Saturday, November 10, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

B U S I N E S S

India adamant on new WTO agenda
Doha, November 9
India is giving a tough fight to the USA and the European Union’s attempts at striking a deal and breaking up the stand of the Like-Minded Group of countries against the inclusion of new issues in the agenda of the WTO. Hours before the opening of the Doha Ministerial Conference, the WTO today admitted the absence of

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa, speaks at the opening of the WTO conference in Doha on Friday. — Reuters photo
consensus among member countries on launching a new round of trade negotiation in view of the concerns of developing countries, including India.

Demonstrators shout slogans against the World Trade Organization in New Delhi, on Friday. Many Indians fear that globalisation will expose them to more competition, cut their exports and endanger the huge rural economy. — Reuters 



EARLIER STORIES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Punjab to lift 37 lakh tonnes of sugarcane
Ludhiana, November 9
The Punjab Government has made arrangements to procure sugarcane in the state. The government is expecting to procure 37 lakh tonnes of sugarcane this year, as against 30.7 lakh tonnes procured during the previous year. Some of the mills in the state have already started the procurement and crushing of sugarcane. According to an official of the Sugarfed, the crushing in some sugar mills is on since October 30 and in the next two to three days, it would be in full swing in all 22 sugar mills of the state. The procurement would go on till April 15.

A healthy way to smoke
Ahmedabad, November 9
As India begins cracking down on smokers in public places, an entrepreneur in this western city is offering them a chance to turn their vice into a "healthy" habit. Mr Natu Bhavsar, a businessman in Gujarat's principal city, manufactures cigarettes sans tobacco. His cigarette is, instead, filled with tulsi (basil), honey and turmeric.

‘China’s flights to India soon’
Beijing, November 9
Reflecting a further thaw in the bilateral relations, China has said it will start a direct flight to India “soon”, Tourism Minister Jagmohan said today.

IT rationalisation on the cards
New Delhi, November 9
The government is considering rationalisation of income tax as recommended by the Partho Shome Committee, Revenue Secretary, Dr S. Narayan disclosed here today.

ROUND-UP

BILT to divest 25 pc stake in Phoenix
New Delhi, November 9
Ballarpur Industries Ltd (BILT) today said it will divest its entire 25 per cent stake in Thailand-based Phoenix Pulp and Paper Company Ltd for Rs 165 crore by next week. “We have already offloaded some stake.

  • Walt Disney toys in India by Dec

  • Minor hiccup for MUL disinvestment

Rice millers yet to receive payment
Jalalabad, November 9
Mr Darshan Lal Wadhwa, Executive Member, the Rice Millers Association, has criticised the Punjab Government for not making payments to rice millers against the levy rice delivered by them in the Central pool.

SEBI bars Anand Rathi for two years
Mumbai, November 9
SEBI, in a majority decision, today barred former Bombay Stock Exchange President Anand Rathi from holding any position of a director or trustee of any capital market institution for two years effective March 12, 2001.

Frito-Lay festive boxes for Divali
Chandigarh, November 9
PepsiCo’s snack food arm, Frito-Lay has launched three varieties of festive boxes for the season under its traditional namkeen brand Lehar — “Divali Utsav”, “Meetha and Namkeen Saath Saath” and “Happy Divali”. The Lehar festive boxes have an assorted mix of namkeens and other Frito-Lay snacks.



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India adamant on new WTO agenda

Doha, November 9
India is giving a tough fight to the USA and the European Union’s attempts at striking a deal and breaking up the stand of the Like-Minded Group (LMG) of countries against the inclusion of new issues in the agenda of the WTO.

Hours before the opening of the Doha Ministerial Conference, the WTO today admitted the absence of consensus among member countries on launching a new round of trade negotiation in view of the concerns of developing countries, including India.

“There is a balance of unhappiness” among the developing as well as the developed countries about the Draft Ministerial Declaration (DMD), WTO spokesman Keith Rockwell said quoting Director General Mike Moore.

Sources close to Mr Moore told UNI that Commerce and Industry Minister Murasoli Maran is not yielding ground “and this remains the main stumbling block for the launch of a new round.”

India has been upset about the fact that both the USA and the EU have struck deals on a bilateral basis with countries to break the LMG.

The USA and the EU are also said to have come to a give-and-take understanding on issues like agriculture and anti-dumping. The USA has agreed to go slow on agriculture while the EU is said to have decided not to press on with the issue of anti-dumping.

This would mean that there will be a tremendous pressure on India to yield to Singapore on issues of investment and competition policy.

Trade sources said India will have to work hard to come up with a quick fallback position. New Delhi may be asked to compromise on issues and therefore they will have to press for a trade-off on several implementation concerns like Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and anti-dumping.

However, officials of the CII have advised Mr Maran that India should not yield easily on investment and competition policy.

The Indian team, led by the Commerce and Industry Minister, is having hectic discussions. “We have had bilateral talks with Tanzania, Singapore and Cuba,” Mr Maran told Indian reporters in his suite at the Sheraton, the main venue of the Doha Ministerial Conference.

Notwithstanding India’s refusal to accept a new round of negotiations, Pakistan seems to be waivering on services. However, “on agriculture we are with India”, delegates from Islamabad said.

The Ministerial Conference is formally opening this evening with the address of Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and the statement of WTO Director General Mike Moore.

Delegations number down

The WTO members have sent only 2,600 delegates to a ministerial gathering opening in Doha today, down from 4,000 participants initially expected, the meeting’s organisers said.

The USA worried most about security for its delegates in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks and the war against Afghanistan, has sent a small 51 member delegation to the encounter. UNI, DPA
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Punjab to lift 37 lakh tonnes of sugarcane
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 9
The Punjab Government has made arrangements to procure sugarcane in the state. The government is expecting to procure 37 lakh tonnes of sugarcane this year, as against 30.7 lakh tonnes procured during the previous year. Some of the mills in the state have already started the procurement and crushing of sugarcane. According to an official of the Sugarfed, the crushing in some sugar mills is on since October 30 and in the next two to three days, it would be in full swing in all 22 sugar mills of the state. The procurement would go on till April 15.

At present, nearly 20 lakh bags of sugar are stocked in the state mills as compared to 10 lakh bags stocked during the corresponding period last year. It has adversely affected the financial position of the sugar mills. However, the official sources claimed that the government had made adequate arrangements to finance the mills by providing bank guarantees.

Prof P.S. Rangi, a marketing expert at Punjab Agricultural University ( PAU) here disclosed that the area under sugarcane cultivation had increased to 1.20 lakh hectares this year as against 1.08 hectares during the previous year. The average sugarcane yields in the state are also expected to increase to 640 quintals per hectare.

He admitted that international sugar prices were not currently in favour of the domestic producers. Allaying the claims of critics that sugar production in Punjab was uncompetitive in comparison to Maharashtra and UP, he asserted that in a study submitted to the Centre, he had pointed out that the actual cost of sugar was equal to that in Maharashtra as the crop in Punjab was produced in 11 months against 17 months there.

However, sources in the Budhewal sugar mill here said the cooperative mills in the state were passing through a critical phase due to high stocks, levy and restrictions on the sale of molasses. The market rate of molasses was about Rs 200 per quintal as against Rs 62 per quintal fixed under the government quota.

Dr B.S. Tiwana, Chief Cane Development Officer at the mill, said: "The state government has not increased the sugarcane prices from Rs 100 per quintal, though the Haryana Government had announced new rates at Rs 105 per quintal. So a section of farmers may sell their produce in the neighbouring state.’’

The Sugarfed official said, "The farmers are already getting free supply of electricity and water, a major input in sugarcane cultivation, so there is no need of increasing prices at this stage.

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A healthy way to smoke

Ahmedabad, November 9
As India begins cracking down on smokers in public places, an entrepreneur in this western city is offering them a chance to turn their vice into a "healthy" habit.

Mr Natu Bhavsar, a businessman in Gujarat's principal city, manufactures cigarettes sans tobacco. His cigarette is, instead, filled with tulsi (basil), honey and turmeric.

The unique cigarette is sold under the brand name "Nirdosh," meaning "without fault".

Mr Bhavsar, 65, has a modest annual turnover of Rs 4.4 million though he exports his product to the USA, Germany, Italy, Sri Lanka and some other countries, besides selling it in the domestic market.

"Nirdosh" has caught the fancy of India's tinsel town too. "Indian movie star Govinda, who was once addicted to smoking, was so excited by the concept that he met me. Later, he also helped an actress to get rid of the habit," Mr Bhavsar claims.

Starting out as a cigarette vendor in a roadside kiosk, Mr Bhavsar expanded his business to sell "paan,"a betel leaf-wrapped digestive.

"I was a chain smoker of 'beedi' (leaf-rolled cigarettes). Such was the addiction that I could not leave it even while I was seriously ill. My wife used to nag me to shun the habit but I was helpless," says Mr Bhavsar.

"Since I was myself addicted to smoking, I did not realise I was selling poison to the people. Gradually, I developed various symptoms of tobacco-related diseases.

"One of my friends, Mr Rasik Parikh, an Ayurveda teacher who later became the vice-chancellor of Gujarat Ayurveda University, said: "If at all you have to smoke, why don't you roll up an Ayurvedic cigarette?'"

"This intrigued me," Mr Bhavsar says, adding, "I started wondering if a smoker could switch over from a tobacco cigarette to a harmless one."

He spent nearly two years studying Ayurveda. He travelled across the country, talking to Ayurveda teachers. Eventually, he developed the cigarette and experimented it on himself.

On his initial experiences, Mr Bhavsar says: "My cigarette tasted better than the normal tobacco cigarette. After a few days I realised it had cleared my body of the cough and rejuvenated my nervous system."

It was in 1972 that Mr Bhavsar began manufacturing "Nirdosh" in Ahmedabad. It has since been slowly gaining in popularity. IANS

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‘China’s flights to India soon’

Beijing, November 9
Reflecting a further thaw in the bilateral relations, China has said it will start a direct flight to India “soon”, Tourism Minister Jagmohan said today.

“China will soon start the flight,” Jagmohan told PTI on phone from southwest Chinese city of Kunming.

Describing his talks with China’s Minister of Tourism, he Guangwei, as “fruitful,” Jagmohan, however, said no specific dates have been announced for the inaugural flight.

Official sources said two major Chinese airlines are keen to start direct flights to India and have completed feasibility studies.

However, Air India was not in a position to start flights to China in immediate future due to non-availability of aircraft, the sources said.

Though a bilateral agreement on air services is already in place there is no direct commercial flight between the two countries due to several reasons, including lack of adequate traffic and non-availability of aircraft.

Guangwei, who is also the Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), assured that Beijing would consider adding India as a designated tourist destination for its tourists.

Jagmohan, on his maiden visit to the communist state to take part in the ongoing China International Travel Mart, 2001, in kunming, was optimistic about cooperation with China to promote its tourist circuits.

India has decided to place increased focus on East Asia, which has vast potential to attract tourists to the country, Jagmohan said.

As part of this effort, the Minister said he participated in the WTO General Assembly last month and held talks with like China and Japan. PTI
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IT rationalisation on the cards
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 9
The government is considering ratinalisation of income tax as recommended by the Partho Shome Committee, Revenue Secretary, Dr S. Narayan disclosed here today.

He said the government was also expected the Anomaly Committee report by this month end. He pointed out even though 35 per cent marginal rate of tax exists in the corporate sector, the effective rate of collection is only 10 to 12 per cent because of the large number of exemptions being given.

Addressing an international conference on tax management, organised by FICCI, Dr Narayan said a committee is also examining further ratinalisation of indirect taxes. While the excise duty was rationalised last year, a number of areas remain untouched. He said “definitely Customs duties would move downwards and that is the way we are look at”.

The Customs duty tariff would get reduced and the government was aiming at a peak tariff rate of 20 per cent. On the question of value added tax, he said it would be made applicable by April 1, 2002, but it will not be a comprehensive VAT.
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ROUND-UP

BILT to divest 25 pc stake in Phoenix

New Delhi, November 9
Ballarpur Industries Ltd (BILT) today said it will divest its entire 25 per cent stake in Thailand-based Phoenix Pulp and Paper Company Ltd for Rs 165 crore by next week.

“We have already offloaded some stake. We will divest the entire 25 per cent stake in favour of Siam Cement Corporation for Rs 165 crore and the process is expected to be completed by next week,” Gautam Thapar, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of BILT said.

BILT held 2,72,23,899 equity shares of Phoenix, according to its latest annual report. As on April 1, 2000, Janpath Investments held 2,751,970 fully paid-up 10 per cent cumulative redeemable preference shares of Rs 10 each, accounting for Rs 11.83 crore in Phoenix. PTI

Walt Disney toys in India by Dec

Mumbai
The extremely lovable characters of Walt Disney — Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Winnie the Pooh and many others of this family — will now be seen “together for the first time’’ in the form of cuddly plush toys by Mahindra Intertrade Ltd. (MIL), who has obtained the licence to sell, market and distribute Walt Disney Plush toys in the country.

This will be for the first time the Indian markets will witness a wide range of Walt Disney popular figures from Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy to members of Winnie the Pooh family that has Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet, which are not so commonly seen in the market. Also in the pipeline are other Disney characters like Chip, Dale, Crock, Jaq, Thumper and Dopy.

To be launched on November 12 in Mumbai, these toys will be available all across the country by December first week in a majority of retail outlets. UNI

Minor hiccup for MUL disinvestment

New Delhi, November 9
Disinvestment in Maruti Udyog (MUL) has suffered a minor hiccup with three chosen valuers for the process quoting different prices for the same work, forcing the government to explore various options for ironing out the issue.

Disinvestment Ministry had shortlisted a total of six valuers, three of them foreign, to choose three for valuation of the 50:50 joint venture between the government and Suzuki Motor Corporation of Japan.

Ministry sources said the valuers could not be finalised due to different price tag quoted by three chosen companies, including two foreign, but declined to give the names. PTI
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Rice millers yet to receive payment
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, November 9
Mr Darshan Lal Wadhwa, Executive Member, the Rice Millers Association, has criticised the Punjab Government for not making payments to rice millers against the levy rice delivered by them in the Central pool.

In a press note issued here today he said the rice millers delivered rice into the Central pool through the FCI which made payment to the Punjab Government. But due to the diversification of these funds the amount had not reached the millers. In the Ferozepur district only, millers had delivered rice amounting to Rs 70 crore but the payment of Rs 6 crore had been received so far.

Due to the crisis the millers were in a dilemma because they were not in a position to give payment to farmers who were badly in the need of money for the sowing of Rabi crop.

As rice millers of Jalalabad, Ladhuka and Fazilka have made bulk purchases of paddy this year and if the payments are not made without a further delay it would affect the Rabi crop.

District Food and Supply Controller K.C. Kajal admitted that the treasury was not issuing letter of credit. therefore the payment could not be given. But he was hopeful that the situation would improve soon.
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SEBI bars Anand Rathi for two years

Mumbai, November 9
SEBI, in a majority decision, today barred former Bombay Stock Exchange President Anand Rathi from holding any position of a director or trustee of any capital market institution for two years effective March 12, 2001.

The market regulator has also suspended his two firms, Anand Rathi Securities and Rathi Capital and Securities for nine months from the same date but let off Rathi Global Finance as it was found not doing any business and had surrendered its membership of OTCEI.

Another firm, Navratan Capital and Securities which was also banned from trading in March, has also been let off and no penalty was imposed as it was under the control of Gupta family and not under the Rathi family, SEBI said in its order. PTI

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Frito-Lay festive boxes for Divali
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 9
PepsiCo’s snack food arm, Frito-Lay has launched three varieties of festive boxes for the season under its traditional namkeen brand Lehar — “Divali Utsav”, “Meetha and Namkeen Saath Saath” and “Happy Divali”. The Lehar festive boxes have an assorted mix of namkeens and other Frito-Lay snacks.

According to Mr Manu Anand, MD, Frito-Lay India, “There has been a perceptible change in the gifting preferences of consumers. Lehar is set to play the perfect catalyst this festive season as well.”

Frito-Lay worldwide is the world’s largest snack food company and is part of the $ 22 billion PepsiCo Group of companies.
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BIZ BRIEFS

BoP cuts rates
New Delhi, November 9
Bank of Punjab Ltd has reduced interest rates on home loans by 0.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent depending upon the term of borrowal. According to bank release here today, during the festival season it won’t charge any processing fee or insist on guarantors for the salaried class. This festival offer is for the month of November. TNS

Diemould India
New Delhi, November 9
Diemould India 2002, an international exhibition of tools will be held in Mumbai from February 23 to 26 at Mumbai. Some of the important foreign participants are Renishaw of UK, DME of USA, Sandvik of Sweden, Delcam of UK, AGIE Charmilles of Switzerland and Makino of Japan. TNS

Duracell Plus
Chandigarh, November 9
Duracell today announced the introduction of Duracell Plus — a new portfolio of alkaline battery products that offer consumers enhanced performance over the current brands. Duracell Plus provides consumers significantly improved performance over the current Duracell alkaline batteries it replaces. TNS

Verka Pizza 
Jalandhar, November 9
Unfazed by the presence of multinational giant Dominos, Milkfed, which brought “the white revolution” in Punjab, is now getting set to launch “Verka Pizza”. UNI

New BP scheme
Chandigarh, November 9
Bharat Petroleum, has announced a scheme for truck drivers. It will cover 95 popular trucking centres in 14 states. BP stalls will be set up at prominent locations where truck drivers congregate and each truck driver will receive a Divali gift of free accident insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh, valid for a period of 6 months and a packet of chocolates. The scheme will only run from November 10 to 12. TNS

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