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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Withdraw turnover tax, demand investors
Forum to take up issue with Finance Minister next week
Mumbai, July 9
Market players today demanded withdrawal of the 0.15 per cent turnover tax, proposed in the Budget for 2004-05, saying the levy will ruin the capital market and deal a death blow to small investors and small traders.
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Interest payments
Total subsidies
Tax collections

Budget to help IT firms, says Patni chief
Mumbai, July 8
P. Chidambaram’s Budget has drawn mixed reactions from the industry. The most fulsome praise for the Budget came from the IT sector which hailed the full exemption in customs duties granted to computers and related equipment.

Spice(y) offer to ICICI customers
Chandigarh, July 9
The ICICI Bank and Spice Telecom today announced that ICICI bank customers in Punjab will be offered a free Spice post-paid connection. The connection would, however, be issued, provided they opt for a direct debit facility to pay their Spice mobile bills.





EARLIER STORIES

 

Hyundai, GM hint at price hike
New Delhi, July 9
After Maruti kicked off price hike, other auto companies too may pass on impact of cess to buyers as they are mulling to increase prices by the end of this month. Following the 2 per cent education cess levied in the Budget 2004-05, Maruti Udyog yesterday effected a marginal Rs 800-2,500 hike in prices of all cars.

Sebi assurance on tax lifts Sensex
Mumbai, July 9
With the decision makers rushing to allay fears of stock brokers on the turnover tax mooted by the Finance Minister in his budget yesterday, the markets rallied more than a 100 points today.

Textile units welcome duty withdrawal
Amritsar July 9
The beleaguered textile powerloom sector here has welcomed the Budget for doing away with Cenvat. Vice-president of the Small-Scale Woollen Manufacturers Association Gunbir Singh today welcomed the withdrawal of Cenvat from the textile sector which had been reeling under the global recession resulting in the closure of a large number of small textile units.

Review hike in duty on steel, Paswan to FM
New Delhi, July 9
The Ministry of Steel has urged the Finance Minister to review its decision to increase excise duty on steel from 8 per cent to 12 per cent, as it will have an adverse impact on the industry, said Minister of Steel Ram Vilas Paswan here today.

Britain to ship clinical tests to India
New Delhi, July 9
The British Government is planning to ship blood and urine samples from National Health Service patients to India for clinical tests in an effort to cut down costs.

McDonald’s sued over high-fat oils
San Francisco, July 9
McDonald’s Corp has been hit with a lawsuit accusing the fast-food giant of failing to reduce fat in the cooking oil used in its french fries and other foods. Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s pledged in September 2002 to switch to a lower-fat oil by February, 2003.

CORPORATE NEWS

Mphasis BFL net zooms 81 pc
New Delhi, July 9
Mphasis BFL Ltd today posted 81 per cent rise in consolidated net profit to Rs 35.3 crore during the quarter ended June 30, 2004 on the back of increased technology and back-office outsourcing.

  • Pfizer, Pharmacia merger

  • Indal to spend 2,300 cr on expansion

IN GRAPHIC: NEW MINIATURE FOLD-AWAY BICYCLE

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Withdraw turnover tax, demand investors
Forum to take up issue with Finance Minister next week

Mumbai, July 9
Market players today demanded withdrawal of the 0.15 per cent turnover tax, proposed in the Budget for 2004-05, saying the levy will ruin the capital market and deal a death blow to small investors and small traders.

Investors’ Grievances Forum president and ex-BJP MP Kirit Somaiya said here his forum with the representatives of stock brokers and jobbers is going to take up the issue of turnover tax with the Finance Minister next week in New Delhi and will demand the withdrawal of this tax burden.

“The turnover tax will ruin the capital market and along with it the small investors and small traders will perish”.

Mr Somaiya further explained that the turnover tax was going to help only foreign institutional investors (FIIs).

“There is going to be serious implications in the capital market. We are going to request Finance Minster and Parliament to withdraw this”.

Asked about whether turnover tax will help non-speculative investors and small traders, Mr Somaiya said over 80 to 85 per cent of the trading is speculative and if government wants to curb speculative trading it should also ban derivatives trading.

SBI Mutual Funds Management Private Ltd vice-president Rakesh Kaushik says the introduction of turnover tax is a double whammy for mutual fund industry and the industry is disappointed over the decision. Brokers came out on streets to protest against the turnover tax in Mumbai and Delhi.

The Sebi chief also mentioned that the market regulator had been approached by the broking community to convey their concerns and apprehensions on the proposed imposition of Turnover Tax.

The agitating broking community had sought an appointment with the Finance Minister next week, Mr Bajpai said, adding that he himself would meet Mr Chidambaram on Monday to discuss the ramifications of the turnover tax on the market.

Brokers said the proposal of a turnover tax was mooted by FIIs as turnover tax instead of capital gains tax benefits them.

Some brokers in fact called for reverting to the existing system of long-term capital gains tax. In the new system, even those who did not make gains have to pay the tax. It is a tax on entry which will increase cost of trading in the stock exchanges, they said.

Clarifying a host of issues relating to the tax, the Finance Secretary said the levy will be imposed on whatever is transacted on the stock exchange. — UNI
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Budget to help IT firms, says Patni chief
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 8
P. Chidambaram’s Budget has drawn mixed reactions from the industry.

The most fulsome praise for the Budget came from the IT sector which hailed the full exemption in customs duties granted to computers and related equipment.

Aftek Infosys Chairman and Managing Director Ranjit Dhuru said the

Budget had not disturbed anything, contrary to the fear of an imposition of

turnover tax. “This is a positive Budget, but not a populist one as the Finance Minister has not gone overboard in giving any kind of sops,” he said.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies would use the opportunity to replace or upgrade their equipment.

Patni Computers Chief Financial Officer Deepak Sogani said the Budget would help IT exporting companies as the Finance Minister had emphasised Special Economic Zones as catalysts to growth.

Mr Sunil B. Mittal Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, said: “The Budget reflects a big vision for the entire ‘Bharat’. There is stress on promoting education, health and agriculture. This is indicative of a realisation that India does not live in just the big cities.

The CII’s Tarun Das said the Budget was part of the new vision. “The

delivery system will improve and funds will be utilised in the best possible manner”, he said.

Mr Sanjeev Goenka, vice-chairman, RPG Enterprise, said: “The whole country will benefit as there is a base for sustainable growth. This is clearly a manifestation of the Congress government’s policies. With power getting

impetus in the Budget, the agri economy will pick up and retailing is likely to become big.

Naina Lal Kidwai, vice-chairman and MD, HSBC Securities: “It is a balanced Budget. It will send out positive signals to foreign investors.

Mr R. Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director, Tata Sons Ltd: “Emphasis on the rural sector will spell good for the industry. Investment Commission is a welcome change from disinvestment approach.

Mr Jamshyd N. Godrej, MD, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co: “Small industry will benefit from rural focus. Mr Chidambaram has given very good signal on manufacturing and industry.

Dr Naresh Trehan, Executive Director, Escorts Hearts Institute: “Chidambaram needs to be congratulated for a ‘sensitive’ Budget. Announcements for the health sector are steps in the right direction.
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Spice(y) offer to ICICI customers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 9
The ICICI Bank and Spice Telecom today announced that ICICI bank customers in Punjab will be offered a free Spice post-paid connection. The connection would, however, be issued, provided they opt for a direct debit facility to pay their Spice mobile bills.

The Scheme, launched on July 1 will be valid for a limited period and will be available at all 13 locations of the bank in the state. Though valid till August 15, the same may be extended going by the response of the customers in the next few days.

Mr Mukul Khanna, DGM (Marketing), of Spice Telecom, said the mobile connection would be offered to them at zero activation charge. Those opting for the service would not be required to pay Rs 540 as the sim activation charge, besides other benefits. Moreover, the customer can stay mobile and not bother about timely payment of bills if he has opted for the direct debit as the payment option.

Mr S.N. Patnaik, AGM, retail Banking, ICICI Bank, said “the bank was offering yet another value-added service for the benefit of its customers. There are nearly 3.5 lakh customers in the state and even if most of them already have mobile connections, the benefit can be availed of by others in the family.’’

Both the alliance partners maintain that “it is a win-win situation for Spice will be able to get more connections with timely payment of the bills, the ICICI Bank will be able to offer better cellular services.
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Hyundai, GM hint at price hike

New Delhi, July 9
After Maruti kicked off price hike, other auto companies too may pass on impact of cess to buyers as they are mulling to increase prices by the end of this month.

Following the 2 per cent education cess levied in the Budget 2004-05, Maruti Udyog yesterday effected a marginal Rs 800-2,500 hike in prices of all cars.

“We have been impacted to the extent of Rs 1,250 on the Santro and Rs 4,500 on the Sonata but we have decided not to pass it on to our customers yet.

General Motors India has already decided to increase prices by 2-3 per cent by the next week.

However, tractor prices could fall by Rs 5,000-7,000, according to sources in the tractor industry.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s proposal to do away with the 16 per cent excise duty on tractors will not, however, mean a huge windfall for tractor makers because the excise on inputs used which were Modvatable against the excise duties of the finished product will no longer be refunded.

So the excise exemption now translates into a Rs 8,000-Rs 12,000 saving per vehicle on tractors which cost Rs 2.8 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh. — UNI
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Sebi assurance on tax lifts Sensex
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 9
With the decision makers rushing to allay fears of stock brokers on the turnover tax mooted by the Finance Minister in his budget yesterday, the markets rallied more than a 100 points today.

The stock markets which crashed 112 points on Thursday rallied by 101.64 points and closed at 4,945.48 points today.

The Nifty also ended at 1,550.30 points, up 32.15 points.

Early on Friday Sebi Chairman G.N. Bajpai assured traders that the turnover tax would become applicable after the Finance Bill is passed in the Lok Sabha.

The markets took Mr Bajpai’s statement as an assurance that the tax was under reconsideration called in the bulls.
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Textile units welcome duty withdrawal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar July 9
The beleaguered textile powerloom sector here has welcomed the Budget for doing away with Cenvat. Vice-president of the Small-Scale Woollen Manufacturers Association Gunbir Singh today welcomed the withdrawal of Cenvat from the textile sector which had been reeling under the global recession resulting in the closure of a large number of small textile units.

He said the burden of excise would unshackle the industry and bring in more investment for modernisation to compete with the most advanced countries. The special packaged offered by Finance Minister would boost the food processing and agro industry,vice-president of All-India Rice Exporters Association K.R.S. Sobti said.
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Review hike in duty on steel, Paswan to FM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 9
The Ministry of Steel has urged the Finance Minister to review its decision to increase excise duty on steel from 8 per cent to 12 per cent, as it will have an adverse impact on the industry, said Minister of Steel Ram Vilas Paswan here today.

Talking to reporters after addressing a workshop here, he said his ministry had never recommended a rise in excise duty and a reduction in customs duty to the Finance Ministry. Mr Chidambaram had yesterday announced a rise in excise duty on steel from 8 per cent to 12. Besides, customs duty on non-alloy steel was reduced from 15 per cent to 10 per cent.
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Britain to ship clinical tests to India

New Delhi, July 9
The British Government is planning to ship blood and urine samples from National Health Service (NHS) patients to India for clinical tests in an effort to cut down costs.

Indian laboratory technicians can be hired for as little as 4,000 pounds a year, and the savings would more than make up for the cost of flying samples across the world. Test results could be emailed back to the UK hospitals.

The service could reduce costs by almost a third. Private sector hospitals are already conducting trials. SRL Ranbaxy, the Indian clinical testing company is targeting the NHS.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said, ‘’We are exploring a number of options for the involvement of the independent sector in diagnostics as a whole. Part of that could be the potential for outsourcing pathology services, but it is at a very early stage.’’ — UNI
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McDonald’s sued over high-fat oils

San Francisco, July 9
McDonald’s Corp has been hit with a lawsuit accusing the fast-food giant of failing to reduce fat in the cooking oil used in its french fries and other foods.

Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s pledged in September 2002 to switch to a lower-fat oil by February, 2003. The suit, filed yesterday in federal court on behalf of a California woman, says McDonald’s has not disclosed “to the public in an effective manner that it had not switched to a new, healthier cooking oil.” The restaurant chain had announced it planned to cut the trans fat levels in its fried foods. But McDonald’s has delayed the plan, citing concerns of product quality and customer satisfaction.

McDonald’s spokeswoman said the company could not comment on the complaint as it had not seen the lawsuit. — AP
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Diagram of the miniature fold-away “A-BIKE” bicycle developed by British inventor Sir Clive Sinclair who made history in the 1970s by developing the world’s first pocket calculator.


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CORPORATE NEWS

Mphasis BFL net zooms 81 pc

New Delhi, July 9
Mphasis BFL Ltd today posted 81 per cent rise in consolidated net profit to Rs 35.3 crore during the quarter ended June 30, 2004 on the back of increased technology and back-office outsourcing.

The Board of Directors declared an interim dividend of Rs 1.50 per share for this fiscal. Mphasis revenue increased by 35 per cent to Rs 175.78 crore during the period, the Bangalore-based company said in a statement here.

The fully diluted Earnings Per Share increased to Rs 4.73 from Rs 2.74 during Q1 of the last fiscal.

“IT and BPO services revenues grew 8.3 per cent and 15 per cent respectively on a sequential quarter-on-quarter basis. Gross margin in IT services have shown a marked improvement compared to the quarter ended March 31, 2004.

Pfizer, Pharmacia merger

Pfizer Ltd said today it would consider a proposal for the amalgamation of Pharmacia Healthcare (PHL) into the company in its board meeting on Tuesday next.

The merger scheme will be placed before the Board of Directors for its consideration.

The amalgamation will be subject to the necessary approvals, including that of the Board of Directors, the requisite majority of the shareholders of both Pfizer and PHL and also the sanction of the Mumbai High Court.

After getting approval from them, it is proposed to be effective from December 1, 2003, Pfizer added.

Indal to spend 2,300 cr on expansion

Indal will spend around Rs 2,300 crore in the next two and half years to meet its expansion plans in Hirakud smelter, Muri refinery and Belgaum plant.

Announcing this here today at the company’s 66th Annual General meeting here today Vice-Chairman A K Agarwal said apart from the external borrowings the company would fund its expansion through internal accruals.

As part of the expansion plans, the company has already ramped up its smelter capacity from 57,200 tonnes per annum to 65,000 tonnes per annum. — UNI
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BRIEFLY

Inflation rate crosses 6 pc
New Delhi, July 9
Inflation breaches the 6-per cent mark, touching its highest level after a gap of 21 weeks, during the week ended June 26 due to higher prices of coal, petrol and edible oils. The Wholesale Price Index based inflation rose by 0.22 per cent to 6.09 per cent from 5.87 per cent of the previous week and 5.32 per cent in the year-ago period. — UNI

UTV IPO
Mumbai, July 9
UTV Software Communications Ltd has filed a draft prospectus with the SEBI for its initial public offer for 59.99 lakh shares of Rs 10 each. The proceeds of the IPO would be used for enhancement of production facility and office infrastructure, investment in the kids channel “Hungama” and working capital requirements, the company release said here today. — PTI

Blood monitor
New Delhi, July 9
Lifescan, a division of Johnson and Johnson Ltd, today launched a self-monitoring blood glucose device in India with a price tag of Rs 1,500. Developed in collaboration with leading diabetologists in the country, OneTouch Horizon aims at making diabetes control within the reach of a common man, Dr S K Wangnoo said at its launch here. — UNI

Coop bank
Chandigarh, July 9
A General Body meeting of the Punjab State Coop. Bank Ltd., Chandigarh was held under the Chairmanship of Mr K.K. Sharma, The Citizen Urban Coop. Bank Ltd., Jalandhar in which nearly two-third members participated. The Bank allocated a profit of Rs 40.00 crores for the previous two years giving 10% dividend. — TNS

Hutch launch
Chandigarh, July 9
Hutch, today announced a unique Voucherless Prepaid Refill service ‘eTopUp’ which offers complete freedom to recharge for any denomination for its prepaid subscribers in Haryana. ‘’ eTopUp will replace refill slips, leading to faster transfer of talktime as there would be no physical distribution of coupons,’’ said Rajiv Sawhney, Executive Director, Hutchison Essar. — UNI

Kotak Life
Chandigarh, July 9
Om Kotak Mahindra Life Insurance Company has changed its name to Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance Limited. The brand will now be known as Kotak Life Insurance, according to Uday Kotak, Chairman, Kotak Mahindra Old Murual Life. — TNS

Airtel
New Delhi, July 9
Airtel today announced the appointment of Madison Media as its media planning and buying agency while Percept will continue to look after outdoors. The contract comes into force with immediate effect. — UNI

Escorts pact
Chandigarh, July 9
Escorts Limited has signed an agreement with Castrol. Under the agreement, Castrol has launched a new diesel engine oil exclusively for use in Escorts tractors. — TNS

Bombay Dyeing
Chandigarh, July 9
Bombay Dyeing’s new showroom has been inaugurated by Bombay Dyeing Zonal Manager Mr Amit Malhotra in Sector 17 here. — TNS
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