|Tuesday, June 20, 2000,
President clears IT Bill
Bank deposits up 18.5 per cent in
Postal panel proposed
New silos for Punjab, Haryana
Should one hold Cadila Health?
Worst cars on display
NEW DELHI, June 19 (PTI) President K.R. Narayanan has given his assent to the Information Technology Bill, 2000, that seeks to amend the existing laws in India to facilitate e-commerce. The Bill also aims to provide for legal recognition of electronic records and digital signatures to enable the conclusion of contracts and the creation of rights and obligations through the electronic medium, an official statement said here today.
The IT Bill will provide for a regulatory regime to supervise the certifying authorities issuing digital signature certificates. It will facilitate the creation of civil and criminal liabilities for contravention of provisions to prevent by possible misuse arising out of transactions and other dealings concluded through the electronics medium, the release added.
The Bill also effects consequential amendments in the Indian Penal Code and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, besides effecting an amendment in the RBI Act, 1934, to make easier the transfer of electronic funds between financial institutions and banks, and the Bankers Books Evidence Act, 1891.
This would give legal sanctity for books of accounts maintained electronically by the banks, the statement said, adding the Act would be enforced in stages.
President also gave assent to four other Bills, including Constitution (81st Amendment) Bill and Major Port Trusts Amendment Bill.
The President also gave his assent to Direct Tax Laws (Miscellaneous) Repeal Bill and Cotton Textiles Cess (Repeal) Bill.
With this these Bills have been notified in the Gazette of India as Acts of Parliament, which were passed during the Budget session of Parliament, the release said.
The Constitution (81st Amendment) Act, 2000, seeks to do away with the limitation of 50 per cent reservation out of total vacancies as imposed by the Supreme Court to enable the government fill the backlog of vacancies for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes.
The Cotton Textile Cess (Repeal) Act is a sequel to the recommendation of the P.C. Jain Commission on the Review of Administrative Laws, which had recommended its repeal.
The Direct Tax Law Repeal Act seeks to repeal certain enactments, specified in the Schedule to the Bill, which have ceased to be in force or have become obsolete, the release said.
The Major Port Trusts Act 2000, seeks to amend Major Port Trusts Act 1963 to attract new technology, introduce better managerial practices, expedite implementation of schemes for modernisation of major ports and foster strategic alliance with minor ports.
The Act also seeks private participation to invest about Rs 40,000 crore by 2012 to increase the capacity of major ports by 400 additional berths for handling traffic of 850 million tonnes by 2012, the release said.
up 18.5 per cent in Punjab
CHANDIGARH, June 19 Presiding over the 73rd meeting of the State Level Bankers Committee for Punjab here today, Mr S.S. Kohli, Chairman and Managing Director, Punjab National Bank, said that the credit plan for the year 2000-2001 envisaged a growth of 23.52 per cent.
Reviewing the performance of banks in the state for the period from April 1, 1999, to March 31, 2000, Mr Kohli said the aggregate deposits increased by 18.5 per cent against 17.9 per cent during the same period last year. The gross credit surged by Rs 2,858 crore to Rs 15409 crore. The priority sector advances grew by 18.3 per cent.
Welcoming the participants, Mr P.N. Khurana. PNB Zonal Manager, explained the implementation of government-sponsored programmes in Punjab.
Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, Principal Secretary, Punjab, said that whereas the CD ratio in the country has increased, in Punjab, it has gone down. He, however, expressed satisfaction over credit delivery under the priority sector.
CHANDIGARH, June 19 A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Communications today met representatives of the industry to get feedback on the performance of postal and telecom services.
Mr Ashok Khanna, ex-President, PHDCCI, suggested that the Department of Telecom should work hand in hand with state governments to ensure that wherever there is further expansion of industrial activity on the cards, the department should provide connections in that area on priority.
The telecom industry is also facing some problems But once issues like extension of infrastructure project status to all telecom services along with basic, cellular, paging VSAT and Internet; implementation of New Telecom Policy, 1999, setting up of the Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellant Tribunal within a fixed period, single window system for faster clearance of projects and resources are settled, India would be the number one destination for foreign investors.
Mr Subhash Kohli,
President, Chandigarh Industries Association, said a
postal advisory committee should be set up in which
representation should be given to the chambers of
commerce and industrial associations.
New silos for
NEW DELHI, June 19 Taking a cue from the modern silos in Canada, the Centre plans to similar storage bins in grain growing states like Punjab and Haryana with active participation of private enterprise.
Mr Shanta Kumar, the Union Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Affairs Minister, told correspondents on his return from a three-day trip to Canada that the cost-effective silos can go a long way in preventing losses due to handling and storage.
Impressed by a visit to a private-run modern silo, Mr Kumar said that each year the country loses grains worth Rs 7,200 crore and if India has such modern silos in states especially like Punjab and Haryana, the country can benefit immensely.
He said the grains could be stored in such silos for a long period of time without any damage and the results of quality testing of the grains including moisture content and proteins were obtained in less than five minutes.
The Minister said he called a departmental meeting to implement the idea preferably before the next procurement season.
We want the Food Corporation of India to take up the project on experimental basis and would soon invite global tenders to encourage private participation and technology, Mr Kumar said adding that both Australia and Canada evinced keen interest in helping India.
He said the country loses about 6 per cent of 200 million tonnes of produce worth Rs 7,200 crore. If we can even bring down the losses by 1 per cent it would mean substantial saving.
The Centre, he said, would shortly come out with the National Storage policy and the project of modern silos would also find place in it.
Budget to repair a broken economy
ISLAMABAD, June 19 Citibank executive Shaukat Aziz swapped Wall Street for Islamabad to become Finance Minister in an army-led government, seeing it as his mission to repair a broken economy and pay his homeland its dues.
For any Pakistani, if their country gives them an opportunity to save and improve the situation and to pay back to your motherland what it has given you, I think one should consider oneself a very privileged person, Aziz said.
Aziz, (51) was one of several professionals picked by Gen Pervez Musharraf to rescue Pakistan from implosion after the militarys bloodless coup last October.
On Saturday he presented the first Budget of the Musharraf government which is attempting to document a huge black economy and increase tax revenues by 24 per cent in a country where only 1.2 million people out of total 140 million pay any direct tax.
There is no starbucks coffee here. Aged men in a variety of Muslim beards and hennad hair brew dense, sweet tea in scruffy corners and, instead of the skyscraper vista of Manhattan, there is a small view of the tiny capitals lush Margalla Hills.
Its not like Manhattan. Living in Islamabad is like living in Greenwich Connecticut or one of the suburbs outside New York, which I have done, Aziz said.
Tackling taxation has been a declared goal of successive democratically elected governments but all caved in or fudged rather than take on a society in which tax culture is non-existent.
The Sharif government was one. In a chaotic two years, Sharif presided over the abrupt economic decline of a country which had been afloat until nuclear tests in 1998 brought international sanctions.
Aziz, who started his career with Citibank in Karachi, was courted by Sharif, an industrialist now on trial for corruption and misrule, but he refused to work for him.
I knew him. He used to call me for discussions periodically. He did say several times why dont you stay back and implement the ideas you are giving, Aziz told Reuters Television.
Its just that at that time I did not have enough motivation to come and I was not convinced that the system was stable enough and transparent enough that I could function in it.
Instead he has joined the Musharraf government, which has earned the anger of western governments because of the coup, even though many of them thought Sharif was rushing down the road to ruin.
Pakistan in my view needs no lessons in democracy. We know what it means and what it can do for a country, said Aziz, pointing out that the Supreme Court last month gave Musharraf three years to complete his agenda, and restore democracy.
Unfortunately our experience (of democracy) was a bit chequered. What we are trying to do is lay the foundation so that when a new government comes which is democratically elected some of the tough decisions have been taken and some of the choices made for them, he said. Tax is one such tough decision.
For his Saturday night Budget speech he wore the traditional salwar kameez or baggy trousers and tunic, which he wears normally only on Fridays for prayers.
But the next day he appeared at a news conference in slacks, blazer and tie and parried the questions of the press corps with ease and good humour.
One thing common to both civilian and military governments, who have shared Pakistans independent 52-year-history, is a wildfire rumour mill. Since last October, it has been working overtime to suggest that a frustrated Aziz has resigned.
Its absolutely untrue. I have no intention of resigning. Let me say my detractors will be very disappointed.
I am very pleased with how it is going. I am enjoying every minute of it. Its quite different from being on the other side of the table. You learn a lot but you can make a lot of difference and improve things. This is a mission for me.
by Ashok Kumar
Should one hold Cadila Health?
ON the day I landed back in Mumbai from Colombo around a month ago, I received a call from a high net worth investor who wanted to know whether he should consider a shift-over from ACC whose shares he had held since ages, but was now yielding negative returns, to the then recently listed Cadila Healthcare whose share price at that point of time had dipped to around Rs 120. Having already studied Cadila Healthcare at the time of its IPO which had run into rough whether, thanks in no small measure, in my opinion at least, to a flawed pricing policy thrust on the promoters by the merchant bankers, I unhesitatingly, advised him to go ahead and do exactly that. Last week he rang me to thank me for the advise and informed me that he had gained immensely. His question now was-should I hold on?
Before answering that tricky question, a look in at what the IPO of Cadila Healthcare Limited (CHL) was all about would help. CHL had proposed to utilise the funds raised through the entire IPO process to finance its new formulations unit at Morayia, near Ahmedabad (Rs. 149 crore), a state-of-the-art R&D centre (Rs. 45.9 crore) and for the expansion of its bulk drugs unit at Ankleshwar (Rs. 7.3 crore). A part of the proceeds had also been earmarked for the repayment of debts (Rs. 160 crore) and to fund brand acquisitions (Rs. 101 crore). CHL is currently one of the major players in the formulations segment wherein 90 per cent of its sales revenues are derived, and has 8 brands that rank among the top 300 brands in the domestic market.
If one were to evaluate this growins Indian pharma major using a snapshot SWOT analysis, the prime weakness and threats would include the fact that nearly 32 per cent of CHLs sales revenues come from products that fall under DPCO, and the possibility of the company overstretching itself while embarking on an acquisition programme for which a sizeable sum in excess of Rs. 100 crore of the issue proceeds has been earmarked. However, thus far, the company has belied these fears by making strategic acquisitions like that of Recon. The prime strengths and opportunities, on the other hand, would include facts like CHLs strong marketing and distribution strengths besides a sound domestic formulation strategy. CHLs focus on technology which is reflected in its state of the art plant facilities is another definite plus as are it plans to build a drug discovery research platform.
The pluses thus outweigh the minuses, and what further settles the issue is CHLs fairly impressive financial track-record. During the past three years, while CHLs sales have recorded a satisfactory CAGR of around 18 per cent, its bottomline has recorded a rousing CAGR of close to 90 per cent. What is more interesting here is the fact that the flushing out of debt from its balance sheet will go a long way towards reducing its interest burden in the forthcoming financial year which should translate into an enhanced bottomline and earnings, thus suggesting that the investor who is willing to bide his time can reap fair benefits from this potent prescription. Little wonder then that CHL was the first to introduce a Viagra like product in the Indian market.
So finally, what was my advise? Well, as one who believes in taking a profit when I see one, it was book-partial profits but do hold on to rest as the prospects of this company continue to appear bright. I, for one, am not ready to write-off pharma sector as a run of the mill Old Economy segment.
Worst cars on display
LONDON: Cars voted the worst ever built are the latest attraction at Britains National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, southern England. It has created an exhibition that brings together the 11 worst cars as well as 15 voted the best of all time.
The cars are displayed with labels on their history, but visitors must work out for themselves to which list they belong.
Some like the 1934 Crossley Burnley, perhaps born of an encounter between a sea-plane and a bin lorry, are so hideous they defy categorisation.
The cars were chosen by motoring commentators and correspondents and the public in time for the millennium, which also marked the end of the first century of motoring.
Lord Montagu, Chairman of the museum trust, who drives a Rover in London, a Daimler in Hampshire and a Ford Mondeo around his Beaulieu estate, has few quibbles with the best. And as he surveyed the worst, their lumpy shapes, horrid colours the Trabant, in pond-slime green, the clear leader here and tragic attempts at stylish detailing, he found it hard to disagree with the selection.
Doug Hill, chief engineer at Beaulieu, has bitter memories of two cars on the worst list. Did my test in an (Austin) Allegro. Horrible car, horrible to drive, horrible to look at. And the (Triumph) Mayflower, we had one as a family car when I was little, we called it the Dodgy we used to go on family outings and never knew how far wed get.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, is at Beaulieu, Hampshire, until September.
Unhappy as woman
TEHRAN: An Iranian man who recently had a sex change to become a woman wants a reverse operation because she finds life as a woman unbearable in Iran.
The 25-year-old Maryam, formerly Mehran, underwent a sex operation last year, despite strong parental opposition.
But she soon regretted the decision, finding it difficult to cope with restrictions surrounding a womans life in the conservative Islamic society.
I cant go on living with the new identity, after years of living as a man with no restrictions, she said. First I thought I would get used to it, but life has become painful and intolerable. So I want a new sex change.
Sex change operations are legal in Iran, but the system makes it far more difficult to change ones mind once the treatment has taken place.
Iran has a mandatory dress code for women, requiring them to cover their hair and body. Although their situation has improved in recent years, many women still feel they are discriminated against in many ways. For example, while men get on public transport through the front door, women must use the back door. Reuters
Yahoo! vs Yoohhoo
BANGKOK: The Internet company Yahoo! has moved to close down a Thai-owned portal for men, named Yoohhoo, which features pictures of scantily clad women and advice on sex problems.
The US-based Yahoo has filed a suit claiming the Thai sites name is too much like its own and can confuse. Net surfers.
Yoohhoo,com webmaster Chatchai Thumprasreat, who was warned off by Yahoos lawyers, defended his site. I told the lawyer that I had no intention of duplicating Yahoos name. Actually we have different names, it is pronounced differently and has different fonts, he said. AFP
Computers sold for a song
WASHINGTON: A US company has revealed that some of the surplus computers of the US weapons complex, which were sold as scrap, have ended up in working order in China.
The parent company of the top contractor of the Savannah River nuclear weapons complex Westinghouse Savannah River Company revealed yesterday that some of the surplus computers of the complex were sold as scrap overseas a few of which ended up in working order in China. PTI
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Aptech forms dotcom
Computech PCs for Rs
Hinduja Fin appoints
Panel for ITI
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