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Tuesday, January 26, 1999
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Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee presenting national tourism award to Mr Ashok Pardhan, DG, Tourism, and Mr M.S. Manchanda, Vice-President (Hotel), ITDC, in New Delhi on Monday
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee presenting national tourism award to Mr Ashok Pardhan, DG, Tourism, and Mr M.S. Manchanda, Vice-President (Hotel), ITDC, in New Delhi on Monday.— A Tribune photograph
Vajpayee gives tips on promoting tourism
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today said “unsatisfactory” quality of service was a major reason for slow growth of tourism in the country and asked tourism industry to improve service by using Information Technology.
 

Lift secrecy laws of banks, says Advani
GHAZIABAD, Jan 25 — The Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, today suggested that Interpol should seek to evolve international cooperation on lifting banking secrecy laws prevailing in some countries.

IOC told to amend pact with Reliance, Essar
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 — The Petroleum Ministry has asked Indian Oil Corporation to amend its pact to market half of the petroleum products of Reliance and Essar refineries in tune with the existing administered pricing mechanism.

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HC rejects petitions on Enron, RIL oil deals
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 — The Delhi High Court today dismissed two petitions seeking an independent probe into the award of a contract to a consortium of Enron Oil and Gas India Ltd, RIL and the ONGC in 1994 and its cancellation.
 
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Vajpayee gives tips on promoting tourism

NEW DELHI, Jan 25 (PTI) — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today said “unsatisfactory” quality of service was a major reason for slow growth of tourism in the country and asked tourism industry to improve service by using Information Technology.

Besides problems of infrastructure, “I feel one of the major reasons for the slow growth of tourism in the country is unsatisfactory quality of service,” he said after giving away National Tourism awards for 1997-98 at a function here.

The government had set up a mechanism to synergise efforts of all infrastructural ministries like Civil Aviation, Railways and Surface Transport to give boost to tourism, he said.

Calling upon hotel owners, taxi operators, guides and shopkeepers to improve the way they dealt with tourists, he said “small things” like keeping railway stations and bus stands clean, simpler ways of buying tickets and making reservations along with development of new airports, starting new air routes and constructing proper roads would “go a long way in making travel and tourism in Indian more pleasurable.”

Tourism Minister Madan Lal Khurana said the industry had emerged into the second largest foreign exchange earners in the country and said a major step taken by the government was to declare tourism as an export industry, thereby granting all incentives available to export houses.

Khurana said about 50 cities across the country, known for historic and cultural heritage, had been identified for beautification and improvement of environment around the historic sites.

Stating that “visit India year” would be launched from April this year, he said a “Bharat Paryatan Bhavan” would come in Connaught Place area of Delhi to provide first rate information and facilitation to tourists.

Among the awardees were the Western group of temples in Khajuraho, which bagged the award for excellence for best maintained monument, Keoladev National Park for the best maintained sanctuary, “Fairy Queen” Express of Indian Railways for “most innovative and unique tourism project” and Uttar Pradesh for the best tourism performing state.

The Prime Minister also released a book, titled “Indian tourism beyond the millennium”, authored by Secretary (Tourism) M.P. Bezbaruah.Top


 

Lift secrecy laws of banks: Advani
Tribune News Service

GHAZIABAD, Jan 25 — The Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, today suggested that Interpol should seek to evolve international cooperation on lifting banking secrecy laws prevailing in some countries.

Mr Advani conveyed this to Mr Paul Higdon, Director (Criminal Intelligence) of Interpol who came here for the first ICPO-Interpol Regional Training Course for National Centra Bureaux Officers from Asia and Oceania, which started today.

Later in a chat with correspondents, Mr Advani said it was a matter of concern that bank secrecy laws had helped in the corrupt stashing away huge amounts in foreign banks.

“Many of our problems would get solved if such international cooperation is available” he said adding that the senior official of Interpol had indicated the agency was thinking on those lines.

To a question that while making such a suggestion if he had Bofors pay-off in his mind, Mr Advani said such cases fall under the category.

He said there are some countries which do not ask questions so long as money comes, while some countries cooperate with investigative agencies in specific cases.

Earlier inaugurating the course at the CBI Academy here, Mr Advani said crime too has globalised and there is a need to tackle it with global efforts.

The Home Minister said training was an important aspect of any job and regular course will help professionals hone their skills.

He also referred to the existing threats from drug trafficking, narco-terrorism and extortions.

The CBI Director, Mr R.K. Raghavan, said just as winds of economic changes are blowing across large countries like China, India, Russia and other countries opportunities for economic crimes like money laundering, terrorism, smuggling of arms and explosives have increased.

Mr Higdon said Interpol was evolving faster and swifter means of communication between member countries. Much of its success depends upon the respone of members-nations.

He said Interpol is preparing for “atlas” which is a state of the art internet secure communications system.Top


 

HC rejects petitions on Enron, RIL oil deals

NEW DELHI, Jan 25 (PTI) — The Delhi High Court today dismissed two petitions seeking an independent probe into the award of a contract to a consortium of Enron Oil and Gas India Ltd, Reliance Industries Limited and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation in 1994 and its cancellation.

“We have not found any deficiency or discrepancy in the status report submitted by the CBI so as to direct an independent investigation either by the Central Vigilance Commission or by any other authority”, a Division Bench comprising Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Justice K.S. Gupta said.

The consortium was granted 25 years lease of Mukta and Panna offshore oil and gas fields for Rs 12 crore and the petitioners had alleged the contract was totally unconscionable, induced by bribery and corruption and gave away valuable natural resources of the country for a paltry sum of $ 3.60 million.

The court in its 38-page order said: “Prima facie we have not found the contract in question to be unconscionable”.

The contract was awarded during the period of Capt Satish Sharma as Petroleum Minister.

The petitioners had alleged that the then Petroleum Minister had received Rs 4 crore from Reliance Industries, according to the statement made by B.N. Safaya, Private Secretary to the minister, to the CBI in the JMM MPs bribery case.Top


 

IOC told to amend pact with Reliance, Essar

NEW DELHI, Jan 25 (PTI) — The Petroleum Ministry has asked Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to amend its pact to market half of the petroleum products of Reliance and Essar refineries in tune with the existing administered pricing mechanism (APM).

As per the revised pacts, likely to be signed next week, IOC will market 10.65 million tonnes of controlled petroleum products from Jamnagar refinery of Reliance and 5.25 million tonnes of Essar refinery, IOC sources said today.

The six amendments in the IOC’s marketing agreements were a result of recommendations by the oil coordination committee (OCC) of the Ministry.

The OCC had earlier assessed the capacity of Reliance at 21.3 million tonnes of controlled petroleum products annually while it put the figure at 10.5 million tonnes for Essar and recommended that half of the products be marketed by IOC and the other half be shared equally by Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum (BPCL).

IOC had earlier sent its marketing pact, cleared by the oil giant’s board, for government approval which envisaged marketing of 52 per cent by IOC and formation of separate joint ventures with Reliance and Essar for the remaining part.

IOC has already talked to the two private refineries on the changes suggested by the Ministry last week and formal agreements would be signed in a week or two, the sources said. Top



 

‘Change excise rules’
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR, Jan 25 — The Jalandhar Iron & Steel Traders Association has demanded changes in the central excise rules which require that goods be unloaded in the godown of a registered dealer to qualify to pass on the Modvat benefits to the manufacturers. Vijay Kumar Aggarwal, Chairman of the association, has said that the rule may be logical but not practical due to odd size of material like HR/CR coils weighing 8 to 17 Mts and lack of handling equipment.Top



 

Arvind companies merge

MUMBAI, Jan 25 (PTI) — The Boards of Arvind Polycot Ltd, Arvind Cotspin Ltd and Arvind Intex Ltd have approved the proposal to merge the three companies into Arvind Products Ltd (APL) with retrospective effect from October 1, 1998, and also the share exchange ratio. The boards, which met separately in Ahmedabad yesterday to ratify the merger, have decided to issue one share of APL for every one share held in Arvind Polycot, five shares of APL for every seven shares of Arvind Cotspin and four shares of APL for every seven shares of Arvind Intex. The existing preference shares of these three companies will continue as such in APL.Top


 

Tata Tea net profit drops

MUMBAI, Jan 25 (PTI) — Tata Tea Ltd has registered a lower net profit of Rs 28.10 crore during the three-month period October-December 1998 as against Rs 31.27 crore in the corresponding period of previous year. Net profits during the nine-month period April-December 1998 at Rs 122.52 crore were higher than Rs 102.16 crore during the corresponding period in 1997, according to a company release here.Top


 

Grasim seeks police help

KOZHIKODE, Jan 25 (PTI) — Grasim Industries Limited has sought police protection for all its plants and workers from miscreants who are likely to take advantage of the agitation against pollution, proposed to be launched tomorrow by the Chaliyar Agitation Council. The proposed agitation was termed as ‘uncalled’ for.Top


 

Escorts Yamaha stir continues

NEW DELHI, Jan 25 (UNI) — Escorts Yamaha Motors Limited (EYML) continues to be in the thick of an industrial unrest with production being “paralysed’’ at its Surajpur plant as employees struck work for the third successive month protesting the termination of two of their union leaders. Escorts Yamaha showrooms across the country have not been receiving any stocks.Top


 


Pakistan hints at devaluing rupee

Pakistan has hinted at a possible devaluation of its rupee and introduction of a dual exchange rate mechanism to minimise the adverse impact of post-nuclear test economic sanctions.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told reporters in Islamabad on Sunday that his government was contemplating various measures like devaluation to minimise effect of sanctions on the economy.

Apart from a mild downward adjustment of the rupee, the government is also considering introduction of a dual exchange rate system to discourage non-essential imports while boosting exports.

Dar announced a 50 per cent reduction in the cash requirement stipulation limit for opening letters of credit by importers. The move, which took effect on Monday, will require only a 20 per cent cash limit for all types of imports.

Crisis over

Pakistan has said an economic crisis that followed its May nuclear tests is largely over with the arrival of IMF and World Bank funds and an imminent rescheduling of part of its $ 32 billion debt.

“The worst of the crisis is over,” Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told reporters on Sunday after reviewing how the economy fared after international sanctions were imposed because of the tests.

Foreign exchange reserves stood at $ 1.65 billion, up from lows of around $ 400 million with the arrival of $ 519 million from a resumed IMF loan programme and a 346.5 million World Bank loan.

Dar voiced optimism that a Paris Club meeting of official creditors on January 27-29 and a subsequent gathering of its London Club commercial creditors would reschedule some $ 7.7 billion of debt over the next three years.

This would allow Pakistan to begin to repay all its foreign official and commercial dues without having to resort to juggling grace periods, as it has done to survive a hard currency crisis over the last three months.

The government drew up a list of preferred creditors, including the IMF, world bank and governments, to ration scant foreign exchange. — Reuters

Imports

Pakistan on Sunday slashed by half a 20 per cent cash requirement for opening letters of credit by importers, linking the move to improvement in its foreign exchange reserves.

The reduced rate was implemented from Monday for all kinds of imports. A 30 per cent cash requirement for letters of credit was originally enforced in July, but it was later reduced to 20 per cent. — AFPTop


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  Forex rates
MUMBAI, Jan 25 (PTI) — The following were interbank forex and RBI rates (in rupees per unit):

US $ Rs 42.50/51
Stg Rs 70.46/48
Euro Rs 49.27/29
Jap Yen (100) Rs 37.14/16

The RBI reference rate was Rs 42.51

Marketing meet
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 (TNS) — Over 350 delegates from more than 20 countries will participate in the 26th Word Marketing Congress to be held here from February 13 to 16. The Congress, to be inaugurated by Industry Minister Sikander Bakht, is being organised by the Institute of Marketing and Management (IMM). Former Prime Minister IK Gujral will deliver the presidential address.

Award
CHANDIGARH, Jan 25 (TNS) — Mr Manoj Kohli and Mr Rajat Gupta have been jointly awarded a certificate for commendable performance award at an annual general meeting of the Northern Indian Regional Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India held in New Delhi. The award has been presented by Delhi Finance Minister MS Sathi.

Nominated
CHANDIGARH, Jan 25 (TNS) — Mr B.D. Narang, Executive Director of Punjab and Sind Bank has been nominated a member of the Northern Regional Advisory Committee of SIDBI.Top



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