Tuesday, January 4, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S


  PHILLIP ISLAND : A penguin is clad in a knitted jumper in a bid to prevent ingestion of oil from a slick off Phillip Island, Tasmania, Sunday. Four penguins at the world renowned penguin colony have died as a result of the slick. This is one of 53 penguins rescued by volunteers after spillage from unknown ship off Victorian coast. AP/PTI
A penguin is clad in a knitted jumper
in a bid to prevent ingestion of oil from a
slick off Phillip Island, Tasmania, on
Sunday. This is one of 53 penguins rescued
by volunteers after spillage from unknown
ship off Victorian coast. — AP/PTI


EARLIER STORIES


 

Punjab to stop free power for farming
NEW DELHI, Jan 3 — Punjab will soon stop doling out free power to the agriculture sector and bring in a proper tariff mechanism to eliminate subsidies as part of measures to wipe off the Rs 3,000 crore fiscal deficit over the next three to five years, State Finance Secretary K.R. Lakhanpal has said.

Children's cradle tied to a striking truck in Mumbai as transporters go on strike on Monday.
Children's cradle tied to a striking truck in Mumbai as transporters go on strike on Monday. — PTI
Transporters’ stir in Mumbai hits life
MUMBAI, Jan 3 — Thousands of commuters were put to inconvenience here as over 55,000 taxis and one lakh auto-rickshaws went off the road since last night in response to the week-long strike called by vehicle owners and drivers.

Markets bullish after Y2K scare
NEW DELHI, Jan 3 — Stock markets in the country, undeterred by the Y2K bug, welcomed the new millennium with the share prices soaring backed by active support from foreign institutional investors.

Central assistance is not forever, Sinha tells J&K
NEW DELHI, Jan 3 — The Centre today asked the Jammu and Kashmir Government to embark upon a major financial restructuring and reforms programme even though it assured to continue to grant “special considerations” to the State.

Basu seeks uniform ST
CALCUTTA, Jan 3 — West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu today demanded uniformity in sales tax all over the country saying that there should not be any disparity in any State in this regard.

Dilbir Singh dies after brief illness
AMRITSAR, Jan 3 — An eminent educationist industrialist and prominent social figure of the city, Mr Dalbir Singh, died at his residence here early this morning after a brief illness.

PSB introduces insurance plan
LUDHIANA, Jan 3 — Punjab and Sind Bank, Ludhiana zone, has introduced a scheme on January 1, called the “saving linked insurance plan” for its customers.

No move to get rid of Real Fruit: Dabur
CHANDIGARH, Jan 3 — Dabur has denied an agency report about its plan to divest its Real Fruit Juice brand published today.

HDFC offers 100 pc special dividend
Housing Development Finance Corporation today announced a one-time special millennium interim dividend of 100 per cent (Rs 10 per share) to its shareholders.Top


Punjab to stop free power for farming

NEW DELHI, Jan 3 (PTI) — Punjab will soon stop doling out free power to the agriculture sector and bring in a proper tariff mechanism to eliminate subsidies as part of measures to wipe off the Rs 3,000 crore fiscal deficit (FD) over the next three to five years, State Finance Secretary K.R. Lakhanpal has said. "The State Government has now decided to impose user-charges for three main subsidised items provided by the State. Subsidies in diesel for State transport, power and water supply will be discontinued soon and user charges imposed," Lakhanpal said.

"The State will be able to bring down the FD of Rs 3,000 crore in 1998-99, to Rs 1,500 crore this year. There will be further reduction in subsequent years," Lakhanpal told PTI.

By the next three to five years Punjab would be a zero deficit state, he added.

The State Government has also decided to index some of the public services with the cost, he said referring to the subsidised sectors.

Punjab, which has one of the highest per capita incomes in the country, has been plagued by its mounting FD for quite some time with many of its public sector enterprises running in the red.

The Shiromani Akali Dal government in the State has been subsidising agriculture sector heavily in terms of diesel, power and in water and sewage facilities, at rates more than its neighbouring States.

The State Government has also decided to pass on the cost of developing infrastructure to the consumers, the Finance Secretary said.

Financing of the infrastructure projects would be done through tax and user-charges, Lakhanpal said.

The State has taken up infrastructure development as its top priority. The first step in this direction has been the setting up of an Infrastructure Initiative Fund (IIF).

"The IIF will be dedicated to identify and prepare feasible projects in the infrastructure sector," the Finance Secretary said.

He said that private investors look for projects where the internal rate of return (IRR) is more than 20 per cent as the infrastructure is not well laid down.

The Government would ensure that Rs 120 crore flows into the IIF annually, he said, adding that "the money would come from the cess on petrol and diesel."

Punjab has recently made presentations before various business fora for attracting investment to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore in the next couple of years.

The State Government has stressed on stringent corporate governance and better tax mop-up, as part of its austerity drive.Top




 

Transporters’ stir in Mumbai disrupts life

MUMBAI, Jan 3 (PTI, UNI) — Thousands of commuters were put to inconvenience here as over 55,000 taxis and one lakh auto-rickshaws went off the road since last night in response to the week-long strike called by vehicle owners and drivers.

Over 7000 private contract buses and 55,000 trucks and tempos in Mumbai have also joined the strike to protest the Transport Commissioner’s decision to implement the Mumbai High Court directive to ensure that all vehicles entering the city comply with emission norms.

The strike call was given by the Mumbai Mal Vahatuk Ani Pravasi Vahatuk Malak-Chalak Kriti Samiti.

According to state transport secretary Suresh Chandra, the government had made arrangements to ensure that the supply of essential commodities and transport for general commuters was not affected by the strike.

General Secretary of the Bombay Taximen’s Union A.L. Quadros said the strike might be indefinite if no decision was taken to postpone the implementation of the court order.

According to a member of the union, the members were not against the PUC (pollution under control) certificate but the manner in which the penalty was being imposed.

The city witnessed long queues at bus stops and huge crowd at railway stations.

Today being the first day of the transporters strike, the supply of essential commodities in the city remained unaffected.Top



 

Central assistance is not forever, Sinha tells J&K

NEW DELHI, Jan 3 (PTI) — The Centre today asked the Jammu and Kashmir Government to embark upon a major financial restructuring and reforms programme even though it assured to continue to grant “special considerations” to the State. Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, who met Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha here, was told that because of the “special considerations”, the Union Finance Ministry had been giving additional central assistance and special plan assistance to tide over the problems of implementation of the Annual Plans, official sources said.

Assuring him to continue such special considerations for J and K, Sinha asked the State Government to embark upon a major financial restructuring and reforms programme, saying the special plan assistance and central assistance could not be assured for all times to come, they said.

The meeting decided that the State Government would prepare a draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) to be signed with the Central Government for medium-term financial reforms.

The additional financial support from the Centre will be co-related to the reforms programme prepared by the State Government as may be accepted by the Central Government, the sources said.

Mr Rather explained the causes which have resulted into the cumulative financial difficulties of the State and underscored the need for meeting the development requirements of the State as incorporated in the current year’s plan programmes, they said.

Mr Rather also stressed the importance of protecting the current year’s Plan outlay as also completing the exercise for the requisite financial support for the next financial year’s plan well before the close of the current financial year to ensure unhindered cash flow for future.

He also mentioned outstanding financial matters concerning the funding pattern of plan assistance to be applied to the State retrospectively, full reimbursement of security-related expenditure, pending financial liabilities and overdraft with J and K Bank, the sources said.

The meeting was also attended by Union Expenditure Secretary M Vasudev, Planning Commission Secretary N K Saxena, J and K Principal Secretary J A Khan and Principal Secretary (Finance) Ajit Kumar. Top



 

Markets bullish after Y2K scare
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 3 — Stock markets in the country, undeterred by the Y2K bug, welcomed the new millennium with the share prices soaring backed by active support from foreign institutional investors.

Fears about Y2K related problems affecting the stock markets on the first trading day of 2000 did not materialise and could not dampen the bullish sentiments.

Of the 23 stock exchanges in the country, an IT Task Force report said, 16 exchanges (including NSE and BSE) accounting for 95 per cent of daily trading were Y2K compliant.

The tradition of welcoming the New Year with kerb trading (special trading after the scheduled market timings was given a go-by and December 30, 1999 was the last day of the trading cycle to prevent any unforeseen problems due the Y2K bug.

SEBI undertook the “Y2K preparedness Project” with a time-bound schedule for the implementation of a comprehensive plan to combat at problem.

As part of the supervisory and regulatory measures, the strategy for regulated entities includes creation of awareness, issue of instructions, circulation of questionnaries to all intermediaries and evaluation of responses and identification of critical agencies.

Marketmen said the fears of the Y2K bug receded and FIIs turned active and indulged in creating huge positions, particularly in software, computer and other blue-chip companies stocks, having strong fundamentals.

The end of the hijack drama of the Indian Airline plane was also another factor in triggering off a bull-run in the stock markets.Top



 

Basu seeks uniform ST

CALCUTTA, Jan 3 (PTI) — West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu today demanded uniformity in sales tax all over the country saying that there should not be any disparity in any State in this regard.

"The sales tax structure should be uniform countrywide", Basu told reporters when asked if the restructuring of taxes by the Centre from January 1 would affect the prices of essential commodities.

Basu justified the demand although he believed that some States would benefit and some others would lose, and that the prices of essential commodities would go up in some States while in some others it would go down because of uniform sales taxes.

BANGALORE: The Karnataka Government’s move to adopt floor price in sales tax rates was aimed at avoiding "tax war" with other States, Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, V. Madhu said on Monday.

Briefing reporters on the abolition of turnover tax on 113 commodities and its reduction to 1 per cent on 38 others announced on Saturday last, he said this would fetch an additional Rs 4 to 5 crore in February and March this financial year.Top



 

Dilbir Singh dies after brief illness
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Jan 3 — An eminent educationist industrialist and prominent social figure of the city, Mr Dalbir Singh, died at his residence here early this morning after a brief illness. He was 69.

Mr Dilbir Singh remained a Senator and Syndic of Guru Nanak Dev University since its inception in 1969.

Besides his interests in business, he had been associated with many educational institutions. He was General Secretary of the All India Sikh Educational Conference, Secretary, Chief Khalsa Diwan, and served as Honorary Secretary of Khalsa College, Amritsar, for many years.

He was instrumental in the introduction of management and commerce studies in Guru Nanak Dev University and Chairman of the ‘Miri Piri’ Academy established in association with non-resident Indian Harbhajan Singh Yogi.

Mr Dilbir Singh, originally from Peshawar area of Pakistan, was President of the Hind Pak Dosti Manch and had organised “candle light vigil” at the Wagha border on August 15 for three years in association with eminent columnist Kuldip Nayar.

He was President of the Small Scale Woollen Manufacturers Association and a member of the All India Woollen Development Council. He was also a member of the Punjab Industry Advisory Board and served as a Director of the Punjab State Hosiery and Knitwear Development Corporation for six years. He was also Senior Vice-President of the Punjab Federation of Industry and Commerce.

A number of condolence messages have been received from leading personalities from India and abroad. All Sant Sukha Singh educational institutions, Khalsa College Managing Committee and Chief Khalsa Divan remained closed in memory of Mr Dilbir Singh.

Former Finance Minister Manmohan Singh said that Mr Dilbir had been a social activist with a cause to spread education.

Former Education Minister Manjit Singh Calcutta and Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar of Akal Takht, also paid tributes to Mr Dilbir Singh.

The Guru Nanak Dev University teachers and staff passed a condolence resolution and observed two-minutes silence in his memory.Top



 

PSB introduces insurance plan
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 3 — Punjab and Sind Bank, Ludhiana zone, has introduced a scheme on January 1, called the “saving linked insurance plan” for its customers.

According to Mr H.S. Lamba, Zonal Manager of the bank, the scheme has been launched in all 51 branches and extension counters of the bank in the zone. The scheme is open to the age group of 5 to 70 years. The depositor has to maintain a minimum balance of Rs 1200 and can avail the facility of accident insurance cover up to Rs 1 lakh against death and disability with the normal savings bank account.

The scheme is beneficial as the saving bank account holder is not required to pay any premium as this will be adjusted out of the interest payable on the minimum amount of Rs 1200 kept in the saving bank account.Top



 

No move to get rid of Real Fruit: Dabur
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 3 — Dabur has denied an agency report about its plan to divest its Real Fruit Juice brand published today. Quoting latest ORG reports, a company spokesperson said that Real has gained market share from competitors in the last one year and is the top selling brand in this category. Real is spearheading Dabur’s entry into processed food market, which has been identified by McKinsey and Dabur as business for future growth.Top



 

HDFC offers 100 pc special dividend

Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC) today announced a one-time special millennium interim dividend of 100 per cent (Rs 10 per share) to its shareholders.

The Board of Directors of HDFC today decided that the dividend would be payable as on the record date to be fixed in consultation with the stock exchanges, an HDFC statement said here today.

The continuing good performance of the corporation, satisfactory accretion to reserves and a comfortable position on capital adequacy has led it to exploring new avenues of rewarding shareholders, the statement said. HDFC’s capital adequacy was 16.2 per cent as on March 31, 1999.

The corporation’s approvals and disbursals during the nine-month period ended December 31 have recorded a 27 per cent and 30 per cent over the corresponding period in the last fiscal.

Ashok Leyland: Ashok Leyland (ALL) has signed an agreement with Pragoti Industries Ltd, a Bangladesh government undertaking, for local assembly of truck chassis, a company release said here today.

The company has agreed for an initial volume of 250 units in the Completely Knocked Down (CKD) form, the release said adding that Pragoti Industries had also sought support of ALL in progressive indigenisation of components.

"It is a long term agreement promising expansion in terms of quality and models," Mr R. Seshasayee, Managing Director of Ashok Leyland, said adding that the company was at present executing an order of 68 double-decker buses for Dhaka.

Ballarpur Ind: Ballarpur Industries Ltd (BILT) is undertaking a massive Rs 500 crore expansion plan to step up its market share to 25 per cent in the paper industry, a senior official of the company said today.

The plan, which also includes acquisitions of companies, will double the writing and printing paper capacity of BILT to 6.5 lakh tonnes per annum (LTPA) and pulp production capacity to four LTPA.

With this expansion, which will be carried out after the completion of the second stage of BILT’s restructuring by March this year, the company will cross the one million tonne mark in paper and pulp production.

BILT will concentrate on writing and printing paper and double its capacity with an investment of Rs 180-200 crore.

Under the restructuring, BILT plans to hive-off its industrial paper unit at Ashti (Maharashtra) and its duplex board and other packaging paper unit at Serval (near Coimbatore).

DK Chemo-Plast: BIFR has ordered the winding up of sick industrial company DK Chemo-Plast Ltd.

A two-member Bench of BIFR including its Chairman P.P. Chauhan said the company was not likely to become viable in future and “hence it was just, equitable and in public interest” that the company be would wound up.

Sawaca Com: Sawaca Communication Ltd has bagged a Rs 5 crore software export order from Singapore to be executed before the end of January, 2000.

The company will set up a branch office, Sawaca Software (Singapore) Private Ltd, in Singapore and has contacted the authorities concerned in India and in the East Asian country, a company release said.

Andhra Cements: BIFR has dismissed the plea of Bennett Coleman and Company Limited (BCCL) that the revival scheme sanctioned for Andhra Cements should be declared failed and give it an opportunity to rehabilitate the ailing company.

In a recent hearing, BIFR noted that BCCL and its group companies were not taking interest in the affairs of ACL and had not discharged their responsibility as promoters when the financial position of the sick company started deteriorating from 1987 to 88 onwards.

— agenciesTop


 
BIZ BRIEFS

Forex
US $ Rs 43.49/50
Stg Rs 70.34/36
Euro Rs 43.98/44.01
Yen (100) Rs 42.69/71

Daewoo
NEW DELHI, Jan 3 (PTI) — Daewoo Motor India secured 6,398 bookings in December 1999 for Matiz. During December the company despatched 4,045 units of Matiz, including 225 cars sold in the global market. Daewoo Deputy Managing Director B S Min said the company was planning to ship 500 Matiz cars to Italy by middle of the current month.

Oxemberg
CHANDIGARH, Jan 3 (TNS) — Oxemberg, the readymade division of Siyaram Silk Mills Ltd, has launched a Millennium Pack of formal shirts. This pack has two shirts, one white and one blue, priced at Rs 999.

NFL unit
CHANDIGARH, Jan 3 (TNS) — Panipat unit of National Fertilisers Limited has been awarded the ISO-9002 certification. The recognition has been awarded by KPMG Peat Marwick, an international organisation, for the units quality systems for manufacture of fertiliser grade urea.

Entry tax
NEW DELHI, Jan 3 (UNI) — The PHDCCI today called upon the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to withdraw the entry tax on goods proposed to be made effective from January 21.

Wintech centre
CHANDIGARH, Jan 3 (TNS) — A Wintech software solution centre was opened here today, according to a press release issued here today. Wintech has already set up its zonal office at New Delhi and regional office in Chandigarh. Its plans include opening more than 25 training centres in the National Capital Region and 21 centres in northern India.Top



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