Thursday, March 23, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S
Matsushita employee Toshie displays a gadget which can download digital music contents through a mobile phone network and store the contents on a stamp-sized IC memory SD card.
Matsushita employee Toshie displays a gadget which can download digital music contents through a mobile phone network and store the contents on a stamp-sized IC memory SD card. — AFP
  ill Gates, left, Chairman of Microsoft Corp. speaks along with Carlos Slim, chairman,Telmex. The two announced the formation of, T1msn, a Spanish language Internet portal.
Bill Gates, left, Chairman of Microsoft Corp. speaks along with Carlos Slim, chairman,Telmex. The two announced the formation of, T1msn, a Spanish language Internet portal. — AP/PTI


Cautious welcome to Punjab Budget
Puts cap on government
expenditure
Sets agenda
for revival

Volatility sign of healthy market: DSP
CHENNAI, March 22 — The recent downturn in software stocks in the country was a temporary cycle and would soon witness more stability, the Chief Operating Officer of DSP Merrill Lynch Asset Management (India) Limited, Ashok Vajpeyi has said.

Safety course begins
CHANDIGARH, March 22 — A three-day course on “Safety audit”, organised by the National Safety Council’s North Zone Chapter, was inaugurated by Mr C.N. Dhar, Executive Director, HMT, here today.

AirTel tie-up
NEW DELHI, March 22 — AirTel has joined hands with ICICI Bank providing subscribers the option of paying their cellular phone bills through the Internet.



EARLIER STORIES
 
Clinton calls Dewang Mehta Elvis Presley
NEW DELHI, March 22 — Whatever he meant, US President Bill Clinton described National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) President Dewang Mehta as Elvis Presley.

Bank launches scheme
CHANDIGARH, March 22 — The Haryana State Cooperative Apex Bank has launched a scheme known as “Revolving cash credit limit for socio-economic and consumption needs up to Rs. 2.00 lakh for the farmers” to make them self-dependent.Top




Cautious welcome to Punjab Budget
Puts cap on government expenditure
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 22 — Mr Amarjit Goyal Chairman, Punjab Committee, PHDCCI, has welcomed certain measures announced by Punjab Finance Minister like the constitution of a Cabinet sub-committee headed by the Chief Minister to evolve a strategy for fiscal management, the decision to cap government expenditure like saving on telephone and office expenditure, ban on the purchase of new vehicles, a review of the fleet strength and a ban on creation of new posts.

It is also heartening to note that the committee will also consider the question of reduction of subsidies. The Chamber, however, hopes that committee will not remain on paper only but take effective and time-bound decisions to implement the proposed measures.

The decision for privatising road transport, a voluntary retirement scheme for employees, rationalisation of route plans and vehicle utilisation, withdrawal of free travel facility is welcome as a measure of practical necessity. The Chamber welcomes the Government’s initiative to disinvest government equity in PSUs provided the disinvestment actually takes place and does not remain a pious hope.

The decision of the State Government on rationalisation and uniformity of sales tax rates is welcome but the Chamber feels the new slabs being enforced are too high and will result in crippling the industry, which is already struggling against long recession.

Similarly the decision to set up information collection centres is a step in the right direction, but it is felt that this may not become a vehicle of harassment and corruption, particularly the enforcement of Section 14(B) of the Act may result in draconian measures which will create more problems than it will solves. The Chamber supports the promised steps against tax evasion and pilferage. Entry tax has not been clearly defined.

The increase in the net collection of sales tax by Rs 900 crore is a welcome announcement. The government’s projection to ensure a sustained rate of growth of 8 per cent per annum is an encouraging step, but it will have to be seen in the context of the ground realities. The desire of the government to reduce the fiscal deficit by about Rs 500 crore is welcomed provided it actually materialises.

The Chamber feels that 5 per cent ad valerom duty on the sale of electricity will amount to an indirect increase in the power tariff which may hit the growth of industry.Top


Sets agenda for revival
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 22 — Commenting on the Punjab Budget presented today, Mr IS Paul, Chairman, CII Chandigarh Council, said that it is a forward looking and positive Budget. By focusing on issues like restoration of fiscal health of the State, rationalisation of user charges for public utilities and setting a target of 8 per cent annual growth in the medium term, the Budget has certainly set the agenda for the revival of the Punjab economy.

The other welcome features of this Budget are the proposal to bring down Government equity in PSUs to 26 per cent or below, focus on improving infrastructure and increased investment on elementary education.

Mr Paul welcomed the thrust given to the agriculture in this Budget but felt that unless the tenancy laws are modified the second push to agriculture would be difficult to realise. The statement on SME and IT in this Budget should have been more explicit as no clear strategy in terms of budgetary allocation has been made.

Mr Jagjit Singh, Chairman, SMEs sub-committee of CII (Northern Region), welcomed the rationalisation of user charges for public utilities and increased outlay for agriculture. He complimented the Punjab Government on linking the user charges to a transparent method like cost of fuel, power, inflation and salary and wages.

However, he felt that the outlay of Rs 200 crore for agriculture should be leveraged to garner additional funds.

While accepting the need of the Government to raise more resources through levying electricity duty @ 5% ad valorem on the sale of electricity for all category of consumers, he argued that there is a need to address the issue of cross subsidisation of power which unfortunately was not addressed in this Budget. He welcomed the Government’s emphasis on the infrastructure projects but urged the State Government to make its execution time-bound.Top



 

Volatility sign of healthy market: DSP

CHENNAI, March 22 (PTI) — The recent downturn in software stocks in the country was a temporary cycle and would soon witness more stability, the Chief Operating Officer of DSP Merrill Lynch Asset Management (India) Limited, Ashok Vajpeyi has said.

However, the volatility was part and parcel of bourses and could be witnessed at leading stock exchanges across the globe and there was no reason for investors to get depressed over the matter. Such incidents were common in Nasdaq, NYSE or the London stock exchanges, he said.

Shares of software companies would continue to rule the roost in stock exchanges, as the sector, which had vast potential, was expanding by leaps and bounds, Vajpeyi told PTI here.

He expressed confidence that the market would stabilise in the coming days.

Investors need not be cowed down by the short term depression in stock exchanges as volatility was the sign of a healthy market, Vajpeyi said.

Eyeing for more returns at short duration would involve greater risks and it was here where the experience of DSP Merril Lynch came in handy for investors to select scrips.

The parametres which DSP Merryl Lynch adopted while selecting companies for investment was very scientific and involved lower risk for investors, he added.

About more corporates branching out into the software sector in search of greener pastures, Vajpeyi said this substantiated the argument that the IT sector was the most lucrative and would continue to be so for many more years to come.

On the credibility of such companies and their sustenance, he said the software sector involved comparatively less investment and high returns, unlike other capital intensive sectors. As the opportunities were infinite, reputed companies would continue to stay in the sector, he said.

Asked if the Information Technology sector would face any threat from China and Taiwan after they became WTO members, he said there was no way that India could be sidelined by any new entrants in the sector.

Indian technologists were most sought after across the world. The solutions they offered were competitive. Indian software companies were also quick to update technologies and hence there was no question of larger were competitive. Indian software companies were also quick to update technologies and hence there was no question of lagging behind anyone.

India also had the advantage of handling English with ease, compared to the Chinese and others in the region, he said.

Denying that the fall in software stocks had anything to do with the withdrawal of concessions on software export earnings by the Centre in the Budget, he said there was nothing wrong in any sector paying tax to the Government if it was making heavy profits.

When other sectors with lesser profits faced restrictions on export earnings, where was the need for a particular sector to get extra benefits, Vajpeyi asked. Top





 

Safety course begins
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 22 — A three-day course on “Safety audit”, organised by the National Safety Council’s North Zone Chapter, was inaugurated by Mr C.N. Dhar, Executive Director, HMT, here today.

Mr Ashok Huria, Hony Secretary of the Chapter, said “safety audits” are being increasingly adopted by industrial managements to carry out critical appraisals of their health and safety systems.

Mr Dhar said that safety must be incorporated at the design and construction stage itself. Mr G.K. Kapoor, Vice-Chairman of the Chapter, highlighted the role of employees in strengthening safety systems. About 50 senior executives from Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Calcutta, Goa etc are attending the course. Top



 

AirTel tie-up

NEW DELHI, March 22 (UNI) — AirTel has joined hands with ICICI Bank providing subscribers the option of paying their cellular phone bills through the Internet.

The payment is conducted through electronic bill presentation and payment service using ICICI’s Internet billing service ‘Infinity’.Top



 

Clinton calls Dewang Mehta Elvis Presley

NEW DELHI, March 22 (UNI) — Whatever he meant, US President Bill Clinton described National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) President Dewang Mehta as Elvis Presley.

Mehta was introduced by Atal Behari Vajpayee to Clinton as the “I.T. Superman” at yesterday’s lunch engagement. As the Nasscom chief complimented the US President and told him that he represented the dot com companies in India, pat came the reply.” You must be having Clinton.com with you”. Mehta’s answered: “No I have Vajpayee.com with me” At this point, the I.T. Superman was given a pat by the Prime Minister.

The Nasscom chief was given the analogy of Elvis Presley at Ambassador Richard Celeste’s reception today after he was introduced to Clinton for the second time. Mehta wears sideburns somewhat similar to those of the rock and roll star Presley and has a star value in his own right.

Elvis Presley of the Indian IT world has one more meeting with Clinton in Hyderabad on March 25.Top




 

Bank launches scheme
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 22 — The Haryana State Cooperative Apex Bank (HARCO BANK) has launched a scheme known as “Revolving cash credit limit for socio-economic and consumption needs up to Rs. 2.00 lakh for the farmers” to make them self-dependent. Under the scheme, loans up to Rs. 2 lakh will be made available to the farmers owing a land of five-acre or more for a period of three years.

The limit of loan is sanctioned on the basis of land owned, cultivated, security offered and repaying capacity of the borrower. The security for loan will be agricultural land and to avail of the facility under the scheme the member will have to become a nominal member of the bank.Top



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CORPORATE NEWS

Hero Honda to pay 100 pc interim

NEW DELHI, March 22 (PTI) — Hero Honda Motors Ltd today declared an interim dividend of 100 per cent. The dividend payout will entail an outlay of Rs 43.94 crore, including dividend tax of Rs 4.39 crore. The board fixed April 6 as the record date for the interim dividend.

Apollo Tyres declares 50 per cent

NEW DELHI, March 22 (TNS) — Apollo Tyres today declared an interim dividend of 50 per cent for the year 1999-2000. The net profit of the company has moved up from Rs 31.08 crore for the 12 month period ending March 31, after providing for depreciation a company release said.

Gramophone, Pyramid tie up

CALCUTTA, March 22 (PTI) 1 Gramophone Company of India Limited (GCIL) has entered into a seven-year exclusive licensing agreement with Pyramid International Pte Ltd of Singapore for exploitation of audio rights of Pyramid’s Tamil music catalogue in the international market. The agreement will help both companies to work as a team in distribution of films and music in overseas market, GCIL Managing Director K. Krishnan told reporters here today.

Ajanta Pharma incurs losses

CALCUTTA, March 22 (PTI) — Ajanta Pharma Limited, which opens its Rs 67.81 crore public issue tomorrow, is incurring losses in four of its six overseas joint ventures in the USA, Central Asia and Mauritius, according to figures declared by the company. The Rs 150 crore Mumbai-based pharmaceutical major, which had one of the highest profitability ratio of 14 per cent in the domestic market, incurred net losses to the tune of about $ 1 million during Jan-Sept, 1999, on a turnover of about $ 5.4 million from its six overseas ventures.

Probe into Indo Dutch accounts

NEW DELHI, March 22 (PTI) — BIFR has directed Bank of India to enquire into the balance sheet of Indo Dutch Proteins following allegations of account manipulation from the creditors. Reserving its decision to declare Indo Dutch a sick industrial company, a two-member bench of BIFR comprising Chairman P.P. Chauhan and member G. Narayanan appointed BOI as operating agency (OA) to conduct the enquiry into company’s accounts.

MTNL to pay 20 pc interim

NEW DELHI, March 22 (UNI) — The Board of Directors of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) has announced an interim dividend of 20 per cent for the year 1999-2000. According to a MTNL release issued here today, the share capital of the company is Rs 630 crore and the interim dividend works out to Rs 126 crore.

Hogonas recommends 25 per cent

MUMBAI, March 22 (PTI) — The Board of Directors of Hogonas India Ltd has recommended an interim dividend of 25 per cent. Mr V.K. Sud, Managing Director, said the record date for the dividend payment, which would be sometime in May, would be announced soon.Top




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BIZ BRIEFS

Bullion
Gold Std. Rs 4550
Gold 22-Ct Rs 4400
Silver Ready Rs 7810
Silver delivery Rs 7850

Forex
US $ Rs 43.58/59
Stg Rs 68.30/32
Euro Rs 41.86/88
Yen (100) Rs 40.72/74

IFB Senator
CHANDIGARH, March 22 (TNS) — IFB today launched its latest front-loading washing machine, Senator. The MD, Mr T.K. Banerjee, said the Senator uses the tumble wash technology which uses self-generated hot water in the wash process and minimal quantity of water. Mr Lalit Anand, Regional Manager, said.

Xerox Modicorp
NEW DELHI, March 22 (TNS) — Xerox Modicorp today launched Xerox WorkCentre XK 35C, bringing a new dimension to the low price desk top colour printing and copying market. It provides for colour scanning, printing and copying features and is priced around Rs 40,000.

Intel
NEW DELHI, March 22 (PTI) — Intel today launched its Pentium III processor with 866 and 850 MHz speed targeted at home and business segment. The new processors offer rich audio, video, animations and 3 D experience for Internet applications.
Top




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