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Tuesday, September 8, 1998
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‘No business in Pak can be run without bribes’
ISLAMABAD, Sept 7 — “Robber barons”, that is how author Shahid-ur-Rahman describes the 22 richest families of Pakistan in his book “Who Owns Pakistan?” The author traces economic corruption in Pakistan.

VSNL to offer uplinking facilities
NEW DELHI, Sept 7 — Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited will offer uplinking facilities to Indian television channels with less than 20 per cent foreign equity.

Name a problem,
industry has it

LUDHIANA, Sept 7 — Nation-wide economic slowdown has driven the local industry into one of the worst crises in recent memory. Layoffs, shutdowns, production cutbacks, credit squeeze, piling up of stocks and lack of demand for finished goods have become the order of the day in this megacity of 2.5 million.


Sony fights piracy in USA
NEW YORK, Sept 7 — Troubled by soundtrack piracy in the USA from popular Hindi films, Sony Music has hit back at the pirates with the worldwide launch of Kuchh Kuchh Hota Hai.

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Nadar denies selling stake in NIIT
NEW DELHI, Sept 7 — The chairman and a founder promoter of the NIIT Limited, Shiv Nadar, today denied that he was selling his holdings in the company. “Neither I nor any of my investment companies are selling any holdings in NIIT.





Reliance scheme for shareholders
MUMBAI, Sept 7 — Reliance Industries has offered to buy “odd lot” shares from its shareholders at a value of Rs 200 each.

Fire in Essar office
MUMBAI, Sept 7 — A fire broke out in the office of Essar group in the seven-storeyed “Express building” in South Mumbai early today.

Ministers plan foreign trips

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‘No business in Pak can be run without bribes’

ISLAMABAD, Sept 7 (UNI) — “Robber barons”, that is how author Shahid-ur-Rahman describes the 22 richest families of Pakistan in his book “Who Owns Pakistan?” The author traces economic corruption in Pakistan since Independence in this keenly sought after book.

According to the book the new breed of Pakistan’s richest families consists of those who took huge bank loans without the intention to repay, during Gen. Zia Ul Haq’s rule, and used their political clout to grab thriving de-nationalised industrial units at throwaway prices during the rule of Ms Benazir Bhutto and Mr Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Mohammad Ali Jinnah encouraged Muslim business barons to transfer their business from India to Pakistan after Independence and then during President Ayub Khan’s time the country was well on its way to becoming an Asian tiger.

The 22 families, which were identified the richest in Pakistan in 1970, began losing ground due to the separation of East Bengal (1971) and then the nationalisation of industries started by Mr Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1972 and 1974.In the 11 years of General Zia’s rule there were cases of his favourites taking huge loans from lending institutions and later getting them written off.

Then came Ms Bhutto who reversed her father’s nationalisation policy during 1988-90. When Mr Sharif came to power in 1990 he supported the re-creation of monopolies opening of public sector to private parties and privatisation of public units.

When Ms Bhutto returned to power for the second time her government encouraged clandestine business deals and granted loans which were to be written off later.The privatisation process as advocated by Ms Bhutto and Mr Sharif encouraged massive corruption.

The Privatisation Commission said in 1991 their formula for privatisation passed on the liabilities (of the units sold) to the people while the assets went to the new buyer.

These units were given away at very low prices, says the book.Pakistani industrialist Yusaf Haroon is quoted as saying that “there is no business in Pakistan today which can be run without paying bribes to the ministers and secretaries.”

Many defaulters managed to sell off their business and left the country along with the money thanks to their political connections.
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Spotlight on Ludhiana
Name a problem, industry has it
From A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 7 — Nation-wide economic slowdown has driven the local industry into one of the worst crises in recent memory. Layoffs, shutdowns, production cutbacks, credit squeeze, piling up of stocks and lack of demand for finished goods have become the order of the day in this megacity of 2.5 million.

The city is rife with rumours of one business house or the other going bust or selling its assets to meet its financial obligations. At least one business house has had to put in an advertisement in newspapers to deny reports that it was on sale because of financial stringency.

Mr P.D. Sharma, President of the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says that there has been a sharp decline in credit from banks and financial institutions for new projects or expansion of the existing ones.

The demand for new power connections by the industry has gone down.He estimates that about 5 per cent of the Ludhiana industry, including hosiery units, light engineering manufacturing industries and induction furnaces and steel re-rolling mills have closed down.

Reduction in shifts and layoffs by others have rendered thousands unemployed.Payments for goods supplied by the industry are also held up. Mr Harish Khanna, president of the Ludhiana Small Scale Manufacturers Association, estimates that more than Rs 100 crore is being held back by exporters of Delhi alone for goods procured from the Ludhiana industry.

Manufacturers of raw materials and other industrial inputs have cut down on supplies while private finance companies have suddenly become tight-fisted due to fears of insolvency and bankruptcy in manufacturers.There are nearly 3,000 hosiery units here employing about two lakh people.

The annual turnover is in the region of Rs 800 crore. These were already facing a difficult time after its principal consumer, the USSR, collapsed six years ago. They have not been able to find an alternative export market so far. The emergence of Tripur in the South as a parallel hosiery complex has added to its woes.

The steel industry is the worst affected. According to Mr Manjit Singh, Secretary of the Ludhiana Management Association, the cost of manufacturing has been rising steeply because of the rising exchange rate of the US dollar.

Most of the scrap used by the steel industry is imported.On the one hand, there is a slump in demand and on the other, the cost of production has risen. Therefore, there is no alternative but to cut back on production. “I have laid off about 100 workers in the past few weeks”, he says.

There are 125 steel producing units in Punjab with a major concentration in Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh. There are another 400 steel rolling mills in Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh. They together employ about three lakh persons and have a total annual turnover of about Rs 1,500 crore.

All are in deep financial trouble. Many have closed down, while others have reduced shifts.It is the same story as regards the light engineering industry, including cycle and handtool manufacturing units. These units, numbering about 1,500, are estimated to employ about one and a half lakh persons.

Mr Sunil Kumar Jain, President of the United Plastic Manufacturers Association, says that the recent hike in the power tariff and octroi could not have come at a worst time.

It makes a nonsense of the tall government claims of promoting industry in the state. The government must come out with a package of concessions and relief for the industry.Top


 

Sony fights piracy in USA
From Michel W. Potts

NEW YORK, Sept 7 — Troubled by soundtrack piracy in the USA from popular Hindi films, Sony Music has hit back at the pirates with the worldwide launch of the score of Kuchh Kuchh Hota Hai (KKHH).

Described as the biggest Indian music launch ever in the USA with 50,000 units in marketplace on day one, the tapes and compact discs (CDs) use latest anti-piracy technology.Packaging is the key in the fight against piracy, said Don Lindgren, Sony’s Associate Director of Cultural Marketing. So Sony is releasing KKHH in the Digipack CD format, a first for India. Instead of a clear plastic jewel case, the packaging is glossy cardboard with a compact pocket.

The cassette version, too is piracy-protected, with Sony’s name printed on the tape leader and the cassette and impregnated within a small strip of tape around the cassette’s cellophone wrapping.

At Rs 295 per CD and Rs 45 per cassette (Rs 75 for a limited edition premium casettee with enclosed postcards, KKHH is a bit more expensive than the average Bollywood release. But the price hike is a necessary evil, Lingren said.

“We’re making a concerted effort worldwide to bring Indian pricing up. We feel that Indian pricing is incorrectly adjusted to compete with piracy,” he said.Once confined to the east coast in the USA, piracy is now spreading to the West.

The music score from another popular Bollywood film, “Dil Se,’ is favourite among the pirates in California. “The sound is inferior,” according to Hitesh Dhupelia, who together with his brother Anil owns the Berkeley-based Shrimati’s store, a major distributor for northern California. (IANS)
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Reliance scheme for shareholders

MUMBAI, Sept 7 (PTI) — Reliance Industries has offered to buy “odd lot” shares from its shareholders at a value of Rs 200 each. The scheme, formulated to help small shareholders gain liquidity would be administered through a trust formed by the company.

Under the scheme, any shareholder can offer his odd lot shares to the “Rel odd lot shares trust” and the trust would give the full amount without charging any administration or service fee from the shareholder, a Rel statement said here today. Each share of the company has a face value of Rs 10. Top

 

VSNL to offer uplinking facilities

NEW DELHI, Sept 7 (PTI) — India’s overseas carrier Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) will offer uplinking facilities to Indian television channels with less than 20 per cent foreign equity.

Pending announcement of the government policy on uplinking, VSNL has made arrangements with major Indian private channels including Sun and Eenadu for providing uplinking facilities, company sources said.

The company has drawn a strategy to offer uplinking facilities to all Indian companies whose foreign equity holding is within the prescribed limits, sources said.The company has already erected dedicated and shared earth stations in Chennai and Delhi for uplinking facilities, while digital uplinking and fly-away terminals would also be provided to give maximum flexibility to Indian broadcasters planning uplink from India.

VSNL was in a position to meet any stringent requirement of Indian broadcasters for uplinking, sources said, pointing out that the company already provides transponder leasing services on satellites of Intelsat, in which VSNL is a share holder.

So far 13 transponder leases on Intelsat satellites have been arranged by VSNL for Indian channels, while some more applications are pending before it. Top


 

Nadar denies selling stake in NIIT

NEW DELHI, Sept 7 (PTI) — The chairman and a founder promoter of the NIIT Limited, Shiv Nadar, today denied that he was selling his holdings in the company. “Neither I nor any of my investment companies are selling any holdings in NIIT.

I am not exiting from NIIT and I stand committed to NIIT exactly the same way as I have been since its inception in 1982,” Nadar told the Board of Directors here yesterday. The Board of Directors also gave the go ahead for the company’s plan to acquire a US-based software projects services company as a strategy for its future growth, a company release said here today.

The meeting approved the process of search and short listing from various investment bankers for the purpose. The NIIT had reported Rs 496 crore profit for the financial year ended June 30, 1998 registering a growth of over 67 per cent over the corresponding period last year.
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Fire in Essar office

MUMBAI, Sept 7 (PTI) — A fire broke out in the office of Essar group in the seven-storeyed “Express building” in South Mumbai early today. However, nobody was injured, fire brigade sources said. The fire on the fourth floor of the building gutted airconditioning machines, office records, equipment and computers at around 10 am, sources said. Five water tankers and four fire engines put out the blaze by 2.40 pm. The cause of the fire has not yet been ascertained.
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Ministers plan foreign trips

Hegde leaves for Colombo today
NEW DELHI, Sept 7 (PTI) — Commerce Minister Ramakrishna Hegde is scheduled to attend the second SAARC trade fair commencing in Colombo tomorrow.The eight-day fair will be inaugurated by Sri Lankan President Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.The second day of the fair, a multi-product show, is being celebrated as “India Day” and Hegde will address its opening session. The India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), under the Ministry of Commerce, is associated with the fair.

Sukhbir Badal to visit Japan
Minister of State for Industry Sukhbir Singh Badal is leaving for Japan on September 10 to meet senior officials of Suzuki Motor Corporation and discuss new models for Maruti Udyog Limited.“It is a purely business visit,’’ he said. Besides Suzuki, Sukhbir will also have talks with several other Japanese Corporations, including Toyota Motor corporation and Sony, and seek enhanced investments in India.The Board of Directors of MUL after a meeting in Japan, has shortlisted a small car among the new models to be rolled out in the country over the next one year.

Jethmalani leaves for Israel
NEW DELHI, Sept 7 (PTI) — Urban Affairs and Employment Minister Ram Jethmalani, who left this morning for a six-day visit to Israel, will acquaint himself with their (Israeli) housing technology and explore the possibility of similar housing in India.He will explore possibilities of acquiring Israeli know-how on low cost, durable and disaster-resistant housing infrastructure, to accomplish its new housing schemes.
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Diesel version of Opel Astra launched

General Motors India today launched the diesel version of Opel Astra with a Turbo-powered diesel engine in Bangalore on Monday. Managing Director, Richard C. Swando said the German engineered Opel Astra TD came with a 1.7 litre Turbo diesel engine.

The Turbocharger operates at the maximum boost rate of 0.7 bar and the power generated is delivered smoothly and silently to and across all gear shifts. The Astra TD is designed to provide higher fuel economy. The super noise insulation incorporated in the car ensures low sound and vibrations.

The price difference between the petrol and diesel versions is just Rs 85,000. The company hopes to sell 250 to 300 cars a month. The car is offered with a two-year warranty. — PTI

Daewoo trucks
Daewoo Motors India Limited (DMIL) has zeroed in on a six-tonner truck as its entry model into the commercial load carrier segment.

The first cargo version will be rolled out on the Indian roads by 1999-end. This will be followed by a model each in the lower and higher tonnage categories, says Senior General Manager of DMIL O.P. Tiwari.

“It is our business strategy to first come out with a model in the medium category and then spread our wings to both directions. We had followed it with the cars by launching a mid-size car ‘Cielo’ and now we are coming out with a small car ‘Matiz’ and a luxury one as well.

Similarly, in the commercial load carriers, we will first come with a six-tonner and then go to the higher and lower ends of the segments,’’ he adds.The company is also planning to introduce several special purpose vehicles. “We are looking at drumpers, tippers and police vehicles says Mr Tiwari. — UNI

Mint pricing
Telco is working towards keeping a “not so large” price gap between the petrol and diesel variants of its much-awaited small car, code-named Mint.At present, most companies have huge price gaps ranging between Rs 80,000 and Rs 1 lakh for their petrol and diesel cars.

Keeping a large price gap is a deliberate marketing strategy on the part of most of the car manufacturers so that the diesel model does not eat into the petrol market.“Though the exact price is yet to be fixed, we would be looking at a price gap of around Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000,” say Telco sources.

The company intends to roll out a standard and luxury version of the two engine variants. Besides, it is also mulling over the idea of launching an automatic transmission version. — UNI

Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz India Limited has been awarded the export excellence award for ranking first among the top 10 exporters of the Pune region by the DGFT.In 1997-98, Mercedes-Benz India exported a total of 2,357 cars to 20 countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa and Cyprus. Mercedes-Benz India is working on a proposal to export cars to Russia under the rupee debt repayment scheme.

In India Mercedes-Benz produced the E class cars in petrol (E-200 and E-230) and diesel (E-250 D) versions. Mercedes-Benz India is a joint venture between Daimler-Benz AG and Telco. — UNI

Mahindra Ford
Mahindra Ford is likely to sign an MoU with the government this week to import auto kits. The Rs 2,700 crore joint venture company between Ford Motors and Mahindra has submitted a draft MoU to the Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) and only “minor” points need to be thrashed out before it is signed. — PTI

MUL meeting
Maruti Udyog Limited will hold its annual general meeting (AGM) in New Delhi tomorrow, preceded by a board meeting where the introduction of the new car models will be discussed.

Being held close on the heels of the August 26 board meet in Japan, tomorrow’s meeting is expected to give final shape to the company’s already announced decision to introduce a new model.

The annual accounts of the Rs 8400 crore car major will be passed at the AGM, to be attended by the share holders of MUL—the Government of India and the Suzuki Motor Corporation of Japan. — PTI
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  Designer wears
CHANDIGARH, Sept 7 (TNS) — Babi’s Designer Wear, a local boutique, unveiled designer wears for men and women by Gitanjali Kashyap, J.J. Valaya, Ashish Soni and Rina Dhaka, at a private show here yesterday. Models sashayed down the dancing floor of local disco displaying a range of traditional formals which distinctly bore each designers’ speciality right from Valaya’s rich embroidery work, Geetanjali’s hand-painting lehngas, Rina’s lace and zari work, to Ashish Soni’s designs in earthen brown base of silk and crepe.

Osaka fair
NEW DELHI, Sept 7 (TNS) — Ficci is taking 85 small and medium enterprises to Japan for the three-day Dynamic Asia Fair starting from September 9 at Osaka.The fair, sponsored by the Asia Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), Jetro and Miti of Japan, is to facilitate cross-border networking and communication among companies which are particularly important in the Asia Pacific region.

PNB branch
YAMUNANAGAR, Sept 7 (FOC) — Mrs Surina Rajan, Deputy Commissioner, Yamunanagar inaugurated the 22nd branch of the Punjab National Bank here today Mr B.P. Chopra, Senior Regional Manager, PNB, highlighted the activities and events of the bank.

Theft
CHANDIGARH, Sept 7 (TNS) — Mr Jagjit Singh Shad, President Northern India Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Monday reported to the police that someone broke into the makeshift office of the chamber in Sector 37 and decamped with a sofa set and a small steel rack. Earlier, in June burglars had removed all the records of the chamber. The Sector 39 police is investigating the case.

Garment
NEW DELHI, Sept 7 (PTI) — Indian garment exporters can now avail export quota directly through an on-line network to be established by the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC). Called the electronic transfer scheme (ETS), the on-line system will become functional from tomorrow and would be available at all AEPC regional offices across the country. The ETS, established at an outlay of Rs 2 crore, will make export quota allocations for garment exports more transparent.

Forex rates
MUMBAI Sept 7 (PTI) — Following are interbank forex and RBI rates: US $ Rs 42.54/56 Sterling Rs 70.95/97 Deutsche Mark Rs 24.75/77 Jap Yen (100) Rs 33.51/53 The RBI Reference rate was Rs 42.55.

Silver shines
NEW DELHI, Sept 7 (PTI) — Silver prices zoomed up on the bullion market today on hectic buying by stockists and industrial units coupled with firm overseas advices and closed with significant gains. On the other hand, gold continued its upward march on persistant local buying amidst a spectacular rise in its prices in international market. The quotations: Silver .999 (ready) 7575, delivery 7580, coins buyer 10,900 and seller 11,100. standard gold 4255, ornaments 4105 and sovereign 3550.
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