Tuesday, June 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India







THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S


A worker packs rolls of thread at the workshop of private export firm Bluebreez Enterprises in the east China town of Ningbo on Monday
A worker packs rolls of thread at the workshop of private export firm Bluebreez Enterprises in the east China town of Ningbo on Monday. Small textiles and handicraft export businesses have fuelled economic growth on the east China coast in recent years — AFP photo

Ceiling on FDI in power removed
NEW DELHI, June 12 — The Government today raised the foreign direct investment (FDI) ceiling to 100 per cent in crucial petroleum refining and e-commerce sectors, while abolishing the Rs 1,500 crore limit in power as part of efforts to boost private participation in the infrastructure sectors.

Industrial growth up 12.2 pc
NEW DELHI, June 12 — The industrial production has posted an impressive growth of 12.2 per cent in April 2000 compared to 5 per cent in the corresponding month of 1999.

Carlson plans hotels in Punjab
NEW DELHI, June 12 — The $22-billion Carlson Hospitality Worldwide is making its presence felt in North India by opening up a 120-room hotel at Gurgaon, one at Katra at Vaishnodevi in Jammu and Kashmir, one in Jalandhar and one at Ludhiana in Punjab.

HP Govt initiates structural reforms
SHIMLA, June 12 — By merging some public sector undertakings and allowing major hospitals to levy users charges, the Dhumal government has initiated the process of structural reforms in the state in the right earnest.

Divestment of stake in Maruti?
NEW DELHI, June 12 —The Disinvestment Ministry has favoured offloading of government equity in Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL) and the issue is likely to come up for discussion at the June 23 meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment (CCD).

‘Knowledge Fund’ on the anvil
NEW DELHI, June 12 — Prime Minister’s task force for India’s development as a Knowledge Society is considering setting up a “Knowledge Fund” to strengthen the educational infrastructure of various institutions across the country.

IBM centre for Gurgaon
NEW DELHI, June 12 — Global Infotech giant IBM today launched a software centre at Gurgaon to offer e-business products and solutions specially focusing on segments like e-governance and employee productivity for government.



 

EARLIER STORIES


Japan's mobile communication giant NTT DoCoMo unveils the world's smallest and lightest mobile data communication unit "P-in Comp@ct"
Japan's mobile communication giant NTT DoCoMo unveils the world's smallest and lightest mobile data communication unit "P-in Comp@ct", sized a CompactFlash card weighing only 17 grams, at the company's headquaters in Tokyo 12 June 2000. The P-in Comp@act, inserting the CompactFlash card slot of PDA or notebook computers, enables to transmit and receive datas, e-mail and Internet with a speed of 64K bps. The NTT DoCoMo puts it on the domestic market 12 June with a price of 15,300 yen (143 USD). — AFP photo

 

 




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Ceiling on FDI in power removed

NEW DELHI, June 12 (PTI) — The Government today raised the foreign direct investment (FDI) ceiling to 100 per cent in crucial petroleum refining and e-commerce sectors, while abolishing the Rs 1,500 crore limit in power as part of efforts to boost private participation in the infrastructure sectors.

The decision to remove the 49 per cent ceiling on FDI in oil refining and e-commerce was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

In the case of the power sector, where 100 per cent FDI is already allowed through the automatic route, the ceiling of Rs 1,500 crore has been done away with for generation, transmission and distribution, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

As a further step to boost FDI flow, the cabinet also removed the condition of export earnings by foreign companies to compensate the dividend repatriated to parent companies.

Foreign companies are hitherto required to bring in export earnings in the same proportion to that of foreign exchange outgo by way of dividend, Mahajan said.

He said the government has decided to do away with this condition since the component of foreign exchange outgo was “insignificant” and the foreign companies found it very “restrictive”.

The restriction has been done away with in 22 specified sectors, including white goods, entertainment electronics, cigarettes, tea, coffee, sugar, salt, oil, soft drinks, leather and footwear.

Mahajan said the Cabinet decided to allow 100 per cent FDI in e-commerce for business-to-business operations with the condition that foreign companies would divest 26 per cent of the equity to the Indian public within five years.

Elaborating on liberalised FDI norms, Mahajan said an atomic energy project would be exempted from the concessions given to the power sector.

The Power Ministry had sent a proposal to the Group of Ministers last month for doing away with the ceiling of Rs 1,500 crore in view of the mega power projects announced by the government late last year.

The mega power policy stipulates various fiscal concessions for thermal projects of 1000 MW and above and the threshold limit of Rs 1,500 crore announced by the Prime Minister last year was considered a limiting factor to the massive fund requirement for such projects.

In yet another measure to develop power sector, the Cabinet decided to extend the concessional loans under “accelerated power generation and supply programme” to thermal and hydel projects to be completed by March 2002 and March 2004 respectively.

Under the scheme, the Power Finance Corporation provides 4 per cent interest subsidy for various modernisation, renovation, life extension projects in power sector.

The FDI liberalisation in refining sector is as per the hydro-carbon vision 2025 report, containing medium and long term policy prescriptions for the oil sector, submitted to the Prime Minister recently.



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Industrial growth up 12.2 pc

NEW DELHI, June 12 (PTI) — The industrial production has posted an impressive growth of 12.2 per cent in April 2000 compared to 5 per cent in the corresponding month of 1999.

The manufacturing sector grew by 14 per cent in April 2000 as against 5.7 per cent in the same month last year, according to quick estimates of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) released by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) today.

Other sectors which contributed to high industrial growth during the month were mining sector growing at 5.2 per cent as against negative 2 per cent last year and electricity which grew at 3.2 per cent compared to 6 per cent in April 1999.

During the month of March, industrial production had grown at 8.6 per cent while it had posted a growth rate of 8 per cent during last financial year.

The manufacturing sector, accounting for nearly four-fifth of the total weight of IIP, had grown at 9.6 per cent in March this year.

Among the use-based category, the recovery was led by consumer durable goods and intermediary goods.

Consumer durables grew by 19.2 per cent in April 2000 as against 16.2 per cent in the same month last year while the intermediary goods segment posted a massive growth of 21. 2 per cent this year compared to 7.8 per cent in April 1999, the quick estimates said.

The capital goods sector recorded a growth of 8.5 per cent in April 2000 compared to 6.5 per cent growth in the corresponding period last year.

The good run was reflected even in the basic goods segment with a growth rate of 5.4 per cent as against 3.1 per cent in April last year.

The consumer non-durables segment performed exceptionally well showing a massive jump in the growth rate at 9.9 per cent in the first month of current fiscal compared to only 1 per cent growth in the same period last year.

The non-metallic mineral products and the machinery and equipment segments witnessed a growth of 9.8 and 13.6 per cent, respectively.

While the beverages, tobacco and related products along with metal products recorded the highest growth rates in the month of 34.5 per cent and 40.6 per cent, respectively.


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Carlson plans hotels in Punjab
From P.N. Andley
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, June 12 — The $22-billion Carlson Hospitality Worldwide is making its presence felt in North India by opening up a 120-room hotel at Gurgaon, one at Katra at Vaishnodevi in Jammu and Kashmir, one in Jalandhar and one at Ludhiana in Punjab.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Paul Kirwin, President of Country Inns & Suites by Carlson’s, said that they are increasing their presence in India by setting up around 20 mid-segment hotels by the year 2005 through its franchisee, Chanakya Hotels. “This joint venture will help us build a base for the Carlson brand in India and to provide services to developers and operators within the territory”, he said.

Carlson’s has a major presence in the USA and has now identified India, Australia and Western Europe as the high potential market for expansion. Country Inns & Suites is a mid-market brand that would cater to the middle-class traveller looking for high quality and service at reasonable price, Mr Kirwin said.

Country Inns and Chanakya Hotels has floated Country Development and Management Services (CDMS) with the former holding 26 per cent stake. The joint venture has been floated with the objective of franchising, managing and operating Country Innsd & Suites by Carlson properties in India.

Within a span of two years, CDMS has signed up for Country Inns & Suites by Carlson properties at eight locations — Katra, Calcutta, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Mumbai, Pune, Puri and Cochin.

Carlson is also setting up Oxford Brookes University accredited Institute for International Management & Technology (IIMT) in Delhi to impart hospitality and tourism management training. The management institute will be a profit centre and will entail an initial investment of Rs 10 crore in Phase I and another Rs 30 crore in Phase II after two years.

IIMT is a joint effort of Radisson Hotels International, US, Edwardin Group, UK, and Unitech India. A graduate from the institute will get a B.Sc (Hons) degree which has been designed to develop effective and innovative managers for the international hotel and restaurant industry.


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HP Govt initiates structural reforms
From Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, June 12 — By merging some public sector undertakings and allowing major hospitals to levy users charges, the Dhumal government has initiated the process of structural reforms in the state in the right earnest.

In fact, the worsening financial situation has left the government with no option but go all out for reforms. With an average outflow of Rs 400 crore per month against revenue receipts of Rs 200 crore, the state finances presented a grim picture. Worse, successive governments, instead of raising resources and curtailing unproductive expenditure, resorted to market borrowings to make the both ends meet. Consequently, the annual interest liability of the state increased from Rs 210 crore in 1993-94 to Rs 850 crore in 1999-2000 and it was set to cross the Rs 2700 crore mark over the next five years. The outstanding debt, as projected by the Finance Department, will shot up from Rs 9,807 crore in 1999-2000 to a whopping 27,130 crore by 2004-2005.

Thus, a stage has been reached where borrowing from market is no more feasible to bridge the budget deficit. With the Centre not in a position to bail out the state owing to its own financial constraints the state has been left with no other choice but to carry out economic reforms and to attain fiscal stability, with the committee expenditure on salaries, wages, pensions and loan repayment accounting for over 80 per cent of the budget, there was little scope for economy. The only wayout to bring down the unproductive expenditure was to prune the bulky administration.

Belatedly though, the government seems to have realised this and its decision to merge the state urban development authority into the state housing board and integrate three other corporations is the first step towards downsizing of the administration. The 25 odd public sector undertakings, many of which were created on political considerations have been a big drain on the state exchequer with cumulative losses amounting to over Rs 160 crore. The housing board and the state urban development authority have been engaged in similar functions.

There are some more loss incurring corporations like the Agro Packaging India Limited, the HPMC and the Agro-Industries Corporation which could be merged into one as they were by and large performing similar functions. Similarly, the half-a-dozen public sector undertakings connected with promotion of industries which have lost relevance in the post liberalisation era could also be integrated. It is high time that the government set up a committee to look into the functioning of PSUs and make recommendations for improvement, merger or closure, as the case may be, to get rid of the loss making units.

The surplus staff from these corporations could be accommodated in the newly set up Health Systems Corporation, the road and other infrastructure development corporation and the Bus Stand Development Corporation. All these corporations have been created in the service sector and even if they incur losses it would be worthwhile.

The government has indeed taken a bold decision to allow state, regional and district hospitals to levy users charges. The hospitals will be managed by societies which will be free to utilise the funds raised through users charges for upgrading the facilities. The harsh decision may provide the opposition an issue to whip the government but it will go a long way in improving the health services in the state.

Although the financial crisis will continue to plague the state until some of the ongoing hydel power projects are commissioned, the reforms being initiated by the government will certainly help in reducing the yawning gap in income and expenditure and bring the deficit within manageable limits.

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Divestment of stake in Maruti?

NEW DELHI, June 12 (PTI) —The Disinvestment Ministry has favoured offloading of government equity in Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL) and the issue is likely to come up for discussion at the June 23 meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment (CCD).

“Maruti was created to protect consumers at a time when there were very few players in the automobile segment. Now since there are 10-12 players in the segment, public ownership has very little relevance,” Disinvestment Secretary Pradip Baijal told PTI when contacted.

He, however, did not comment on whether the issue was being taken up at the forthcoming CCD meeting on June 23.

Divestment in the Rs 8,500 crore Maruti, a joint venture between the government and Japanese auto major Suzuki Motor Corporation, has been a bone of contention between the two equal partners.

Official sources said the June 23 meeting of the Cabinet Committee was likely to discuss some big ticket privatisation including Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd and Maruti Udyog Ltd as part of the disinvestment road map for achieving the target of Rs 10,000 crore for 2000-01.

Meanwhile, Heavy Industries Minister Manohar Joshi was also non-committal on divestment of stake in Maruti. Joshi said here last week that his views were the same as that of the government.


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‘Knowledge Fund’ on the anvil

NEW DELHI, June 12 (PTI) — Prime Minister’s task force for India’s development as a Knowledge Society is considering setting up a “Knowledge Fund” to strengthen the educational infrastructure of various institutions across the country.

The task force which would submit its final report to the Prime Minister in August this year, is holding internal discussions and working out modalities for setting up a fund to provide scholarships, buildings and hi-tech labs to facilitate technical education, official sources said.

Though the corpus has not been finalised, sources said funds would be raised through contributions from Central and state governments, besides private participation.

The group would also spell out a road map to leverage the country’s knowledge expertise and strengthen the educational infrastructure especially in the rural areas, they said adding one of the areas being reviewed by the task force was the university syllabus across the country.


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IBM centre for Gurgaon

NEW DELHI, June 12 (PTI) —Global Infotech giant IBM today launched a software centre at Gurgaon to offer e-business products and solutions specially focusing on segments like e-governance and employee productivity for government.

The centre, expected to roll out its solutions by the end of this year, will also offer e-business solutions in local languages subsequently.

“The IBM e-business centre, second of its kind in the world, after China, would provide e-business solutions for Indian organisations, besides a range of services like technical consultation, proof of concept and technical presentations,” Ranjit Limaye, CEO, IBM India, said here.
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OFFBEAT

What’s Queen’s worth?

LONDON: When you are a pensioner, every little counts. So Gordon Brown’s decision to raise the universal state pension by a generous 75p a week must have been welcome news to the 74-year-old inhabitant of a modest little pile at SW1A 1AA, bringing her weekly income to an estimated 678,846.75.

Or thereabouts. The real story behind the Queen’s wealth is how successfully Buckingham Palace has managed to avoid embarrassing disclosures about the size of her loot. Somewhere in a tax office in Cardiff, where all the most sensitive returns are dealt with, there is a man or woman who knows more or less how much Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor is worth. Everybody else is taking wild guesses, ranging from an estimate of 2.18bn, in Eurobusiness magazine last year, to Fortune magazine, which has her sitting pretty on a 5bn nest egg.

In fact, the Queen’s dosh can be roughly divided into the bits we have no idea about - her private investment portfolio, where estimates range from 100m to 1.1bn — and the bits we know about but aren’t really sure who owns: the Crown Estate, the Duchy of Lancaster, her jewels, stamp collection and the fabulous art collection which includes 9,000 paintings, 28,000 watercolours, and 20,000 pen-and-ink drawings, including sketches by Raphael and Da Vinci. — The Guardian

Govt moots golden share

NEW DELHI: The Department of Disinvestment has suggested an amendment to the Companies Act to provide for a “golden share” to allow the government to go below the 26 per cent stake in blue chip public sector enterprises.

“If you divest, then you should divest 100 per cent and keep a golden share. Why should I lock up my money in if I can have the same influence through a golden share. In India, however, the golden share is not there in the Companies Act,” Disinvestment Secretary Pradip Baijal told — PTI.

‘Soft’ dinner with Badal

CHANDIGARH: Investors in IT industry want Mohali to look like the Silicon Valley with a full-fledged golf course, five star hotels, clubs of international standards and high tech parks. Instead of auto-rickshaws, they like non-polluting cabs. They also want a fire station in working order.

They have made these demands in writing on the state government’s request for feedback.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal will hold a dinner meeting with them next week. Earlier the meeting was scheduled to be held on June 13 but it was postponed due to Mr Badal’s busy schedule, according to Mr Ramesh Inder Singh, Industry Secretary.

There are over 130 companies registered with the Mohali software park — 60 of them have gone into production. — TNS



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CORPORATE NEWS

Sri Adhikari net up 148 pc

NEW DELHI, June 12 (UNI) — The Board of Directors of Sri Adhikari Brothers Television Network Limited has announced an 18 per cent final dividend for the 1999-2000 fiscal, having recorded a 148.29 per cent surge in net profit during the year. Its net profit for 1999-2000 stood at Rs 17.43 crore, up from Rs sharply from Rs 7.02 crore a year ago. The company’s income for the year was Rs 40.01 crore, up 29.60 per cent from Rs 30.87 crore in the previous fiscal.

Cadila to enter insurance business

AHMEDABAD, June 12 (PTI) — Cadila Pharmaceutical, is all set to foray into the general insurance business with the passing of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) Bill 1999. The company is in the process of making an application to IRDA for obtaining permission to enter the insurance business.

Alcan share transfer complete

CALCUTTA, June 12 (PTI) — The transfer of Indal shares in favour of A.V. Birla Group company, Hindalco, has been completed by Canada-based Alcan, and CEO of Indal, Chris Bark Jones would step down by the end of June. Indal sources said that a board meeting is slated after June 24, the day when the open offer closes. Hindalco, would possibly announce the new board once the Alcan nominees, including, Bark Jones, stepped down at the meeting.

$ 1.5b Zee ADR issue cleared

NEW DELHI, June 12 (PTI) — The Government today cleared the $ 1.5 billion overseas equity issue of Zee Telefilms, the largest ever issue by any Indian company abroad. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today gave permission to Zee Telefilms to issue American Depository Receipts/Share (ADR/ADS) up to 40 million shares or raise upto $ 1.5 billion.

Tata Telecom bags order

MUMBAI, June 12 (PTI) — Tata Telecom, a joint venture with Lucent Technologies, has bagged an order for setting up voice communication backbone in the about 20-acre high-tech software development centre of Bangalore-based Velankani Information Systems. The company has bagged the order owing to its unique solution offered on the Lucent platform called “definity” and the platform would connect over 3,500 voice points spread across the vast facility by an optical fibre backbone.


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BIZ BRIEFS

Telco sales

NEW DELHI, June 12 (UNI) — Telco has recorded a 113 per cent surge in passenger car sales in May, 2000, to 5,193 units as against 2,430 units a year ago. The May sales included 16 units which were exported from India, Telco announced in its website www.telcoindia.com. Its car production during the month increased 129 per cent from 2,577 units to 5,917 units.

IT meet

NEW DELHI, June 12 (PTI) — India is all set to play host to global it superpowers like the USA and Singapore at the Regional Round Table Conference on IT scheduled to be held here on June 21-22. The two-day conference will invite participation of about 60 countries including Russia, Australia, China, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, the UK and New Zealand.

Ansal project
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, June 12 — Ansal Buildwell Limited has bagged a Rs 30 crore project of North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, Shillong, for the construction of their housing complex for their upcoming hospital at Maw Diang.

UTI Bank

MUMBAI, June 12 (PTI) — Indiabulls.com, a leading financial services portal, has tied up with UTI Bank to provide depository services in dematerialised scrips.

Apollo tyres

NEW DELHI, June 12 (PTI) — Crisil has reaffirmed the ‘AA minus’ ratings assigned to the Rs 104.45 crore non-convertible debenture (NCD) programme of Apollo Tyres.

Millenn Info
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, June 12 — Leading foreign institutional investor Credit Suisse First Boston and Alliance Capital have picked up 7.5 per cent equity stakes in a leading internet company Millennium Infocom Technologies Limited which is listed in Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad stock exchanges, a company release said today.


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