|B U S I N E S S||
Sunday, October 31, 1999
IRA Bill to catalyse
accelerated financial sector reforms
|World Marketing Congress in
NEW DELHI, Oct 30 Several delegates from Arab countries like Oman, Iraq and Egypt along with representatives from the Indian industry are expected to participate in the forthcoming 27th World Marketing Congress scheduled to be held here in January, 2000.
imports to rise in next millennium
Power tariff hike on the cards?
EU for launching new WTO round
Factory workers stage dharna
Rakhi bumper prize
Colgate-Palmolive net up 44 per
to catalyse accelerated financial sector reforms
NEW DELHI,Oct 30 Several international insurance companies, which are waiting to venture into India,are confident that the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) Bill after being passed by the Parliament will catalyse accelerated financial sector reforms in the country.
Experts were of the view that it was important to bring about several structural changes in the Indian insurance sector for generating resources for the infrastructure and other core sectors.
According to CII the introduction and passage of the Bill would be a catalyst in accelerating the process of reforms in the financial sector.
The inter-relationship between insurance and the other financial markets as well as the fact that insurance reforms are an integral part of reforming the larger financial services industry in India had been recognised as critical to Indias full participation in the global economy.
A former US Ambassador to India and presently the Vice Chairman of American International Group, Mr Frank G Wisner, said the proposed measure if cleared would attract foreign direct investment worth more than $ 500 million into the insurance sector.
The Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Mr M.Y.Khan, said that there was a lot of virgin market in the insurance area and there bank was discussing with several foreign investors about getting into both life and non-life insurance sector.
However, a majority of the foreign companies prefer to wait for the Bill to be passed before disclosing their plans.
The CEO of Canada-based Sun Life Assurance, Mr John D McNeil, who was in the capital last week declined to make any specific projections about insurance growth in the country.
He however, added that foreign investors would eventually enter India once the legislative framework was in place and would prefer group to individual insurance.
Insurance experts were of the opinion that by opening its insurance market to competition, India has the opportunity to merge its significant managerial and financial expertise in capital markets with the best practices from the worlds leading insurance marketsresulting in heightened efficiency and enhanced service to customers.
According to them, a competitive market would assist in the process of technology transfer and speed up the development of a modern, service-oriented industry. It would also provide expertise, capacity and an appetite for certain types of risks that are currently not available.
Thousands of insurance agents, who presently do business for the Indian insurance companies, are thrilled at the prospect of private companies coming into the sector.
They are confident that with more competition and a wider range of products, Indian insurance would reach new heights.
Experts said that the massive requirements needed for infrastructure development could be met only through proper channelisation of household savings and to this end opening up of the insurance sector was of utmost necessity.
Historically, insurance has been an important medium of channelling household savings for generating economic growth. In India, when viewed in isolation,the contributions made by the state owned life insurance company look highly impressive.
The total funds of LIC have crossed Rs,100,000 crore as on March, 1998 and has been investing over 75 per cent of its investible funds in the central and State Government securities and other socially purposive investments.
According to available data, India with an annual gross premium of three billion dollar accounts for less than 0.15 per cent of the global insurance pot.In terms of insurance penetration, India is at the lower end of the spectrum when compared to developed and industrialised countries. In the lower per capita income band of less than 2000 dollars per annum, India is second only to Zimbabwe.
As regards insurance
density, India is virtually at the bottom of the ladder
at less than $ 6 per inhabitant, with Switzerland being
the worlds largest per capital insurance spender
with $ 4664 per inhabitant.
NEW DELHI, Oct 30 (PTI) Several delegates from Arab countries like Oman, Iraq and Egypt along with representatives from the Indian industry are expected to participate in the forthcoming 27th World Marketing Congress scheduled to be held here in January, 2000.
The Congress which is
being held from January 22-25 next year aims to promote
joint ventures, technology transfer and trade promotion
between India and the Arab countries. The meet is being
jointly sponsored by the Institute of Marketing and
Management (IMM) and Indian Investment Centre.
first for Indians
CHANDIGARH: Although mass culture and consumer tastes around the world seem to be converging at an increasingly rapid rate, when it comes to personal financial concerns and goals the differences among countries remain marked, according to the results of a 10-country study released today by American Express.
According to the survey, in India, childrens education is not only the primary financial concern but also the top savings and investments objective.
Emerging as the highest savers, 69 per cent of Indians feel extremely confident that they are saving enough for retirement, 48 per cent turn to friends and relatives for advice on savings and investments.
Analysing the key findings around the world, Mr Piero Grandhi of American Express Bank said: The survey picks up on two trends weve seen in the markets. First, people are concerned about the graying of the population. Across the USA, the UK and Germany, a large number of workers retiring over the next several decades are questioning traditional retirement programmes and pension schemes.
Secondly, consumers are worried about job security and coping with financial emergencies. Thats especially true in countries such as France, Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan than are in recession or have just recently recovered from a slowdown, or have slow job growth. Given these uncertainties, it is therefore not surprising that consumers across all countries are worried about the adequacy of their savings with the only exceptions being the UK and India, observed Mr Grandi.
Conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres, the survey that was based on phone interviews included 10,000 respondents across 10 countries, including France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, the UK and the USA.
Unemployment dominates financial concerns in Hong Kong (75 per cent); Italy (60 per cent); Singapore (45 per cent); France (40 per cent); Japan (40 per cent) and Taiwan (35 per cent). By contrast, only 20 per cent Indians expressed concern about unemployment with it being even lesser pronounced in the USA and Germany (less than 15 per cent).
However, in the USA (47 per cent) and in India (51 per cent) express considerable concern over having enough funds available to cover retirement and in Germany the top concern is high taxes.
Indians are the most concerned amongst all consumers about childrens education with 56 per cent saying this was their top financial concern.
In Hong Kong and Italy, 37 and 35 per cent respectively said they were not saving at the moment.
Among those saving, retirement is the number one savings and investment objective in the USA, UK and Germany. Having enough money on hand for emergencies rank number one in France, Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.
People in India and the USA said they were saving the most an average of $ 535 and $ 360 a month respectively. This is twice as much as the average reported in Italy and France.
Indians top the list among those surveyed when saving for childrens college education (31 per cent) or for purchase of first home (12 per cent) but dont save at all for weddings, leisure, self-study, education or to pay bills!
Colgate-Palmolive (India) Ltd reported a 44 per cent increase in net profits to Rs 25.4 crore and a 14 per cent increase in sales turnover to Rs 568.5 crore for the first half of the current fiscal.
During the second quarter ended September 30, 1999 sales increased by 7 per cent to Rs 262.9 crore and profits to Rs 13.3 crore, reflecting a growth of 45 per cent over the corresponding period of the previous year.
Castrol India Limited registered a 17 per cent growth in net profit at Rs 46.55 crore during the third quarter of this calendar year compared to Rs 39.82 crore in the previous Q3.
Consumer products maker Reckitt and Colman of India Ltd reported a 11 per cent increase in net profit at Rs 5.1 crore for the 13 weeks ended October 2, the third quarter of the companys financial year 1999, from Rs 4.6 crore a year ago.
Morepen Laboratories Limited reported a 44 per cent increase in profit after tax (PAT) at Rs 12.2 crore (as compared to the corresponding period of 1998)
Aptech Limited has recorded an impressive 61 per cent rise in net profits at Rs 15.04 crore during the third quarter of this calendar year against Rs 9.34 crore the previous Q3.
Philips India Ltd on Saturday reported a 41.31 per cent drop in profits to Rs 4.12 crore for the third quarter ended October 3, 1999 on a marginally improved sales turnover of Rs 425.83 crore.
For the nine month period ended October 3, 1999 the company has posted sales of Rs 1257.41 crore as against Rs 1190.09 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year and a marginally higher profit of Rs 9.5 crore compared to Rs 9.1 crore last year.
Indo Rama Synthetics India Limited has reduced its net loss by 82 per cent at Rs 15 crore for the first half of the current fiscal compared to Rs 86 crore for the same period last year.
The net profit of Hindustan Sanitaryware and Industries Limited has risen 26 per cent at Rs 8.9 crore during the first half of 1999-2000 over the comparable period last year. The sale of the company has also risen 13.5 per cent at Rs 86.45 crore during the period as compared to Rs 76.16 crore last year.
Operating profit of the company increased by 30 per cent at Rs 20.38 crore in the current first half.
Corporation Limited has registered a 19 per cent growth
in its net profit during the first half year ended
September 30, 99 to Rs 408 crore compared to Rs 343
crore over the corresponding period in last year.
NEW DELHI, Oct 30 (UNI) With the likely spurt in domestic oil demand, Indias net oil imports will witness a significant growth in the next millennium, according to an official of the International Energy Agency (IEA).
While the countrys oil import stood at 62 per cent in 1996, it is set to rise to 86 per cent by 2020, Mr Pierre Audinet of IEA said while delivering a keynote address at the World LP Gas forum here yesterday.
He said the LP Gas industry will be the fastest growing segment in the energy basket in the country. The LPG demand is predicted at 6.4 million tonnes in 2001-2002 and 10.8 million tonnes by 2011-2012, registering a consistent annual growth of about 30 per cent in the first decade of the new millennium.
tariff hike on the cards?
THE Punjab Government seems to be anxious to improve its public perception in view of brewing political crisis. This is good. Many irritating issues need close attention. For business community three of them require CMs personal attention. Power tariff hike, wide-spread police interference and sales tax collection imbroglio call for top priority.
Rumours are afloat that power tariff revision is on the cards with a proposed hike of 60 paise a unit. These rumours have already created disturbing waves. Prices of some commodities like steel have shop up in the wake of running recession. Power tariff was comprehensibly revised in July 1998 to take all contingencies into account and keeping sufficient cushion. Fuel surcharge has been raised from time to time. No other tangible factor has crept in to justify PSEBs loss. Why then has necessity to revise tariff arisen? There seems to be three factors responsible for this sorry state of affairs. Over-staffing; misuse of free power to agriculture sector and theft.
PSEB is so much over-staffed that of all SEBs it comes on the top. For every million units of supply PSEB has 4:5 employees. This ratio for some other states is; Gujarat 1:9, Bihar 5:5, Orissa 5:5, U.P. 3:5, and West Bengal 3:9. Of all these states Punjab has the smallest area and the most compact load centres. From this view Punjabs ratio should be read at least 3 to 4 times which means Punjabs ratio is about 15. PSEB has a team of 32 chief engineers which on the face looks ridiculous. If some body comes out with ratio of administrative charges to revenue then ratio of concentrated load to scattered load should also be seen.
By providing free power to farmers ruling party has not gained any political mileage. Interaction with farmers in general has revealed that they are interested in adequate and quality supply. Some experts have come out with proposal in this regard. Power tariff to farmers can be Rs 2 a unit provided its availability is doubled at right voltage.
One may refuse to accept but the fact is that power theft is rampant. If left to the manual checking things can not improve. Joint meters at sub stations can be installed. To avoid collusions cellular phone transmitters can be installed which send the reading once a day to the Central Computer. Such a gadget can be put in a sealed steel box. Cell phone network is widespread and technology is readily available and is inexpensive. Since 1992 frequency of tariff revision has been two years; 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1998. This is now coming to one year. Who knows this revision may be necessary every month.
On the face of these facts proposal to revive tariff should be dropped without inviting public wrath. PSEB should come out with a white paper of its financial management detailing the loss making areas of its operation.
About police interference in business matters the Punjab Government should strictly instruct police not to interfere in business matters. Understandably temptation to do so is very obvious. Former DGP Mr Dogra had ensured police insulation in this regard. Some time argument comes that specific cases should be quoted.
NEW DELHI, Oct 30 (PTI) European Union (EU) today favoured launching a comprehensive round of negotiations under WTO next year that would include new issues like Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) and competition policies. EU said it would be difficult to find a balance in the negotiations without a comprehensive round, which should not be longer than three years.
In a meeting with members of CII here, EU Director Herve Jouanjean sought convergence with India in preparation for the WTO ministerial conference to be held in Seattle, USA from November 30 to December 4.
On MAI, he said the EU was not keen to impose pre-establishment disciplines on investment as they appreciated that the issue delved into the realms of national sovereignty, a CII release said.
Agreeing to an investment agreement that sought equal treatment to all foreign companies in the pre-establishment stage would mean that countries lose their liberty to fix investment cap in various sectors of the economy.
Jouanjean said the MAI worked out by Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had been too ambitious and the EU was keen on ensuring national treatment, transparency and non-discrimination at the post-establishment stage.
CHANDIGARH, Oct 30
Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh
yesterday gave the first prize money draft of Rakhi
bumper to Mr Karan Singh of Ludhiana, winner of Rs 1
crore. The other prizes were distributed by Mr K.R
Lakhanpal, Principal Secretary, Finance, Punjab. The
revenue collected from bumper is to be spent on various
developmental and welfare activities in the State. At
present, Punjab State Lotteries Maa Lakshmi Divali
Bumper-1999 is in the market. Priced at Rs 100 per
ticket, it has a first prize of Rs 1 crore.
Factory workers stage dharna
SAS NAGAR, Oct 30 The Godrej-GE Employees Union men today staged a dharna in front of the factory in Industrial Area here today. Mr Vikas Sharma, General Secretary of the union, alleged that the workers were stopped from entering the factory premises in the morning.
Police was called by the factory management to avert any untoward incident. He alleged that the management of the factory had expelled three employees, suspended another 28 workers and had served charge sheet to 35 other workers. Claiming that the trouble was created by men of a private contractor, he said the labour department had been informed but of little use.
Workers have been
agitating for the past several months, demanding an
increase in their wages and some other benefits. An
official of the factory said the workers had damaged an
expensive machine in the unit. He said workers were not
allowed in as they reported late on duty. Regarding
another complaint of the workers that they were made to
fill some form, he said the workers were asked to give an
undertaking that they would not create trouble in the
Modest returns, may be
Helios & Matheson
The public issue proceeds are proposed to be used for financing the expansion programme of the company which comprises exploring the software consultancy business and enhancing the number of HMITLs computer training centres from ten to twenty. HMITL is primarily involved in providing networking solutions to organisations, and now proposes to focus on Internet and Intranet based business applications, e-commerce and visual computing. A particularly bothersome fact is that despite a relatively low equity base, its EPS for the financial year 1997-98 was very low at Rs 0.37, which spurted thereafter to Rs 6.03 during1998-99. Yet another quantum jump in bottomline is being projected for the financial year 2000 and a major chunk of the revenue inflows are expected to come from the companys foray into net centric computing, corporate training and consulting, besides exports.
While this issue by no
means is an exceptional one, there are plus points like
committed promoters, non-aggressive pricing and being
engaged in the most potent segment today. All this
suggests that there could be some returns, albeit modest
on listing for investors.
Q: Whether the conduct of the tenant in usurping possession of a room illegally and forcing the landlady to face protracted litigation upto Apex Court for getting the room vacated amounted to annoyance and nuisance within the meaning of S. 13 (i) (C) of the Bombay Rent Act?
Ans: Gujarat H.C. was answering the question in P.D. Trivedi v Chandanben M. Shah 1999-(2) R.C.J. 207, thus:
The question for consideration is whether an act of the tenant committing trespass in one of the rooms amounts to annoyance or nuisance to the landlady who is not residing in the locality or in the premises itself. There is also no allegation that this act of the tenant amounted to nuisance or annoyance to the neighbouring occupiers. Only thing is that according to the landlady, because the room was forcibly occupied by the tenant in her absence by breaking open lock and she had to face the litigation in the criminal court, civil court and upto the Apex Court, this amounted to nuisance and annoyance to the landlady.
Literally speaking section says so, but situation cant be overlooked where the landlady is also residing in a portion of the same building where the tenant is residing in adjoining portion of the same building. If tenant commits nuisance or causes annoyance to the landlady that my also be a ground for tenants eviction.
Moreover, a single act of the tenant in committing trespass over one room owned and possessed by the landlady could not amount to annoyance to the adjoining occupiers.
In fact, occupiers of adjoining building have no concern with such activity of the tenant nor their personal life is disturbed by alleged and proved trespass committed by the tenant.
As such, held the HC, the alleged trespass might have caused irritation to the landlady but it does not amount to nuisance on which tenant can be evicted. Hyper-sensitivity has no place in determining annoyance or irritation to the landlady.
Q: I am a senior citizen being date of birth 15.1.1927. I own 7½ marla single storey house, which is self occupied. No portion has been given on rent. I do not own telephone, car in my or my wifes name. None of my family members has gone abroad ever. I am drawing Rs 4,000 pension p.m. plus I am receiving dividends from UTI shares etc. not exceeding Rs 10,000 per year. I have no other income.
Kindly let me if it is obligatory for me to apply for a permanent Account Number for the income tax purpose. Or I am required to file income tax return. When there is no tax liability on me.
Piara Singh, Mohali
Ans: On the facts stated by you, you are not compulsorily required to file your Income-tax return. Moreover, there is no tax liability on you in respect of the income which you are having.
Q: My son is doing post-graduation in a Medical College and Hospital. He is getting stipend of about Rs 1,25,000 per year. He is paying tuition fee of Rs 1,00,000 per year and hostel rent of Rs 6,000 per year along with electricity charges etc. to the same institution for the said course. Kindly let me know the following and oblige:-
1. Is stipend taxable?
2. Can the fee and/or hostel rent etc. be adjusted against the stipend?
3. Any other ways such as cost of books etc. to save the tax besides LIC, NSC & PPF etc.
Subhash Kapoor, Jalandhar City
Ans: The stipend amount received is for educational purposes, hence, there will be no liability to Income Tax in respect of the stipend amount received by your son. As there is no tax liability, the question of making investments in LIC, NSC, PPF, to save the tax does not rises.
Q: I am Katra of Dr Harcharan Singh HUF which is to be dissolved APPF A/c in the name of HUF was opened on 04.03.97 and has a credit balance of Rs 87549.
Please advise the procedure to withdraw the said money for distribution to the various members of the HUF.
Dr Harcharan Singh, Amritsar
Ans: Under the Public Provident Fund Scheme, 1968 there is no provision for pre-mature encashment of the money in the event of dissolution/partition of HUF. Hence, you can opt for taking loan from the PPF A/c of the HUF as per Section 10 of the scheme only after the expiry of 5 years from the end of the year in which the initial subscription was made. Your HUF after making an application in Form No. C can withdraw from the balance in the PPF A/c of an amount not exceeding 50 per cent of such amount that stood to the credit of the HUF at the end of the 4th year immediately preceding the year of withdrawal. However, not more than one withdrawal is permitted during the year.
Q: I am a retired government servant and pensioner aged 71 yrs. My two sons are living in USA and are the bona fide citizens of that country. They are the owner of triple storeyed house jointly which is on rent @ 9000 p.m. They want to give me the above said rental amount as a token of help in my old age. I have General Power of Attorney of the above said house. Please advice me:
(A) If I am eligible for rebate on rental amount for Income Tax purpose?
(b) If yes, the how much rebate I would get for the financial year under which section?
Ranbir Singh Oberoi, Chandigarh.
The amount which your sons are interested to give to you
out of the rental income is actually not rental income
for you, it is a sort of gift from your children to you
out of their rental income. Hence, as it is a gift there
is no liability to income tax on the gift received by
you. You will not get any tax rebate out of the payments
received by you from your children because the income in
respect of the income from House Property will in any
case continue to be added to the total income of your
WITH IT stock prices tumbling at the Nasdaq, and Dalal Street mirroring this trend, there is no shortage of analysts who predict that doomsday for IT stocks is now round the corner. Seems the New Bull thinks otherwise. Why else would he be accumulating the shares of BFL Software and RS Software?
The grapevine is agog with rumours of a blitzkrieg being planned by Colgate-Palmolive in a few months from now to complete its revival and moreover to display its fire-power to the omnipotent Unilever group which has been breathing down its neck with Pepsodent of late.
The grapevine is abuzz with rumours that the latest company to be eyed for a takeover in the resurgent cement industry is Prism Cement. Now, given the fact that it is part of a cash rich group with diverse interests, if at all this news were true, the price that will be extracted for the takeover will be a steep one.
A Pune based astrologer
whose Divali forecasts on the Sensex have rarely gone
wrong predicts that the BSE Sensex will stand at around
6250 points by next Divali, which will be the first one
of the new millennium. In that case, the festivities at
Dalal Street are bound to be doubly enjoyable.
ABOUT 15 years ago, when a court in Delhi awarded Rs 10 to a Delhi Transport Corporation commuter for the inconvenience caused to him on account of the breakdown of the bus in which he was travelling, it made big news. After all, such cases were really rare in the annals of Indian consumer movement.
But today, thanks to the Consumer Protection Act, such cases are commonplace. Last year for example, the Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission awarded a compensation of Rs 1000 plus costs of Rs 100 to each of the 24 passengers of a bus for the negligent service provided by the transport corporation. According to the complainants, they were all travelling from Tirunelveli to Chennai when the tyre of the bus suddenly burst. Since the bus did not even carry a spare tyre, the passengers were stranded on the roadside for over three hours till the corporation arranged another bus. The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum before which the passengers filed a complaint held the corporation guilty of providing negligent service in that it had not even taken the basic precaution of carrying a spare tyre on a long distance journey. This order of the District Forum was upheld by the State Commission (Thiruvalluvar Transport Corporation Ltd vs N.S.Babu and others).
In a similar case involving a bus hired for carrying a marriage party, the consumer was awarded a compensation of Rs 8000 for the suffering undergone. In addition, the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation was asked to return the advance deposit of Rs 3000 collected from the consumer, along with 12 per cent interest. Mr Udai Ram had hired a bus for his family and friends to travel from his village to the brides village for the marriage of his son. However, the bus never came and Mr Ram had to engage another bus at short notice at an exorbitant price.
Interestingly, many of these cases pertain to buses ferrying marriage parties. In the case of Jai Kumar vs Prince Travels and another too, the bus, which was engaged to take the baratiesfrom Kaithal to Kurukshetra did not arrive on time, forcing the complainant to engage taxis for the purpose. The complainant in this case sought compensation not only for the additional amount spent on taxis, but also for the humiliation caused to him on account of the bus failing to arrive on time. The District Forum in this cases awarded a compensation of Rs 2000. This was enhanced to Rs 4000 by the Haryana State Commission.
In yet another case, the consumer had booked five tickets to travel from Banaras to Rewa. On the day of travel, however, the bus made available only four seats, as a result of which one of the passengers had to travel 140 km from Banaras to Rewa, standing. In the complaint filed before the District Forum, the consumer said the fatigue caused on account of the travel resulted in his not being able to work for two days. The District Fourm awarded Rs 3,500 as compensation, but the Madhya Pradesh State Commission reduced it to Rs 950. It also awarded Rs 50 as costs. (Tourist Bus Service, Uttar Pradesh vs Girija Prasad Mishra)
There have also been cases of consumers hauling up transport companies before consumer courts for refusing to halt at designated bus stops, for delay in departure or reaching the destination, arbitrary change in departure timings or bus stops or routes, discourteous behaviour towards passengers and failing to indicate the destination or the route number on the bus. In one particular case, the consumer demanded compensation from the Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation for stopping the bus far away from the designated bus stop, thereby forcing him to hire a cycle rickshaw for Rs 15 to cover the distance up to the bus stop. What the passenger got as compensation was only Rs 15. But he succeeded in getting a direction from the consumer court to the transport corporation to stop the bus only at officially declared bus stops.
These are not cases involving huge amounts of money as compensation. However, like the DTC commuter who fought for Rs 10 in a civil court as a matter of right, many of these consumers have taken the transport company to task for the deficient service provided and obtained relief. The underlying message is that consumers will no more tolerate poor and shoddy service. The earlier the service providers heed the warning, the better it is for them.
Transportation by road
once (1951-52) contributed to only 26 per cent of the
passenger traffic. Today, it accounts for over 80 per
cent of the passenger movement in the country and is
expected to go up to 87 per cent by next year. This
growth in passenger transportation by road should however
not make the service providers complacent when it comes
to providing quality service.
NEW DELHI, Oct 30 (PTI) Recovery trend was short-lived on the bullion market today as both the precious metals, silver and gold, rolled back on stockists offering and closed with losses.
The quotations: Silver .999 (ready) 7940, delivery 7925, coins buyer 11,200 and seller 11,300. Standard gold 4625, ornaments 4475 and sovereign 3900.
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