|Wednesday, October 4, 2000,
Petro price rollback to hit
Punjab lags behind in IT business
Punjab to set up special economic
India largest recipient of FDI
Review norms for tax holiday: CII
Insurance has potential:
Canada revamps immigration
Petro price rollback to hit
NEW DELHI, Oct 3 The decision of the Centre to kowtow before the Trinamool Congress by agreeing to partially rollback prices of some of the mass consumed petroleum products will set back the reforms in the oil sector.
The government has more or less decided to partially rollback the prices of kerosene and LPG. The price of kerosene had been raised by 50 per cent while that of LPG had gone up by 15 to 20 per cent to offset the massive oil price increase in the international market.
The government had planned to onpass Rs 8,000 crore burden on consumers as part of its efforts to cut the oil account deficit. The oil pool account deficit is expected to touch around Rs 24,000 crore by the end of the fiscal. Of this the government had announced duty cuts in petroleum products to add another Rs 4,000 crore to the oil pool account and the rest Rs 12,000 crore was planned to be raised by oil bonds and other financial instruments.
The decision to rollback prices of kerosene and LPG, which even after the hike carries a substantial amount of subsidy, will be a major setback for Indias resolve to dismantle the administered price mechanism by March, 2001.
Dismantling the administered price mechanism would mean that petroleum products would be priced at par with import prices and there would be no element of subsidy.
According to Petroleum Ministry sources, the decision to hike the prices of kerosene was taken to bridge the gap between its price and that of diesel. Kerosene often gets diverted for adulteration of diesel.
Reports from Calcutta said the Prime Ministers special emissary, Mr Sudhindra Kulkarni, had assured Ms Mamata Banerjee that the Centre was ready to rollback partially the prices of petroleum products.
It is understood that the government would review the prices of kerosene, LPG and diesel at a Cabinet meeting on October 6.
The sources said the rollback would be symbolic and would act as a face-saving formula for Ms Banerjee.
However, oil industry sources said the rollback would be a setback for the reforms in the oil sector, which appeared to have been put back on rails after the last months increase.
The reduction in duty rates and excise was also in tune with international trends and was seen as pro reforms. The hike would send wrong signals to several oil majors, both domestic and international, on the future of reforms in the oil sector.
Several Indian and international companies have made heavy investments on the understanding that the sector would be decontrolled in the next couple of years.
Apart from the partial rollback in the prices, the Petroleum Ministry would have to contend with the Finance Ministrys reluctance to go in for oil bonds.
Finance Ministry sources
say that the Petroleum Ministry will earn an additional
Rs 16,000 crore next year as a result of the price
increase and duty cuts. Also, there is uncertainty that
who would repay the bonds once the oil sector is
Punjab lags behind in IT
CHANDIGARH, Oct 3 Has Punjab become less important at the national and International level ? Yes, if one is to go by the recent events.
Three big personalities visited India in recent months. Punjab was on their business agenda.
First, it was Mr Bill Clinton, President of the USA, who visited the country in March this year. He preferred Rajasthan as far as sight seeing and having a feel of the development in the countryside was concerned. His popular image of dancing with women in a Rajasthan village is still fresh in the memory of many Indians. As far as the IT industry and business was concerned, he preferred Hyderabad and Mumbai.
Punjab figured nowhere in his itinerary. Neither Punjabi NRIs,who always make loud claims about their say in the USA, especially with Mr Clinton, were able to convince that he should visit Punjab. His visit would have certainly given a push to the IT industry in the state.
In August, Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori visited India. He first landed in Bangalore to discuss IT business with Mr S.M. Krishna, Karnatakas Chief Minister, who is involved in a fierce competition with his counterpart, Mr Chandrababu Naidu, of Andhra Pradesh, to sell Bangalore in the international software industry market. Mr Mori assured to issue multiple entry visas to Indians for promoting IT business between the two countries.
It may be mentioned that 64 per cent software exports from Bangalore is to the USA and Japan it is only 4 per cent. Mr Krishna wooed Mr Mori to enhance the Bangalores share in latters country. Punjab did not figure on the list of Mr Mori.
In September, the czar of IT industry, Mr Bill Gates, reached Delhi for just 24 hours. Chief Ministers of at least 10 states met Mr Gates. Punjabs Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Haryanas Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala was also there. However, Mr Gates had reserved a special treatment for Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
He spared his precious time to have exclusive one- to- one meeting with Mr Krishna and Mr Naidu. For other Chief Ministers, including Mr Badal, the only consolation was that they had a good handshake with Mr Gates and also to share a table with to have some snacks and hand over to him their agenda about the promotion of IT in their respective states.
The Microsoft, had opened a Centre of Excellence in IT Human Resources Development in the Regional Engineering College, Jalandhar, which was to be extended to other engineering colleges in the state in the phased manner. After initial start, the centre has not been upgraded with latest technology.
Only a few years back, Punjab used to be a destination for all big guns. It had its name as the most prosperous state in the country. But with changing times, Punjab has started lagging behind.
Why this is so? The political leadership of the state has failed to meet the challenges on the IT front. It has failed to resolve its problems of bandwidth and accessibility. The IT industry, which has stepped into Punjab, more precisely in SAS Nagar, is feeling disillusioned. Even basic social infrastructure has not been provided. IT big wigs, always look for world-class infrastructure, including super five star hotels, well-lit night golf courses, etc. Punjab has not focused sincerely and honestly to provide all this.
Commenting in this
connection, one senior bureaucrat said, Mr
Badals priorities lie elsewhere. He is more at ease
in doing electioneering than dealing with the IT
industry. Had Mr Badal spent even half the time in Mohali
than what he did in Sunam, at least the IT entrepreneurs
who had already set shop would not be giving second
thought of shifting elsewhere.
Punjab to set up special economic
CHANDIGARH: To exploit the symbiotic relationship between industry and agriculture, Punjab is assessing the viability of setting up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The likely choice of location is Ludhiana or any other suitable place the industry may suggest.
Both industry and agriculture, of late, show disturbing trends of stagnation, if not of declining production and productivity. Both suffer for want of requisite infrastructure: physical, financial and market.
The emerging global economic trends also necessitate reinventing the system to resuscitate industry and agriculture.Together the two can enable Punjab promote economic development and provide greater job opportunities.
While knowledge based industry is the in-thing, the key to its success is with the small and medium units. These number around two lakh in Punjab. For this to happen entrepreneur-friendly and area-specific policies are required to enable industry and agriculture grow simultaneously.
Punjabs exploration for SEZ is aimed at giving an impetus to Export Oriented Units (EOU) to enable entrepreneurs take advantage of the global market, says the Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Mr Ramesh Inder Singh.
Exports, at present, account for 8 per cent of the total industrial production of the state. Agricultural exports are a mere flash in the pan: only a small quantity of food products, rice and rice bran are exported.The main items of export are textiles, woollens, light engineering goods, auto parts, leather goods and handicrafts, pharmaceuticals etc.
Mr R.I. Singh says there is a steady rise in exports. These rose from Rs 769 crore (1990-91) to Rs 4,062.62 crore (1999-2000). The maximum contribution is of yarn textile (Rs 918.38 crore), followed by rice (Rs 528.72 crore), ready-made garments (Rs 518.16 crore) and cycle parts (Rs 51.20 crore).
Ludhianas share in exports is maximum: Rs 2,070.76 crore, followed by Jalandhar and Amritsar, Rs 881.06 crore and Rs 731.14 crore, respectively.
Even small districts like Moga and Muktsar have their own small shares in exports. While the former exports goods worth Rs 1.72 crore, the latter, Rs 3.56 crore.
As per the industrial policy of Punjab, several incentives and certain initiatives are available.The package is also offered to attract NRIs to invest in the state. There also exists a Single Window System, which aims at assured quick, hassle-free service. A tall claim, often disputed by entrepreneurs.
A lot needs to be done to streamline the system and make it corruption-free. Even the sun-rise industry (Information Technology or Knowledge-based) is finding it hard to stay put (even in Mohali) in the absence of slow and casual approach of the powers that be when it comes to providing basic services and infrastructural facilities.These are in terms of interruption-free electricity, quick clearance of application with related no-objection certificates from the quarters concerned, fast communication, easy approach from and to airports and better accommodation and recreational facilities at work sites.
In fact absolute plain-speaking was done by Prof. Mohanbir Singh Sawhney, Head of Technology and E-Commerce Group at Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, USA, to a captive audience of bureaucrats, academicians (including vice-chancellors) and business people at Punjab Bhawan here last week.
In his pep-talk he suggested adopting result-oriented approach, changing and strengthening educational system at the school level. Such skills be imparted to students whose careers in future would be driven by market and industry needs. Deadwood has to be weeded every where. It is better to pay and allow people to stay at home rather than having them cause negative influence on the system, he added.
When it comes to promoting industry, ground realities are entirely different from the window show- dressing done by bureaucrats and technocrats, who speak in orchestered tone.
Nevertheless, Mr R.I.Singh explains, to enable hassle-free manufacture and trade activity for the purpose of exports, the Centre has set up SEZ. The units in those zones are not subjected to any pre-determined value addition, export obligation input-output wastage norms etc. Such units are also treated as being outside the customs territory. Sale in domestic tariff area by such units in these zones are permitted only on payment of full customs duty. As per norms prescribed for the SEZ, the area has to be around 1,000 to 2,000 acres. Naturally advantage went to states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu etc. Now the government is considering reducing the size of SEZ to benefit more states.
It is in this context that Punjab industries department has initiated a dialogue with the industry for the proposed Special Economic Zone.
India largest recipient of FDI
NEW DELHI, Oct 3 India with $ 2.2 billion in 1999 was the largest recipient of the FDI in South Asia and further liberalisation of FDI policies would raise inflows in the years to come.
In the longer term, the subregion has great FDI potential. Its realisation will depend very much on the pace of liberalisation and economic reforms, as well as on domestic and regional stability, said the World Investment Report, 2000: cross border mergers and acquisitions and development.
The FDI flow in South Asia declined by 13 per cent to $ 3.2 billion in 1999. Inflows to India, the single largest recipient, were $ 2.2 billion down from 2.8 billion in 1998 said the report published by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
The reduction was largely because of the Asian meltdown as a result of which some economies suffered a severe setback.
Many of the South Asian economies provide capital outflow, the total outflow from India in 1999, however, was just $ 0.136 billion. Indian companies are still not investing in a big way abroad.
The report said investment prospects for developing Asia as a whole are bright, given the quality of the underlying economic determinants of FDI, the recovery of the region from financial crisis and the ongoing liberalisation and restructuring efforts that are now widespread.
Total FDI flows by transnational corporations (TNCs) into developing Asia (including Central Asia, West Asia and other countries of Pacific) rose significantly last year to almost $ 106 billion from $ 97 billion the previous year.
The FDI inflows by TNCs may surpass the one-trillion dollar this year, as they stood at an impressive $ 865 billion last year, the report said.
The report said although
the modes of FDI entry bring foreign capital to a host
country, the financial resources provided through mergers
and acquisitions do not always add to the capital stock,
while in the case of greenfield FDI they do. Hence a
given amount of FDI through mergers and acquisitions may
correspond to a smaller productive investment than the
same amount of greenfield FDI, or to none at all.
However, when the only realistic alternative for a local
firm is closure, cross-border merger or acquisition can
serve as a life preserver.
Review norms for tax holiday: CII
NEW DELHI, Oct 3 (UNI) The CII has urged the government to review the norms for providing tax holidays to units being set up in free trade zones (FTZs).
According to CII Section 10A of the Income Tax Act provides a 10-year tax holiday to industrial undertakings in FTZs under the condition that they export at least 75 per cent of their turnover. In addition to this, a new sub section 9 was inserted by the Finance Act, 2000, stating that if there was any change in the beneficial ownership of a company by more than 51 per cent the company would be deprived of this deduction.
The CII said in this age of mergers and acquisitions, this provision will lead to undue hardship for the exporting community especially in the case of the software industry, where M and A activity is extremely common.
This provision is not in tune with the overall policy of the government to promote corporate restructuring, it said and added that this provision would discourage such activity.
NEW DELHI, Oct 3 (PTI) The Ministry of Information Technology will jointly organise a two-day conference on electronic governance with Exhibitions India beginning tomorrow to highlight the social relevance and myriad uses of information technology in promoting government-citizen interface.
The meet, in which Delhi will be the partner state, is expected to chart out a road map for taking IT to the masses and making maximum number of people aware of the relevance of IT applications.
Some of the key issues
to be discussed during the meet include responsiveness
and accessibility of government agencies and institutions
to using electronic technologies for a better service to
the citizen and improving transparency in daily
Insurance has potential: Rangarajan
HYDERABAD, Oct 3 (PTI) Andhra Pradesh Governor Dr C. Rangarajan today said that the vast potential in the insurance sector can be tapped to the advantage of the economy with imaginative corporate planning and commitment to service.
The approach to insurance must be in tune with the changing times, he said inaugurating a national seminar on insurance and risk management for the corporate sector organised jointly by India Insure and Financial Express here.
He said a well-developed insurance industry promotes economic growth by encouraging risk taking. Risk is endemic in many economic activities and without some kind of cover against risk some of these activities will not be carried out at all, he added.
Stating that insurance is based on the operation of the law of large numbers, he said there must be sufficient number of risks of a similar class being insured so that the probability of loss can be estimated.
Canada revamps immigration
CHANDIGARH, Oct 3 Qualification criterion for the people desiring to immigrate to Canada has been revamped. Points for the job skills and experience have been increased. Col B.S. Sandhu, Chairman and MD of WWICS, while informing this said that more people can now qualify for immigration.
Reportedly, the point
system which was being used till now had maximum possible
110 points, of which the minimum required points to
qualify were 70. As per the new system, the maximum
possible points will be 100. The occupation list of jobs
in demand, will also be done away with.
By Garima Kumar
Offer price: Rs. 10
Issue opens on: Oct 4
Issue closes on: Oct 11
Listing: Hyderabad, Bangalore and Ahmedabad.
Originally incorporated as Oasis Infotech Pvt. Limited in the year 1997, the company was subsequently converted into a public limited concern in the year 1999. Presently, the companys main thrust areas include Software development in e-business solutions, e-commerce related services such as Web designing and Hosting, Hosting Web Mall, Portal engineering, Banking solutions, WAP solutions, Manpower consultancy, Software consultancy and Software education.
With the issue proceeds the company plans to fund the cost of proposed project of Software Development, to set up infrastructure facilities in related areas and to set up overseas offices at Singapore and USA. Oasis is a Microsoft Solution Provider, Sun Solution Provider and is a VUE Authorised centre.
The cost of the project has been appraised by APIDC. Additionally, it will participate by way of term loan to the tune of Rs 63 lakh and Rs 7 lakh by way of equity participation. Besides encouragement from Government by way of tax, duty benefits and promotion of Software Technology Park schemes etc., the software development industry has large market potential on both the domestic and international front.
The company is yet to place orders worth of Rs 160.6 lakh towards hardware and software, forming part of Plant & Machinery, which constitutes 79.19 per cent of value of the plant and machinery. Considering factors such as its recent shift in focus from training activities to software development, unrealistic projections and lack of experience in the overseas markets, one would do well by staying away from this issue.
Recommendation: Avoid Investment.
Balaji Tele to raise 35 cr
MUMBAI, Oct 3 (PTI) Balaji Telefilms Ltd (BTL) is entering the capital market through the book- building route to raise over Rs 35 crore to part-finance its expansion plans.The issue comprises a book-build portion of 25.20 lakh equity shares representing 90 per cent of the total issue, and a fixed price portion of 2.80 shares.The floor price of the issue, to be decided shortly, will be in the range of Rs 125-135 per share, BTL Chairman and Bollywood actor Jeetendra told newspersons here today. Proceeds of the issue will be utilised for acquiring land and building in four cities (Rs 8.70 crore), shooting and post-production equipment (Rs 22.65 crore), leased buildings (Rs 6 crore), long-term working capital (Rs 16.05 crore) and other expenses (Rs 4 crore). Post issue, the holding of the promoter group, would come down to 67.92 per cent from the present 93.27 per cent, Jeetendra said.Global Trust Bank has sanctioned a term loan of Rs 7 crore to the company, and some funds were expected from internal accruals, CEO Sanjay Dosi said.
plan for quality dairy products
NEW DELHI, Oct 3 The WTO accord has thrown open vast opportunity for the dairy industry and the Indian industries would have to raise the competitiveness to take advantage of the new trade opportunities, Mr Chaoba Singh, the Minister of State for Food Processing Industries said here today.
The Minister suggested the need for drawing up a comprehensive strategy for producing quality and safe dairy products at competitive prices, while inaugurating the second international dairy and food technology expo here.
Mr Chaoba Singh said if India, the largest milk producer and consumer in the world, were to emerge as a milk products exporting country, developing of proper production, processing and marketing infrastructure was imperative.
Dr Gerald Thalhem, German Minister said if the two countries collaborate in technical and marketing areas for improving milk productivity and production, a huge market could be tapped.
By Ashok Kumar
Bears have upper hand
THE Indian bourses have this propensity to prove pundits wrong and just when everyone had written it off following the sharp oil price hike and yet another display of political antics, the markets chose to go into the stability mode. However, the market is still not out of the woods yet and the bears continue to hold the upper hand.
Traders with a bearish temperament can consider short positions at the counters of Visulasoft at 1392 (cover up at Rs.1319 ) and Sterlite at Rs.179 ( cover up at Rs.163 ). Those with a bullish temperament, may consider taking up long positions at the counters of Polaris Software at Rs.536 ( square up at Rs.587 ) and Hindustan Lever at Rs. 203 (square up at Rs.214 ).
At 46, she plans marathon
LONDON, Oct 3 Age is no bar for Judy Nicholson, a 46-year-old British woman who has decided to participate in the annual Mount Everest marathon to raise money for charity.
Nicholson, a mother of one, will be one of the older participants in the event, starting from the Everest base camp of Gorakshep at 17,000 feet to Namche, which is 6,000 feet lower.
She says the distance she will cover is 26.2 miles and adds she is not sure how long it will take her. Ive tried to get as fit as I can, but it depends on my acclimatisation, she told India Abroad News Service.
A seamstress by profession, Nicholson says, I will try anything that is a challenge, I see this as a way to challenge my body and brain and to raise money for charity. She hopes sponsors from around the world will assist her to raise money for two charities, the Everest Marathon Fund, which supports projects in Nepal, and the St Andrew Hospice Appeal in the Yorkshire town of Grimsby.
Nicholson, who has started training on mini marathons near her hometown of Leven, felt the pull of Everest when she saw an advertisement in the magazine Runners World. Although she herself is a runner, she never expected the marathon organisers to accept the application.
I had to tell them what kind of running I had done in the past to see if I was up to running on the rough terrain of Everest. I told them about my coast-to-coast runs and training on the Yorkshire Moors, which I think must have impressed them.
Seventh-four others from around the world will participate in the epic event. Nicholson, who will pay for her own air ticket to Nepal and back, says she is fortunate to have the support of her family. Her husband, a digger-driver, and her 19-year-old son, a car mechanic, have said they are fully behind her. IANS
Female workers face sex abuse
DHAKA: Sexual abuse, meagre wages and life-threatening safety lapses are some of the routine problems facing an estimated 1.5 million women toiling in Bangladeshs garment factories.
About 6,000 female workers have been sexually violated in two years (until now) by a section of garment owners, male colleagues, law enforcing agents and others, Amirul Huq Amin, General Secretary of the National Garment Workers Federation, told Reuters Tuesday.
Some factory owners even use female workers as bait to hook up (with) buyers coming from abroad, he added.
Garment exports earned Bangladesh $ 4 billion in 1998-99 (July-June), Commerce Ministry officials said.
The garment industry, which accounts for four-fifths of annual export earnings, had stopped using child workers a few years ago due to pressure from Overseas Buyers and the International Labour Organisation.
But Amin said other problems including sexual abuse remained.
He said about 70 per cent of sexual abuse incidents occurred inside factories where women worked night shifts, often with the doors locked from the outside.
Women workers also fell prey to sexual abuse when returning home at odd hours, he said, adding that offenders included policemen and criminals. Reuters
Nepal bans Rs 500 notes
MUMBAI: Do not board a plane for Nepal if you are carrying Rs 500 denomination Indian currency notes with you. It may land you in the jail of the Himalayan Kingdom.
According to a recent notification issued by the government of Nepal, the possession of Rs 500-denomination Indian currency notes in the country is an offence under Section-5 of Foreign Exchange (Regulation) Act, 2019(BS)(1962). These notes are non-exchangeable and prohibited from being taken out or brought inside Nepal.
In fact, Indian Airlines
advised all its offices and agents issuing the Airline
tickets on Indo-Nepal sector to inform passengers not to
carry Indian currency notes of 500-rupee denomination
into Nepal. Violators of notification are liable for a
sentence of up to three-year imprisonment.
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