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For now, VAT means Very Agitated Traders
Nationwide stir planned from August 15

New Delhi, July 14
Traders today threatened to launch a nationwide agitation if their apprehensions regarding Value Added Tax (VAT) were not taken care of by August 15.

15 new STPI locations identified
New Delhi, July 14
The government has approved setting up of Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) at 15 new locations, Lok Sabha was informed today.

Corporate news
Biocon clocks 112 pc growth in profit
To invest Rs 650 cr within a year

Bangalore, July 14
Biocon, one of India’s top five life sciences company, has registered a net profit of Rs 48.6 crore during the first quarter (June end) of 2004-05, a 112 per cent increase, as against Rs 22.9 crore registered during the corresponding period last year.


Hero Honda
Exide Industries

Vandana and Mukesh Luthra, chairperson and MD, VLCC Group of Companies, at a Press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday Vandana and Mukesh Luthra, chairperson and MD, VLCC Group of Companies, at a Press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. VLCC said it will receive up to $ 10 million investment from Hong-Kong-based CLSA Private Equity Ltd in two years to expand its business across the country and foray into international markets. The company also plans to float an IPO. — Photo by Rajeev Tyagi



Bollywood actress Hema Malini displays a gold necklace at the launch of Tanishq national purity campaign in New Delhi on Wednesday
Bollywood actress Hema Malini displays a gold necklace at the launch of Tanishq national purity campaign in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI



EARLIER STORIES

 

Reliance offers zero rental tariff plan
Chandigarh, July 14
Close on the heels of its anniversary offer, Reliance Infocomm has announced a total waiver of the monthly rental of Rs 200 for R Connect usage under its newest Zero Rental R Connect tariff plan.

Power tariff hike shocks HP industrialists
Kumarhatti, July 14
The recent power tariff hike announced by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission has left the industrialists perturbed. Whereas the increase in tariff for medium and large industries was ranging between 17 per cent to 25 per cent , the hike for small-scale industries was whopping 35 per cent thus leaving the latter in a state of shock.

Rs 400 cr may go down the tax well, says ONGC chief
New Delhi, July 14
ONGC earnings will take a hit of over Rs 400 crore in 2004-05 due to imposition of a 10 per cent service tax on survey and exploration, and the 2 per cent cess on all central direct and indirect taxes. “The service tax and education cess will result in ONGC having to account for a sizeable increase in its tax pay-outs.

Petro sector may boost tax collection
New Delhi, July 14
The government today pinned all hopes on the 10 per cent growth of the petroleum sector during the current fiscal to achieving all its tax collection targets as this sector has already contributed Rs 2,500 crore to the exchequer in terms of various taxes in the first quarter of 2004-05.

Bollywood stars Bipasha Basu and Mandira Bedi at a diamond fashion show Bollywood stars Bipasha Basu (left) and Mandira Bedi at a diamond fashion show in Mumbai on Tuesday. — PTI

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For now, VAT means Very Agitated Traders
Nationwide stir planned from August 15

New Delhi, July 14
Traders today threatened to launch a nationwide agitation if their apprehensions regarding Value Added Tax (VAT) were not taken care of by August 15.

The Confederation of All-India Traders (CAIT) have sought appointments with the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister to put forward their concerns on the new tax regime slated to be implemented in April 2005.

“The government did not consult us before announcing the date of VAT implementation and they should listen to us by August 15, failing which we will launch a nationwide campaign until our demands are met,” CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said, addressing the traders gathered here from across the country.

Outlining their list of demands, he said “there should be uniformity in VAT rates across the country, and there should be no other local tax along with VAT.” CAIT also demanded tax holiday to small traders and said there should not be discretionary power to the authorities to penalise traders unnecessarily.

“We will seek appointment with Prime Minister Manmohan Sigh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Chairman of Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers Asim Dasgupta to incorporate our demands in the proposed law which is not acceptable to us in the present form” he said. Traders had staged a nationwide strike last year, when VAT was slated to be implemented.

Most states back-tracked on VAT following the agitation of traders, fearing an adverse impact during general elections. Now that the elections are over, states have geared up to implement VAT from April 2005.

On June 18, Finance Ministers of all the states except UP, had broadly agreed to implement VAT from next year after Chidambaram assured that the Centre would compensate states for revenue loss, if any, while implementing the new tax regime.
— PTI
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15 new STPI locations identified

New Delhi, July 14
The government has approved setting up of Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) at 15 new locations, Lok Sabha was informed today.

In a written reply to a question, Minister of State for Information Technology and Communications Shakeel Ahmad said during the 10th plan it was envisaged that 25 new STPIs would be set up, of which five are already operational.

Between 2002 and 2004 software technology parks have been set up in Pondicherry, Nasik, Allahabad, Kohlapur and Ranchi.

The 15 locations that have been cleared for setting up of STPIs are Agra, Agartala, Bhopal, Durgapur, Gantok, Goa, Gurgaon, Gwalior, Imphal, Jammu, Jodhpur, Kharagpur, Shillong, Patiala and Patna.

The minister said as on date 40 STPIs are operational in India, of which six are in Maharashtra, five each are in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, four in Uttar Pradesh and two in Orissa. Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Pondicherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal and West Bengal have one STPI each.

iGate Q1 profit

IT and business process services provider iGate Global Solutions today announced a paltry net profit of Rs 11 lakh in the first quarter ended June 30, compared to Rs 7.7 crore in the corresponding period of the last financial year.

Operating income was down 1.4 per cent to Rs 141.56 crore while operating profit dived from Rs 11.42 crore to Rs 4.4 crore.

“The acquisitions have not been fully integrated and we are in the process of shedding low-margin and negative-margin revenue,” company CEO Phaneesh Murthy told a press conference here.

“We are roughly where we thought we would be. There has been an increase in volume, but not a whole lot,” he said.

During the quarter, the company had been able to improve the ratio of offshore work from 46 per cent to 48 per cent, he said, adding that the goal was to reach 60 per cent by the end of the current fiscal. — Agencies
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Corporate news
Biocon clocks 112 pc growth in profit
To invest Rs 650 cr within a year

Bangalore, July 14
Biocon, one of India’s top five life sciences company, has registered a net profit of Rs 48.6 crore during the first quarter (June end) of 2004-05, a 112 per cent increase, as against Rs 22.9 crore registered during the corresponding period last year.

Releasing the performance highlights to newspersons here today, company Chairman and Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said the total income was raised by 65 per cent to Rs 177.9 crore from Rs 107.6 crore during the period. Revenue from the biopharmaceuticals business increased by 67 per cent and the exports grew 57 per cent in the quarter one, besides strong performance in the United States and the European markets, thus contributing to the overall revenue of 65 per cent, she explained.

Commenting on the results, she said the performance marked the strong beginning to the current financial year and the quarter one was driven by the company’s successful entry into the Pravastian market in Europe following expiration of products patents in key markets in the region.

Proprietory manufacturing technology and strong regulatory compliance continued to be the key differentiators that had allowed the company to access key growth areas while managing the global competition, she added.

Biocon will invest Rs 650 crore in the next 12 months for taking up various activities, including research and development, Shaw said today.

She said the other proposals for which the funds would be used included creation of a large fermentation synthesis facility and doubling the existing capacity at the Syngene, a Biocon subsidiary research company in drug discovery.

She said Biocon Biopharmaceuticals, a joint venture with a Cuban Institute CIMAB, extended its product portfolio to include two additional monoclonal antibodies and three cancer vaccines. A formal agreement was signed between the two partners in Havana.

Hero Honda

India’s biggest motor cycle maker Hero Honda Motors Ltd (HHML) today said its profit in the first quarter ended June 30 jumped 20.3 per cent to Rs 190 crore from Rs 158 crore in the same period a year earlier.

Hero Honda, which controls nearly half the domestic motor cycle market, said the total income of the April-June quarter of this fiscal stood at Rs 1,704 crore as compared to Rs 1,306 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.

Exide Industries

Exide Industries Ltd, the country’s leading power storage solutions company, today reported a 31 per cent growth in its profit after tax for the quarter ended June 30, 2004, at Rs 18.40 crore as compared to Rs 14 crore in the corresponding period previous year.

The profit before tax rose by 31 per cent to Rs 28.90 crore from Rs 22 crore while the operating profit also grew by 28 per cent. The net sales for the period grew by 20 per cent to Rs 276 crore.

“Keeping in view the economic scenario and the continued onslaught of imported batteries, the company has performed creditably. Looking forward the automotive segment is in a firm growth path,” Exide Industries Ltd S B Ganguly said here today.

The overall two-wheeler segment has grown by 33 per cent while the automotive battery division has recorded an impressive performance by registering a growth of 19.3 per cent.

The industrial batteries segment also grew by 18.7 per cent, while the fast moving industrial batteries segment grew by around 18 per cent. — TNS & Agencies
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Reliance offers zero rental tariff plan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
Close on the heels of its anniversary offer, Reliance Infocomm has announced a total waiver of the monthly rental of Rs 200 for R Connect usage under its newest Zero Rental R Connect tariff plan.

Under the new plan, R Connect usage charge will be a flat Re 1 per minute with 60 seconds pulse. In addition to this new plan, the three existing R Connect tariff plans – Standard, Silver and Gold – will continue to be available.

The new plan will be available to all post-paid Reliance IndiaMobile (RIM) subscribers across the country who want Internet anytime anywhere. This plan is, however, not applicable to FWP/T subscribers and RIM pre-paid subscribers as they already enjoy the zero rental plans.

Meanwhile, ICICI Bank today launched interactive mobile banking in association with Reliance Infocomm to provide anytime-anywhere banking services to its customers. ICICI Bank customers, through their Reliance IndiaMobile handsets, can view their ICICI Bank account balance, get mini statements.
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Power tariff hike shocks HP industrialists
Jagmeet Ghuman

Kumarhatti, July 14
The recent power tariff hike announced by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission has left the industrialists perturbed. Whereas the increase in tariff for medium and large industries was ranging between 17 per cent to 25 per cent, the hike for small-scale industries was whopping 35 per cent thus leaving the latter in a state of shock.

Parwanoo, Baddi and Barotiwala the leading industrial belt of the state was bound to suffer more on account of decision. The decision of steep hike in power tariff was completely illogical and undesirable, opined industrialists.

The consumers were bearing the extra burden of over-employment and high employee-cost being incurred by the HP State Electricity Board (HPSEB), they pointed.

The employee cost component in the tariff works out to be Rs. 1.32 per unit sold which was highest in the country as compared to other states such as Uttaranchal, Andhra, Delhi, Punjab, Gujarat & Maharashtra, whose employee cost ranges between 0.13 paise per unit to 57.15 paise per unit.

Ironically, no efforts were made to reduce the high employee cost in state despite the strict directions of HP electricity Regularity Board to HPSEB in this regard, said industrialists.

Interestingly, such directions and observations were also made in the tariff order announced in November, 2001. However, the HPSEB seemed to bypass these observations. The decision to impose stabilization surcharge of 3 per cent on total bill mainly to set off backlogs was totally unjustified, asserted industrialists.

The HPSEB was supposed to file the tariffrevision petition every year but it had failed to do so far the past two years, which resulted in the imposition of this surcharge, pointed industrialists.

The consumers would have been in a better position, had the HPSEB filed the tariff petitions regularly, as the increase would have come in small installments in that case, they remarked.

Meanwhile the industrialists welcomed some power reforms taken by the Regulatory Commission, like accepting the demand of the industry to extend two-part tariff, KVAH billing and ToD (time of the day) metering, to the consumers in the commercial, small and medium Industries, non-domestic non-commercial supply (NDNCS), and water pumping supply (WPS).

The Commission had earlier introduced two-part tariff for the large consumers only. The tariff was progressive on the reforms part, as the Commission had been successful in reducing cross subsidy to some extent, said Mr Rakesh Bansal, General Secretary of Parwanoo Industries Association.

The Commission also made an effort to align the tariff with the cost of supply at different voltage levels, maintained Mr Bansal.
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Rs 400 cr may go down the tax well, says ONGC chief

New Delhi, July 14
ONGC earnings will take a hit of over Rs 400 crore in 2004-05 due to imposition of a 10 per cent service tax on survey and exploration, and the 2 per cent cess on all central direct and indirect taxes.

“The service tax and education cess will result in ONGC having to account for a sizeable increase in its tax pay-outs.

“We estimate it will be over Rs 400 crore this fiscal,” ONGC chairman and managing director Subir Raha told reporters on the sidelines of a CII lecture on hydrocarbons here.

ONGC may fork out about Rs 300 crore as 10 per cent service tax for outsourcing most of the offshore exploration survey works.

Besides, the 2 per cent education cess, levied on direct and indirect tax (including excise and customs duty) in the form of surcharge (which will be there on the service tax of 10 per cent also), will result in additional outgo of Rs 96 crore, while liability for dividend distribution tax would increase by Rs 9 crore (considering a dividend pay-out of 240 per cent on the existing capital base).

ONGC earnings may be further hit if it is, like the last fiscal, asked to share part of the subsidies on LPG and kerosene, Mr Raha said and opposed any such move. “Our profits slid last fiscal (for having to bear the subsidies) while the refining companies saw a handsome growth in bottomline,” he said. — PTI
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Petro sector may boost tax collection
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 14
The government today pinned all hopes on the 10 per cent growth of the petroleum sector during the current fiscal to achieving all its tax collection targets as this sector has already contributed Rs 2,500 crore to the exchequer in terms of various taxes in the first quarter of 2004-05.

Addressing members of Assocham, member of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) S. K. Bharadwaj said the government was expecting 10 per cent additional growth of the domestic petroleum industry.

Mr Bharadwaj allayed fears being expressed by a section of society that the government would not be able to raise resources to target its ambitious programmes in the current fiscal.

In the Budget proposals, the government had proposed customs collections to the tune of Rs 54,000 crore while Rs 1,07,000 crore was expected to come from excise and other levies.

The service tax was expected to contribute about Rs 14,000 crore to the government exchequer by the end of the current fiscal.

The government had been collecting over Rs 800 crore per month on an average through the imposition of service tax in the first quarter of 2004 against its average collection of Rs 450 crore per month in the first quarter of the last fiscal, Mr Bhardwaj said.
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BRIEFLY

SBI stake
Mumbai, July 14
The State Bank of India has sold a 37 per cent stake in SBI Fund Management its mutual fund arm, to France-based Societe Generale Asset Management (SGAM), for an undisclosed sum. The MoU to induct SGAM as a stake holding partner in SBIFMPL was signed today between the SBI and the France-based entity, the bank said.
— PTI

HM ups prices
New Delhi, July 14
Hindustan Motors today announced a marginal 0.5 per cent increase in Ambassador prices and 0.3-0.5 per cent on all Trekker variants following the announcement of a 2 per cent education cess in the Budget. The ‘Ambassador’ base model, 1.5 L DSL, would now become dearer by Rs 1,082-1,182 over the existing price of Rs 2.15-2.35 lakh. On the other hand, the ‘1.8 L ISZ’ (Isuzu Petrol Engine) model would be costlier by Rs 1,281-1,564. — PTI

UTI Bank
Mumbai, July 14
Actis has sold off its 5 per cent stake in UTI Bank to foreign institutional investors for Rs 130 per share. The balance stake of nearly 5 per cent was sold through CLSA, a brokerage and investment banking services firm, to the FIIs at a price of around Rs 130 per share, market sources said here. — PTI

NTPC in HP
New Delhi, July 14
BHEL has bagged a Rs 410 crore mega order from the NTPC to set up the 800 MW Koldam hydel power plant in Himachal Pradesh. The 4x200 MW Koldam project on the Satluj in Bilaspur district will be completed in 54 months, a BHEL release said here today. — PTI

Pfizer merger
Mumbai, July 14
Pfizer Ltd and Pharmacia Healthcare Ltd’s boards have approved the merger of the two and fixed an exchange ratio of five PHL equity shares to one of Pfizer. The face value of PHL and Pfizer equity share is Rs 5 and Rs 10 each, the two companies informed the BSE today. — PTI

Yellow Pages
Chandigarh, July 14
Contact Yellow Pages announce the release of the first edition of our Yellow Pages of Amritsar. These pages provide the current information of the trade and industry. — TNS

LoanShield
Bangalore, July 14
Aviva Life Insurance and Can Fin Homes Limited, a subsidiary of Canara Bank, today joined hands to launch “LoanShield Scheme,” a group insurance scheme for Can Fin customers. — UNI

Wockhardt
Bangalore, July 14
Wockhardt is all set to storm the United States and enhance its global business share, company Chairman Habil F Khorakiwala said today. — UNITop

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