Friday, January 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

‘Give farmers freedom to choose seeds’
NEW DELHI, Jan 20 — Farmer leaders from Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra have urged Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee to raise the import duty on raw cotton from existing 3.5 per cent to 25 per cent to sustain domestic cotton cultivation.

HP, Punjab to gain from reduced air fuel prices
NEW DELHI, Jan 20 — The slashing of aviation turbine fuel in unviable routes can a boost tourism in hill areas like Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir as aviation companies will now find it profitable to operate in these sectors.


Power dept proposal gets Cabinet nod
CHANDIGARH, Jan 20 — The Haryana Cabinet, which met here today, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, approved the proposal of the Power department to stand guarantee of the government in favour of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation, New Delhi, which has sanctioned a loan of Rs 79.65 lakh for Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam.

Big show by big 3
Reliance net zooms 56 per cent Guj Ambuja net profit up 126 pc Tata Steel net jumps to 146 cr




EARLIER STORIES
  Octroi collection rises in Punjab
CHANDIGARH, Jan 20 — Octroi collection has doubled in Punjab during the last two years and is likely to be Rs 700 crore during the current financial year, said Mr N.K. Arora, Principal Secretary Local Government, Punjab, during an interaction organised by CII here today.

Satyam’s R-Day offer
CHANDIGARH, Jan 20 — To celebrate the first Republic Day of the new millennium, SatyamOnline has decided to reward its existing customers by giving them up to 51 hours free on any renewal pack they buy from January 20 to 26.


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‘Give farmers freedom to choose seeds’

NEW DELHI, Jan 20 (UNI) — Farmer leaders from Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra have urged Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee to raise the import duty on raw cotton from existing 3.5 per cent to 25 per cent to sustain domestic cotton cultivation.

A delegation of the Kisan Co-ordination Committee (KCC) representing farmers’ organisations from three States, called on Mr Vajpayee last evening and informed him that cotton farmers were not getting remunerative price for their produce due to import of raw cotton that had created a price disparity in the market.

Unlike a majority of Indian farmers the delegation let by Shard Joshi, a Maharashtra Kisan leader, demanded removal of restrictions on the imports of genetically improved seeds, particularly those of cotton variety, not being grown in the country.

“The world over genetics revolution is raising productivity levels by leaps and bounds which has led to low international price of all crops as compared to Indian farm prices,” Shard Joshi said, adding that Indian farmers too be given freedom to choose the “right seeds”.

But, he said, the Government did not even allow the trials of new high yielding seeds.

Most Indian farmer leaders are pressing the Government not to allow entry of multinational companies in the country as being equipped with advanced genetic technology, they could destroy traditional domestic seed production practices, encouraging the farmers’ total dependence of seeds produced by them. Besides, they apprehend that under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) regime, multinationals have already patented several Indian crop varieties, posing a threat of the country’s rich biodiversity.

On the other hand, KCC leaders told the Prime Minister that Indian farmers” are willing to take a challenge thrown by the international community” and demanded that imports of seeds be allowed to achieve the same productivity level as that of other advanced countries.

The delegation included former MP from Punjab Bhupinder Singh Mann, SP Shankara Reddy and Madan Diwan.
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Big show by big 3
Reliance net zooms 56 per cent

MUMBAI, Jan 20 (PTI) — Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has reported a 56 per cent rise in net profit to Rs 627 crore on a 40 per cent increase in sales to Rs 5,034 crore in the third quarter of 1999-2000, compared to that in the corresponding quarter of 1998-99.

The growth in net profit for the nine months ended December 31, 1999 was 32 per cent at Rs 1,749 crore, while sales were up by 25 per cent to Rs 13,707 crore, RIL said releasing unaudited financial results for October-December 1999.

Under the US GAAP accounting system, RIL’s net profit for the nine months period works out to Rs 1,534 crore, 12 per cent lower than under the Indian accounting system.

RIL attributed the lower net profit under US GAAP mainly to consolidation of associates, deferred taxation and investments of subsidiaries.

RIL’s operating profit for the nine months increased by 28 per cent to Rs 3,153 crore and cash profit jumped 27 per cent to Rs 2,454 crore.

The company said its operating margin enhanced to nearly 20 per cent as a result of strong volume growth; higher product prices mitigating higher operation costs; gains from productivity, cost control and efficiencies; higher degree of integration and value addition; and rationalisation of customs duty.

With polypropylene and paraxylene plants commissioned at Jamnagar petrochemical complex, interest expense increased by 29 per cent to Rs 699 crore. It also resulted in a 16 per cent increase in depreciation to Rs 705 crore.

The company said foreign exchange borrowings remained fully hedged. Exports alone were more than adequate to cover the interest cost on foreign currency debt.

Guj Ambuja net profit up 126 pc

MUMBAI, Jan 20 (PTI) — The Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd’s (GACL) net profit for the half year ended December 31, 1999 zoomed by 126 per cent to Rs 104.69 crore compared to Rs 46.36 crore in the same period last year, mainly driven by higher realisations as a result of demand impetus.

In view of the excellent performance, GACL board of directors has declared an interim dividend of 25 per cent for 1999-2000, on the enlarged capital of Rs 147.10 crore, post bonus issue in the ratio of 1:1, thus constituting double the interim dividend paid in the previous year.

During the first half of 1999-2000, GACL sold 26.72 lakh tonnes against 26.71 lakh tonnes of cement in the corresponding six months last year, but the turnover was up by 11 per cent to Rs 612.02 crore against Rs 553.66 crore.

Due to large prepayment of loans, the interest outgo has been substantially reduced by 20 per cent for the first half at Rs 44.13 crore against Rs 55.24 crore last year.

Tata Steel net jumps to 146 cr

CALCUTTA, Jan 20 (UNI) — Tata Steel today reported a net profit of Rs 146.18 crore during the quarter ended December, 1999, compared to Rs 16.21 crore in the same quarter of previous fiscal.

The company’s production of steel during the quarter came down to 7.85 lakh tonnes from 8.07 lakh tonnes last year, while sales increased to 7.80 lakh tonnes from 7.73 lakh tonnes in the same quarter of 1998-99.

The net profit during the nine-month period stood at Rs 236.36 crore against Rs 112.53 crore mainly due to the fact that the sale transaction of the company’s cement division to Lafarge India was completed on October 31, 1999, and the net income from the deal was included in the other income of current quarter.

Sales during the quarter stood at Rs 1698.94 crore (Rs 1595.98 crore) and Rs 4833.74 crore (Rs 4413.51 crore) during the nine-month period of the current financial year.


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HP, Punjab to gain from reduced air fuel prices
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 20 — The slashing of aviation turbine fuel in unviable routes can a boost tourism in hill areas like Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir as aviation companies will now find it profitable to operate in these sectors.

Though the decision has been apparently taken to benefit the North-Eastern States, non-trunk routes in other parts of the country would also benefit from it.

“This is the most important thing that could have happened to the aviation sector in India”,the Chief General Manager of Sahara Airlines Limited (SAL) told The Tribune.

SAL will induct 12 turbo-prop aircraft in a phased manner for its regional operations. Starting from April, the network would operate 85 flights to 30 destinations. These include 12 destinations in North India — Amritsar and Ludhiana among them. The other major destinations in the region include Udaipur, Varanasi, Lucknow and Jaipur.

UP Air also today announced that it would be restarting operations with its two 50-seater planes.

“We are most thankful to the government for taking the initiative on this long pending issue, which is a major step in boosting tourism and will help in improving connectivity across regions through turbo-props”, the Chairman and Managing Director of UP Air, Mr Subhash Gulati, said. UP Air had suspended operations in January, 1999.

Jet Airways is already equipped with smaller aircraft, and discussions are also on in Indian Airlines to acquire such aircraft for certain dedicated routes like the north-eastern region which has very little profitability.

Aviation experts said that operating a low capacity turbo-prop aircraft was economically more viable in shorter routes where the jets cannot reach the optimum altitude due to shorter distances.

International experience has shown that the airlines generally follow a hub and spokes policy where metro stations operate as hubs which in turn are connected to the smaller cities (the spokes) through smaller aircraft.

The Delhi-Shimla route, for instance, could become economically viable for both passengers and the flight operator on turbo-prop aircraft.

The Union Cabinet yesterday decided to provide ATF for smaller turbo-prop aircraft flying on unviable routes like the North-East, Lakshadweep and Jammu and Kashmir, at international prices thereby reducing its price by half and charge sales tax on it at 4 per cent.

The move is being seen as another step towards phasing out administered price mechanism (APM). ATF was priced steeply for domestic aviation companies to subsidise LPG and kerosene consumers.

It has also been decided the ATF provided for turbo prop aircraft will be declared goods under the Sales Tax Act 1956 and will not attract more than 4 per cent tax.
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Power dept proposal gets Cabinet nod
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 20 — The Haryana Cabinet, which met here today, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, approved the proposal of the Power department to stand guarantee of the government in favour of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation, New Delhi, which has sanctioned a loan of Rs 79.65 lakh for Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam.

The loan will be used to construct roads, sewerage, drains, street lights and supply of water for the residential houses at Panchkula.

The Cabinet also approved the proposal of the cooperation department to stand guarantee of the state government in favour of Nabard on behalf of Haryana State Cooperative (Harco) Bank for obtaining a loan amounting to Rs 200 crore to implement various schemes under the One Family One Job scheme for a period of three years i.e. from July 1, 1999, to June 20, 2002.

Harco Bank has been implementing various farm and non-farm sector schemes of Nabard to enable the people to set up tiny, cottage, rural small-scale industrial units and agro-based industries alongwith promotion of agricultural and allied activities. These aim at providing self-employment opportunities to the educated unemployed under the One Family One Job scheme.

The Cabinet approved the grant utilisation certificate and audit report of CCS, Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, for the year 1997-98.

It also gave its ex-post facto approval to reemploy Mr Ram Sarup Sharma, Joint Chief Electoral Officer for a period of six months from November 1 to April 30, 2000.

The Cabinet also approved the annual administrative reports of the Prosecution department for the year 1998-99, the Food and Supplies department for the year 1997-98, the Cultural Affairs department for the year 1996-97 and the Town and Country Planning department for the year 1998-99.


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Octroi collection rises in Punjab
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 20 — Octroi collection has doubled in Punjab during the last two years and is likely to be Rs 700 crore during the current financial year, said Mr N.K. Arora, Principal Secretary Local Government, Punjab, during an interaction organised by CII here today.

The present collection is nowhere near the figure of Rs 1500 crore projected by the first Punjab Finance Commission. For providing just the piped water and sewerage in towns/cities of Punjab, Rs 3,000 crore is required, he said.

Earlier, Mr K.L.Khurana, Chairman, Punjab State Council, raised the industry’s concern over the manifold increase in house tax and octroi rates which is making the Punjab Industry uncompetitive both locally as well as internationally.

The interaction was attended by a large number of industry representatives from Punjab.
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Satyam’s R-Day offer
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 20 — To celebrate the first Republic Day of the new millennium, SatyamOnline has decided to reward its existing customers by giving them up to 51 hours free on any renewal pack they buy from January 20 to 26.

This offer will be across all renewal product ranges. Based on the result of India’s match, they can get additional 15 hours free. The customer will receive the 26 hours immediately on registering his account between these dates. The remaining hours will happen as per the rules governing the cricket scheme offer.

SatyamOnline has extended its scheme for cricket lovers to January 24. Now for all registration of SatyamOnline fresh Internet connections done till January 24 a customer can get 10 hours free.
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Pepsi contest for film
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 20 — Pepsi has unveiled a nation-wide contest for “Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani” at Fountain Pepsi (FP) outlets enabling 10 lucky winners to meet Shahrukh Khan and Juhi Chawla. Pepsi has launched a TV campaign for the film with the jingle sung by Udit Narayan, according to a press release here. Contest forms are available at FP outlets in Delhi, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar.


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CORPORATE RESULTS

Dr Reddy’s Lab

DR Reddy’s Laboratories reported a growth of 65 per cent in the net profit for the third quarter of the financial year.

The net profit for the period stood at Rs 2206.83 lakh against Rs 1336.52 lakh for the same period last year. The total turnover for the third quarter ended December 31, 1999 grew by 35 per cent to Rs 12,101.54 lakh compared to Rs 8,965.50 lakh for the same period of the previous year.

Cheminor Drugs

Cheminor Drugs Limited has registered a net profit of Rs 5.92 crore for the third quarter 1999-2000, up 3 per cent from Rs 5.75 crore a year ago.

Indal

Indian Aluminium (Indal) has recorded a 42 per cent growth in net profit during the quarter ended December 31, 1999, to Rs 13.99 crore as against Rs 9.81 crore a year earlier.

Ingersoll Rand

Ingersoll Rand India has registered a 10.38 per cent drop in net profit for the first nine months of its financial year to touch Rs 39.46 crore from Rs 44.03 crore a year ago.

CMC

CMC Limited on Thursday reported a 204 per cent jump in net profits at Rs 4.2 crore for its third quarter ending December 31, 1999, from Rs 1.4 crore for the same period last year. The company’s sales nearly doubled to Rs 112.6 crore from Rs 69.6 crore for the quarter under review, a press release said.

Eveready Ind

Eveready Industries Limited has registered an allround improved performance during the third quarter of current financial year. The net profit jumped to Rs 6.20 crore from a low of Rs 2.73 crore during the quarter.

GAIL net dips

GAIL has recorded a 12.6 per cent drop in the profit in the quarter ended December 31,1999, to touch Rs 220.97 crore as against Rs 249.02 crore a year ago.

Net sales for the period stood at Rs 2,362.69 crore as against Rs 1,755.78 crore while other income stood at Rs 18.37 crore.

HCL Info

HCL Infosystems on Thursday reported a 61 per cent increase in net profit before tax touching Rs 24 crore for the quarter ending December 31, 1999. The net profit for September-December 1998 was Rs 14.9 crore. Net profit after tax for the first half of the current year increased to Rs 36.6 crore, an increase of 34 per cent over the corresponding period in the first half.

Unichem Lab

Unichem Laboratories Ltd on Thursday reported a 47 per cent jump in its net profit at Rs 3.43 crore on a marginal 3 per cent growth in sales at Rs 47.78 crore for the third quarter ending December 31, 1999 over the corresponding period last year.

Indian Hotels

Indian Hotels has reported a 20.91 per cent dip in net profit to Rs 33.28 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 1999, compared to Rs 42.08 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.

Maars Software

Chennai-based Maars Software International has reported 73 per cent growth in its net profit at Rs 13.02 crore for the year ended December 31, up from Rs 7.51 crore the previous year.

agencies

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BIZ BRIEFS

Bullion
Gold Std. Rs 4530|
Gold 22-Ct Rs 4380
Silver Ready Rs 7850
Silver delivery Rs 7880

Forex
US $ Rs 43.57/58
Stg Rs 71.66/68|
Euro Rs 43.98/44.00
Yen (100) Rs 41.21/23

Craft mela
Tribune News Service

FARIDABAD, Jan 20 — Jammu and Kashmir will be the theme state at the 14th Surajkund Craft Mela beginning at the Tourist Resort near here from February 1. It would conclude on February 15. More than 500 craftsmen from all over the country are expected to participate in the mela.

Statistics body
NEW DELHI, Jan 20 (UNI) — The Government has decided to set up a National Statistical Commission to go into the deficiencies of present statistical system and recommend measures for revamping of the system.

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