Saturday, January 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S


An oil-covered sea bird sits on the shore a day after a Russian fuel tanker, the Volganeft 248, split in two in heavy winds and sank in the Sea of Marmara off Istanbul, on Thursday. Volganeft 248 was carrying 4,334 tonnes of fuel and a 18-member crew, all rescued safe by a Turkish coast guard. Turkish authorities said that 900,000 litres (235,000 gallons) of fuel oil spilled into the sea from the Volganeft . AP/PTI


EARLIER STORIES


 

Industrialists against govt’s attitude
GURGAON, Dec 31— The industrialists today expressed concern at the Government’s “indifference” to their problems which has put them at a disadvantage position to come to terms with the process of liberalisation and globalisation.

Corporates: cashing in on millennium brand
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — The millennium mania has hit one and all- from a roadside barber to a corporate house, each evolving their own unique millennium propositions to cash on the millennium brand and reap rich dividends.

Allahabad Bank opens 2000th branch in city
CHANDIGARH, Dec 31— Mr Harbhajan Singh, Chairman and Managing Director of the Allahabad Bank today opened the bank's 2000th specialised personal computerised branch here in Sector 34 A by lighting a lamp.

NIIT may acquire US firm by March
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (PTI) — NIIT Ltd. is likely to complete the acquisition of a US software company by March or latest by September next year, NIIT Chairman R.S. Pawar said.

Indian economy grows by 6 pc
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — Buoyed by a strong 7 per cent growth in the manufacturing sector, Indian economy grew by 6 per cent during July-September this year, up from 4.2 per cent in the last fiscal.

Prices of 23 drugs increased
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (PTI)—National Pharma Pricing Authority today revised prices of 32 drug formulations, raising prices of 23 medicines.

Mehta is PHDCCI chief
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — Mr K.S. Mehta, a well-known Chartered Accountant has been elected president of PHDCCI.

Provide basic amenities
YAMUNANAGAR, Dec 31 — Industrialist here demanded the intervention of Mr Om Prakash Chautala to provide them basic/civic amenities in the Industrial Estate.

‘Spice Winners’ launched
CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 — Spice Telecom today announced the launch of ‘Spice Winners’, a programme designed to offer value and benefits to subscribers, with a special thrust in building long term associations.

Haryana to exploit non-conventional energy
HARYANA has embarked upon an ambitious programme to exploit non-conventional energy sources like biomas, small/micro hydel, energy recovery from municipal solid waste and solar energy for power generation.

Investor confidence boosted in 1999
MUMBAI, Dec 31 — The year 1999 saw tremendous improvement in stock market infrastructure and increased investor confidence evident by the fact that cumulative investments by foreign institutional players crossed $ 10 billion, since December, 1992.

IDBI plans IT arm
MUMBAI, Dec 31 — Industrial Development Bank of India has cleared a proposal to set up an information technology subsidiary for providing IT-related services to the financial institution and its clients.

Aid from SBI staff for Orissa victims
CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 — The State Bank of India, Chandigarh circle, has collected relief material such as foodgrains, cereals, clothes, shoes, chappals, blankets,utensils, polythene sheets etc. for the Orissa’s cyclone victims.

Ford to launch 2 more versions
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — Ford India has sold 1,677 units of its latest offering mid-sized car Ikon during December and accumulated orders for delivering 5,360 units of the model, a senior company official said today.

Biz briefsTop

Industrialists against govt’s attitude
From Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

GURGAON, Dec 31— The industrialists today expressed concern at the Government’s “indifference” to their problems which has put them at a disadvantage position to come to terms with the process of liberalisation and globalisation.

The industrialists alleged in the 4th annual general meeting of the Gurgaon Udyog Association(GUA) that their units were suffering heavily due to poor management on the power front by the Government. According to them, the personnel of the Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam (HVPN) worked with some kind of bias against the industrialists. They specifically pointed out that they received bill for power tariffs long after the expiry date of its payment. The HVPN personnel, who do not attend to complaints from the consumers, disconnect the power to their units with alacrity. It seems that the personnel wait eagerly for any industrialists to default on timely payment of tariffs. Besides, paying penalty for reconnection, the industrialists have to waste their valuable time to set things right.

They also alleged that their units did not receive power on regular basis.

The president of the GUA,Mr Naresh Yadav, raising the problems of the industrialists alleged that the Government was rigid on the change of project issue at the detriment of the industrialists. According to him, there were a large number of cases where the original projects of the industrialists were not doing well. They wanted to change their projects to venture into productions of different kinds of goods. Instead of being industrialist friendly on the issue, the HSIDC takes step of issuing notices asking why their industrial plots should not be resumed.

According to Mr Yadav, the industrial plots are given after making payments under the free hold scheme. But the Government’s overall attitude is negative in giving permission to the owners of the plots to lease them.

A Congress MLA, Capt Ajay Yadav, who was the chief guest on the occasion lamented that the preceding Government headed by Mr Bansi Lal and the present one headed by Mr Om Prakash Chautala were least concerned with the industrial development in the State. Top



 

Corporates: cashing in on millennium brand

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (PTI) — The millennium mania has hit one and all- from a roadside barber to a corporate house, each evolving their own unique millennium propositions to cash on the millennium brand and reap rich dividends.

No one has been spared by the lure the brand offers, there is the official millennium drink- a Pepsi 2000, a millennium capsule to put your messages in, a millennium movie and now even a millennium award for Delhi’s notable citizen.

Separate millennium budgets have been charted out just for the purpose. An upmarket hotel in the capital which spent Rs 12 lakh on its New Year bash last year, has raised its budget to a whopping Rs 30 lakh for the millennium do.

Samsung is not far behind having entered into a Star TV network for the screening of the “Titanic” at the turn of the millennium.

“The principle behind holding events around the millennium theme is to create excitement and loosen purse strings,” says Shivjeet Kullar, Director Jt Communi-cations and co-founder of “Digital Cradle”.

It is yet another excuse, a marketing bonanza, to join the bandwagon albeit with a new theme, says Sangeeta Gupta, of Org-Marg.

It is important to note that the millennium brand is not like the world cup, duly patented, registered with a trademark and even an official logo, anyone can jump into the millennium bandwagon and cash on it, says Shiv Shankar, Director, Event Engineers Pvt Ltd.

The millennium event is not like any ordinary new year’s bash but an event in time. Its eventual success would depend on the uniqueness of promotion.

“Several companies are trying to cash on the excitement of the millennium, consequently anything which is associated with it will get publicity, says Siddharth Raut, an advertising consultant, noting not all will derive mileage out of the whole show unless they have something different and futuristic to offer.

With so many companies going in for the millennium brand success of any campaign would depend on the creative content, the uniqueness of the promotion, the new range offered and most important the top of mind awareness.

Only those companies which have something different to offer to the consumer would make headway, others would be lost in the clutter, says Anand Bharadwaj, Vice President Marketing, Electrolux India.

It is important to note that each company has its own aim which it seeks to achieve by associating itself with the millennium event, it could be to boost sales, increase subscription or merely build brand awareness, he says, noting not all would gain equally even if they spend the same amount.

“Samsung expects to derive tremendous brand awareness through its association with Star TV for the screening of the film “titanic” which will undoubtedly enjoy very high viewership across Asia given the popularity of the film, says R Zutshi, Vice President, Sales, Samsung India Electronics Ltd.

The millennium concept would definitely benefit the IT sector, says Kullar, noting the Y2K bug combined with the futuristic element associated with it, makes sense for IT companies to sponsor millennium related events.

“Connectivity, communication and technology is the buzzword of the millennium, he says, noting the very fact of being part of the future will make them earn enormous goodwill.

Shankar is of the opinion that it would be the tourism sector which would gain maximum mileage out of its association with the millennium, thanks to the entertainment aspect underlining it.

Nevertheless, with confusion over extent of the millennium reigning supreme, it is galore time for corporates who would be laughing all the way to the bank, at least for one more year. Top



 

Allahabad Bank opens 2000th branch in city
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 31— Mr Harbhajan Singh, Chairman and Managing Director of the Allahabad Bank today opened the bank's 2000th specialised personal computerised branch here in Sector 34 A by lighting a lamp. Mr Jatinder Mohan, one of the directors on the board ,was the chief guest.

Mr Singh said the bank has 100 branches in 1965 and today its number has increased to 2000 in a span of 35 years. The bank has 74 branches in the Chandigarh region and it will open another four branches in January.

The new branch will have single window concept. Retail banking boutique will start on January 7, and for 24-hour banking an ATM will be installed soon.

Mr Singh said the bank has mooted an education scheme for students studying in IIT and IIM. The students have nothing to do except giving admission card of IIT and IIM to the bank for loan. The loan is refundable after they get job. No security is needed.

The bank has given 25,000 green cards to kisans having at least one acre of land and disbursed Rs 80 crore. The bank will start its network in international branches shortly.

Mr Singh said that the bank has improved its standing and has been earning profit for the last four years. The earning per employee is over Rs 1 crore. He said 75 per of its branches will be computerised by the end of 2000. The bank is coming out with a public issue in March.

Mr O.P. Arora, Additional General Manager, The Tribune group of publications, was honoured by the Chairman. Mr Arora stressed on the translation of the slogan ``show courtesy to customers" into action.

Mr G.R. Bhatia, General Manager, New Delhi and Mr J.S. Kakar , AGM, the Chandigarh region, also addressed the gathering.Top



 

NIIT may acquire US firm by March

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (PTI) — NIIT Ltd. is likely to complete the acquisition of a US software company by March or latest by September next year, NIIT Chairman R.S. Pawar said.

The company will take a final decision on whether to get listed in technology-driven Nasdaq of the prestigious New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) only after the acquisition.

Pawar avoided question about the name of the US company.

NIIT, along with Satyam Computers, HCL Technologies, Rediff on the net and Polaris, had already announced their plans to acquire companies abroad as part of their strategy to become global companies.

Earlier, NIIT had said it will announce the acquisition of two US companies by December and had earmarked $ 100 million for the same. American investment banker Goldman Sachs is advising NIIT on the buy-out process.

Pawar said “the company would like to complete the acquisition in the USA first. We will decide on the listing after the acquisition”.Top



 

Indian economy grows by 6 pc

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (PTI) — Buoyed by a strong 7 per cent growth in the manufacturing sector, Indian economy grew by 6 per cent during July-September this year, up from 4.2 per cent in the last fiscal.

This comes on top of a 5.9 per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the first quarter of 1999-2000, giving firm hopes that the economy would grow by over 6 per cent in the current fiscal.

As per the estimates of GDP for July-September 1999, released by the Government today, the electricity sector including gas and water supply and services sector mainly finance, insurance, real estate and business services further boosted economy with impressive performances.

The electricity sector grew at 10 per cent in July-September compared to 5.5 per cent during the corresponding period last year, while the services segment posted a growth rate of 8.6 per cent as against 4.7 per cent.

Performance of agricultural sector, though improved to 1.8 per cent in the second quarter of 1999-2000 from a minus 0.8 per cent last year.Top



 

Prices of 23 drugs increased

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (PTI)—National Pharma Pricing Authority today revised prices of 32 drug formulations, raising prices of 23 medicines.

Reckitt and Coleman’s popular anti-septic liquid “Dettol”, prices were, reduced by the pricing authority by 0.3 per cent to 1.86 per cent for different packings.

Highest price revision was made in the case of cortiosteroid manufactured by Wyeth Laboratories, where prices for different packs were raised in the range of 26.53 to 27.47 per cent due to rise in bulk drug prices.

Price of cardio-vascular formulation Pentoxyfylline by Hoechst Marion Roussel was increased by 26.40 per cent from Rs 21.44 to 27.10 for a pack of 10 tablets.

Prices of Terramycin an antibiotic by Pfizer were raised in the range of 11.22 to 11.29 per cent. In case of veterinery injection, prices were increased by 8.38 per cent and 9.58 per cent for 100 ml and 30 ml bottle.Top


 

Mehta is PHDCCI chief
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — Mr K.S. Mehta, a well-known Chartered Accountant has been elected president of PHDCCI.

Mr Mehta is a member of the advisory committee on primary markets of SEBI, Director, National Stock Exchange of India Ltd, a member of the FICCI Executive Committee and an expert on corporate policy. He is the senior partner of S.S. Khotari and Company.

The newly elected managing committee of PHDCCI has also unanimously elected Mr Sushil Ansal as Vice-President for the year 1999-2000. Mr Ansal is the Chairman of Ansal Group of Companies with business interest in infrastructure projects, township development, hotels and tourism. Mr Ansal is the member of the Executive Committee of FICCI, a chamber release said. Top



 

Provide basic amenities
From Our Correspondent

YAMUNANAGAR, Dec 31 — Industrialist here demanded the intervention of Mr Om Prakash Chautala to provide them basic/civic amenities in the Industrial Estate.

Mr Gursharan Singh Chawla, President of the Yamunanagar Industrial Estate Association, in a representation to the Chief Minister said charges like house tax, licence fee etc. are being paid by the plot holders to the local Municipal Council. But they have been deprived of civic amenities.Top

‘Spice Winners’ launched
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 — Spice Telecom today announced the launch of ‘Spice Winners’, a programme designed to offer value and benefits to subscribers, with a special thrust in building long term associations.

A Spice subscriber earns points by using service. So higher the usage the higher will be the accumulation of points. As point grow these can be exchanged for exciting rewards from air tickets to holiday destinations, diamonds, refrigerations, microwaves, CD systems, watches, crystalware and shopping discounts.Top



 

Haryana to exploit non-conventional energy
By V.P. Prabhakar

HARYANA has embarked upon an ambitious programme to exploit non-conventional energy sources like biomas, small/micro hydel, energy recovery from municipal solid waste and solar energy for power generation. Although it has much more potential but initially the Haryana State Energy Development Agency (HAREDA) has drawn a long term plan to be implemented in two phases to add about 240 MW of power to the State grid from renewable energy sources by 2010 through private investment.

Of the 240 MW of power, 20 MW will be from small hydro, 108 MW from biomas, 95 MW from bagasse co-generation and 17 MW from municipal solid waste. Of this, 61 MW will be exploited by 2001 and 179 MW by 2010.

The total availability of electricity in Haryana at present is 2436 MW. While the current average power shortage is about 8 per cent, peak power shortage is about 20 per cent. This gap between demand and supply is likely to grow further in view of rapid industrialisation and growth of agricultural production. Non-polluting renewable sources of energy can be one of the environmentally sound options to bridge this gap.

According to Mr K.K. Khandelwal, Joint Secretary and Director of non-conventional energy sources, Haryana highly developed canal network exists throughout the State with small waterfalls at many locations which are being offered to the independent power producers to set up micro/mini/small hydro plants to generate power. It is expected that about 45 MW of power can be generated through the waterfalls available at various locations in the canal network in the state.

The biomass potential available is 2004 MW but out of this about 900 MW is exploitable potential. From 5.48 lakh metric tonnes of rice husk 60 MW power can be generated, from 37.20 lakh rice straw 372 MW of power, from 73.13 lakh wheat straw 730 MW of power, from 38.50 lakh cotton stalks 426 MW of power and from 37.50 lakh metric tonnes arhar/sunflower 416 MW of power can be generated.

Moreover, Haryana has 13 sugar mills. Of these 10 are in the cooperative sector and the remaining in the private sector. Total per day cane crushing capacity of these mills are about 36050 tonnes. About 92 MW of surplus power can be generated from the bagasses available in these mills.

Then there are about 100 rice mills which have annual paddy processing capacity of about 1.86 million tonnes. The total availability of rice husk from these rice mills is around 0.93 million tonnes which can also be used to generate surplus power.

The daily availability of municipal solid waste, according to Mr Khandelwal, in Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ambala, Sirsa, Yamunanagar, Panipat, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Sonepat and Hisar is between 120 metric tonnes and 600 metric tonnes. Waste to energy recovery plants or fuel pallestisation plants based on municipal garbage can be set up in these cities to generate about 17 MW of power.

The solar insolation level in the Stat is in the range of 5.5 KWH to 6.5 KWH per square metre and the State has about 320 clear sunny days in a year. This offers a great potential for using solar energy for various thermal and electrical energy applications.

A three-member delegation of the Netherlands Energy Research Foundation had recently come to explore the possibilities for joint exploitation of these sources. The delegation consisted of Dr S.V. Roajan and Mr E.D. Denkars of the Research Foundation and Mr Chander Shekhar Govindarajulu of the World Bank. The delegation met the State Finance Minister, Mr Sampat Singh. The main task was to help in finalisation a five-year joint collaboration agreement between the Department of Non-Conventional Energy Sources and the Netherland’s company called E.C.M.

The renewable energy power policy, which had come into effect from February 10, 1998, will remain in force till March 31, 2002. Under the policy those generating electricity from non-conventional energy sources are eligible for this.

Grid interfacing including transformers, panels, kiosk, protection, metering, high tension lines from the points of generation to Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited (HVPNL) nearest high tension lines etc. as well as maintenance will be undertaken by the producer or by HVPNL as per the specifications and requirements of the HVPNL, cost of which will be borne by the producer.

Two separate meters, one for the export of power to the grid and another for import from the grid will be installed on the H.T. side by the producer. The meters and metering boxes will be sealed by HVPNL.

HVPNL will purchase electricity offered by the power producers at the rate of Rs 2.25 per unit for the base year 1994-95 with an annual escalation at the rate of 5 per cent on the purchase rate of the previous year. This purchase price will be applicable up to March 31, 2002. Thereafter the power purchase rate will be negotiated with the independent power producers (IPPs).

The producer can get the electricity bank with HVPNL and reuse it. The banking facility will be allowed for one year by HVPNL. Captive power generation using non-conventional energy sources as well as its sale to HVPNL or third party will be exempted from electricity duty. The producer will be allowed to purchase the plant and machinery used for the purpose of generation of such energy without payment of sales tax/purchase tax. The producer will be allowed to use the water for power generation through micro/mini/small hydel plant. No royalty will be charged on the water used for power generation in such cases.

Power generation from non-conventional energy sources will be treated like any other industry and incentives normally available to new industrial units will be permissible.

Concessions given to the industrial units in backward areas will be provided such as exemption from taxes and duties and capital subsidy etc as provided by the Industries Department under its policy from time to time.

Infrastructure facilities such as approach road, water supply, power during construction period etc will be provided on the lines of industrial estates developed by the State Government. If such plants are set-up outside industrial estates, then these facilities will be provided on actual cost basis.

For projects based on energy recovery from municipal solid liquid waste, garbage will be provided free of cost at the dumping site.Top


 

Investor confidence boosted in 1999

MUMBAI, Dec 31 (PTI) — The year 1999 saw tremendous improvement in stock market infrastructure and increased investor confidence evident by the fact that cumulative investments by foreign institutional players crossed $ 10 billion, since December, 1992.

Encouraged by the success of dematerialisation, SEBI is all set to introduce rolling settlement and Internet trading early next year. During the year, the regulator also finalised guidelines for corporate governance, venture capital and credit rating agencies.

The year also saw, the president, the vice-president and the executive director of Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) step down after being indicated by (SEBI for their involvement in a case of price manipulation.

Executive Director Pratip Kar said, Demat trading in over 160 scrips by all investors (covering more than 90 per cent of the market capitalisation) can be considered a major achievement during the year.”

The norms for rolling settlement are in place and trading in 10 scrips would be settled on rolling basis after every five days from January 10, 2000, he told PTI.

After gaining experience of the market, SEBI is expected to take a decision on changes to the current risk containment measures and layout guidelines for carry forward facility in this transaction plus five days (‘T-5’) regime.

Come January 17, and another 40 scrips move into the compulsory demat list taking the total to 200 scrips for all investors and 500 scrips for institutional investors.

During the year, stock exchange surveillance was also strengthened adding to overall investor confidence in the system.

Senior Executive Director of SEBI L.K. Singhvi said the stock watch system was fully implemented at all four major exchanges and to a lesser degree at smaller exchanges

With a view to further improving the market microstructure and provide for increased transparency, efficient price discovery and curb unhealthy market practices, SEBI asked the exchanges to prevent the use of “all or none” or minimum fill order facility on their systems, thereby, putting an end to kerb deals.

SEBI also curbed negotiated deals that do not contribute to price discovery and lack transparency. However, SEBI permitted those negotiated deals that are executed on the trading platform of exchanges using the price and order matching mechanism.

The recommendations of the Kumaramangalam Birla Committee on corporate goverance would come into effect from April, 2000. “This will result in improved disclosures and make it easier for Indian companies to attract global capital,” Kar said.

The Birla Committee recommended that institutional investors may not have representation on the company boards and that lending institutions should be allowed a seat on the company board in case there is a default or potential for default.

The “shareholder centric” report also suggested that a minimum of 50 per cent of the board should be comprised independent directors and recommended consolidation of account statements of subsidiary companies and segmental reporting.

In yet another move to attract global capital, a SEBI-appointed committee reviewed the guidelines for venture capital funds (VCFs) and suggested that VCFs shall be brought under a single regulator and all curbs on inflow and outflow of funds be eased.

The Committee chaired by Mr K.B. Chandrashekar of US-based Exodus Communications Inc, has suggested VCFs registered with SEBI should also be entitled for automatic tax exemptions as in the case of mutual funds.

The regulator was also considering relaxation of norms for initial public offer (IPO) for companies with VC funding, Singhvi said.Top



 

IDBI plans IT arm

MUMBAI, Dec 31 (PTI) — Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) has cleared a proposal to set up an information technology (IT) subsidiary for providing IT-related services to the financial institution (FI) and its clients.

The company would have strategic alliances with international IT majors, IDBI sources said.

IDBI board in a meeting yesterday also cleared a proposal to set up a Rs 1,000 crore fund to provide equity support to new enterprises as well as companies planning viable expansion projects.The FI sanctioned term loans to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) for its Patalganga power project in Maharashtra and the Birla AT&T telecom project. The loan to the power project amounts to Rs 425 crore, the sources said.Top



 

Aid from SBI staff for Orissa victims
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 — The State Bank of India, Chandigarh circle, has collected relief material such as foodgrains, cereals, clothes, shoes, chappals, blankets,utensils, polythene sheets etc. for the Orissa’s cyclone victims.

Mr Prabhakar Sharma, Chief General Manager, Mr T.S. Bhattacharya, General Manager Commercial Banking, Mr D.L. Manwani, General Manager (D&PB), Mr Amar Pal, general secretary, SBI Officer Association and Mr K.K. Bandlish, general secretary, SBI Staff Association flagged off six full truckload of relief material while one truck load of relief material collected by State Bank Ladies Club was flagged off by its President Mrs Peeyush Sharma. This material has been sent to Bhubaneswar for distribution among victims through its own Community Services Banking Department at Bhubaneswar. Top


 

Ford to launch 2 more versions

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (PTI) — Ford India has sold 1,677 units of its latest offering mid-sized car Ikon during December and accumulated orders for delivering 5,360 units of the model, a senior company official said today.

Sales of Ikon, which was launched last month, in December was slightly higher than Maruti Esteem sales of 1602 units and Hyundai Accent sales of 1019 units, Ford India General Manager (Marketing) V. Shivaramakrishanan told PTI from Chennai.

The company will also unveil two more variants of Ikon during the AutoExpo, beginning in the capital from January 12.

It would showcase a 1.3 litre petrol version and another 1.6 litre ‘Rally Sport’ variant of Ikon during the fair, which would be available in the market from March next year, he said.

The price of these variants would be announced during the Expo, he said, adding “It will be priced very competitively”.Top



 
Biz briefs

Bullion
Gold Std. Rs 4520
Gold 22-Ct Rs 4370
Silver Ready Rs 8120
Silver delivery Rs 8120

Forex
US $ Rs 43.49/51
Stg Rs 70.21/23
Euro Rs 43.83/85
Yen (100) Rs 42.46/48

Vijaya Bank
CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 (TNS) — Vijaya Bank, Sector 17 B, branch today organised a customers meet here. Mr T.S. Suresh Chandra Ajila, Manager apprised customers of bank’s various schemes. The bank has extended business hours from Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Soiled notes
CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 (UNI) — The Reserve Bank of India has authorised all the branches of public sector banks, as also certain private sector banks, maintaining currency chests to accept and exchange all types of soiled and mutilated notes, in particular notes, in denominations of Re one, Rs two and Rs five payable under the RBI (note refund) rules.

Price index
SHIMLA, Dec 31 (PTI) — The point to point inflation rate based on consumer price index for industrial workers (CPI-IW) dropped to zero per cent during the month of November, 1999 even as the index number registered an increase of one point to stand at 438, Labour Bureau sources here said.

Agitation
YAMUNANAGAR, Dec 31 (FOC) — The casual employees of Saraswati Sugar Mills here have threatened the management that if their demand of confirmation of service was not accepted they would be forced to start an agitation on January 6 at Chandigarh. They took out a procession yesterday and gave a memorandum to the DC to accept the demand.

Markets closed
MUMBAI, Dec 31 (PTI) — Both the Bombay Stock Exchange and The National Stock Exchange remained closed for trading today to comply with the millennium arrangements.Top



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