SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Restrictions on onion exports to go
New Delhi, July 2
The government has decided to remove onions from the purview of the Essential Commodities Act to stabilise prices in the market and to allow private players a role in the market.

Mobile phones set to surpass landlines
New Delhi, July 2
The government said today mobile phone subscription in India might exceed fixed line connections by the end of 2004 with cellular and WLL combined comprising over 45 per cent of the total subscribers.

Chinese apples for Indian mangoes
Mumbai, July 2
After electronic goods and toys, it is now the turn of Chinese apples to flood the Indian market. But this time, it’s a two-way process as Indian mangoes are also set to swarm the dragon nation.

Mittal to set up steel plant in China
Beijing, July 2
The LNM group owned by NRI steel baron Lakshmi Mittal will build its first steel production plant in China with an estimated investment of $100 million.

5 pc hike in upper class fares likely
New Delhi, July 2
In line with his efforts to give a populist touch to his maiden budget, Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav may effect a modest hike in upper class passenger fares and freight rates but leave lower class fares untouched in the Railway budget for 2004-05.



EARLIER STORIES

 
A coffin shaped as a Mercedes car and created by African artist Kane Kwei is on display at a major department store in Berlin on Thursday.
A coffin shaped as a Mercedes car and created by African artist Kane Kwei is on display at a major department store in Berlin on Thursday. — Reuters 

Fund for Indo-Iran pipeline mooted
New Delhi, July 2
India and Pakistan should set up a South Asia Infrastructure Fund (SAIF) to develop India-Iran gas pipeline passing through Pakistan and to address security concerns of India.

AAI staff protests sell-off move
New Delhi, July 2
Employees and officers of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) today held protest meetings at major airports across the country airing their opposition against the privatisation of the Mumbai and Delhi airports.

Auto scene
New-look Esteem next week
New Delhi, July 2
Maruti Udyog will launch a ‘‘new-look’’ mid-size sedan Esteem early next week with an aggressive pricing strategy. The new look Esteem, which will be competitively priced, has been designed in-house. The move is aimed at sprucing up the image of the car which was launched about 10 years back, industry sources said.

  • Kinetic Nova in US this month

Corporate news
Centurion Bank’s rights issue on July 23
New Delhi, July 2
Centurion Bank will come up with a rights issue worth Rs 91 crore on July 23, which will raise its capital base to Rs 288 crore by September-end this fiscal.

A boy looks at dolls at an exhibition in Kolkata on Friday A boy looks at dolls at an exhibition in Kolkata on Friday. Thousands of dolls and toys from all over India are on display at the three-day exhibition which kicked off on Friday.
— R
euters

Top


 

 

 


 

Restrictions on onion exports to go
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
The government has decided to remove onions from the purview of the Essential Commodities Act to stabilise prices in the market and to allow private players a role in the market.

Minister of Agriculture Sharad Pawar claimed that the move was aimed at allowing free movement and unrestricted exports. The fall in onion prices after bumper crop in Maharashtra and Rajasthan had also forced the government to take this decision.

At present only designated canalising agencies, Nafed and others, were allowed to export onions resulting a glut or scarcity in the market. With the removal of onions from the Act, private players would be allowed to export the commodity.

In the current year, the government was expecting onion exports to touch 10 lakh tonnes, 2 lakh tonnes more than the last year. With a proven sensitivity of the Indian kitchens to the high prices and scarcity of onions that even affected adversely the electoral prospects of the ruling party of the day, the movement of the commodity had always been put under curbs.

These curbs not only kept the domestic prices under check but also restrained the exports. Official reports say around 8 lakh tonnes of onions are currently stockpiled in Maharashtra alone, besides mounting stocks in Rajasthan.

At time of revision of the commodities list covered under the ECA in the beginning of this year, onions remained untouched because their production was not expected to cross 7 million tonnes.

Over the years, the normal production of onions has been around 5 million tonnes that places India second after China in production of this commodity in the world.
Top

 

Mobile phones set to surpass landlines

New Delhi, July 2
The government said today mobile phone subscription in India might exceed fixed line connections by the end of 2004 with cellular and WLL combined comprising over 45 per cent of the total subscribers.

Releasing the latest figures of performance of the telecom sector during the first two months of the current fiscal, the government said 28.74 lakh new connections were added compared to 25.95 lakh in the same period last year, registering a growth of 39 per cent.

The number of mobile phones, including WLL (M), as in May, 2004, stood at over 363 lakh and their share in the total number of 794.14 lakh phones was more than 45 per cent, an official statement said.

The private sector has contributed more than 90 per cent of the additional phones provided in April-May 2004. Its share in the total number of phones has increased to 41 per cent.

The number of village public telephony (VPTs) as on March 31, 2004, stood at 5,22,515, while the number of rural direct exchange lines was at 123.33 lakh. Tele-density during the period increased to 7.29 per cent from 7.02 per cent as on March 31, 2004. — PTI
Top

 

Chinese apples for Indian mangoes

Mumbai, July 2
After electronic goods and toys, it is now the turn of Chinese apples to flood the Indian market. But this time, it’s a two-way process as Indian mangoes are also set to swarm the dragon nation.

Traders from India and Shaanxi - a province in China - are planning to opt for a ‘’fruitful route’’ to boost the bilateral trade by exchanging Chinese apples for Indian mangoes.

Xian-based Huasheng Group Executive General Manager Wang Kui says his company is keen on exporting Fuji apples, new red star apple, Qin Guan apple, crisp pears, early crisp pears to India and would like to import Indian mangoes, grapes and litchies, in return.

Mr Kui adds, ‘’We are seriously thinking about two-way trade with India, especially with Mumbai. We are also keen on setting up a logistic chain and storage and distribution network based in the Mumbai region.’’

Mr Kui says, ‘’After efforts over the past few years, we have a certain market volume in India but would like to improve upon it. We are planning to go for tie-ups with Indian merchants for enlarging fruit exports in the Indian market.’’ — UNI
Top

 

Mittal to set up steel plant in China

Beijing, July 2
The LNM group owned by NRI steel baron Lakshmi Mittal will build its first steel production plant in China with an estimated investment of $100 million.

He plans to set up marketing, purchasing and manufacturing centres to tap the booming market, a senior official said.

LNM, the world’s second biggest steel company, will have its first manufacturing base in Yinkou City in northeast China’s mineral-rich Liaoning province with an estimated investment of $100 million.

“We firmly believe China is one of the leading places where we must expand our presence,” President and Chief Operating Officer of LNM Ispat, Malay Mukherjee said.

The Netherlands-based steel giant’s first foray into the Chinese market is expected to start operation on a trial basis before the end of 2005, Mr Mukherjee told the Chinese media in Shanghai, China’s commercial hub as well as the largest metropolis.

The first phase of the project will include a galvanised plate facility with an annual production capacity of 400,000 tonnes. — PTI
Top

 

5 pc hike in upper class fares likely

New Delhi, July 2
In line with his efforts to give a populist touch to his maiden budget, Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav may effect a modest hike in upper class passenger fares and freight rates but leave lower class fares untouched in the Railway budget for 2004-05.

Rail Bhavan sources indicated that there may not be any major hike in the ordinary and suburban train fares in order to give some cushion to commuters.

The hikes are essentially on account of the recent increase in the prices of coal, steel and diesel while finalising the budget proposals. The hike in the prices of diesel itself had put a burden of over Rs 1,000 crore on the railways, they said.

Yadav would be presenting the budget in the Lok Sabha at 12 noon on July 6.

The marginal hike in upper class fares is not expected to be more than 5 per cent, the sources said adding there might be rationalisation of tariff for air conditioned class keeping in mind the seasonal rise and fall of the occupancy rate in long-distance trains. — PTI
Top

 

Fund for Indo-Iran pipeline mooted
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
India and Pakistan should set up a South Asia Infrastructure Fund (SAIF) to develop India-Iran gas pipeline passing through Pakistan and to address security concerns of India.

The sponsors of this fund can be international investors like member government equity (20 per cent), industrial institutions (30 per cent), pension plans (15 per cent), commercial banks (15 per cent), insurance companies (10 per cent) and development banks (10 per cent).

Mr Usman Aminuddin, former Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Pakistan, today made this proposal while speaking at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). He said the execution of the project would benefit both countries— supply of natural gas at a cheap price to India and transit fee to Pakistan.

During his tenure between 1999-2002, he had played a crucial role to make the Pakistan government agree with India and Iran’s proposal to allow transit of natural gas through Pakistan. Mr Aminiddin has served as Principal Adviser to Premier and Shell oil companies.

Lamenting over the deadlock over the issue, he wondered whether such an important decision could be left to the governments." For the past 15 years, both governments have been just talking and talking and have not taken a decision to start the pipeline that could prove a peace line and an engine of growth in the region. “

Regarding the role of SAIF, he said, it would pay attention to government policies as these affect the protection of private ownership. SAIF can form strategic alliances with a number of North American, Canadian, Japanese, Chinese, Asian and South Asian multilateral and development institutions.

Analysts say Iran has a $10 billion investment plan for the gas sector during 2005-10 and a strategy to export gas to Europe from 2010.
Top

 

AAI staff protests sell-off move
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
Employees and officers of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) today held protest meetings at major airports across the country airing their opposition against the privatisation of the Mumbai and Delhi airports.

Although there was no disruption of any flight schedule and other operations, AAI employees gathered in large numbers all across the country to protest against the decision of privatisation of the Delhi and Mumbai airports.

The protest actions were led by the AAI Employees Joint Forum comprising various airport unions. The employees are protesting against the recent decision of the empowered Group of Ministers (GoM) to “sell or privatise” the two airports “in the name of modernisation”, union leaders, including Forum Convenor M.K. Ghoshal, claimed.
Top

 

Auto scene
New-look Esteem next week

New Delhi, July 2
Maruti Udyog will launch a ‘‘new-look’’ mid-size sedan Esteem early next week with an aggressive pricing strategy.

The new look Esteem, which will be competitively priced, has been designed in-house. The move is aimed at sprucing up the image of the car which was launched about 10 years back, industry sources said.

The Esteem, which topped the list of J D Power and NFO, global market survey agencies, for its quality and cost of ownership, needed a new look, they said. The new entry-level mid-size car which has 1300cc MPI engine has been developed in India by the engineers of Suzuki.

Maruti, which is 54.2 per cent-owned by Suzuki Motor Corp., Japan, has already designed the variant of compact car Zen in India.

The new version of Esteem will help Maruti garner a considerable share in mid-size car market which was growing at a considerable pace, they said.

The Esteem is pitted against Ford’s Ikon and Tata’s Indigo. At present, the base model of ‘Esteem’ sports a price tag of Rs 4.76 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

With Suzuki taking over the management control of Maruti, the Japanese mini car major had announced that Maruti would be an R&D hub for its Asian operations.

Kinetic Nova in US this month

Kinetic Motor Company said today it would start export of its 115-cc four-stroke Nova model to the US markets by the end of this month following the vehicle getting necessary clearances after the homologation process.

“The company has received the necessary clearance from the Department of Transportation of the US government to export the Nova,” a company statement said here. It said the certification also paved the way to Canada as an additional export destination. The company said it had estimated the final price of the scooter to customer would be around $3,000 per unit.

“The Nova has already been homologated and being exported to Europe and North America adds to the global sales opportunity for the company,” it said.— PTI 
Top

 

Corporate news
Centurion Bank’s rights issue on July 23

New Delhi, July 2
Centurion Bank will come up with a rights issue worth Rs 91 crore on July 23, which will raise its capital base to Rs 288 crore by September-end this fiscal.

“The record date for the rights issue of Rs 91 crore has been set at July 23, 2004, subject to necessary approvals. It will be completed well before September 30,” a Centurion Bank official told PTI here today.

Promoters Rana Talwar’s Sabre Capital, Bank Muscat and others have infused Rs 154 crore equity in the erstwhile ailing bank.

The bank, which came out of red in the first quarter of this fiscal, also raised its Tier-II capital by Rs 43 crore through subordinated debt.

After the proposed rights issue, the bank will have an additional capital of Rs 288 crore, the official said, adding that the capital adequacy ratio will then increase to more than the Reserve Bank stipulated 9 per cent.

Panacea to pay 100 pc

Panacea Biotec suffered a setback during the year ended March, 2004, as its net profit fell by 23.2 per cent to Rs 16.44 crore from Rs 21.42 crore in the previous year.

However, the Board of Directors recommended equity dividend of 100 per cent on face value of Re 1 per share for the fiscal.

Its net sales also declined by 3 per cent to Rs 260.98 crore from Rs 269.15 crore a year ago while the total expenditure increased to Rs 221 crore from Rs 216.96 crore, it said in a statement.

SBI invests in MCX

The SBI has invested in the equity shares of Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd (MCX), a subsidiary of Financial Technologies India Ltd.

Informing BSE Financial Technologies said with this investment the SBI has joined the league of bankers like the Union Bank of India, Corporation Bank and Bank of India to invest in Multi Commodity Exchange of India Ltd.

Due-diligence for IFCI

Punjab National Bank (PNB) will undertake its own due-diligence process for arriving at the valuation of the beleaguered IFCI that is proposed to be merged with the bank.

This will be done after getting the report of the ongoing due diligence conducted by the SBI Capital Markets Ltd as per the directive from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), one of the promoters of the IFCI.

Apollo Tyres eyes MRL

The Rs 2300-crore Apollo Tyres Ltd (ATL) today said the company plans to acquire the tyre business of Modi Rubber Ltd (MRL) by way of block purchases of the assets and transfer of the specified liabilities relating to the latter’s business.

The company will shortly be taking up ‘Technical, Financial and Commercial Due Diligence’ relating to the MRL tyre business. — Agencies
Top

 

 

Top

  bb
BRIEFLY

Inflation falls
New Delhi, July 2
The inflation rate fell marginally to 5.87 per cent during the week ended June 19 despite an increase in the prices of cooking gas, petrol and diesel. After rising for the last five straight sessions, the Wholesale Price Index (WPI)-based inflation rate was down by 0.2 per cent to 5.87 as compared to 5.89 per cent of the last week and 5.21 per cent a year ago. — UNI

LG launch
Mumbai, July 2
LG Electronics India today unveiled the latest international range of innovative ‘New Display Products’ (NDP) including Artvision LCD TVs. LG Artivision LCD Designer Television — priced in the range of Rs 40,000 to Rs 2 lakh introduced for the first time the concept of ‘Any Time TV’ where the television can be carried around without any cables because of the wireless technology- based transmission. — UNI

Indica Petrol
Chandigarh, July 2
After the successful run of Indica diesel version, Tata Motors has launched two models in the petrol segment - Tata Indica V-2 Petrol and Tata Indigo Petrol in Chandigarh, Jalandhar and Ludhiana, a company release said today. — TNS

BoB Gold Card
Mumbai, July 2
Bank of Baroda has launched its gold card scheme for export clients even as the bank hiked interest rates on the non-resident external term deposits with effect from tomorrow. — PTI

ICICI-PSB card
Kolkata, July 2
ICICI Bank Limited and Punjab and Sind Bank today announced the launch of the Punjab & Sind Bank -ICICI Bank Credit card. This marks the ICICI Bank’s first partnership with a public sector bank in the credit card business. — PTI

Crafts institute
Srinagar, July 2
To give fillip to the handicrafts industry in the state, Jammu and Kashmir government has set up a craft development institute, a satellite centre of Indian Institute for Carpet Technology and Common Facility Centre for handloom and handicrafts products. — PTI

NABARD
Shimla, July 2
NABARD has announced relaxations in its refinance schemes for the weaving sector for the current financial year. An official release issued here today said NABARD has reduced the rate of interest on borrowings for the weaving sector to 5.75 per cent per annum, thus bringing Himachal Pradesh on par with the north-eastern states. — UNI

Investors’ meet
Chandigarh, July 2
Supporting the Haryana Government’s project to set up a biotechnology park of international standards at Manesar (Gurgaon), CII Northern Region, in association with the state government, is organising an Investors’ Meet on July 7 in New Delhi. — TNS

Air-India
Chandigarh, July 2
Air-India has introduced extremely low fares to the residents of Punjab for both one-way and return journeys on Amritsar-Delhi-Los Angeles sector. The passengers from Punjab can now complete immigration and customs formalities at Amritsar. — TNS
Top

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |