsaran Nigam (formerly HSEB) will pay the bank Rs 10 per cheque, for the service, said Mr S.C.Gupta, its Financial Adviser.Consumers will have the option to pay their bills either with the HVPN’s cash collection counter or with the bank, which already pays its customers’ telephone bills.

Bank of Punjab today also launched “privilege banking”, a personalised service at its Chandigarh and Panchkula branches.

Under the scheme,Mr Sarabjit Singh said, customers who keep Rs 1 lakh or more in their accounts will get certain benefits, including instant credit of outstation cheques, concession on DD charges, ATM without FD criteria, allotment of lockers on priority, discount on draft cancellation charges and collection of cheques at the door-step.Top


 

Nabard honours farmers’ clubs
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Sept 1 — Nabard’s two-day state-level review and development meet on vikas volunteer vahini farmers’ club programmes in Punjab and Haryana concluded here today.

Mr N.R. Kannan, Chief General Manager, said that rural prosperity can be attained by “development through credit” and related services and the farmers’ clubs help in promoting this.

There are 44 farmers’ clubs in Punjab and 41 clubs in Haryana.The meeting was attended by General Managers and senior officers of the RBI and Nabard, besides officials of the state government and banks operating in Punjab and Haryana.

The NGOs and chief volunteers of farmers’ clubs also attended the meeting.Based on the performance during 1997-98, the farmers’ clubs of Dasuya, Hoshiarpur and Durana (Ambala) were adjudged the best clubs in Punjab and Haryana, respectively.

Chief volunteers of the best adjudged clubs were given prizes Rs 1,000 each. Mr Kannan stressed the need for “one branch-one farmers’ club” to strengthen the banker-borrower relationship.Top


 

Escorts, Yamaha to stay equal partners

NEW DELHI, Sep 1 (PTI) — Escorts Ltd has ruled out any change in the equity status of the Escorts Yamaha Motor Limited (EYML) — its joint venture with Japan-based Yamaha Motor Corporation (YMC).

Discounting speculation that the YMC might acquire a majority stake in the 50:50 joint venture, EYML Joint Managing Director Nikhil Nanda said: “we have never considered the issue and there is absolutely no need to change our equity ratio.” “Nor do we have any plans to go in for any change in the equity ratio of our joint venture in the future.

We will remain equal partners,” Nanda told PTI. The company’s annual general meeting held in Japan last week had discussed issues like introduction of new models, expansion plans and future strategies of the company.

EYML has chalked out a major expansion plan of Rs 525 crore for its mobike projects and plans to launch a new bike every year in line with the company’s growth strategy. Top


 


Don’t dictate terms, Pasha tells IMF

The IMF should consider the “home-grown” reform package of Pakistan as a desire to change and must release its $ 3 million aid without linking it to Islamabad signing the CTBT.

“Instead of dictating terms, the IMF must support Pakistan’s home-grown package of reforms aimed at IMF-type objectives, says Hafiz Pasha, Nawaz Sharif’s top economic adviser.

Pakistan is in an advanced stage of negotiations with the Islamic Development Bank for $ 1.5 billion and Islamabad is also seeking resumption of IMF aid apart from a $ 3 billion package.If Islamabad does not pledge to sign the CTBT as sought by the USA and IMF package would still materialise but it would be considerably smaller and might also require tough policy changes, ranging from devaluation, cut in defence spending and hikes in utility tariffs.

Pasha’s immediate task is to borrow yet more to cover most of the estimated $ 4.5 billion balance of payments shortfall for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1999. (PTI)

Devaluation
The Pakistan Government plans no devaluation of the national currency, the parliament was told in Islamabad.“There is no question of devaluating the Pakistani rupee,” Parliamentary Secretary for Finance Kamil Umer said during question hour.

The Nawaz Sharif government has devalued the rupee twice since it came to power in February, 1997.The first devaluation came on October 15, 1997, (8 per cent, from Rs 40.52 to Rs 44.05 to a US dollar) and the second on June 27, 1998 (4.24 per cent from Rs 44.05 to Rs 46).

These, the Finance Secretary claimed, were “necessitated” due to the crisis in South East Asian economies and in order to boost exports. (ANI)

Reserves
The foreign exchange reserves of Pakistan that had fallen to the record low of $531 million on July 24, rose to $778 million a month later, on August 24.“A sharp cut in the import bill has helped maintain the forex reserves at about the $700 million mark in August,” according to bankers.

On August 4 the reserves had risen to $795 million immediately after Pakistan received a $250 million soft loan from Kuwait, a kind of first-aid to the economy feeling the tremors of the May 28 nuclear tests.

But the small inflow could not keep the reserves close to $800 million and they fell to $727 million on August 15. Bankers say the $ 51 million increase in the reserves within a week again is a welcome phenomenon but most of them doubt if the reserves would not fall again. (ANI)

MNC staff
The threat of terrorist reprisals against USA missile strikes in Afghanistan combined with Pakistan’s economic problems may halt foreign investment, says a body representing foreign companies.Zahid Zaheer, secretary general of the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says some companies have already sent their expatriate employees out of the country because of the security threat.

The Chamber represents 184 foreign companies in Pakistan, 55 of them from the USA.“Businesses are not centred on one individual. These are organisations which have a pyramid and management levels so if a head leaves that doesn’t mean the company will close down”, Zaheer told Reuters.

“But one thing sure is that if this situation continues and the environment does not change then obviously the investors would not bring more investments here,” he added.Some major US-based companies have sent their foreign staff back home, extended their vacations or have temporarily shifted to safer destinations outside the country during the past week.

Officials of multinational companies, who asked not to be identified, said the process began soon after the US State Department issued a travel warning and evacuated non-emergency embassy staff last week. (Reuters)Top


 

Patent office to be upgraded
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Sept 1 (PTI) — The government is working towards declaring the patent office as an international search authority and an international preliminary examination authority, the Union Industry Minister, Mr Sikander Bakht said here today.

This has become necessary in view of the recent steps India has taken to accede to the Paris convention and the patent cooperation treaty, he said.Inaugurating the first annual general meeting of the Institute of Intellectual Property Development (IIPD) here today, Mr Bakht said that the government was also implementing a plan to involve the information technology industry.

This is in the context of the global information network proposed to be established by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo).“On our request , Wipo had sent a mission to familiarise itself with the potentials of our IT industry”, Mr Bakht said adding that “the mission was very impressed with the capabilities and strength of the industry”.

“It is our expectation that our industry would have a good chance of associating with the establishment of the global information network and other major intellectual property projects co-ordinated by the Wipo”, he said.Top

 

Biz briefs

Exports rise
NEW DELHI, Sept 1 (PTI) — For the first time in this financial year, Indian exports started looking up registering a 7.71 per cent growth in dollar terms in July. The latest trade data released today showed Indian exports during July was increasing to $ 2.99 billion against $ 2.78 billion in July 1997. However, exports during the first four months of the financial year registered a negative 3 per cent growth.

Bank contest
CHANDIGARH, Sept 1 (TNS) — The Central Bank of India today organised inter-bank declamation contest in Hindi on behalf of city official language implementation committee, Mr J.P. Sharma, Assistant General Manager inaugurated the contest. The first, second and third prize was respectively won by Mrs Neeta Sood, Mrs Niru Mittal and Mr Vilas Malhotra.

FICCI chief
NEW DELHI, Sept 1(TNS) — Noted industrialist Sudhir Jalan has been made president-elect of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Mr Jalan, (53), at present senior Vice-President of FICCI, will assume the office at the conclusion of FICCI’s 71st annual session on October 25. He is chairman and managing director of Bell Controls Ltd.

Forex rates
MUMBAI, Sept 1 (PTI) — The following are interbank forex and RBI rates: US $ Rs 42.52/53Pound Rs 71.35/37Deutsche mark Rs 24.30/32Jap yen (100) Rs 30.86/88The RBI reference rate was Rs 42.52.
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