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CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Incubating business with World Bank’s support
New Delhi, August 11
The World Bank (WB) has announced to support India to set up business incubators that will enable young scientists, bio-technologists and other professionals to set up ventures in “ready to shift” buildings, besides getting funding from venture capitalists and other facilities, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud, Operations Advisor, World Bank, said today. Ministry of Science and Technology will be the nodal agency to implement this project.
Union Minister for Science & Technology Kapil Sibal and Mr V.S. Ramamurthy, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, address a press conference on “Global forum on Business incubation” in the Capital on Wednesday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

FTA with Thailand piques traders
New Delhi, August 11
The government has asked the domestic industry to prepare itself to accept the challenge of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Thailand since the only mantra for survival is to become globally competitive.

Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw at the release of the annual biotech survey in Bangalore on Wednesday.Biotech sector poised for 40 pc growth
Bangalore, August 11
India’s biotechnology industry is expected to grow over 40 per cent this fiscal to touch revenues of $ 1 billion and the sector would witness a five-fold growth at $ 5 billion by 2010, the Association of Biotech Led Enterprises (Able) said today.




Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw at the release of the annual biotech survey in Bangalore on Wednesday. — PTI photo





Bollywood actress Yana Gupta displays a Christian Dior D’Track watch during its launch in Bangalore on Wednesday.
Bollywood actress Yana Gupta displays a Christian Dior D’Track watch during its launch in Bangalore on Wednesday. — PTI


EARLIER STORIES

 

FM against panic on inflation
New Delhi, August 11
Ruling out “panic or knee-jerk” reaction, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram today said the government would look at various options on the fiscal side and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the monetary side to tackle inflation, which he expects, would “settle down” by September.

VAT good for revenue: Secy
Jammu, August 11
Dr Ramesh Chandra, Secretary, Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on VAT, has said the Centre is committed to providing assistance in bringing a consensus among all states on the implementation of VAT.

Trai moots 4 pc revenue-sharing for FM radio
New Delhi, August 11
Broadcast and telecom regulator Trai today recommended a revenue-share model with a one-time entry fee for the new FM radio broadcasting licences to be issued to the private players in the second phase.

Also suggests telecom ombudsman
New Delhi, August 11
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has underlined the need for having an “industry-internalised ombudsman” for a quick redress of complaints without taking away the option of approaching consumer courts.

Paswan’s SOS to FM on steel price hike
New Delhi, August 11
Alarmed at the steep increase in domestic steel prices, Minister for Steel Ram Vilas Paswan has sought an immediate intervention of Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to arrest the price rise.
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Incubating business with World Bank’s support
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
The World Bank (WB) has announced to support India to set up business incubators that will enable young scientists, bio-technologists and other professionals to set up ventures in “ready to shift” buildings, besides getting funding from venture capitalists and other facilities, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud, Operations Advisor, World Bank, said here today.

Ministry of Science and Technology will be the nodal agency to implement this mega project and financial institutions. University Grants Commission (UGC) and Ficci would be other major participants in this mega-project. The project is aimed at tapping the potential of millions of science graduates and entrepreneurs through small ventures.

“The WB will provide technical and physical support through InfoDev programme, a global grant facility managed by the WB and supported by a consortium of donors for the use of information communication technologies, to fight poverty and foster growth in developing countries,” said Mr Benmessaoud.

He disclosed that World Bank has already supported to set up two business incubators in India at Pune and Tiruchirappalli that are successfully functioning.

In this regard, Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal disclosed that no targets have been fixed for the time being, but it would be “ a major initiative to create employment opportunities in different sectors. An international conference on business incubators will also be held in Delhi from October 14 to 19 this year,” he said.

Interestingly, previous government at Centre had also tried to promote business incubators and even set up 12 such projects. But due to lack of interest of venture capitalists, these failed to take off. Consequently, the government has decided to rope in the expertise of World Bank, Ficci and other agencies.

Commenting on the importance of incubators, Mr Benmessaoud said, “Business incubators have been successfully employed the world over to bolster economic development by stimulating growth of knowledge based new enterprises. These include IT, biotech and nano-sciences.”

At present, there are about 4,000 incubators the world over, including 1,000 in the USA. China is also using incubators to boost exports in different sectors. In India, the government has set up nearly 850 science and technology entrepreneurship parks on the pattern of incubators employing 6,000 persons with an annual business volume of over Rs 140 crore. 
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FTA with Thailand piques traders
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
The government has asked the domestic industry to prepare itself to accept the challenge of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Thailand since the only mantra for survival is to become globally competitive.

Addressing a seminar at CII here today, Special Secretary in Commerce ministry S.N. Menon said the FTAs have to be signed not only for economic consideration but also because of political ones.

“After all, you live in a region,” Mr Menon told members of the CII.

Chamber members expressed their displeasure over the FTA with Thailand in front of Mr Menon, who handles the trade policy division in the Commerce ministry. Some of the members from the electronic component industry have been hit not only from the FTA with Thailand but also because of the WTO’s International Telecommunication Agreement. “Import duty on 217 electronic items will become zero from March next year throwing many of the manufacturers’ out of job,” Electronic Component Industries Association (ECINA) Secretary General Rajoo Goel said.

The FTA with Thailand will add to their problems. The inverted duty structure will hit at the manufacturing base. “The duty on glass shell, which is a major raw material for the colour picture tube, is 20 per cent while it will be 12 per cent on the CPT,” Mr Goel said. Similar view was echoed by the secretary general of the Consumer Electronics and TV Manufacturers Association (Cetma) Suresh Khanna. However, Mr Menon chided the industry for not gearing itself in time. “The ITA was signed in 1995 and you had 10 years to prepare yourself,” he said.
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Biotech sector poised for 40 pc growth

Bangalore, August 11
India’s biotechnology industry is expected to grow over 40 per cent this fiscal to touch revenues of $ 1 billion and the sector would witness a five-fold growth at $ 5 billion by 2010, the Association of Biotech Led Enterprises (Able) said today.

“We are well on target of $ 1 billion biotech sector by year 2005,” Able President Kiran Mazumdar Shaw told reporters after the release of the second Able biotech industry survey here.

The survey of 235 biotech firms estimated their revenues at Rs 3,265 crore ($ 705 million) during 2003-04, up from Rs 2,345 crore of 150 companies in 2002-03.

Exports during last fiscal stood at Rs 1,817 crore, while the domestic sales were Rs 1,448 crore.

Pune-based Serum Institute (Rs 555 crore) and Bangalore-headquartered Biocon (Rs 502 crore) surpassed the Rs 500-crore mark in revenues.

Nearly 9,000 scientists and technologists are directly employed by the fledgling sector, up from 6,400 in the previous fiscal. “These are those persons who are directly involved in this sector,” CMD of Biocon Mazumdar said.

Ms Mazumdar said the biopharma sector holds the largest market share at 76 per cent, followed by vaccines at 28 per cent.

The bioservices industry with total sales of Rs 275 crore accounted for 8.2 per cent share.

She said the capabilities of Indian biotech sector has been recognised globally, particularly in vaccines, where the installed capacity in India was the largest in the world.

In the services segment, she said, China was the biggest competitor for India, but the country’s advantages were the same in the IT sector, large population of English speaking people and a science background. — PTI 
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FM against panic on inflation

New Delhi, August 11
Ruling out “panic or knee-jerk” reaction, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram today said the government would look at various options on the fiscal side and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the monetary side to tackle inflation, which he expects, would “settle down” by September.

“We must be vigilant and confident to tackle it, allow seasonal factors to play out. Fiscal and monetary steps will be taken in a measured manner. There will be no panic or knee-jerk reaction. We have told the RBI to take necessary monetary steps and we will look at options on the fiscal side,” he told PTI in an interview.

However, he declined to spell out the nature of steps the government contemplates.

Attributing the “totally unexpected and unanticipated” spurt in international oil prices, Mr Chidambaram said this was beyond the control of the government and had fuelled the inflation to 7.51 per cent.

“Inflation is a matter of concern always. Even when it is at 4 per cent, attempts would be made to bring it down to three or two per cent. It is always a matter of concern until you kill the beast of inflation,” he said.

Mr Chidambaram said against an average of $ 22 a barrel around this time last year, the global oil prices have shot up to an average of $ 39 now. Added to this are inflationary trends on account of monsoon failure and the soaring global commodities prices like steel and cement.

The commodities prices are going up mainly because of China, which has embarked upon massive purchases for construction activities in view of the 2008 Olympics, he said.

Such spurt in global prices of commodities has brought in windfall profits for some of the Indian steel corporates, one of which raked in a whopping profit of Rs 1,116 crore in the first quarter this year.

The fourth major factor for inflation was the seasonal factor. Every year, around this time prices of fruits and vegetables go up but stabilise after a while, he said. — PTI
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RBI for caution

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Dr Y V Reddy today reiterated that the RBI is monitoring the inflation related developments ‘carefully’ and would respond to the issue in a ‘measured manner’ on an ongoing basis with a view to maintaining the price stability over the year.

In a response to media queries over the growing inflationary trend in the economy following soaring of global oil prices, Dr Reddy said, the central bank is carefully analysing the “evolving circumstances” in particular how the oil shock would turn out to be globally and how it would be absorbed domestically. — UNI
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VAT good for revenue: Secy
Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 11
Dr Ramesh Chandra, Secretary, Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers on VAT, has said the Centre is committed to providing assistance in bringing a consensus among all states on the implementation of VAT.

Dr Chandra was addressing a special session on the implementation of VAT organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here last evening.

Citing the example of Haryana, he said neither the prices had gone up there and nor had the state government complained of any loss in revenue due to the implementation of VAT. Rather, the revenue had increased by 30 per cent.

Mr Ajit Kumar, Financial Commissioner (Finance) J and K Government, said the state government was committed to implementing VAT from April 1, next year.
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Trai moots 4 pc revenue-sharing for FM radio

New Delhi, August 11
Broadcast and telecom regulator Trai today recommended a revenue-share model with a one-time entry fee for the new FM radio broadcasting licences to be issued to the private players in the second phase.

Trai, which was entrusted with the task early this year, suggested a revenue share of four per cent of the gross revenue.

It also recommended the migration of Phase - I licencees to the Phase- II regime in case they were successful in the bidding for the second phase.

On the contentious issue of allowing news and current affairs programmes on private FM radio, Trai favoured maintaining the current restrictions.

“It has been recommended that the existing restriction on news and current affairs be reviewed by the government and be lifted after incorporating adequate safeguards,” it said.

Elaborating on the migration clause, Trai suggested that the migration to Phase -II conditions be permitted for Phase -I licences provided they paid all dues, withdrew all pending litigations and did not be in default of any licence condition.

On other categories of Phase- I participants, it said they should be permitted to bid in Phase- II provided they cleared all dues and withdrew all pending litigation.

It said, “The operators who wish to migrate to Phase -II should be allowed to bid for Phase- II and allowed to migrate to the Phase- II conditions from the start of the financial year in which the LOI is given. If unsuccessful, they could be given the option of terminating with one month s notice (instead of 12) or continuing with Phase-I.” — PTI
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Also suggests telecom ombudsman

New Delhi, August 11
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has underlined the need for having an “industry-internalised ombudsman” for a quick redress of complaints without taking away the option of approaching consumer courts.

In a statement issued yesterday, Trai said an ombudsman was needed because the prevailing structure needed supplementing to deal with consumer complaints in the telecom sector. Trai also noted that the telecom services providers were not in favour of funding an ombudsman for the telecom sector.

The telecom regulator is of the view that the best recourse for establishing an ombudsman would be to make an amendment in the licence . — TNS
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Paswan’s SOS to FM on steel price hike
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
Alarmed at the steep increase in domestic steel prices, Minister for Steel Ram Vilas Paswan has sought an immediate intervention of Finance Minister P. Chidambaram to arrest the price rise.

According to official sources, Mr Paswan held an unscheduled meeting with the Finance Minister last evening and impressed upon him the need for taking effective measures, including duty cuts on steel. Steel prices, of both long and flat products, currently rule at an all-time high, with the domestic production remaining stagnant and a spurt in international and domestic demand for steel.

As an interim measure, the Centre has already reduced the import duty from 30 per cent to 10 per cent over the past six months to stem price rise. Now, the Ministry of Steel is keen to ensure that the excise duty is cut to give immediate respite to the industry.

The UPA government had increased the excise duty from 8 per cent to 12 per cent on steel. Further, the Steel Minister has suggested the convening of a national meeting of major steel companies, both in the public and private sectors, and officials of Steel and Finance Ministries to avoid an artificial jacking of steel prices.

In this context, it may be recalled that as a measure to check the hike in the steel price, the previous NDA government had put on hold the Duty Entitlement Pass Book (DEPB) Scheme.
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BRIEFLY

World oil prices
London, August 11
World oil prices held firm today supported by the news that Iraqi exports of crude have halved following the closure of a southern pipeline earlier in the week because of an attack threat, New York’s light, sweet crude for September delivery, edged two cents lower to $ 44.50 in the electronic trading — AFP

LG offer
Chandigarh, August 11
LG Electronics has unveiled an offer for the entire region of Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab. The campaign slogan would be “Uphaaron Ki Barsaat”. The scheme which offers the consumers sure gifts, is valid from August 10 till September 25. The last date for redemption of gifts by any customer would be September 30. — TNS

Tata AIG-GE
Chandigarh, August 11
Tata AIG General Insurance Company here today entered into a strategic tie-up with GE Countrywide Consumer Financial Services Ltd under which the latter would offer a range of general insurance products to its customers. — TNS

GSPC finds oil
Gandhinagar, August 11
The discovery of ‘good quality’ crude oil in the Ahmedabad exploration block at a depth of 1.750 mt, by the Gujrat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) has prompted the country’s only state-owned oil exploration company to sink 10-15 more drilling wells in the nearby areas, GSPC Chairman C.K. Koshy said here today. — UNI
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