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Wednesday, January 13, 1999
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Government-industry panel for chemicals
NEW DELHI, Jan 12 — The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, today suggested the setting up of a joint committee of Government and industry representatives to prepare a 10-year perspective plan for the chemical industry.

Plastic units face closure
CHANDIGARH, Jan 12 — Due to the process for a ban on the use of carrybags and containers made of recycled plastic being initiated, a number of local units engaged in the manufacturing of these items have either been closed or are on the brink of closure.

ITC open to Rothmans brands
NEW DELHI, Jan 12 — ITC Limited is open to introducing Rothmans’ brands in India following the worldwide $ 21 billion mega merger between its parent British American Tobacco with Rothmans International, a top ITC official said today.

3 tractor units in Punjab likely
BATHINDA, Jan 13 — The Union Industry Minister, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, today said that the Rs 6,000 crore petro-chemical project to be set up in Punjab would get the nod from the Central Government in two months.

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Industry tells FM to retain SAD
NEW DELHI, Jan 12 — Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha today indicated that a rationalisation of the indirect tax structure may take place in the coming Union Budget.
Corporate briefs

Accept all NRI cheques, RBI tells forex dealers
NEW DELHI, Jan 12 — ITC Limited is open to introducing Rothmans’ brands in India following the worldwide $ 21 billion mega merger between its parent British American Tobacco with Rothmans International, a top ITC official said today.

 
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Government-industry panel for chemicals
From T.V. Lakshminarayan
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 12 — The Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, today suggested the setting up of a joint committee of Government and industry representatives to prepare a 10-year perspective plan for the chemical industry.

Captains of chemical industry have promptly agreed to the suggestion and modalities of the proposed committee will be worked out soon.

Mr Barnala’s suggestion assumes significance as the chemical and petrochemical industry in the country has ceased to be a monopoly of Government companies and private giants like Reliance Industries Limited, Bombay Dyeing and Hindustan Lever Limited have emerged as the major players in the sector.

The Minister today convened a meeting of representatives of the chemical and petrochemical industry and discussed challenges ahead. Representatives of around 60 companies and organisations attended the meeting.

Earlier, the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals was the sole agency responsible for preparing the 10-year Perspective Plan. The last plan for 1990-2000 was prepared by the Ministry in 1989.

With Liberalisation, it is felt that the scope and methodology of the next report should undergo change, Mr Barnala said.

It was proposed that a professional company should be engaged to collect data and prepare the report which should go into important issues like the world chemical and petrochemical scenario, India’s position in the world market, demand and supply scenario of chemicals and petrochemicals in the country, bottlenecks in the growth of the industry and strategies to be adopted in the face of international competition and issues like dumping.

The committee, consisting of representatives of the industry and the department would interact with this agency and approve the final report.Top



 

Ban on polythene bags
Plastic units face closure
By Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 12 — Even as the process for a ban on the use of carrybags and containers made of recycled plastic has been initiated by the Central Government, a number of local units engaged in the manufacturing of these items have either been closed or are on the brink of closure.

At the same time the declining demand for recycled items due to general awareness and due to the fear of the ban has almost rendered about 2,500 rag-pickers and other persons engaged in the business in the city and surrounding areas jobless.

While the State of Himachal Pradesh has already banned the use of recycled plastic carrybags, the Central Government is expected to issue a final notification in this regard after January 20, which is the date of expiry of the mandatory draft notification already issued by it.

According to trade sources, as many as three to four units out of about 10 recycling units operating from the local Industrial Area have been closed down during the past month as the demand for recycled items has decreased considerably in the local market as well as in Himachal Pradesh, which was a major market for such items. The rest of the units in the city are going in for the production of carrybags and containers made of unused plastic after some modifications in their plants.

According to Mr Amarjot Singh, one of the suppliers of carrybags, the daily demand for the bags made of recycled plastic in the city has decreased to such an extent that according to an estimate only 500 kg of recycled bags are in use in the city as compared to 1000 kg just three months ago. On the other hand, the demand for the carrybags made of unused plastic has risen to 1500 kg daily. Mr Amarjot Singh attributed the sudden closure of the units to the ban on the use of recycled bags in Himachal Pradesh and to awareness among residents of the city against the use of such bags. "More and more city residents are refusing recycled bags from shopkeepers, particularly if the items to be packed in these are foodstuff", he says.

Mr Amarjot Singh, however, says suppliers and salesmen are ready to shift to items made of food grade plastic in the public interest even before a ban is clamped by the government. "Even as our business would suffer for some time, but it will be better as at least there would be standard items to sell," he says.

Mr Simranjit Singh and Mr Narinder Singh, owners of a plastic unit claim, that right now they are clearing the old stock of recycled carrybags as the demand for these is shrinking. We are getting our plant repolished for manufacturing first-grade plastic bags," they say.

According to them some units have been closed down as due to the backlog of stocks in the market for want of demand, the owners failed to manage more investment needed for shifting to production of first-grade plastic items. "We are not against a ban on the use of recycled plastic but the government should think for providing alternative employment to thousands of workers engaged in the profession of collecting and selling these bags to manufacturers, says Mr Simranjit Singh.

In addition, as there will no reprocessing in the manufacturing process, every unit having a workforce of 15 workers will have to reduce its staff.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by TNS reveals that the shrinking demand might render at least 2500 persons engaged in the business at various levels jobless.

Mr Rajinder of the Industrial Area, engaged in the business of supplying used plastic bags to recycling units, says he and 200 persons like him are on the verge of starvation due to lack of demand for recyclable carry-bags. "There are no takers for bags and I am forced to sell these at a price of Rs 8 a kg as compared to Rs 20 a kg a month ago," he says .

Mr Vidya Singh, a rag-picker from Karsan village, says he is facing an uncertain future as no ‘kabari’ is ready to purchase the carrybags collected by him. His daily earning has dropped from Rs 100 to Rs 40 or Rs 50. Top


 

ITC open to Rothmans brands

NEW DELHI, Jan 12 (PTI) — ITC Limited is open to introducing Rothmans’ brands in India following the worldwide $ 21 billion mega merger between its parent British American Tobacco (BAT) with Rothmans International, a top ITC official said today.

“We will consider bringing brands from Rothmans stable into India if it is commercially advantageous”, Chairman and Managing Director of ITC, Y.C. Deveshwar told PTI here today.

Rothmans has a 1.7 per cent stake in Calcutta based ITC Ltd, a pre-war legacy when both BAT and Rothmans supplied cigarettes to British armed forces.

After the merger, the total stake of BAT in ITC would go up to about 33 per cent, but this would not have any effect on controlling the company as domestic financial institutions have a higher equity of close to 40 per cent.

Asked about the fate of the pending Rothmans proposal for setting up a wholly-owned subsidiary in India, Deveshwar said, “the government rules are clear as far as establishing fully owned subsidiaries in India when a joint venture already existed”.

Rothmans, the fourth largest player in the international cigarette market before the merger, has famous brands like Dunhill, Rothmans, Peter Stvvesand and Winfield.

Deveshwar, however, said the merger would not have any impact on ITC despite BAT PLC getting ITC shares held by Rothmans.

BAT had been using the proxy rights of Rothmans at the ITC annual general meetings and extraordinary general meetings over the years and the merger would not give bat any additional shareholding rights, he pointed out.Top


 

3 tractor units in Punjab likely
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA, Jan 13 — The Union Industry Minister, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, today said that the Rs 6,000 crore petro-chemical project to be set up in Punjab would get the nod from the Central Government in two months.

Addressing a press conference here, he said that three tractor companies had shown interest in setting up their units in Punjab. Two food processing units would also be set up in the State.Top


 

Industry tells FM to retain SAD
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 12 — Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha today indicated that a rationalisation of the indirect tax structure may take place in the coming Union Budget.

In a meeting with industry leaders and apex chambers of commerce as a part of pre-Budget consultations here today, Sinha indicated that a “cleaning up of the indirect taxation system” may take place.

Industry sources said that the Finance Minister wanted the number of taxation slabs to be reduced to three. The government was in favour of evolving a firm formula so that nobody was left out.

Regarding direct taxes, the Minister indicated that IT rates could be “as reasonable as possible”.

A host of issues, including the growing fiscal deficit, the balance of payment situation and the rate of inflation, were considered at the three-hour meeting.

The industry was represented by the CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and the PHDCCI besides leading industrialists, including Mr Ratan Tata, Mr Nusli Wadia, Mr Mukesh Ambani and Mr Rahul Bajaj.

The industry was of the view that the government should retain the special additional duty (SAD) of 4 per cent introduced in the last Union Budget. The focus of the duty should be to promote domestic value addition.

The President of ASSOCHAM, Mr K.P. Singh, said that SAD should be modvatable to promote domestic value addition. The across-the-board levy of SAD has created problems of inverted duty structure.

The PHDCCI called for reduction in the interest rates in a bid to move towards the low cost economy and improve the competitiveness of the Indian industry.

The President of the PHDCCI, Mr Ashok Khanna, said that the government should allow 100 per cent set-off of the Modvat credit and at the same time increase the pace of computerisation to avoid misuse.

Mr Khanna said the Central Government should impress upon the state governments to introduce state VAT in lieu of state taxes and levies.

Mr Singh said that the inverted duty structure on certain products has threatened to discourage domestic value addition, the absence of which will seriously undermine competitiveness of the domestic industry.

Sources said the the Finance Minister accepted that the fiscal deficit was under pressure but indicated that the government was trying to contain it to figures close to the Budget estimates.

The industry also called for steps to rejuvenate the tourism sector as it was a major foreign exchange earner, apart from generating employment.

The President of FICCI, Mr Sudhir Jalan, urged the government to focus more on increasing the Plan expenditure.Top


 

Accept all NRI cheques, RBI tells forex dealers

NEW DELHI, Jan 12 (PTI) — ITC Limited is open to introducing Rothmans’ brands in India following the worldwide $ 21 billion mega merger between its parent British American Tobacco (BAT) with Rothmans International, a top ITC official said today.

“We will consider bringing brands from Rothmans stable into India if it is commercially advantageous”, Chairman and Managing Director of ITC, Y.C. Deveshwar told PTI here today.

Rothmans has a 1.7 per cent stake in Calcutta based ITC Ltd, a pre-war legacy when both BAT and Rothmans supplied cigarettes to British armed forces.

After the merger, the total stake of BAT in ITC would go up to about 33 per cent, but this would not have any effect on controlling the company as domestic financial institutions have a higher equity of close to 40 per cent.Top


 

Corporate briefs

SC issues notice to LML

NEW DELHI, Jan 12 (PTI) — The Supreme Court has issued notice to LML Ltd and its Indian promoters on a special leave petition filed by LML’s partner Piaggio Vespa B.V. challenging the Kanpur District Judge’s order declining transfer of the dispute between the warring partners to the ICC on the transfer of shares. A Division Bench comprising Justice S.B.Majmudar and Justice R.P.Sethi yesterday fixed March 15 for the final disposal of the special leave petition and stayed further proceedings in the suit filed by Indian promoters pending before the Kanpur court seeking to buy Piaggio shares in LML. Piaggio counsel P.Chidambaram also gave an undertaking that “arbitration proceedings concerning Indian partners triggering event will not proceed.”

Modi Xerox cuts turnover target

NEW DELHI, Jan 12 (PTI) — Modi Xerox (MX) has drastically slashed its turnover target for the year 2001 to Rs 1,000 crore, which is one-third of the target announced last year, a senior company official said today. “We had targeted Rs 3,000 crore earlier based on annual growth estimates of over 40 per cent seen in 1995 and 1996, but the general economic downturn has been a major dampner to our plans,” Group Managing Director of Xerox Business H N Nanani told PTI. The company, which had been growing by 40 per cent in 1995 grew by a mere 5 per cent in 1997, Nanai said.

Silicon launches work stations

NEW DELHI, Jan 12 (PTI) — Silicon Graphics (SGI) is launching visual work stations with an aim to capturing a wider customer base. The company, which caters for mainly the high-end and high precision computer applications, has entered the more volume-driven market with its windows NT workstations. “Our target number for the first six months would be about 300-500 workstations,” Managing Director Silicon Graphics India Ahsok Desai told reporters here today. The company has already tied up with Summit Data Products for distributing their products nationally.Top


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  Forex rates
MUMBAI, Jan 12 (PTI) — The following were interbank forex and RBI rates (in rupees per unit):
U.S.$ Rs 42.51/52
Stg Rs 69.04/06
D Mark Rs 48.78/80.
Jap Yen (100) Rs 37.76/78
The RBI reference rate was Rs 42.50.

Silver zooms up
NEW DELHI, Jan 12 (PTI) — Silver prices zoomed up on the bullion market today on hectic buying by stockists in the face of restricted supply and closed with handsome gains.. The quotations: Silver .999 (ready) 7840, delivery 7820, coins buyer 10,600 and seller 10,700. Standard gold 4460, ornaments 4310 and sovereign 3800.

White rum
NEW DELHI, Jan 12 (TNS) — Bacardi-Martini India Ltd has launched its popular white rum, Bacardi Carta Blanca in 375 ml bottles.

Enkay Texo
NEW DELHI, Jan 12 (TNS) — Enkay Texofood Industries Limited, the manufacturers of Onjus, the first natural orange juice in India, has obtained ISO 9002 certification for its manufacturing process.Top


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