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CHANDIGARH

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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Sail, Essar go Tatas way, slash price
New Delhi, August 23
After the announcement of Tisco to reduce steel prices by Rs 2,000 per tonne yesterday, the state-owned Steel Authority of India Ltd (Sail) today reduced priced by Rs 1,000 per tonne for both its flat and long products. Ispat Industries is expected to follow suit while Essar Steel has already done so.

GRAPHIC: PERFORMANCE OF INFRASTRUCTURE INDUSTRIES

Zen, Wagon-R prices slashed

Editorial: PSUs as milch cows

Mega firms of accounts professionals on the cards
New Delhi, August 23
Up against an influx of large accounting and management firms after the abolition of restrictions, the Institute of Company Secretaries of India along with Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and Institutes of Cost and Works Accountants is finalising a proposal to have mega firms of practicing professionals.


Designer rakhis flood markets before Rakshabandhan.
(28k, 56k)

Parchu scare causes Rs 80 crore loss to Nathpa-Jhakri project
Shimla, August 23
India’s largest hydropower project in Himachal Pradesh has lost Rs 80 crore ($17.28 million) in the 10 days it was shut down due to fears that a lake across the border in Tibet might burst its banks.

ICICI Bank package for Indians in Canada
Mumbai, August 23
ICICI Bank, the second largest bank, today announced the launch of ‘Hello Canada Newcomers Account’ a powerful banking services package designed to provide instant access to banking services in Canada to Indians migrating to the country.

Cheaper OBC loans for GTB depositors
New Delhi, August 23
In a move that could provide succour to the existing customers of the troubled Global Trust Bank, its acquirer Oriental Bank of Commerce today said lending rates would eventually come down in line with the PSU bank.




Bollywood actress Malaika Arora poses with Lauret’s new bathroom accessories at a launch ceremony in New Delhi
Bollywood actress Malaika Arora poses with Lauret’s new bathroom accessories at a launch ceremony in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI


EARLIER STORIES

 
A Sri Lankan sales woman shows exotic Silver Tips and Golden Tips tea brands, believed to have aphrodisiac properties, at the upmarket Tea Tang centre in Colombo
A Sri Lankan sales woman shows exotic Silver Tips (L) and Golden Tips tea brands, believed to have aphrodisiac properties, at the upmarket Tea Tang centre in Colombo on Monday. The ‘white’ tea, priced at $ 1250 a kilogram, costs 750 times more than the average price of high-quality pure Ceylon tea. — AFP

Bank strike today
New Delhi, August 23
Banking services across the country could be affected tomorrow with an estimated 10 lakh employees of public sector banks deciding strike work demanding an early wage settlement.

Bosch to invest Rs 1,000 cr
Bangalore, August 23
German automotive giant Bosch today announced its plans to invest Rs 1,000 crore in India over the next four years and said it would start manufacturing Common Rail Diesel Injection (CRDi) systems in the country by early 2006 through its Indian subsidiary Motor Industries Company Ltd (Mico).

11 more SriLankan Airlines’ flights to India
New Delhi, August 23
The SriLankan Airlines, already the biggest operator into India, today announced that it is adding 11 more flights from October 31 that will increase the total number to 77.

Calling J&K disputed a mistake, says Microsoft
London, August 23
Software giant Microsoft has admitted that it was a “bloomer” to use for its Windows 95 software a UN map showing Jammu and Kashmir as disputed and firmly outside Indian territory and has since launched geography classes for its staff to avoid such mistakes.

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Sail, Essar go Tatas way, slash price
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 23
After the announcement of Tisco to reduce steel prices by Rs 2,000 per tonne yesterday, the state-owned Steel Authority of India Ltd (Sail) today reduced priced by Rs 1,000 per tonne for both its flat and long products. Ispat Industries is expected to follow suit while Essar Steel has already done so.

The reduction in the steel prices is likely to impact the inflation that touched 7.96 per cent last week.

Taking into account the impact of excise duty and sales tax cut, the effective reduction for the customers would be Rs 1,150 per tonne. Ispat Industries is also expected to review its pricing structure soon, company sources stated.

Making the announcement, Sail Chairman V.S. Jain said: “Sail has all along been a strong believer in stabilisation of prices. The company has also substantially reduced exports to make more steel available in the domestic market.”

In the present scenario, price reduction by Sail would have a positive impact on lowering the domestic steel prices, Mr Jain said, adding, “we hope the benefit would get passed on to the ultimate consumers.”

The reduced prices would come into effect from today. In the wake of highly volatile steel prices globally, Sail has said it would be reviewing the situation from time to time.

The move has been taken by the two companies after the government slashed customs duty on non-alloy steel by 5 per cent and exempted melting scrap of iron and steel other than stainless steel or heat resisting steel, which attracted an import duty of 5 per cent.

Steel prices, besides those of petroleum products and vegetables, have been the major factors behind the rise in inflation that reached the highest point during three-and-a-half years.

While excise hike on steel in the Budget had led to the increase in the price of long steel products, like wire rods and structural, by Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,700 per tonne, flat products like steel sheets, used in the manufacturing of car or refrigerator remained same as they come under the Modvat credit facility.

Essar Steel Ltd also reduced the steel prices by Rs 560 per tonne today for its “bonafide and direct” domestic customers.

The price cut of Rs 560 per tonne on sale price, including excise duty, would take into account the differential cost structure of various steel producers as Essar did not have its own captive iron ore and coal mines, the company said in a note here today.

The Mumbai-based steel company said it did not have control over fuel costs which some of the other steel producers have.

The overall increase in prices over the last couple of years was mainly due to significant rise in input costs, resulting in higher finished product prices, it added.

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Zen, Wagon-R prices slashed

New Delhi, August 23
Maruti has slashed prices of Zen and Wagon-R by up to Rs 9,000 on all models in a bid to garner a larger market share. The prices have been reduced with effect from today.

Maruti, which had a market share of 45 per cent last year, has targeted to increase it to 50 per cent in the compact car segment, they said, adding that the recent reduction in steel prices had also forced the car maker to pass on the benefit to the consumers.

The price reduction ranged between Rs 8,000 and Rs 9,000. — PTI

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Mega firms of accounts professionals on the cards

New Delhi, August 23
Up against an influx of large accounting and management firms after the abolition of restrictions, the Institute of Company Secretaries of India along with Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and Institutes of Cost and Works Accountants is finalising a proposal to have mega firms of practicing professionals.

“The concept of inter-disciplinary mega-firms has been planned as proposed in the company law concept paper. These large firms comprising not less than 50 partners will provide single window service to the companies,” Institute of Company Secretary of India (ICSI) secretary N. K. Jain told UNI.

The mega firms would comprise practicing professionals from the three institutes and provide all the three services under one roof, he added.

The ICSI has already started special training programmes for its members to gear them towards creation of mega-firms.

”Mega firms will become a necessity after the Gatt regime is enforced as large multinationals providing all kinds of accounting and legal services will enter India. In such a scenario, individual players will stand to lose,” Mr Jain said.

The governing councils of the ICAI and ICSI have already cleared the proposal to form mega firms.

“The Institute of Cost is also likely to approve the proposal,” Mr Jain said.

The three institutes have constituted a six-member committee to finalise the details of such firms.

“A host of issues involved such as signing authority, person against whom action to be taken in case of any professional wrongdoing, certification of such firms will be decided by this committee. After that, the proposals will be again sent to the respective councils of the three institutes for final consent,” he said.

The mega firms will become a reality after this and hopefully by the end of this year enterprising professionals will set-up such firms, he added. — UNI

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Parchu scare causes Rs 80 crore loss
to Nathpa-Jhakri project
Baldev S. Chauhan

Shimla, August 23
India’s largest hydropower project in Himachal Pradesh has lost Rs 80 crore ($17.28 million) in the 10 days it was shut down due to fears that a lake across the border in Tibet might burst its banks.

Though the 1,500-MW Nathpa Jhakri project on the Sutlej river has started functioning partially with four of its six units generating power, fears persist of the artificial lake in Tibet bursting and wreaking havoc downstream in Himachal Pradesh.

Engineers of the project are still anxious three weeks after satellite pictures revealed the formation of an artificial lake on the Parchu river, 30 km from the Indian border in Tibet. The Parchu drains into a tributary of the Sutlej.

The red alert still continues, as over 1,000 people living close to the riverbanks have been evacuated from their homes in the tribal and mountainous district of Kinnaur that borders Tibet.

“The project remained almost continuously shut from August 6 to 17 (except for three days when a few units generated power for a few hours). The loss in revenue generation is Rs 80 million for each day that the project was completely closed,” said Mr V.K. Verma of the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) that built the Nathpa project.

“Though the flood alert continues, we have started generation in four of the six units of the project since August 18,” he said.

The project, largely funded by the central government and the World Bank, was initially expected to be completed at a cost of Rs 43.36 billion but, at Rs 86.30 billion, cost almost doubled.

“When fully in operation, the 1,500-MW project supplies power to all the northern states of the country,” Mr Verma said.

The Nathpa boasts of the world’s largest underground desilting complex as well as one of the world’s longest power tunnels at almost 28 km. The powerhouse is the biggest in Asia.

“Each of the four desilting chambers has the depth of a nine-storey building. The power house is housed in a cavern, big enough to house a 17-storeyed structure,” Mr Verma explained.

The project presented a big challenge to engineers due to the steep gorge of the Sutlej river which has no flat banks in the high mountains. So 95 per cent of the project is built underground. — IANS

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ICICI Bank package for Indians in Canada

Mumbai, August 23
ICICI Bank, the second largest bank, today announced the launch of ‘Hello Canada Newcomers Account’ a powerful banking services package designed to provide instant access to banking services in Canada to Indians migrating to the country.

The package has been designed by ICICI Bank Canada, which is a fully-owned Canadian subsidiary of ICICI Bank.

ICICI Bank Canada is headquartered in Toronto, Canada, and is a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC).

The account is designed for Indians planning to work, study or immigrate to Canada. ‘Hello Canada Newcomers Account’ package, through a single application form, enables individuals to open a savings account, invest in term deposits, and apply for a credit card, a car loan and a home loan even before leaving from India.

The account gives such customers ready access to their ICICI Bank account and all other banking services the moment they arrive in Canada thus cutting down any downtime before they can access banking services in the new country. — UNI

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Cheaper OBC loans for GTB depositors

New Delhi, August 23
In a move that could provide succour to the existing customers of the troubled Global Trust Bank (GTB), its acquirer Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) today said lending rates would eventually come down in line with the PSU bank.

“Lending rate of the GTB was higher than the market average. In order to retain and rope in more customers, we will bring it (GTB rates) down to the OBC rate level,” OBC chairman B.D. Narang said.

The OBC’s benchmark prime lending rate is at about 11 per cent while it’s floating home rate is at 7.5 and 8 per cent for fixed rate for a 5-year maturity.

He also said the interests of the GTB depositors would be fully taken care of by the Delhi-based bank although investors of the GTB would have to wait for 12 years to get back any value.

“The GTB depositors’ interest is totally safe. They won’t suffer loss of a single penny. All contractual obligations will be met,” Mr Narang said.

The cost of funds of the GTB is also higher by 1.5 per cent from the OBC’s cost of funds, now at a little above 5 per cent, he said.

In fact, customers of the GTB can expect loans at a lower rate offered by the OBC.

The cost of funds of the GTB would become at par with the OBC within 12 months, he said.

“The GTB’s net NPA is about Rs 400 crore. We will recover the whole amount and achieve zero NPA level in 2-3 years,” the OBC chairman said.

Mr Narang has appointed a retired OBC general manager to handle recovery of GTB loans. — PTI

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Bank strike today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 23
Banking services across the country could be affected tomorrow with an estimated 10 lakh employees of public sector banks deciding strike work demanding an early wage settlement.

“All affiliates of the United Forum Bank Unions (UFBU) have decided to observe a nationwide strike tomorrow against the rigid negative attitude of the Indian Banks Association on the wage revision of bank employees and offices with effect from November 2002,” convener of the UFBU said here.

The bank employees and offices are demanding an increase of wages by 18 per cent. However, the IBA, the umbrella organisation of all public sector banks in the country, is reportedly willing to offer only 9.15 per cent.

“In the last settlement, the banks were in red and we agreed for a low rise in wages. Now a situation is different and all banks are making good profits,” Mr Gupta said.

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Bosch to invest Rs 1,000 cr

Bangalore, August 23
German automotive giant Bosch today announced its plans to invest Rs 1,000 crore in India over the next four years and said it would start manufacturing Common Rail Diesel Injection (CRDi) systems in the country by early 2006 through its Indian subsidiary Motor Industries Company Ltd (Mico).

“Of the Rs 1,000 crore, we will invest Rs 550 crore in introducing the CRDi systems, including application, testing and manufacturing, and the rest of the investment will be directed towards capacity expansion of our existing plants in India,” Dr Bernd Bohr, Member of the Board of Management and Chairman of the Automotive Group, Robert Bosch GmbH, told reporters here. He said all investment would be made by Mico through internal accruals.

Pointing out that Asia, and in particular India, will play a significant role in its growth plans, Dr Bohr said Bosch will transfer global automotive technologies to Mico to enhance technological sophistication of its customers in the country, which include global and Indian OEMs.

He said the first locally manufactured common rail systems are scheduled to come off production lines at Mico by early 2006.

Common Rail provides an environmentally clean technology solution that conforms to the current international emission norms.

Bosch expects that as the market for diesel expands, 60 per cent of the diesel applications will be Common Rail systems over the next 8-10 years.

The € 36.4 billion Bosch said it will use its presence in India through Mico to further promote its interests in non-automotive spheres, including power tools, security technology and packaging machinery as it sees considerable growth potential in these sectors. — UNI

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11 more SriLankan Airlines’ flights to India

New Delhi, August 23
The SriLankan Airlines, already the biggest operator into India, today announced that it is adding 11 more flights from October 31 that will increase the total number to 77.

Nine of its 10 Indian destinations will then have daily or more flights, including Chennai, which has 15 flights per week and Trivandrum, which has 11.

“Our target is to provide a web of services around India, which will allow rapid connections to both Indians and foreign visitors to many parts of the country,” Mr G T Jeyaseelan, head of airline’s commercial division, said.

“India is also the largest tourism market in Sri Lanka with traffic increasing 29.5 per cent to 90,603 in 2003.”

SriLankan mainly uses Airbus A-320 aircraft for its Indian sectors. It recently acquired its fifth A-320 and has plans to obtain another twin-engine aircraft soon.

Calicut became the airline’s 10th Indian destination in July. It has already announced plans to fly to Ahmedabad and several other cities in the near future.

New Delhi, Mumbai Trichy and Bangalore already have daily flights. Flights to the popular Buddhist pilgrimage destination, Bodh Gaya, which presently operate via New Delhi, will become direct (Colombo-Bodh Gaya-Colombo) in order to offer more connections to pilgrims from the South-East and Far-East Asia. — UNI

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Calling J&K disputed a mistake, says Microsoft

London, August 23
Software giant Microsoft has admitted that it was a “bloomer” to use for its Windows 95 software a UN map showing Jammu and Kashmir as disputed and firmly outside Indian territory and has since launched geography classes for its staff to avoid such mistakes.

“The wrongly-coloured Kashmir pixels were based on ignorance of Indian sensitivities, but there was nothing ever political about Microsoft’s delineation of national borders and flags,” Microsoft’s senior geopolitical strategist Tom Edwards said while addressing an international conference of fellow geographers organised by London’s Royal Geographical Society recently.

Microsoft committed the mistake in 1995 when the pixels symbolising Jammu and Kashmir showed it as a disputed and firmly outside Indian territory. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Citigroup’s offer
Mumbai, August 23
Citigroup has raised its offer to purchase shares of e-Serve International Ltd, an IT-enabled services company, to Rs 975 per share from the earlier offer of Rs 800 per share. Citibank Overseas Investment Corporation would accept all shares validly tendered at exit price of Rs 975 or those tendered below the exit price, the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange today. — PTI

Biotech firms
Bangalore, August 23
Three Indian biotechnology companies are in advanced stages of talks to set up operations in Germany, Europe’s largest economy. The proposed investments by the Indian companies would be in the form of research and development facilities at the Frankfurt Innovation Centre for Biotechnology (FIZ), a biotech cluster in the German State of Hessen. — UNI

Reliance MF
New Delhi, August 23
Reliance Mutual Fund today launched its first floating rate fund, aimed to reduce overall portfolio volatility and earn better risk-adjusted returns through substantial investment in floating rate debt securities. The issue opened today and will close on August 27. — UNI

Dell laptops
New Delhi, August 23
Dell today rolled out its thin and light notebooks — Inspiron 700m and Inspiron 510m. Starting at Rs 67, 900, Inspiron 700m offers 12.1-inch wide-screen display. Besides, the two-spindle 700m allows for additional screen area to increase productivity. — UNI

Sidbi fund
New Delhi, August 23
Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi) will soon launch a Rs 500-crore venture capital fund for facilitating entrepreneurship development in SMEs in manufacturing and services sectors. — UNI

Flood loss
Chandigarh, August 23
Reliance General Insurance Company Ltd has commenced payment of claims arising out of recent flood losses suffered by the industry in Lalru, Rajpura, Dera Bassi and other parts of Patiala district earlier this month. — TNS

Nod to Ranbaxy
New Delhi, August 23
Pharma major Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to manufacture and market anti-allergy loratadine syrup. — UNI

Smile TV
Chandigarh, August 23
Zee Telefilms will soon launch a new comedy channel, Smile TV from next month. Smile TV is at present available on Direct-to-Home - Dish TV. — TNS
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