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Industry’s thumbs-up for Laloo’s Rail Budget
New Delhi, July 6
Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav’s first Railway Budget without any increase in freight charges or passenger fares will discourage the state transports and truck operators from hiking fare and freight charges despite a recent increase in diesel prices.

Railway Police personnel return from their duty at the New Delhi railway station on Tuesday In video (28k, 56k)


Railway Police personnel return from their duty at the New Delhi railway station on Tuesday. Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav presented the Railway Budget in Parliament on Tuesday.
— PTI photo

Banks in Punjab to increase farm loans
Chandigarh, July 6
Banks in Punjab have covered all farmers under the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme and have issued 13.87 lakh cards in the state, said Mr S.S. Kohli, Chairman and Managing Director of the Punjab National Bank (PNB), while presiding over the 88th meeting of state-level bankers committee (Punjab) here today.

Delay in rains to hit tractor sales
Chandigarh, July 6
The tractor industry, which has registered growth in sales during the first quarter (April-June) and was poised to be back on track, is now worried about the delay of the monsoon in the North.

Revised biotech policy by August
Bangalore, July 6
Karnataka will put out a revised biotech policy that will aim at taking the benefits of biotechnology to the people, and this policy would be ready by August, with inputs drawn from the international conference on ‘biotechnology for a billion people’ to be held as part of the Bangalore Bio 2004 between July 11 and 13th here.


A model wears a dragonfly accessory with a creation by a French designer for the Torrente fashion house during his Autumn/Winter 2004/2005 fashion collection
A model wears a dragonfly accessory with a creation by a French designer for the Torrente fashion house during his Autumn/Winter 2004/2005 fashion collection in Paris on Tuesday.
— Reuters

EARLIER STORIES

 

Sun, Phlox Pharma to merge
New Delhi, July 6
Sun Pharmacueticals has decided to merge with Vadodara-based bulk drug manufacturing pharmaceutical company Phlox Pharmaceuticals and approved the draft rehabilitation scheme. The Board of Directors of Sun Pharma at its meeting today further decided that the share transfer ratio on merger will be finalised in due course.

Polaris to develop banking software
New Delhi, July 6
Having focused on the overseas market so far, Polaris is now looking at developing banking and finance products for the Indian market.

That’s IT
PC sales cross 3 million units
New Delhi, July 6
Desktop personal computer sales grew 32 per cent to 3.03 million units in 2003-04, driven by reduction in prices, high corporate consumption and buoyancy in small towns.

  • Infogain to invest $3 m, to raise staff

  • Aventeon sets up centre

Auto scene
New-look Sumo to be launched today
New Delhi, July 6
Facing stiff competition from Toyota Qualis, Mahindra Bolero and recently-launched GM Chevrolet Tavera in the MUV segment, Tata Motors is launching a new-look and upgraded version of Sumo tomorrow to strengthen its share in the domestic market.

  • General Motors sales up 123 pc

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Industry’s thumbs-up for Laloo’s Rail Budget
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 6
Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav’s first Railway Budget without any increase in freight charges or passenger fares will discourage the state transports and truck operators from hiking fare and freight charges despite a recent increase in diesel prices.

But industrial associations have hailed the Railway Budget claiming that it would force the Railways to improve its efficiency and will curb inflationary trends in the economy.

The industry was quite apprehensive that after the recent hike in diesel prices by about 4.5 per cent, the Railway Minister will not hesitate to increase freight charges. Except a marginal increase in parcel rates, the Railway Minister has not announced any hike in passenger fare or freight charges. The diesel price hike is though likely to cause an additional burden of Rs 1,000 crore annually on the Railways.

Welcoming the Railway Budget, Mr M. Rafeeque, President, Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO), said,” the Railway Budget is a largely acceptable one.”

Introduction of e-ticketing, he said, would enable frequent travellers who have to undertake journey at short notice to get their reservation booked through Internet and occupy their reserved seats on the basis of a computer generated slip.

Mr Yogendra Modi, President, Ficci, said,” The Railway Minister has kept the freight rate stable, and hopes to earn more by attracting more freight and passengers.” The industrial associations are hopeful that the present Budget will also discourage truck operators to increase freight charges.

Interestingly truck operators, who had been complaining fall in business after the recent hike in diesel prices, were hopeful that the Railways would also increase freight charges by at least 4 to 5 per cent. “We are already finding it difficult to compete with highly subsidised Railways. Now we will not be able to increase freight charges even marginally,” said an office bearer of the All-India Transporters Welfare Association.
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Banks in Punjab to increase farm loans
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
Banks in Punjab have covered all farmers under the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme and have issued 13.87 lakh cards in the state, said Mr S.S. Kohli, Chairman and Managing Director of the Punjab National Bank (PNB), while presiding over the 88th meeting of state-level bankers committee (Punjab) here today.

He said since the Finance Minister has announced to double the flow of credit to agriculture and allied sector within the next three years, they have planned a 30 per cent growth in disbursal over achievements during current year. The total disbursal to farm sector was Rs 8,164 crore, which would be increased to a minimum of Rs 10, 620 crore to meet the expected growth. Disbursals under agriculture logged a growth of 21. 72 per cent.

The priority sector advances are 61 per cent of the bank’s advances, against the national goal of 40 per cent. The outstanding agricultural advances have shown a growth of 14.6 per cent during the period under review. And the advances to agriculture are 27 per cent of the bank credit against national goal of 18 per cent. He said the advances to the SSI sector registered an increase of 11.4 per cent as against 7.6 per cent during the corresponding period last year. Up to March, 2004, 38 specialised SSI branches have sanctioned loans to 10,146 to small scale entrepreneurs amounting to Rs 870.31 crore.
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Delay in rains to hit tractor sales
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
The tractor industry, which has registered growth in sales during the first quarter (April-June) and was poised to be back on track, is now worried about the delay of the monsoon in the North.

The tractor industry has registered a growth of 50.6 per cent in sales during the first quarter as compared to the corresponding period last year. The current fiscal might thus end with an 8-10 per cent growth as against a 42 per cent contraction in sales.

Mahindra and Mahindra alone has registered a 65 per cent growth in its sales by selling 14,807 tractors between April and June over the corresponding period last year.

Escorts has registered a growth of 113 per cent in its sales by selling 4,356 tractors in April-May, 2004, as against 2, 599 tractors lat year.

HMT unit of tractors in Pinjore, which had sold 1200 tractors in April-June 2003, has sold 1543 tractors in April-June 2004. Manager ( Public Relations), HMT, said the company had registered 20 per cent growth in sales during the first quarter over the last year.

An improved industry outlook is expected to augur well for PTL, which at number two position has showed a 40 per cent growth during the first quarter over the previous year. Sonalika also claims a record growth of 50 per cent during the first quarter over the last year.

The Director ( Marketing) of PTL, Mr A.M Sawhney, says the delayed monsoon in the region can affect growth. The other factors, which saw increase in sales were the availability of bank credit at single digit interest rates. ''Going forward, one can expect good numbers to come through. And this is just the beginning. One will see the actual results felt over 12 months,'' say analysts who feel that the industry has more than made up and will recover completely if the monsoon is good this year.
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Revised biotech policy by August
Sridhar K. Chari
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 6
Karnataka will put out a revised biotech policy that will aim at taking the benefits of biotechnology to the people, and this policy would be ready by August, with inputs drawn from the international conference on ‘biotechnology for a billion people’ to be held as part of the Bangalore Bio 2004 between July 11 and 13th here.

Mr M.K. Shankaralinge Gowda, Secretary to Government, Department of Information Technology and Biotechnology, said on Tuesday: “A nascent industry has to be pushed for growth. Once an industry matures, like IT, the push is for the benefits reaching the masses. BT is still young, but it has stabilized, and there are important benefits to be gained for the people at large,” he said.

Already, investments in BT in the state had crossed the Rs 1,000 crore mark, and another Rs 500 crore was possible this year, he said.

“Another key focus is going to be Research and Development. R & D is aimed at both increased productivity, which is important given our limited land availability, and ensuring quality, which is mandatory in an open, globalised economy.”

Getting venture capitalists to fund BT projects continued to be difficult, given the long gestation periods and uncertain returns, and therefore he was urging bit IT majors to generate their own capital, he said. The department also planned to help a few budding entrepreneurs by incubating at least a few new units this year, until they stabilised, he said.

A focus on rural areas and the masses is the new mantra with the changed political dispensations all over the country. BT by its very nature is not a big employment generator, but its benefits can be made to reach a wide based. Mr Gowda however, also stated that “we plan to help some established units increase volume, which will create some new jobs,” he said. As for worries expressed by IT and BT companies about sufficient infrastructure support, Mr Gowda averred: “1,65,000 new jobs were created in the last seven years. Growth always generates increased demand for infrastructure, and that infrastructure support, whether it is roads, electricity, or public transportation, is continuing.”
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Sun, Phlox Pharma to merge

New Delhi, July 6
Sun Pharmacueticals has decided to merge with Vadodara-based bulk drug manufacturing pharmaceutical company Phlox Pharmaceuticals and approved the draft rehabilitation scheme. The Board of Directors of Sun Pharma at its meeting today further decided that the share transfer ratio on merger will be finalised in due course.

Phlox had filed a reference with the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) as a sick company.

The merger and the draft rehabilitation scheme will be subject to the approval of the company’s shareholders, BIFR and other necessary statutory authorities.

An extra ordinary General meeting of shareholders has been convened on July 31 to seek approval for merger of Phlox Pharma with Sun, the issue and allotment of shares to Phlox Pharma’s shareholders. — UNI 
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Polaris to develop banking software

New Delhi, July 6
Having focused on the overseas market so far, Polaris is now looking at developing banking and finance products for the Indian market.

The Indian banking and financial services industry has particular requirements in terms of costs and the aim is to develop India-specific financial technology products, the company said in its annual report for 2003-04.

The company has transformed the earlier OrbiOne suite of banking products into a new global version ‘Intellect Suite’.

OrbiOne was the proprietory product of the Citi group’s technology subsidiary Orbitech Solutions.

The company, at present, owns 57 product IPRs which were transferred to it from Orbitech Solutions after it got merged with Polaris, it said.

Polaris is the only company to have IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights) in the product business. — PTI 
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That’s IT
PC sales cross 3 million units

New Delhi, July 6
Desktop personal computer sales grew 32 per cent to 3.03 million units in 2003-04, driven by reduction in prices, high corporate consumption and buoyancy in small towns.

With sound macro-economic condition and buoyant buying sentiment in the market, PC sales are expected to cross 3.8 million units in 2004-05, the Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT) said today.

The PC consumption in the first half of the last fiscal was 1.26 million units and rose to a record 1.77 million units in the second half.

The healthy growth in the second half followed reduction in excise duty on PCs from 16 per cent to 8 per cent, fall in peak customs duty to 10 per cent and the removal of 4 per cent special additional duty in early January 2004. ‘’This pulled down prices in the range of 8-12 per cent, bringing entry-level prices of PCs to Rs 13,000-15,000 from Rs 20,000-25,000,’’ MAIT Executive Director Vinnie Mehta told newspersons here.

PC purchases in smaller towns increased by 69 per cent to account for 45 per cent of the total PCs purchased.

Besides, increased consumption by industry verticals such as telecom, banking, manufacturing, IT-enabled services and major e-governance initiatives also raised the demand.

Infogain to invest $3 m, to raise staff

US-based IT consulting and services provider Infogain said today it will invest $3 million in developing its third facility at Noida, which will be operational by September, 2004, and raise its India headcount to 600 this year.

“We will invest $3 million in our 90,000 sq ft development facility coming up in Noida which will house 600 software engineers. It will become operational by September,” Infogain India Chairman S K Nanda said.

The company already has two development centres in Noida.

The new facility will provide competencies in product engineering services, application management, CRM, enterprise solution, integration and business intelligence.

“We are also looking forward to add 300 people every year to become a 1000-workforce company by the end of 2006. We will take our headcount to 600 from the current 340,” he added.

In India, Infogain has a wholly owned subsidiary - Infogain India . With five offices in the US one in London and India each, Infogain has over 500 engineers and technical experts working for it. Infogain is currently maintaining revenue growth at twice the industry average for its segment

Aventeon sets up centre

Aventeon Inc today announced the launch of its software development centre here and said it saw India as one of the most promising markets in terms of mobile usage and application development.

“The centre, which will play a key role in application development and maintenance of Aventeon software, will double its current staff strength by the year-end,” the company said in a statement.

The company said it develops and markets software products that allow mobile employees to access information and applications from mission-critical back-end enterprise systems anywhere, anytime and trigger back-end processes directly through a mobile handheld computing device.

Employees recruited for the India Development Centre would also be offered global career opportunities with Aventeon’s Europe and US subsidiaries through employee exchange programme, it added. — Agencies
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Auto scene
New-look Sumo to be launched today

New Delhi, July 6
Facing stiff competition from Toyota Qualis, Mahindra Bolero and recently-launched GM Chevrolet Tavera in the MUV segment, Tata Motors is launching a new-look and upgraded version of Sumo tomorrow to strengthen its share in the domestic market.

The new Tata Sumo will have considerable changes in both the exteriors and interiors, sources close to the company said adding that the relaunch is aimed at giving a fresh image to this vehicle.

However, it is not known if there will be any changes in its pricing.

The sources pointed out that the new offering will make other car manufacturers like Toyota, Mahindra and Mahindra and General Motors India to redesign their pricing strategy in order to gain larger share of the MUV segment.

In the fiscal 2003-04, the industry sold 2,00,000 utility and multi-purpose vehicles, 20.7 per cent more than last year, making it one of the fastest growing segments in the 9,00,000-unit passenger car segment.

According to analysts, the volume growth of MUVs would shortly match that of passenger cars in the next three to four years. The number of competitively-priced models will also shoot up.

General Motors sales up 123 pc

Led by strong growth in its luxury sedan Chevrolet Optra, General Motors India today reported a 123.5 per cent growth in car sales in June 2004 to 2,418 units from 1,082 units in the same month last year.

The sales included 804 units of Optra, 800 units of multi-utility vehicle Tavera and 786 units of Opel Corsa, a company statement said here.
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BRIEFLY

Metro, PAIC sign pact
New Delhi, July 6
Germany’s Metro Cash & Carry International, the biggest sales division of world’s leading trading and retailing major Metro group, today signed an MoU with the Punjab Agro industries Corporation (PAIC) to identify and source food products for its international operations. — TNS

Garmentech
New Delhi, July 6
The fifth Zak Garmetech International 2004 exhibition on apparel machinery is scheduled to be held at Pragati Maidan from July 8 to 11. It will showcase latest technologies and machineries for the garment sector. With the indications from the Finance Ministry to approach tax exemptions on the import of garment machinery in the coming Budget, the exhibition is likely to generate lot of interest from garment exporters. — TNS

Fiat camp
Chandigarh, July 6
Fiat India today announced a Pre-Monsoon Check Up Service Camp across key markes in India. This is the third service camp organised by Fiat in 2004 as part of its renewed focus on service and customer care. The pre-monsoon camp will be organised on July 9, 2004 at the authorised Fiat service outlets in Amritsar. — TNS

PFC training
Chandigarh, July 6
Punjab Financial Corporation is organising a special training programme for officers of the state-level financial institutions from July 6 to 8 at Mahatma Gandhi state Institute of Public Administration here. Twentyfour participants are participating in the programme. — TNS

ICSI for sops
New Delhi, July 6
In a pre-Budget memorandum submitted to the Finance Ministry, the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) have sought tax sops for company secretaries to enable them capture professional services markets in other countries after the general agreement on trade and services comes into force in 2005. — TNS

Infosys
Mumbai, July 6
Infosys Technologies and Union Bank of Philippines (UBP) today announced that they have signed a strategic partnership to revamp the bank’s core technology platform with Finacle, the universal banking solution from Infosys. — UNI

Pearl Organics
New Delhi, July 6
Pearl Organics, the second largest producer of metformin hydrochloride in the world, said today it plans to set up a fully-equipped research and development centre at Navi Mumbai with an investment of Rs 6 crore. — UNI
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