Saturday, April 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Murasoli Maran releasing the Exim policy flanked by his deputy, Mr Omar Abdullah, in New Delhi on Friday. — PTI photo
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Murasoli Maran releasing the Exim policy flanked by his deputy, Mr Omar Abdullah, in New Delhi on Friday. — PTI photo
Exim policy to boost exports

Dismal farming pulls down GDP growth
NEW DELHI, March 31 — Led by a sharp decline in the agricultural sector, the economic growth rate declined to 5.8 per cent during the third quarter of 1999-2000 as against 7.8 per cent in the corresponding period of 1998-99.

NABARD aid for Punjab, Haryana
CHANDIGARH, March 31 — The Chandigarh Regional Office of NABARD has disbursed a record amount of Rs 2077.95 crore in Punjab and Haryana for rural development activities.

Mr Paddy Spooner, 33, from Ringwood, Hants, who won the record prize on the Australian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire — last year, scooped yet another best prize on a British show on Thursday. Spooner describes himself as a hemispheric commuter "who tries to avoid the winter," won 2,50,000 in the British game. — AP/PTI
Mr Paddy Spooner, 33, from Ringwood, Hants, who won the record prize on the Australian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire — last year, scooped yet another best prize on a British show on Thursday. Spooner describes himself as a hemispheric commuter "who tries to avoid the winter," won 2,50,000 in the British game. — AP/PTI
  Sir Richard Branson, a 49-year-old tycoon, after receiving knighthood for services to entrepreneurship at London on Thursday. — AP/PTI
Sir Richard Branson, a 49-year-old tycoon, after receiving knighthood for services to entrepreneurship at London on Thursday. — AP/PTI




EARLIER STORIES
 

Punjab to revise Budget proposals
LUDHIANA, March 31 — On the plea of a deputation led by Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, President, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, the Punjab Chief Minister has decided to form a sub-committee to reconsider new Budget proposals and withhold new levies on halwais and bakery products and the enhancement of the renewal and registration fee.

10 banks become headless
NEW DELHI, March 31 — As the financial year comes to an end today, 10 public sector banks will be headless following the retirement of their CMDs.

NTPC to invite bids soon
NEW DELHI, March 31 - The bids for the four controversial gas based power projects, worth over Rs 8,000 crore, will be invited within the next two weeks, the NTPC said today.

No ad-valorem duty on stocks with mills
CHANDIGARH, March 31 — Stocks of finished goods lying with steel re-rolling mills and induction furnace units as on April 1 will be treated as excise duty paid and such stocks will not be required to pay further ad-valorem duty when moved from the mills on or after April 1.Top



Dismal farming pulls down GDP growth

NEW DELHI, March 31 (PTI) — Led by a sharp decline in the agricultural sector, the economic growth rate declined to 5.8 per cent during the third quarter of 1999-2000 as against 7.8 per cent in the corresponding period of 1998-99. According to quarterly estimates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) released by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), the decline in GDP growth rate was mainly on account of poor performance of the agricultural sector which registered a meagre growth rate of only 0.5 per cent in October-December 1999 as against 9.9 per cent in the same period last year.

The manufacturing sector, though, registered a higher growth rate of 7.2 per cent during the period under consideration compared to 2.9 per cent in the previous year, but failed to compensate for poor performance in the agricultural sector.

The economic survey for 1999-2000 has projected a growth rate of 5.9 per cent for the full year.

Other sectors, apart from manufacturing, which registered significant growth in the third quarter are electricity, gas and water supply at 8.6 per cent, construction at 10.6 per cent, trade, hotels, transport and communication at 5.9 per cent and financing, insurance, real estate and business services at 10.4 per cent.

The GDP growth in first two quarters of 1999-2000 was 5.9 and 6 per cent as against 5.4 and 5.5 per cent respectively in the previous year.

Performance of the mining and quarrying sector continued to be sluggish at 0.1 per cent in the third quarter as against 1.5 per cent in the corresponding period of 1998-99.

The performance of agricultural sector was best in second quarter when it grew by 1.8 per cent compared to negative growth rate of 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 1998-99, while in the first quarter the growth rate was 1.7 per cent compared to 2.9 per cent in the previous year.

According to the information furnished by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, the production of rice during the kharif season of 1999-2000 registered a growth rate of 5.8 per cent while the same during the rabi season of 1999-2000 was expected to decline by 12.7 per cent, over the corresponding seasons in the previous year.

The production of wheat during 1999-2000 was also expected to decline marginally by one per cent over its estimated production during the previous year.

Among the services sector, the key indicators of railways, namely the net tonne kilometres and passenger kilometres have shown growth rates of 7.7 per cent and 10.3 per cent respectively during third quarter as against their respective growth rates of negative 1.4 per cent and one per cent in 1998-99.

The other key indicators, namely, production of commercial vehicles, cargo handled at major ports, postal and telecommunication revenue, aggregate bank deposits, bank credits and revenue expenditure of Central Government, respectively have shown growth rates of 27.6 per cent, 3 per cent, 5 per cent, 15.4 per cent, 20.4 per cent and 21.2 per cent respectively during October-December 1999 over the same period of 1998-99. Top





 

Exim policy to boost exports
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, March 31 — The new export-import (Exim) policy announced by the Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr Murasoli Maran, evoked mixed response from the industry.

The Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO) termed the new Exim policy as “exporter-friendly” as the Government has accepted number of suggestions by the federation.

The President of FIEO, Mr Navratan Samdria, said several schemes announced by the government have enthused the exporting community and would boost exports.

The President of PHDCCI, Mr K.S. Mehta said granting assistance of a mere Rs 250 crore to State Governments for their exports efforts could have been substantially higher for upgrading export infrastructure in terms of roads, regular power supply and development of world class industrial parks.

The President of CII, Mr Rahul Bajaj said the removal of quantitative restrictions on 58 additional items reserved for SSI without de-reservation would allow foreign goods without restrictions, but deny the domestic medium and large industry to manufacture the same.

Mr Rahul Bajaj said the discontinuation of the benefits of refund of terminal excise duty in case of supplies by domestic industry to fertiliser and power projects under deemed export scheme will be detrimental to the domestic capital goods industry as they still suffer a cost disadvantage due to the incidence of several local levies, differential financing costs and infrastructural inadequacies.Top



 

NABARD aid for Punjab, Haryana

CHANDIGARH, March 31 — The Chandigarh Regional Office of NABARD has disbursed a record amount of Rs 2077.95 crore in Punjab and Haryana for rural development activities. The banks and the Punjab Government availed an assistance of Rs 971.12 crore, while banks and the Haryana Government got Rs 1106.83 crore.

This was announced by Mr N R Kannan, Chief General Manager of NABARD, at a press conference here today.

Dairy, farm mechanisation, non-farm sector, poultry and minor irrigation were the main activities financed in Punjab and Haryana.

From the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund ( RIDF) Rs 102.36 crore was advanced to the state governments of Punjab ( Rs 65.07 crore) and Haryana ( Rs 37.29 crore).

NABARD also gave assistance for the establishment of technical and monitoring cells in cooperative banks and RRBs to finance training of cooperative bank staff, women development cells in four RRBs etc.

More than 2,000 Self Help Groups (SHGs) have been formed in Punjab and Haryana up to March 31, 2000. During the current year, 107 SHGs in Haryana and 18 in Punjab were extended Rs 42.71 lakh.

Mr Kannan said IGNOU has launched a distance education programme for women SHGs. NABARD will reimburse the course fee of Rs 1,000 per candidate who successfully complete the programme in the first attempt. The first programme will start in July 2000.

NABARD has decided to extend financial support to panchayati raj institutions, SHGs and also NGOs for various rural infrastructure projects. It has invited the State governments to avail of the assistance by amending the Panchayati Raj Institutions Act/Rules.

NABARD has also set up a “Watershed Development Fund” with Rs 100 crore and identified Mahendergarh and Bhiwani districts for watershed projects, Mr Kannan added.

Adopting a cluster approach, NABARD has also identified Muktsar in Punjab for shoe-making and Rewari in Haryana for Jari Juttis.Top



 

Punjab to revise Budget proposals
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 31 — On the plea of a deputation led by Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, President, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, the Punjab Chief Minister has decided to form a sub-committee to reconsider new Budget proposals and withhold new levies on halwais and bakery products and the enhancement of the renewal and registration fee.

This was claimed here today in a statement by the deputation which included Mr GL Pahwa, Mr D.S. Chawla, Mr Ramesh Maggo, Mr S.S. Bindra and Mr Charanjit Singh, all local industry leaders.Top




 

10 banks become headless

NEW DELHI, March 31 (PTI) — As the financial year comes to an end today, 10 public sector banks will be headless following the retirement of their CMDs.

The banks included Punjab National Bank (PNB), Bank of Baroda, Bank of India and Union Bank of India. Three banks — Union Bank of India, Vijaya Bank and Bank of India will be without CMDs from tomorrow as they are retiring today, official sources said.

Three more banks’ chiefs positions are likely to fall vacant in the next two months. Indian Bank CMD retires on April 30 while Corporation Bank and Central Bank of India chief’s retire on May 31.

Other banks which are without their CMDs are Indian Overseas Bank (IOB), PNB, Bank of Baroda (BoB), Allahabad Bank, Uco Bank, Dena Bank and Canara Bank.

Cabinet clearance for their appointments are awaited, the sources said, adding the Finance Ministry in consultation with RBI has already shortlisted the names.

Sources said some of the probable candidates to fill these positions include — P.S. Shenoy, currently Executive Director (ED) BoB as CMD of BoB.

Punjab & Sind Bank CMD S.S. Kohli is likely to be appointed as PNB CMD in place of Rashid Jilani. Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) Chief Dalbir Singh is expected to be moved to Central Bank of India after its CMD K.C. Chowdhary retires on May 31.

Acting Chairperson and ED of Canara Bank Ranjana Kumar is expected to take charge as Chief of Corporation Bank after the retirement of R.S. Hugar in May, while Andhra Bank CMD would be the new chief of Canara Bank, sources indicated.

Union Bank of India ED D.T. Pai is likely to be the CMD of Syndicate Bank and B.D. Narang ED Punjab & Sind Bank is the probable candidate for the top slot for the loss-making Indian Bank and S. Gopalakrishna ED BoI as CMD of Vijaya Bank.Top



 

NTPC to invite bids soon
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, March 31 - The bids for the four controversial gas based power projects, worth over Rs 8,000 crore, will be invited within the next two weeks, the NTPC said today.

Addressing a press conference here, the Chairman and Managing Director of the NTPC, Mr Rajendra Singh, said “the bid documents have been finalised and the bids for the four 650 mega watt each gas power projects — Kawas, Anta, Auriya and Gandhar — will be invited in the next two weeks”.

This will be the third time that the NTPC will invite bids for the projects as most of the bids were treated as non-responsive by the corporation due to deviations.

The first two bids also did not invite a good response with only two companies — BHEL and ABB — responding for the projects.

The corporation has gone in for the third bidding in spite of Power Minister P.R Kumaramangalam advising against it. The Ministry was of the view that NTPC should negotiate the contracts with the bidders and go in for third bidding which, it said, could possibly increase the cost.

He announced a 20.81 per cent increase in profit at Rs 3401.96 crore during the current fiscal as against Rs 2815.73 crore in 1998-99.

The NTPC’s net turnover rose by 14.7 per cent to Rs 16,479.24 crore during 1999-2000 compared to Rs 14,371.86 crore recorded in the last fiscal.

The company, which improved its Asiaweek ranking from 344 to 299 this year, paid an interim dividend of Rs 300 crore this fiscal as against Rs 650 crore full year dividend paid to the Government during 1998-99, he said.Top



 

No ad-valorem duty on stocks with mills
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 31 — Stocks of finished goods lying with steel re-rolling mills and induction furnace units as on April 1 will be treated as excise duty paid and such stocks will not be required to pay further ad-valorem duty when moved from the mills on or after April 1. According to a Department of Revenue’s notification received by the Customs and Central Excise offices here today, mills which have discharged their duty liability for the period up to March 31under the compound levy scheme will have to maintain necessary records, showing that clearances made without payment of ad-valorem duty on stocks which were lying with them on the midnight on March 31.

The Finance Minister, had in his budget speech announced that with effect from April 1, re-rolling mills and induction furnace units would be required to pay excise duty (CENVAT) on ad-volorem basis. The earlier scheme of levy of excise duty based on capacity of production stands discontinued from tomorrow, with the notifications issued in this regard in August, 1997, standing rescinded.

It has also been decided that CENVAT credit will be allowed in such cases. Credit will be allowed only if the stock is supported by duty payment documents.

The notification adds that mills and furnace units would not be eligible to take credit of the duty paid on capital goods received in the factories from August 1, 1997, to March 31, 2000.

Further, scrap and waste lying with such mills and furnace units will be exempted from excise duty while being cleared till April 30. The Central excise notification issued on August 1, 1997, in this regard has been extended till April 30. Only that waste material and scrap is eligible for exemption which is lying at the mills or units as on April 1, 2000.Top



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CORPORATE NEWS

Vardhman, Mahavir Spg to pay 35 pc

LUDHIANA, March 31 (TNS): Vardhman Spg and Gen Mills limited has declared an interim dividend of 35 per cent and fixed May 10, 2000, as the record date.

Mahavir Spinning Mills has declared an interim dividend of 35 per cent and fixed May 10, 2000.

Vardhman Polytex’s Board has also declared an interim dividend of 35 per cent for the year 1999-2000. The record date: May 10, 2000.

Paramount Communications Ltd today recommended an interim dividend of 16 per cent for the fiscal year 1999-2000.

Zurich India Mutual Fund has declared dividends for three of its schemes ranging from 2 per cent to 30 per cent. The company has declared 30 per cent dividend for its India Equity Fund (ZIEF), 25 per cent on Top 200 fund (ZIT200) and 2 per cent on the High Interest Fund (ZIHIF). The record date is fixed as March 24, 2000.

Bausch & Lomb shares transferred

CHANDIGARH, March 31 (TNS) — The Board of Directors of Bausch & Lomb Limited (BLI) has been advised by Bausch & Lomb incorporated, Rochester that 44% shares of BLI that were held by Bausch & Lomb South Asia Inc. — a wholly owned subsidiary of B&L — have been transferred to another of B&L’s wholly owned subsidiary viz. Bausch & Lomb Indian Holdings Inc.

Sun Pharma board to consider merger

MUMBAI, March 31 (UNI) — Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd is convening a board meeting tomorrow to seek approval to merge Sun Pharma Exports Ltd, its subsidiary into the main company. If ratified, this change will come into effect from the next fiscal year April 1, 2000.

Reliance results on April 18

MUMBAI, March 31 (UNI) — Reliance Industries Ltd will announce its audited annual results for the financial year ending March 31, 2000, on April 18.Top



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BIZ BRIEFS

Bullion
Gold Std. Rs 4370
Gold 22-Ct Rs 4220
Silver Ready Rs 7645
Silver delivery Rs 7685

Price index
SHIMLA, March 31 (UNI) — The All India consumer price index number for industrial workers (CPI-IW) on base 1982-100 for the month of February, 2000 has decreased by one point to stand at 430 points, according to the Labour Bureau here today. The consumer price index number for February, 1999 had decreased by five points.

Mr N.S. Nanda, who has been elected President of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Punjab.

Chamber
CHANDIGARH, March 31 (TNS) — Mr A.R. Sharma, CMD of A.P. Solvex Ltd., Dhuri, has been elected President of the Sangrur District Industrial Chamber, for 2000-2001 while Gurcharan Singh Matharu, Executive Director of Matharu Chemical Ind, Bhawanigarh, has been appointed General Secretary of the chamber by the President.

Hind Lever
MUMBAI, March 31 (UNI) — Mr M.K. Sharma will be Hindustan Lever Ltd new Vice-Chairman, the HLL Chairman, Mr K.B. Dadiseth, made this announcement today.
Top


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