Sunday, February 20, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S
UNCTAD calls for equitable world trade

Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, left, and Thailand's Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai confer during a morning session of the UNCTAD in Bangkok on Saturday. Bouteflika complained to delegates that debt relief for Africa is coming slowly. — AP/PTI
BANGKOK, Feb 19 — The Governments attending the 10th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development stressed the need for a world trade system that is “fair, equitable and rules-based” in their final declaration approved today. UNCTAD X hashed out an agenda for the UN agency over the next four years.

Opel Corsa, new Astra, unveiled in Chandigarh
CHANDIGARH, Feb 19 — General Motors India today launched the millennium car the ‘Opel Corsa’ and the all-new improved version of its premium segment car Opel Astra 2000 in Chandigarh at a ceremony presided over by Mr P. Balendran, Vice president (Corporate Affairs).

Habits die hard
WASHINGTON, Feb 19 —The World Bank has permanently debarred 29 firms, many of which are owned by non-resident-Indians, and seven individuals from being awarded projects financed by it for allegedly engaging in corrupt practices in business projects in Nigeria.

Receiver appointed for Golden Forests
CHANDIGARH, Feb 19 — The Mumbai High Court has appointed a receiver to oversee the sale of assets of Golden Forests, which owes investors in excess of Rs 1,000 crore.

A fake currency note of Rs 500 denomination being shown to reporters. Fake currency has been seized from some passengers aboard the Samjhauta Express during the past couple of days —PTI photo
A fake currency note of Rs 500 denomination being shown to reporters. Fake currency has been seized from some passengers aboard the Samjhauta Express during the past couple of days —PTI photo
Fake notes
headache for
traders
Manmohan sees no
impact of fake notes’
inflow on economy

Scratch, get or try again
CHANDIGARH: The concept of dishing out freebies, as a sales promotion gimmick, has become an inseparable part of the business world. Driven by consumers’ psychological craving to get more than what has been paid for, companies are coming up with innovative strategies.



EARLIER STORIES
 

Fake ‘Woolmark’ products seized
LUDHIANA, Feb 19 —The police has conducted raids with search warrants at 18 woollen products retailers and wholesalers of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Panipat, Delhi and Jalandhar during the past few days who were mainly dealing in shawls, knitwear and blankets.

Spanish model Paola Dominguin models a white tunic with gold boardings and a feather plume during the Winter-Fall Pasarela Cibeles fashion week in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday.
Spanish model Paola Dominguin models a white tunic with gold boardings and a feather plume during the Winter-Fall Pasarela Cibeles fashion week in Madrid, Spain. — AP/PTI
Canam ties up with Sydney college
CHANDIGARH, Feb 19 — Canam Consultants Ltd, a Canadian immigration and overseas education company is venturing into an association with Sydney International College Australia, which will see it establish admission Centre all over India.

ICICI bonds: options for all
THE bond market has come of age. Hence, in this need-based drive to collect funds, ICICI with an authorised share capital of Rs 6,950 crore has offered for public subscription unsecured redeemable bonds to the extent of Rs 300 crore with a right to oversubscription up to Rs 300 crore.

Theft costs PSEB Rs 2 crore loss daily
POWER sector reforms instead of getting top priority have been given back seat. Power is the prime mover of entire economy. After the reform process in 1991 content of free power and pilferage has gone up.

NHPC finalises contract pacts
NEW DELHI, Feb 19 — The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation has finalised contract agreements for various works of the 280 MW Dhaulinga Hydroelectric Project in Pithoragarh district of Uttar Pradesh.

Steps to save fuel energy suggested
FATEHGARH SAHIB, Feb 19 — Mr Hisano Nakahara and Mr Sake Teduka, Principal Researcher & Senior Researcher, respectively, of the Kawasaki Steel Techno Research Corporation of Japan visited Mandi Gobindgarh in the district today.

Tanishq to double outlets
CALCUTTA, Feb 19 —Tanishq, the branded jewellery player, has undertaken plans to double its distribution network while expecting a 100 per cent rise in turnover to Rs 150 crore during the current fiscal, company sources said here today.

Taurus MF to pay 101 pc
NEW DELHI, Feb 19 — Taurus Mutual Fund today declared a maiden dividend of 101.70 per cent for Libra Leap, one of their schemes.

Castrol, Tatas sign pact on lubricants
MUMBAI, Feb 19 — Castrol India and Tata Engineering have entered into an agreement for supplying specially formulated lubricants for Tata commercial vehicles and for use of motor oils for Indica passenger car.

Plea for taxing new services
CHENNAI, Feb 18 — The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) today underscored the need for taking ‘bold decisions’ to disinvest in Public Sector Units, taxing 14 new services, raising user charges on public utility services and enacting a Fiscal Responsibility Act to shore up revenues for the Central Government.Top




UNCTAD calls for equitable world trade

BANGKOK, Feb 19 (DPA) — The Governments attending the 10th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stressed the need for a world trade system that is “fair, equitable and rules-based” in their final declaration approved today. UNCTAD X, held in Bangkok between February 12-19, attracted leaders and high-ranking ministers from 160 countries and representatives from 100 international organisations, to discuss trade and development issues and hash out an agenda for the UN agency over the next four years.

“The conference emphasises commitment to a multilateral trading system that is fair, equitable and rules-based and that operates in a non-discriminatory and transparent manner and in a way that provides benefits for all countries, especially developing countries,” said the Bangkok declaration.

Following on the heels of the failed World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in Seattle late last year the UNCTAD X was billed as a “healing process” for world trade talks, although the forum has no rule-making mandate in trade. The week long conference served to focus world attention on the need for giving developing nations a better deal in the emerging world trade system. A host of visiting leaders of multilateral organisations, including the chiefs of the WTO, World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), joined a single chorus in citing the inevitability of globalisation but the need to make sure the sometimes terrifying process does not crush the poorest countries and most vulnerable groups.

“The rhetoric has certainly improved,” said Michale Bailey, senior policy advisor for Oxfam, a non-governmental organisation specialising in development issues.

“The view that growing inequity in the world is morally outrageous, economically wasteful and socially explosive was expressed by none other than Michel Camdessus,” Bailey said in a statement.

The UNCTAD X “action plan”, which was adopted Sunday, has arguably strengthened the organisation’s role as a research-based body assisting developing countries in trade matters.

For instance, the plan allowed for the first time UNCTAD’s participation in the controversial process of restructuring international financial institutions, a role formerly blocked by the USA.

“Taking into account work done in other relevant organisations, UNCTAD should contribute to the debate on issues related to the strengthening and ongoing reform of the international financial institutions, including the enhancing of early warning and response capabilities for dealing with the emergence and spread of financial crisis, by continuing to provide relevant analysis from a developments perspective,” said Article 107 of the Action Plan.

While globalisation and WTO issues were the focus of many of the speeches and discussions at the conference, many participants felt the meeting has re-emphasised UNCTAD’s real role - of providing capacity-building assistance to developing countries.Top





 

Opel Corsa, new Astra, unveiled in Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 19 — General Motors India today launched the millennium car the ‘Opel Corsa’ and the all-new improved version of its premium segment car Opel Astra 2000 in Chandigarh at a ceremony presided over by Mr P. Balendran, Vice president (Corporate Affairs).

Mr Balendran said, “Punjab over the years has emerged as one of the key automobile markets in India. Launch of the Opel Corsa and the Astra 2000 is one more step in this direction. Opel cars will soon be preferred cars of the customers in this region and emerge as trend-setters in both the segments.

The Opel Corsa is the first attempt by General Motors to use global concepts of design, manufacturing and purchasing — a true world car having sold more than 8 million cars in 75 international markets throughout the world. It features the latest in German engineering and design, yet at the same time, it has been customised to meet the specific Indian road and driving conditions.

The Opel Corsa also features, an all new ‘tropicalized air conditioning system’ that is extremely effective in hot and humid conditions. It includes reinforced transmission to suit smooth driving, reinforced suspension with gas charged shock absorbers to ensure comfortable ride and better road grip. Corsa will cost Rs 5.28 lakh in Chandigarh.

The all new improved version of Astra 2000, has new and more powerful engine, new transmission, new tropicalised air-conditioning system and the all new looks among other exclusive features. The new Astra 2000 has been designed to target customers seeking the ultimate in comfort and luxury.

Mr Balendran also handed over the keys of first improved version car Opel Astra 2000 to Mr Ankush Aggarwal of Idma Laboratories, Chandigarh.Top



 

Receiver appointed for Golden Forests
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 19 — The Mumbai High Court has appointed a receiver to oversee the sale of assets of Golden Forests, which owes investors in excess of Rs 1,000 crore.

The receiver will oversee the sale of properties valued at about Rs 441 crore and the sale will be used to repay investors.

“The high court on Thursday appointed Justice ML Pendse, a retired high court judge, as the receiver. The Directors have been asked to pass a resolution for the sale of these assets which include land, health resorts, golf clubs etc. The company has been asked to obtain all necessary approvals for the sale of these properties which would enable investors to get their money back,” according to SEBI Executive Director (Legal) Dharmishta Raval.

Golden Forests is planning to go in appeal against the high court order and sought a stay on the order for two weeks, but the stay was rejected, according to a report in Business Standard.

Sebi had filed a public interest litigation against Golden Forests following complaints received by investors on defaults by the plantation companies in repaying investor dues.Top



Habits die hard

WASHINGTON, Feb 19 (PTI) —The World Bank has permanently debarred 29 firms, many of which are owned by non-resident-Indians, and seven individuals from being awarded projects financed by it for allegedly engaging in corrupt practices in business projects in Nigeria.

The debarment of each company, said a bank press release yesterday, also applies to any firm which owns a majority of capital of that company, and to any firm of which the company owns a majority of the capital.

The firms debarred are: Agricultural Development Services Ltd, ANA Exports Ltd, Consultants for International Development, Cord Construction Ltd, Cybertek International Ltd, Drill Technologies and Co, Economic Consulting Group, Emkay Enterpriess Ltd, Engineering Projects International, First Fuji Ltd, Flair Development Ltd, Infotek and Co., International Development Projects Services, Inter-Russ Ltd, Labh Universal, Medirite Group, Ltd, Mirna International, Norsk-Agro Ltd, Resource Development Ltd, Ribalco International, Shivind Ltd, Thrust Technologies and Co, Times International and Co, United Basel Ltd, Westend Associates Ltd, (all based in England), Coldline Inc (USA) Inter Emirates and Co (United Arab Emirates) and Sharda Impex Ltd and Shereena Agriculture Ltd (both Nigeria).

The individuals debarred are: Labh Singh Gill, Pradeep Menon Shivshankar Pre Nair (all UK), Vikram Deepak Gurshaney, Gurpreet Singh Malik and Kamal Sharda (Nigeria) and Mandeep S. Sandhu (USA), the release said. Top

 

Scratch, get or try again
By Peeyush Agnihotri
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH: The concept of dishing out freebies, as a sales promotion gimmick, has become an inseparable part of the business world. Driven by consumers’ psychological craving to get more than what has been paid for, companies are coming up with innovative strategies. Coupons, lucky draws and “package deals” are passť. The latest is an inviting grey scratch spot, with a message hidden underneath, that is tickling the gormandised desires of consumers.

Scooters, bread loaves, film-rolls and petrol filling stations — the spot binds them all. And the first thing the consumer does after buying the product is to scratch. Some get lucky while the “try again” sign mocks at the rest.

A petrol filling station in Chandigarh gave heart-shaped cards to all customers on the Valentine Day. Everyone, undoubtedly, had the scratch first and their fill afterwards.

Mr Baldev Singh, a senior manager at a “crorepati hungama” scooter outlet says: “Everyone is curious to know about his fate there and then. That is why, our scratch cards became popular and the sales increased threefold, in the otherwise lean months of December and January.”

“The gambler in a man gets the better of him and there is a spurt in sales till the scheme lasts. The sale graph slides once the scheme ends,” explains Dr Bharat Bhushan, a management teacher. “This could well be termed a compulsive or driven-buying behaviour. But there is no permanent shift in consumer loyalty,” he adds.

Good fortune is just a scratch away. Consumer is willing to take a chance at no extra cost and the seller is riding high on the ubiquitous spot. So the gold fever continues. And it is contagious.Top



 

Fake notes headache for traders
From Our Correspondent

AMRITSAR, Feb 19 — Hold it against the light, feel it with your hand. Can you make out if the currency note that you are holding is a fake or real? In all probability no. Sometimes one is in an anxiety to check. At other times one is just thankful that the payment has been delivered. “There is simply no choice. One can only pray that notes are not fake”, says a trader of the busy textile wholesale market of Katra Ahluwalia.

Considering the fact that counterfeit currency has increasingly been detected and seized mostly from the Samjhauta Express, the latest being yesterday. Panicky private companies are sending circulars to their sub offices in Amritsar alerting them about accepting payments.

Mr Rakesh Malhotra, accounts executive at the Easy Call Pager Service, confirms that their head office in Delhi has send them a circular in this regard. “We are being careful but it is not easy” he says. Mr K.L. Bhatia, an owner of a cosmetic store, complains that only the banks, the police or the customs have the facility to check such notes.

Recently a man depositing Rs 8000 in a bank at Green Avenue was hauled up by the manager of the bank as currency notes worth Rs 3000 that he possessed were found to be counterfeit. But the matter was not reported to the police.

What are the banks doing to check fake notes? A bank manager on condition of anonymity says the currency detected as counterfeit are destroyed in the bank in front of the customer who is carrying such notes so there remains no doubt about any hanky-panky business.

However, it has also come to light that some reputed customers of certain banks are returned the fakes after only defacing these with red ink.

The returned notes thus find their way back in a payment to a unaware person, carefully hidden in between other notes.

The banks shy away from reporting about the counterfeits or the person to the police. Firstly, because the procedure of reporting to the police is cumbersome. They also want to save their customers from harassment.

However, Mr Bakshi Ram, I.G. Police Border, is not amused by this attitude of the banks and shoots back “here our men are trying hard to locate fake currency, and the banks are meting out their own justice”. He denies that the procedure to report the matter to the police is cumbersome or harassing, and further states that reports or complaints regarding fakes can help in identifying the sources of such notes.

Mr Bakshi favours an awareness campaign to alert public about this menace. From the two boxes recently installed at Attari railway station to facilitate the voluntary surrender of counterfeit currency, fake notes worth Rs 600 has been recovered, Mr M.S. Arora, Joint Commissioner, Customs, revealed today on telephone.Top



Fake ‘Woolmark’ products seized
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Feb 19 —The police has conducted raids with search warrants at 18 woollen products retailers and wholesalers of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Panipat, Delhi and Jalandhar during the past few days who were mainly dealing in shawls, knitwear and blankets.

A sizeable quantity of goods bearing fake Woolmark have been confiscated, according to a spokespersons of Woolmark.

Prior to taking any police action, an intensive market survey was conducted in various cities of North India to identify unscrupulous traders.Top

 

Fake notes’ inflow not alarming
Manmohan sees no impact on economy
From Ashok Sethi

AMRITSAR, Feb 19 — The former Finance Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh has favoured the strengthening of tax administration at the Centre and at the state levels to check the galloping fiscal deficit.

Talking exclusively to the Tribune News Service here today at Circuit House, he said at present tax receipts had dramatically fallen below the level of early nineties which had resulted in growing deficit.

He said the tax receipts must be at 3 per cent of the gross national product and anything below that could be disastrous for the economy as the present government was borrowing mindlessly. The former Finance Minister said the government was paying more than 50 per cent on interests on its borrowings which had slowed down the economic recovery.

He said the government need to enhance the collection of taxes to 3 per cent of the GDP, rationalist subsidies and generate profit from PSUs.

The current inflow of small quantity of fake currency from across the border should not be viewed as alarming, as the Prime Minister through his statement was trying to scare the Indians about its destabilising affect. He wondered why policing could not be more effective so as not to let the Indian economy feel a scary. These small incidents could have literally no impact on the Indian economy, he asserted.

The leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha expressed his dismay over the slowing down of inflow of foreign direct investment into the country. During the last six months of the current financial year, the FDI was comparatively lower than that of last year.

The government need to pull up its socks and send the message of good governance which would enthuse the investors. Otherwise the slowdown in investment could be perceived as dangerous. He pointed out that both the Indian and foreign capital market operators were not very enthusiastic about the projected and actual growth of infrastructure sector.

On the performance of various electricity boards, Dr Manmohan Singh said all these boards were bankrupt and saddled with huge losses as such both the Indian and foreign investors had shown their inability to participate in infrastructure and core sector of the economy.

Cautioning the government about the disinvestment plans which had recently been initiated without giving thorough and deep study”, Dr Manmohan Singh added that the government should not use the money from the sale of PSUs to meet growing deficit which he felt could be suicidal. He was critical of the government that without evolving national consensus on the disinvestment of various profit making public sector undertakings, it was going ahead to sell the profit making PSUs.

The government must come clear on its policy on PSUs, and their disinvestment plans as there was no clearcut guidelines on giving limited stocks to strategic partner. He said that his party would seek details on such deals soon.

Commenting on the lowering of interest rates on provident funds, small saving in post offices and other, Dr Manmohan Singh felt that it was a wrong move as the government borrowing were growing at rapid pace.

The core advisory group which was constituted by the Prime Minister to plan long term economic growth was a “mere public relations exercise”, he said.

Lashing out at the government’s attitude with regard to the telecom regulatory authority, he said the government had become the biggest litigant in the whole affair which was becoming murkier day by day.


Top


 

Canam ties up with Sydney college
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 19 — Canam Consultants Ltd, a Canadian immigration and overseas education company is venturing into an association with Sydney International College Australia, which will see it establish admission Centre all over India. The college will soon appoint city wise representatives in North India with a further expansion into the rest of country.

According to Ms. Elizabeth Dwyer, Education Coordinator, Sydney International College offers the highest quality education to international students. Our aim is to assist students in choosing the right course curriculum according to their qualifications and capabilities. This is crucial for their future career where time and money is involved.

Ms Dwyer added that each of our programme is designed keeping future job openings in view, and our College utilises the state of the art technology and teaching aids, and provides the most highly trained faculty at an affordable fee.

Mr. S. Grewal, Sr. Vice-President of Canam said that more than 4,700 students from India are taking admission to various Australian Colleges annually, and there is an acute shortage of IT professionals worldwide. This can only mean that students will be advantaged by studying in such a advanced environment, which is likely to get them a job with much ease.Top



 

ICICI bonds: options for all
By C.M. Kulshreshtha

THE bond market has come of age. Hence, in this need-based drive to collect funds, ICICI with an authorised share capital of Rs 6,950 crore has offered for public subscription unsecured redeemable bonds to the extent of Rs 300 crore with a right to oversubscription up to Rs 300 crore. The issue closes on February 24, 2000.

The most attractive feature of these bonds is the vast variety of options. It has targeted five main segments of investors — ranging from high upper to the lower middle class group: and within each group (except one) further offered the options to each according to his requirements.

Some common features of these bonds are:

— Credit rating is the highest - triple A

— Listing is on BSE and NSE to ensure liquidity.

— The minimum subscription is Rs 5,000 (except in a few cases when it is higher).

— Nomination facility is available.

— The amount of interest is fully taxable. Tax is deducted at source in case the amount exceeds Rs 2500 in a financial year.

— These bonds - except Tax Saving Bonds - can be pledged with ICICI Bank as security for loans.

— Interest at the rate of 5 per cent per annum is also given from the date of application to the date of allotment - a fair deal to investors.

These bonds are:

Gilt Rate Plus Bonds that earn 0.5 per cent more than Government securities, in addition to paying 5 per cent bonus on maturity after five years. For the first year the interest earned is 10 per cent, while the yield on Government paper is currently at 9.5 per cent. These bonds can be redeemed even earlier after one year.

Money Multiplier Bonds are meant for those who would like their money to grow over a period of time and have the lumpsum to meet the needs; children’s education, daughters’ marriage etc. These bonds have two options: Rs 5,000 grows to Rs 6,885 in three years. Alternatively an amount Rs 7,000 grows to Rs 50,000 in 18 years and 9 months; too long a time horizon for planning when in today’s world of unforeseen exigencies. The yield comes to 11.2 per cent on the first option and just 11 per cent on the second — obviously on hopes of falling interest rates. But at least the interest rate of 11 per cent is assured.

Encash Bonds which can be withdrawn anytime after one year. The interest payable is 11.1 per cent annually for three years or 10 per cent for one year. This compares favourably with bank interest rates: both in private and public sectors. For one year interest rates vary: 9 per cent in the SBI and 9.5 per cent in Punjab and Sind Bank — thanks to freeing of interest rates UTI Bank offers 11 per cent for both one and three years while Centurion Bank 10.5 per cent for one year.

These bonds are in the nature of fixed deposits in banks. But the latter have the advantage of being encashed earlier than the date of maturity in case of emergency.

Regular Income Bonds are for those who need a steady flow of income at regular intervals — like pensioners to supplement their meagre earnings, half yearly to say, children’s summer and winter uniforms and, of course yearly to buy their books etc., apart from meeting tax liabilities at the year-end. The redemption period for all is three years. The interest rate payable is 10.65 per cent for monthly, 10.09 for half yearly and 11.25 per cent for annual options.

The earlier maturity of three years is a redeeming feature. However, the interest of ICICI bonds is not exempted under the existing limits of Rs 12,000 as at present under Section 80L of the Income Tax Act 1961.

Tax Saving Bonds are the most popular and are categorised under two heads: (a) those that offer relief under Section 88 of the Income Tax Act 1961 and the (b) others that are governed by Section 54EA benefit. Here, again, the latter has three options and the former two.

To come to the latter first, Section 54EA affords relief by which the capital gain, namely the difference between the price of transfer and the (indexed) cost of acquisition of a long-term capital asset will not be subject to tax, if the net consideration is invested in approved securities like these bonds for three years.

Of the three options interest is payable monthly at 10.5 per cent and yearly at 11 per cent, while the third option offers no interest payment, but is deemed to be re-invested as in “deep discount bonds”. After three years and three months the yield to maturity works out to 11 per cent. These may find favour with those in the higher income group.

The most popular of these instruments is the one under Section 88 which offers tax rebate of 20 per cent on a maximum ceiling of Rs 60,000 annually. This is now increased to Rs 70,000 if at least Rs 10,000 or even the whole of it is invested in infrastructure securities which these bonds offer. Thus the ceiling is Rs 70,000 annually affording a tax relief of Rs 14,000 for every year. For authors, musicians, playwrights etc. the rebate is 25 per cent and they can save Rs 17,500 by way of tax. With the financial year drawing to a close, these bonds are obviously favoured most. Of course the minimum lock-in period is three years. During this period the instrument cannot be redeemed or pledged as security against loans.

A novel feature, however, is the payment of interest either annually at 11 per cent — to meet seasonal requirements — or on a “deep discount” basis with the yield to maturity at 11 per cent. The overall yield works out to 21.7 per cent and 19.9 per cent respectively. With the yield on instruments of the National Savings Organisation heading south, the bonds appear attractive — particularly with the infrastructure tag attached to them.

The fare is exotic and the variety baffling. Obviously ICICI has timed the issue first on the Budget amidst speculation of a sharp drop in interest rates on other instruments. One wishes, however, that the premier institution would have taken into account the fact that the average Indian investor is more likely to be confused as to which to subscribe. And not to speak of the almost illegible fine print of the application form which one has to strive hard to decipher.Top



 

Theft costs PSEB Rs 2 crore loss daily
By P D Sharma

POWER sector reforms instead of getting top priority have been given back seat. Power is the prime mover of entire economy. After the reform process in 1991 content of free power and pilferage has gone up. In pilferage Punjab is going the UP and Bihar ways.

The PSEB Chairman disclosed in a meeting with industrialists that board is losing Rs 2 crore a day mainly due to power pilferage. In the same breath he showed concern that meter readers have formed a club and collected Rs 20 lakh. For what purpose and from which sources? He also admitted that no power theft above 220 Volts can take place without the connivance of officials. Only well intentioned person in charge of such a huge organisation can publicly admit such glaring facts. Public too is convinced of the clean top administrative set up of the PSEB.

The PSEB’s decision to have its own police set up has not been digested by consumers. It is very likely to be misused. This apprehension is based on hard facts.

Accurate measurement of energy consumed is the top most task of the PSEB and faulting on other parameters like excess load or violation of peak load restrictions can be tolerated a bit. Board whose decisions about meters throw a shadow of suspicion can not be expected to come harsh on honest consumers.

Other area of mistrust lies in thorough investigation of suspected cases of power theft. Some cases of hefty loss of revenue have been detected in Ludhiana and elsewhere but hushed up as eye wash instead of having independent detailed investigations. Some seem to be on a way for closing. Such cases may be reopened to generate confidence in consumers.

Most crucial area of public mistrust pertains to postings of officials. Lower to middle level officers under whose jurisdiction major revenue loss has been detected are continuing on plump posts un-hindered. When pilferage is on the rise officials are continuing in the same cities for years at a stretch. Board should first tackle this area as no improvement is possible without shaking off the suspected stuff.

Large number of government houses built for the poor are being occupied unauthorisedly. So PSEB can not give them official connection. Pilferage is the obvious way out for the occupants.

PSEB should try all these methods to curb the menace of power theft by taking public into confidence. Some NGOs can also be recognised for this purpose. Decision to have its own police set up is certainly not the solution and it should be withdrawn.Top



 

NHPC finalises contract pacts
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Feb 19 — The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) has finalised contract agreements for various works of the 280 MW Dhaulinga Hydroelectric Project in Pithoragarh district of Uttar Pradesh.

The corporation has signed contract agreement for executing hydro-mechanical work of the project amounting to Rs 54.5 crore with consortium of M/s. Noell Stahl, Germany and M/s. TSPL, India. Another contract agreement for executing electro-mechanical works amounting to Rs 200 crore has been signed between NHPC and Alstom Hydro, France/Alstom Energy Ltd. Top


 

Steps to save fuel energy suggested
From Our Correspondent

FATEHGARH SAHIB, Feb 19 — Mr Hisano Nakahara and Mr Sake Teduka, Principal Researcher & Senior Researcher, respectively, of the Kawasaki Steel Techno Research Corporation of Japan visited Mandi Gobindgarh in the district today.

The Japanese delegation of experts was conducting a study tour on energy conservation under the green aid plan of the New Energy & Technology Development Organisation of Japan with the co-operation of Petroleum Conservation Research Association of India. The delegation visited the steel re-rolling mills of Mandi Gobindgarh and suggested various steps to save fuel energy and pollution free mills.

The experts said the steel re-rolling units were wasting 50 per cent energy, where as in Japan the wastage of energy was merely 6 per cent. If the industrialist implement their recommendations they could be able to save 25 per cent more energy and could reduce pollution.

They expressed satisfaction over the change of technology and the steps taken by certain industrialists who had earlier visited Japan to study the steel technology. Top



 

Tanishq to double outlets

CALCUTTA, Feb 19 (PTI) —Tanishq, the branded jewellery player, has undertaken plans to double its distribution network while expecting a 100 per cent rise in turnover to Rs 150 crore during the current fiscal, company sources said here today.

The company, promoted by Titan Industries Limited, part of the Tata group, would target another 50 per cent growth next year, company Vice-President (Jewellery), Vasant Nangia said.

The company, which has 30 exclusive showrooms in 24 cities across the country, plans to increase the number of outlets to 50 by December this year and 68 showrooms in 58 cities by 2001, Nangia said.Top



Taurus MF to pay 101 pc
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Feb 19 — Taurus Mutual Fund today declared a maiden dividend of 101.70 per cent for Libra Leap, one of their schemes. The scheme was launched in June 1999 as five years closed-end scheme. Libra Leap was recently made open-ended and the NAV is Rs 40.57 per unit as on Friday. Announcing the dividend, Mr P.K. Kaul, the chairman of Creditcapital Investment Trust Company Limited and the former Ambassador to the USA said the performance of the scheme has been satisfactory and it has been ranked as number one by value research in terms of return over a period of one year as well as three years in the closed sector.

The scheme comprises of a balanced portfolio with investments in high growth sectors like IT, pharma, telecom sectors. The equity investors of Libra Leap include Himachal Futuristic, Punjab Lamp, Oriental Info, NIIT, HCL Info Systems, Nestle, Bajaj Auto, Thomas Cook, HDFC and Reliance.Top

 

Castrol, Tatas sign pact on lubricants

MUMBAI, Feb 19 (PTI) — Castrol India and Tata Engineering have entered into an agreement for supplying specially formulated lubricants for Tata commercial vehicles and for use of motor oils for Indica passenger car.

The agreement would be valid for five years and the products would be available through all Tata workshops and service centres and through Castrol’s extensive network of over 35,000 retail outlets, Castrol Chief Executive and Managing Director R.A Savoor told reporters yesterday.

“Some royalty will be paid by Tatas for these products”, he said.

He said Castrol would develop a new product for vehicles that the Tata’s may plan in the future. Castrol’s emphasis would be on the rural market and during the last 18 months, it had also increased the number of outlets to 35,000 against 6,000 direct dealers, he added.

There was no necessity to increase production as a result of this alliance. The Silvassa unit was working in two shifts to produce 30,000 litres of lubricants while six other units, were working in a single shift to produce 1.2 lakh litres per month, he said.

The agreement was signed by Tata Engineering Executive Director V.M. Raval and Savoor last night.Top

Plea for taxing new services

CHENNAI, Feb 18 (PTI) — The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) today underscored the need for taking ‘bold decisions’ to disinvest in Public Sector Units (PSUs), taxing 14 new services, raising user charges on public utility services and enacting a Fiscal Responsibility Act to shore up revenues for the Central Government.

Nearly Rs 1 lakh crore could be mobilised through disinvestment and privatisation of 32 PSUs in the next three years as recommended by the Disinvestment Commission. By taxing new services such as beauty parlours, sports and recreation clubs and real estate developers, another Rs 20,000 crore could be earned per annum by 2003, Assocham President, Shekhar Bajaj, told a news conference here this evening.

Calling for steps to bring down government equity in non-strategic PSUs, Bajaj said it was necessary to enact a Fiscal Responsibility Act to bring fiscal discipline and consolidation. The Act should have teeth and should be implemented seriously, he said.Top



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RENT CASES

by Praful R. Desai

Onus of proof

Q: When parties led evidence knowingfully well controversy, in that event whether the onus of proof become material?Ans: Punjab and Haryana H.C. in Dev Raj v Tarsem Lal (Dead) 1999 (2) R.C.J. 424 expressed the view thus:

During the course of arguments before the H.C., petitioner has urged that the onus has wrongly been placed upon the petitioner. It was for the respondent landlord to establish what was the agreed rent and not for the petitioner.

In strict sense, the H.C. observed what was alleged was correct. It was the respondent — landlord who came to court asserting and claiming a particular amount to be agreed rent. Thus, it was for the respondent — landlord to establish the same and the authorities could not have placed the onus on the petitioner.

But, added the H.C. merely on that account it could not be appropriate to set aside the said finding. When the parties led evidence knowing full will the controversy, in that event the onus of proof become immaterial. If in one paragraph the Appellate Authority had wrongly referred to the onus, that would not, in the opinion of the H.C., imply that the judgement as such must be set aside.

The Appellate Authority had considered the other evidence on the record and further concluded that the agreed rent, in fact, is Rs. 150 per month and not Rs 15 p.m. In coming to this conclusion, the receipts of the petitioner have been ignored. The same are findings of fact arrived at on appreciation of evidence. They are not absurd.

Therefore, the H.C. held that this court will not interfere in such finding of fact and it must be taken that the agreed rent was Rs 150 p.m.

On the first date of hearing, noted the H.C., the said rent was not tendered and consequently the order of eviction was rightly passed in the opinion of the H.C. There is thus no ground for interference according to the H.C.

The revision petition accordingly was dismissed and the H.C. granted two months time to the petitioner to vacate the premises.Top



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CHECK OUT

by Pushpa Girimaji

Of delays, adjournments & procedures

Quick justice is the sine qua non of these quasi-judicial bodies. But delays, some caused by State Governments and some caused by the courts themselves, continue to drag down the process of justice. Repeated adjournments and absence of certain basic infrastructure facilities stymie the functioning of the courts. And worse, inordinate delays on the part of the State Governments in filling vacancies caused by the retirement of members often bring to a standstill the working of these tribunals.

Consumers and consumer groups have to play an active role in ensuring proper implementation of the Consumer Protection Act. In fact, but for the pioneering efforts of a Delhi-based group, Common Cause, which sought the help of the Supreme Court to get all the States and Union Territories to constitute the quasi-judicial bodies, several States would probably not have bothered to implement the law at all. It is unfortunate that even today consumer groups in different parts of the country are forced to petition high courts to get the State Governments to appoint new members to the courts.

The CPA provides for the constitution of consumer grievance redressal bodies or consumer courts at the district, state and the national level. Both the District Forum and the State Commission have a judicial member who is the President and two non-judicial members. The National Commission has four members besides the President.

The law prescribes a simple method of resolving consumer disputes, yet consumers complain of unnecessary adjournments, uncalled for procedural complications. In order to overcome some of these problems and to ensure uniform procedure in the hearing of cases, the National Commission has issued certain guidelines to the State Commissions in the country. If only the courts followed these guidelines strictly, delays would be cut down considerably.

Consumers should know these guidelines in order to exercise their rights before these courts. They can also bring violations of the guidelines to the National Commission. (a) Punctuality, says the National Commission, must be strictly observed by courts while holding sitting. (b) The courts should have sittings on five days in a week. (c) The courts should not grant more than one adjournment in any case. The courts should discourage requests by lawyers for accommodation of their convenience for attending other courts. (d) Post only as many cases for each day as can be reasonably disposed of on that day. Do not have the practice of posting large number of cases and making parties come on several days. (e) Carry forward unfinished part of the days’s cause list to the next succeeding day. (f) Dismissal of appeals for default of appearance may be avoided. Instead the order of the District Forum and the available records be examined and the respondent be heard, if present. Thereafter, orders may be passed on merits because the party who has filed the appeal may be too poor to come all the way to the capital city to appear before the State Commission. (g) Certified copy of the order is to be forwarded to the parties free of charge at the earliest. (h) In cases pertaining to medical negligence, insist on expert evidence wherever technical questions are involved. The forum may on its own initiative summon and examine any expert, if parties omit to do so.

The National Commission has also suggested that courts undertake preliminary scrutiny and screening of complaints for weeding out frivolous, false and vexatious cases and matters which are manifestly outside the purview of the Act. Issue notice to the complainants to appear and show how the complaint is prima-facie maintainable, the guideline says. Such screening will also help consumers who may have filed the complaint in the wrong consumer court.Top




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AVIATION NOTES

by K.R. Wadhwaney

Jet Airways likely to change fare structure

THE Cabinet approving Indian Airlines Chairman and Managing Director Anil Baijal’s proposal of rolling back the retirement age from 60 years to 58 has hurt the sentiments of most of the officials.The employees feel all the more aggrieved when turn-around of the airline had just begun. To have made profit of Rs 51 crore in nine months is no mean achievement.

The staff’s resentment is logical. Why single out IA when many other public sector undertakings, more sick than the national carrier, have been allowed to breathe free?

The aircraft-employees ratio is indeed higher than the ratio obtaining in many other carriers. But IA has its own peculiar problems. It is plagued by labour unrest. Then the airline is called upon to spend quite a sizeable budget on security. With the hijacking of the aircraft, the situation has worsened. More money will be earmarked for security.

Maybe, it will be in the fitness of things if the Government brings about similar kind of legislation for all PSUs. The Government should not have two sets of rules — one for some undertakings and other for favourite undertakings.

The Government’s decision to privatise the airline may be understandable. But it will take at least one year before the decision is implemented. During this period, a lot of harm will accrue of the airline. It cannot buy new or leased aircraft. In other words, there will hardly be any progress. This will help private operators to improve their position.

Both Jet Airways and Sahara have already indicated their plans. Apart from augmenting their fleet, they have envisaged several other measures to increase their market share. IA has already started sustaining losses because of suspension of flights to Kathmandu.

Jet Airways has appointed Steve Forte as Chief Executive Officer. Experienced in different walks of airline functioning, he has been brought here to help Jet Airways steal a decisive march over IA and Sahara.

Forte has been given the task of providing better services to passenger. Forte seems to believe that no tourist segment is enough to secure patronage from overseas visitors. He may bring about changes in the fare structure. He seems to believe that fares should be lower during off hours.

On loggerheads: Hoteliers and tour operators have locked horns over payments. Each accuses the other, as is usually the case in any controversy.

The hotel industry has alleged that it is losing more than Rs 160 crore annually owing to non-adherence of business practices by tour operators and travel agents. As against 30 days credit facility, tour operators and travel agents retain money between 40 and 120 days.

The situation is vex. But the Hotel Association of India and IATO seem concerned about the developments and are determined to sort out the differences.Top



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BIZ BRIEFS

Compact Disc
CHANDIGARH, Feb 19 (TNS) — Compact Disc India Ltd. is in the final stages of negotiation for closing a takeover deal by buying out US based animation graphics company — Metro Light Studio. The deal is expected to close around US $ 4 million including cash payment of US $ 1 million.

ISO 14001
CHANDIGARH, Feb 19 (TNS) — Alps Industries Limited has been awarded ISO 14001 by KPMG Quality Registrars, the Netherlands.Top


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