Thursday, January 6, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

 

Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha
Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha
addressing a pre-Budget meeting along with
Minister of State for Banking and Insurance
B.V. Patil and Minister of State for Revenue
V. Dhananjay Kumar in New Delhi
on Wednesday — PTI

Agriculturists invite private sector funds
NEW DELHI, Jan 5 — Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha today expressed concern at various impediments and restrictions facing agriculture, including on their movement and monopoly procurement.

HFCL to place equity with FIIs
SOLAN, Jan 5 — Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd has decided to issue up to 15 million fresh equity shares to FIIs, banks and financial institutions on a private placement basis.



EARLIER STORIES
 

Investors under software spell
NEW DELHI, Jan 5 — The “dot.com” phenomenon seems to have woven a magical ‘net’ over the share prices as infotech stocks led the market’s bull run in the new year. And, this trend is unlikely to discontinue with a booming software industry leading the economic turnaround, analysts said.

‘Bureaucracy puts off NRI investors’
LUDHIANA: A former Asian track star, Jasbir Singh Ghuman, who has now made it good in the USA, says that Punjab can have a flood of investors from abroad provided the Government here delivers what it promises.
‘Invest in Punjab’

CII meet on ITIs
LUDHIANA, Jan 5 — The effectiveness of the industrial training institutes can be increased through private initiative, collaborative efforts and partnership between the industry and the ITI.Top



Agriculturists invite private sector funds

NEW DELHI, Jan 5 (UNI) — Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha today expressed concern at various impediments and restrictions facing agriculture, including on their movement and monopoly procurement. Addressing a group of agriculturists as a part of the series of pre-Budget consultations with different groups, Mr Sinha said access to water remains a major concern with agriculture. He said this problem will be addressed by his government.

Mr Sinha emphasised the need for improving the quality of life in rural areas. The most important concern of the farmers was providing irrigation facilities and credit facilities. With the introduction of credit cards access to credit has been made easier.

Participants expressed concern at the deterioration in soil quality and its adverse agronomic consequences due to excessive use of chemical fertilisers.

The participants were unanimous that there was need to discourage excessive use of chemical fertilisers and, if at all there was a subsidy, it should only benefit the target groups.

Some of the participants suggested that private sector funds should be invited in agriculture as there is a need for large amount of funds in the agriculture sector.

The participants expressed concern over the slow awareness about the emerging potential of gene technology and extreme shortage of foundation seed supply.

They emphasised that the Government should continue to play a major role in the supply of foundation seeds. Some of the participants suggested popularisation of appropriate tree crops in arid and waste land areas, potential for which had been successfully demonstrated in growing amla and tamarind in Tamil Nadu on waste and arid lands.

The agriculturists pointed out that post-harvest technology, particularly in respect of horticulture and floriculture, have tremendous potential for growth and exports to global market.

They urged quality control of processed agricultural products and appropriate standardisation and packaging for competing in international market.

Mr Sinha assured the agriculturists that their suggestions will be duly considered while formulating the Budget proposals for 2000-2001.

The Minister of State for Finance, Mr Balasaheb Cikhe Patel and the Finance Secretary, Mr P.G. Mankad, also participated in the discussion.Top



 

HFCL to place equity with FIIs
From Romesh Dutt

SOLAN, Jan 5 — Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd (HFCL) has decided to issue up to 15 million fresh equity shares to FIIs, banks and financial institutions on a private placement basis.

This decision was taken at an extraordinary general meeting of HFCL held here today.

The Managing Director, Dr R.M. Kastia, told the meeting that the inflow from the private placement of equity shares would be utilised to meet the long-term working capital requirements and to pay off the high cost borrowings from the financial institutions with a view to making HFCL a debt-free company soon.

He claimed that his company was all set to achieve the current year’s turnover target of Rs 575 crore with a net profit of Rs 80 crore as against a turnover of Rs 390 crore and a net profit of Rs 36 crore during 1998-99.

Later, he told The Tribune that the company’s fund requirements in the near future were expected to be around Rs 340 to 400 crore. In view of this, the management would not go in for the placement of all the newly authorised 15 million equity shares at one go. In likelihood not more than 10 million shares would be issued initially.

Replying to a question, he said that HFCL had finalised a deal for the purchase of Essar Telecom services project in Punjab.

HFCL proposed to make the fresh placement at a suitable premium over the current market price of between Rs 625 and Rs 730.

Dr Kastia, refused to commit himself to the premium likely to be demanded by the company. He, however, said that even though the company’s present equity base of Rs 64.65 crore would increase by only 23 per cent after the full placement of 15 million equity shares, it would considerably boost the company’s reserves as the fresh placement of equity was expected to rope in more than Rs 1000 crore.Top


 

Investors under software spell
From Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 5 — The “dot.com” phenomenon seems to have woven a magical ‘net’ over the share prices as infotech stocks led the market’s bull run in the new year. And, this trend is unlikely to discontinue with a booming software industry leading the economic turnaround, analysts said.

“Investors are placing their bet on software stocks as a lot of business was expected to generate from this sector”, a Delhi based analyst told the TNS.

“In India this webcentric business was still at a very nascent stage and potential therefore was very large”, the analyst said.

Marketmen attributed the buoyancy in the stock market to the expectations of a turnaround in the economy as indicated by the latest results in various sectors of the economy.

The economic recovery that has been underway since the start of the last year appears to be linked to domestic factors, such as restructuring of private enterprises and upgrading of infrastructure.

Observers said that FIIs are placing their bet on India as it is seen among the amongst the fastest growing economies in the region and also the fact that the slowdown witnessed in South East Asia did not unduly affect India.

Analysts said that the current bull run was in anticipation of an economic recovery and volatile fluctuation of stock exchange indices was not expected at least in the short run.

The market has been in uptrend since December 20, 1999 and observers said that the trend is reflective of strong macroeconomic fundamentals of the economy.

The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) estimates also speak of a 6 per cent GDP growth during the second quarter of the current fiscal, as compared to 4.7 per cent of the corresponding period of the previous year.Top


 

‘Bureaucracy puts off NRI investors’
From A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA: A former Asian track star, Jasbir Singh Ghuman, who has now made it good in the USA, says that Punjab can have a flood of investors from abroad provided the Government here delivers what it promises.

“We have a constant stream of visitors from Punjab and as also elsewhere in the country who visit North America ostensibly to woo prospective NRI investors”, Ghuman. “They talk a lot and promise a lot but they don’t deliver.... Investors who come here looking for opportunities to put their money in various ventures don’t get the right treatment. They are forced to run from pillar to post. The mindset of the bureaucracy remains the same. This is what has put off a large number of investors who return home frustrated”.

Ghuman says that if Punjab’s bureaucratic set-up does not change its attitude towards the foreign investors, there is no point in sending delegations to the USA and other countries to woo them and waste tax-payers’ money.

Ghuman was in Ludhiana recently to buy certain pieces of property for residential as well as hotel business. During the course of an interview with TNS, he said that Ludhiana needed an international quality hotel. He visited several places in the city for possible location of a hotel.

Gurdaspur-born Ghuman was a track star in India before he went to the USA in 1973 on a sports scholarship and became Joe Ghuman and a successful businessman. He now owns the three-million-dollar Howard Johnson Hotel in Norwich, New York. He graduated from Guru Gobind Singh College in 1971 and was a star athlete in the 400 metres hurdles. He won an inter-university meet and also national open championship.

“I wanted to go the USA because of better training facilities and competition there”, he recalls. He joined the North Idaho College in 1973. A year later, he went to NCAA Division-I school, the University of Nevada-Reno where he completed his career and education. He trained with the best hurdlers of that era, including US national champions and Olympic medalists.

Ghuman’s crowing achievement came in 1975 when he captured the Asian Games title timing at 50.4 seconds — nearly a three-second improvement on his best time before he came to the USA, and it set a national record that stood for almost six years.

After a year as an assistant coach at Nevada-Reno, Ghuman remained in the USA and soon entered the business world. He settled down in Niagara Falls with wife Gurmit and young daughter Kuljit after purchasing a Howard Johnson’s. He remained there for 15 years before moving to Norwich by buying another hotel in 1995.Top


 

‘Invest in Punjab’
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 5 — Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Punjab Cabinet Minister, exhorted NRIs to make maximum investment in Punjab without any hesitation, as the State Government was committed to provide all kinds of help and facilities.

While addressing the annual convention of Ludhiana Chapter of NRI Sabha Punjab at Mullanpur, about 20 km from here today, Mr Garcha said that the Punjab Government was in a process to implement the amendment regarding the vacation of urban properties of NRIs from the tenants which was their major problem, Mr Garcha called upon the NRIs to start ventures in Punjab so as to create more employment opportunities for the youth.

Mr V.K. Srivastva, Chairman NRI Sabha said that the district level NRI Sabhas would be further strengthened and NRI Bhawan would be constructed in each district.

He informed that the Central body had set up a separate investment chamber which provides all kinds of information and guidance to the NRIs and extend liaison facilities with government agencies and financial institutions. He said State level youth rally was also being organised at Jalandhar in which 2,000 youth from the State would take pledge to strengthen cultural bonds with the children of NRIs settled in the different countries.

Among others who addressed the function were Mr Mall Singh Ghuman, Chairman Punjab Mandi Board, Mr Avtar Singh Malha Youth leader, Mr Prem Singh Advocate, President NRI Sabha Punjab, Mr Pritam Singh Doel and Mr Gurmail Singh Sandhu President and General Secretary of NRI sabha, Ludhiana.Top


 

CII meet on ITIs
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 5 — The effectiveness of the industrial training institutes can be increased through private initiative, collaborative efforts and partnership between the industry and the ITI.

This was stated by Mr S. Krishnan, Director General Employment and Training at an interactive session organised by CII here yesterday.

Mr N.S. Kalsi, Director, Technical Education and Industrial Training, Mr J.R. Singhal, Chairman, CII Ludhiana Zonal Council and Mr S.C. Madkan, Principal, ITI, Ludhiana, spoke.Top


 
BIZ BRIEFS

Bullion
Gold Std. Rs 4420
Gold 22-Ct Rs 4270
Silver Ready Rs 7985
Silver delivery Rs 7995

Forex
US $ Rs 43.51/52
Stg Rs 71.39/41
Euro Rs 45.09/11
Yen (100) Rs 42.10/12

Matiz
NEW DELHI, Jan 5 (UNI) — Matiz has been declared car of the year by Auto Mobile Magazines Overdrive and Auto India.

IFC
CHANDIGARH, Jan 5 (TNS) — The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has become an equity partner in Sundaram Home Finance Limited (SHF), a new private housing finance institution that will help address the lack of mortgage financing for India’s growing lower-middle and middle income households.

Fibre glass
NEW DELHI, Jan 5 (TNS) — Indigenous manufacturers of fibre glass insulation have expressed apprehension that multi-national companies might dump the product in the country thereby scuttling the growth of the domestic industry. MNCs are selling fibre glass insulation in India by importing it from associate companies in West Asia.

New hotel
LUDHIANA, Jan 5 (TNS) — The Maharaja group of companies has announced the opening of Hotel Maharaja Regency, a unit of R.D. Palace Pvt Ltd, which was formed by Mr Rameshwar Dass Gupta. It will provide five star facilities at less than three star tariff to suit the business traveller, according to Mr Vikas Shrivastav, General Manager.

Railways debentures
NEW DELHI, Jan 5 (PTI) — Railways have no plan to come out with any debenture issue”, an official release said referring to press reports quoting Minister of State for Railways Bangaru Lakhman as having said the Railways were planning a debenture issue to help meet expenditure on various projects.Top


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