Saturday, January 8, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

New law on consumer protection soon: Sinha
NEW DELHI, Jan 7 — Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha today called upon consumer organisations and activists to create awareness among consumers to resist unfair trade practice.

Model Bibi strokes over the fender of a Horch-Colani convertible in Stuttgart, Germany on Wednesday, during a press conference for the CMT 2000, an international exhibition for caravaning, motoring and tourism which will be held here from Jan. 15 to 23. Besides this Horch-Colani convertible the CMT 2000 shows three other cars designed by Luigi Colani.
STUTTGART, GERMANY : Model Bibi strokes over the fender of a Horch-Colani convertible in Stuttgart, Germany on Wednesday, during a press conference for the CMT 2000, an international exhibition for caravaning, motoring and tourism which will be held here from Jan. 15 to 23. Besides this Horch-Colani convertible the CMT 2000 shows three other cars designed by Luigi Colani. — AP/PTI



EARLIER STORIES
 

Website on mental health
NEW DELHI, Jan 7 — Mental disorder is no longer going to be a mind-boggling affair, thanks to India’s first website on mental health launched today. The site, www.mentalhealthindia.com of a renowned psychiatrist, Dr Sanjay Chug, seeks to give access to every possible aspect of mental order, including relationships, sexuality, parenting and stress.

Uniform sales tax hikes prices
NEW DELHI, Jan 7 — The implementation of uniform sales tax structure in many States may have resulted in increased prices of many commodities, but analysts said that it was necessary to contain inflationary tendencies in the long run.

Banks urged to follow RBI norms on NPAs
CHANDIGARH, Jan 7 — The Northern India Federation of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, has urged banks to implement the RBI scheme announced recently. The banks were not forthcoming to follow the guidelines.

Industry takes up ST issue
NEW DELHI, Jan 7 — Industry leaders today asked the government to do away with the surcharge on corporate and personal income tax and urged for a cut in interest rates for pulling the country out of recessionary trends.

AUTO SCENE

 



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New law on consumer protection soon: Sinha

NEW DELHI, Jan 7 (UNI) — Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha today called upon consumer organisations and activists to create awareness among consumers to resist unfair trade practice.

While addressing representatives of consumer organisations and consumer activists as part of his ongoing pre-Budget consultations here today, Mr Sinha said that the Government wants to encourage fair competition and bring an end to monopoly. In this context, he said, a competition law and competition policy is expected to be enacted soon.

Mr Sinha said as in the past Budget, his government’s endeavour would be to protect the consumers’ interest in the next Budget also. The price situation has improved and inflation is under control and the consumer price index has gone down to zero level which definitely will help the consumers.

Responding to a suggestion from a delegate about the review of the Consumer Protection Act, the Minister revealed that the Act is being examined and a new legislation will be enacted soon.

During the discussion with the representatives of the consumer organisations, a number of suggestions were received, including creation of a national safety commission for safety in public places, safety in food and water and safety of products.

Another suggestion was to ensure quality of food and drugs. In this connection, it was suggested that the testing facility should be upgraded.

The consumer organisations welcomed the adoption of the uniform floor rates of taxes in all States and Union Territories and said that these will lead to the end of unhealthy competition among States. They also hailed the passage of the IRDA Bill. However, they suggested that the interests of the consumer should be protected at all costs.

Those who participated in the meeting included Mr R. Desikan, Mr Pradeep Mehta, Prof Srinivasa Narayana Swamy, Mr S. Pushpavanam, Prof Munubhai Shah, Dr Sri Ram Khanna, Smt Asha Idnani and Mrs Pushpa Girimaji. Ministers of State for Finance Dhananjaya Kumar and B.V. Patil also took part in the discussion.
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Website on mental health

NEW DELHI, Jan 7 (UNI) — Mental disorder is no longer going to be a mind-boggling affair, thanks to India’s first website on mental health launched today.

The site, www.mentalhealthindia.com of a renowned psychiatrist, Dr Sanjay Chug, seeks to give access to every possible aspect of mental order, including relationships, sexuality, parenting and stress.

Surfers can have on-line chat with psychiatrists and receive replies to their questions even while maintaining their anonymity.

“Nothing is associated with more morbidity and ignorance than mental health related issues. The website will disseminate information and increase awareness about the problems,” said Dr Chug, author of “Sexuality and Relationships”.

According to him about ten crore Indians need to see a psychiatrist and one out of 50,000 are acutely ill. But there are only 2,000 trained doctors in the country to treat the problem which does not discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, religion and social status.

It also deals with all major categories of psychiatric illnesses, medication and psychotherapy with unique Indian clinical outputs, provides for self-analysis and has a daily mental health news, besides quizzes and opinion polls.

Designed by the web erudites, its section on sexuality, one of the largest causes of mental trauma in the country, covers male and female sexual anatomy, myths and misconceptions, sexual disfunctions, masturbation and homosexuality. The site discusses how relationships go wrong, pitfalls to be avoided and love, flirting, extra-marital relations and divorce.
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Uniform sales tax hikes prices
From Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 7 — The implementation of uniform sales tax structure in many States may have resulted in increased prices of many commodities, but analysts said that it was necessary to contain inflationary tendencies in the long run.

The recent notifications by various State Governments for rationalising the tax structure are indicative of the fact that while sales tax has been increased in many products to bring it within the five slab tax structure, wherever sales tax have been in excess of 12 per cent these have not been rationalised downwards.

For instance a product with 2 per cent sales tax has gone up to 4 per cent and those with 4 per cent has gone up to either 8 per cent or 12 per cent.

“The States have used the need to move to moderate rates of sales taxes, to increase rates, to increase revenue, at the cost of the consumer, and by not having five slabs, but many slabs, clearly not move towards facilitating VAT by 2001”, President of FICCI G.P. Goenka said.

The State Finance Ministers’ in meeting convened by the Union Finance Minister had agreed on the implementation of the uniform floor rates by the States and Union Territories from January 1, 2000, phasing out of sales tax based incentives and finalisation of modalities for introduction of value added tax (VAT) from April 1, 2001.

Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh had said that on 45 items the prevailing tax rate of Punjab was higher than the agreed rates at the national level.

He had said that there was no need for Punjab to lower the prevailing rates of tax on these commodities but minor adjustments with respect to prevailing rates and floor rates of 0,4,8,12 per cent would have to be carried out.

Capt Singh had pointed out that the recommendations of the Committee of Finance Ministers could be implemented only if all States and Union Territories do so and could not be implemented in isolation.

The Central Government has assured to compensate the States if they lose revenue in the initial period and the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy will provide technical assistance.
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Allahabad Bank opens boutiques
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 7 —Allahabad Bank today opened 57 retail banking boutiques throughout the country. One such boutique was opened at the bank’s branch in Sector 34-A by Mr P.N. Rattan, General Manager, Corporate. It has hand-picked 57 young bright officers and given them power to sanction car, consumer, housing and personal loans on the spot. The boutiques will concentrate on four products — car finance, consumer finance, housing loan and personal loans all under one roof.
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Banks urged to follow RBI norms on NPAs
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 7 — The Northern India Federation of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, has urged banks to implement the RBI scheme announced recently. The banks were not forthcoming to follow the guidelines.

RBI has reportedly asked banks to settle the NPAs of the small scale sector by allowing the borrowers to pay the principal plus 10 per cent simple interest from the day one when the account goes sticky.

Mr Ramesh Inder Singh, Secretary Industries, Punjab, had convened a meeting of all nationalised banks along with an RBI representative where the issue was taken up. The banks were directed to follow the RBI guidelines and settle NPAs of the small scale sector.
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Industry takes up ST issue

NEW DELHI, Jan 7 (PTI) — Industry leaders today asked the government to do away with the surcharge on corporate and personal income tax and urged for a cut in interest rates for pulling the country out of recessionary trends.

In a pre-Budget interaction with Yashwant Sinha, they expressed displeasure over the manner in which the uniform sales tax had been implemented by various states.

“Almost all industrialists took up the issue of uniform sales tax, as the average rates have gone up across the country”, CII President Rahul Bajaj told reporters after the meeting.
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AUTO SCENE

Electric scooter within a year

KINETIC has developed an eco-friendly electric scooter for the first time in the country which will be launched within a year, Kinetic group Chairman Arun Firodia announced in Delhi on Friday.

The zero-emission vehicle is expected to be placed in the range of Rs 30,000-35,000, he said and sought excise, sales tax and octroi concessions to make the vehicle price competitive.

Ten prototypes of the vehicle, which can run 60 km without recharge of batteries, have been put on trial in Pune University.

The vehicle, fitted with a battery imported from the USA, is also noiseless. The company plans to produce 10,000 vehicles in the first year of commercial operation.

Kinetic has forayed into the motorcycle segment by unveiling on Friday two four-stroke bikes, including a four-valve sleek 125 CC state-of-the-art two-wheeler, with Korean technology.

The GF-125 motorcycle, in technical collaboration with Hyosung of Korea, will have several new features and is expected to be priced around Rs 50,000, Firodia said, adding that the model would be available in two versions.

The company will launch a 150 CC four-stroke four-valve variant about three months after the introduction of GF-125 in the market in June.

The second bike unveiled on Friday was an indigenously developed 100 CC model “Challenger” which is to have a price tag of about Rs 40,000.

No to Auto Expo

Hindustan Motors Limited has decided against participating in the coming Auto Expo 2000 as the company does not deem it a viable proposition, HM Chairman C.K. Birla said in Delhi on Friday.

“We have nothing new to reveal at the event,” Mr Biral told newspersons. One has to keep in balance two factors: cost and value to one’s products while deciding on displaying products at such a show. This time, HM assessed that cost is much more than value.

Honda Siel Car India Limited has already stated that it will not take part in the show, which results in a waste of money and does not lead to any business generation.

The seven-day Auto Expo, being organised by CII, the society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers and the Automobile Component Manufacturers Association, will commence on January 12.

Lancer models

Hindustan Motors on Friday launched three new versions of the Mitsubishi Lancer car.

Launching the three variants, ‘GLX’, ‘SFX’ and ‘SLX’ in Delhi, Hindustan Motors Chairman C.K. Birla said the company expects to sell about 10,000 units of Lancer in 1999-2000.

Lancer has an indigenisation level of about 50 per cent which will go up to 60-65 per cent by the beginning of the next fiscal.

Millennium Matiz

Daewoo Motors India Limited is launching a special limited edition version of its popular 796 CC small car Matiz —’Millenium Matiz’ — and the CNG-powered version of Cielo next week.

To be unveiled at the forthcoming Auto Expo 2000, the company is planning to produce only 1000 units of the small car, company officials told UNI in Delhi on Friday.

The CNG Cielo will be under regular production. The car will come in a bi-fuel option, running on both petrol and CNG. The final prices of these vehicles are yet to be decided. — PTI, UNI


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BIZ BRIEFS

Bullion
Gold Std. Rs 4410
Gold 22-Ct Rs 4260
Silver Ready Rs 7800
Silver delivery Rs 7825

Forex
US $ Rs 43.50/51
Stg Rs 71.59/61
Euro Rs 44.78/81
Yen (100) Rs 41.43/45

HFCL
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 7 — Two senior executives with experience in IT global leaders have joined Himachal Futuristic Communication Limited. Dr Aditya Tyagi has joined as the Head, Human Resources and Mr Anupam Swarup has joined as the Head, Operations.

BILT
NEW DELHI, Jan 7 (PTI) — Ballarpur Industries Ltd (BILT) will increase its stake in its Thai Joint venture company Phoenix Pulp and Paper Company from 25 per cent to 35 per cent, a top official of the company has said.

“We would increase our stake from 25 per cent to 35 per cent this year and would also control the management of phoenix,” BILT Managing Director Gautam Thapar told PTI.

Power sector
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 7 — Continued power shortage in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir has adversely affected industry in the northern region.

PHDCCI President K.S. Mehta has called for restructuring of the power sector and introduction of transparent mechanism to link payment with the supply of power.

This is possible by integrating generation projects with distribution. To begin with, the distribution of power cities like Delhi, Kanpur, Agra and Jaipur should be handed over on a long-term basis to good private companies.
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