SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

PM favours easy credit access to SSI
New Delhi, August 30
A national commission will be set up to address the key concerns of the small-scale sector, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here today.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presents the small-scale entrepreneurs award to Dinesh Garg from Haryana Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presents the small-scale entrepreneurs award to Dinesh Garg from Haryana at the national awards-2002 presentation function for research and development efforts in SSI, in New Delhi on Monday.
— PTI photo

Apple growers fear slump
Shimla, August 30
With the truck operators calling off their week-long strike, the transportation of apple has resumed. However, the growers fear that heavy arrivals could lead to a slump in the market, severely affecting returns.

Himachali women carry apples in baskets on their back to be transported from the Chachoit area of Mandi district on Monday as truckers’ strike is called off. Himachali women carry apples in baskets on their back to be transported from the Chachoit area of Mandi district on Monday as truckers’ strike is called off.
— PTI photo

Where’s the original will, court asks Birlas
Kolkata, August 30
Admitting the application for probate of two 1982 “mutual and concurrent” wills of M.P. Birla and Priyamvada Birla, Mr Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta of the Calcutta High Court today directed the Birlas to place the original of the wills before the court on September 1 when the case will come up for hearing again.


A British Army Challenger tank guards near the Basra South oil refinery in southern Iraq on Monday.
A British Army Challenger tank guards near the Basra South oil refinery in southern Iraq on Monday. Iraq’s southern oil exports are expected to remain reduced over the next five days as engineers work on repairing sabotaged pipelines linking oilfields to export storage tanks, an oil official said on Monday. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES

 

Malaysia lures investors
Chennai, August 30
The Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida) has invited industrialists from Tamil Nadu to invest in the machinery and equipment sector at Malaysia.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath exchange documents of protocol to implement the ‘early harvest scheme’ with his Thailand counterpart Watana Muangsook in New Delhi on Monday. Pact with Thailand inked
New Delhi, August 30
India today signed a protocol agreement with Thailand, which will pave the way for setting up a free trade area between the countries by 2010.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath exchange documents of protocol to implement the ‘early harvest scheme’ with his Thailand counterpart Watana Muangsook in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI photo

SBI hikes home loan rates
New Delhi, August 30
The State Bank of India (SBI) has announced a hike in the interest rates on fixed home loan rates by 0.25 to 0.50 per cent.

A Taiwanese man reads articles of a weekly supplement printed by Taiwan’s United Daily News. The newspaper forged a partnership with The New York Times at Taipei on Monday.
A Taiwanese man reads articles of a weekly supplement printed by Taiwan’s United Daily News. The newspaper forged a partnership with The New York Times at Taipei on Monday. — AFP

L&T plans software
centre in China

Shanghai, August 30
India’s leading engineering and construction conglomerate Larsen and Toubro Limited today said it plans to set up a software development centre in China and make it a manufacturing base for the global market as a part of the company’s foray into the international arena.

New Fiat models on anvil
New Delhi, August 30
After the write-off of Rs 1,300 crore accumulated loss, Fiat India has embarked on a massive restructuring exercise that would see the company launch new models.
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PM favours easy credit access to SSI
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
A national commission will be set up to address the key concerns of the small-scale sector, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here today.

“There are several measures the government contemplates to support the SSI sector. We will soon be setting up a national commission to examine the problems being faced by the enterprises in the unorganised, informal sector. This commission will have a comprehensive mandate to examine and review existing institutional mechanisms,” Dr Singh said while speaking at the SSI convention here.

He said small enterprises require support in such areas as access to affordable credit, marketing support and access to modern technology.

“I have a feeling that the net impact of what the government is trying to do to help the sector is getting dissipated by the multiplicity of efforts and agencies,” the Prime Minister said.

He said despite new credit schemes, higher limits of loan eligibility and a credit linked capital subsidy scheme, the availability of credit still remains a problem. “Banks today are flush with funds and yet small enterprises continue to complain about lack of funds,” he said.

The Prime Minister urged the banks to pay heed to the “developmental dimensions” of lending to small enterprises and identified technology upgradation, marketing support and improved infrastructure as critical factors for development of the SSI sector.

Underlining the need for “innovative thinking” in formulation of policies for the small-scale sector, Dr Singh said if policies of the past have not yielded the desired results, “we should be prepared to discard them and seek new ways of realising the goals of employment generation and entrepreneurial development.”

“It needs to be seen whether protection in the form of reservation of items for production in the SSI sector is an adequate mechanism to enable this sector to thrive,” he said.

While reservation can protect SSI firms from domestic competition, it will not protect them from international competition. “Given this future scenario of trade-driven competition, efforts of all governments agencies must be towards enhancing the capabilities of SSI enterprises to face competition,” Dr Singh said.

The Prime Minister also gave away national awards for outstanding achievement in the fields of entrepreneurship, research and development and quality product in the SSI sector.

The SBI, PNB and State Bank of Travancore today bagged the national award for excellence in lending to small-scale industries sector for 2003-04.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave away the award to SBI chairman A.K. Purwar and PNB chief S.S. Kohli at the SSI convention and national awards presentation held here.Top

 

Apple growers fear slump
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 30
With the truck operators calling off their week-long strike, the transportation of apple has resumed. However, the growers fear that heavy arrivals could lead to a slump in the market, severely affecting returns.

The prices have already started dwindling in the Delhi market where almost 80 per cent of the state’s total produce is disposed of. The average prices of the main varieties have come down by Rs 30 to Rs 60 per box over the past two days. While the rate of the medium grade of the royal delicious variety has declined from Rs 560 to Rs 520 per box, that of rich-a-red has gone down from Rs 430 to Rs 400 per box. Similarly the prices of red delicious and golden delicious have come down to Rs 250 from Rs 270 per box.

The market has been flooded with fruit with over 1,900 trucks of apple moving out of the state over the past two days. In fact, the highest number of 997 trucks carrying 4.70 lakh boxes of apple moved out during the past 24 hours. The market remains stable as long as the daily arrivals range between 550 to 650 boxes. In all 97 lakh boxes have been sent out to various markets during the current season as against 82 lakh boxes sent during the same period last year.

As the plucking of the fruit, which was discontinued due to the strike, is in full swing again, the arrivals could further increase and the fruit glut could lead to a further decline in the prices. As per the estimates of the Horticulture Department, about 2.20 crore boxes are likely to be produced and, as such, almost 1 crore boxes are yet to be marketed.

The emergence of Chandigarh as a satellite market over the past three years has helped the growers immensely. Compared to the dependence on the Delhi market, where the growers are at the mercy of middlemen and “arhtiyas”, it is already playing a role in stabilising the market.

The prices so far have been higher as compared to last year when the state recorded the highest-ever production of 2.52 crore boxes. For instance, the rates of royal delicious ranged between Rs 360 and Rs 380 per box in the last week of August last year as against the current rate of Rs 520 per box. The rates of other varieties were also lower by Rs 80 to Rs 100 per box. However, to maintain the prices at a reasonable level, it is essential to regulate arrivals as a glut could send the market crashing.Top

 

Where’s the original will, court asks Birlas

Kolkata, August 30
Admitting the application for probate of two 1982 “mutual and concurrent” wills of M.P. Birla and Priyamvada Birla, Mr Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta of the Calcutta High Court today directed the Birlas to place the original of the wills before the court on September 1 when the case will come up for hearing again. Birla’s counsel and former Union Minister Satyabrata Mookherjee filed a notarised copy of the will before the court.

However, the court said the original will must be produced.

Mr Rajendra Singh Lodha’s counsel Anindya Mitra also said the original will must be produced before the court with the application of probate of the will.

Mr Mookherjee said the original will was not produced with application because it may be lost or misplaced. The court also admitted an additional petition of Mr Besant Kumar Birla, who told the court that executor of M.P. Birla’s will was Mrs Priyamvada Birla and the executor of Priyamvada Birla’s will was Mr M.P. Birla, both of whom were dead. — UNITop

 

Malaysia lures investors
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 30
The Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida) has invited industrialists from Tamil Nadu to invest in the machinery and equipment sector at Malaysia.

Mr Tan Ah Yong, Director, Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida), extended this invitation during a recent meeting with the members of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) here.

Mr Yong led a 14-member Malaysian project mission to India and highlighted the tremendous possibilities of technical and joint venture collaboration between the Indian and Malaysian companies.

He mentioned about the machinery and equipment sub-sectors like machine tools, plastic injection machines, material handling equipment, robotics, factory automation equipment, packaging machinery and specialised equipment for specific industrial sectors.

Highlighting the priority status accorded by the Government of Malaysia towards the development of the machinery and supporting industries sector in the country, Mr Yong acknowledged India’s advancement in these sectors and urged Indian businessmen to take advantage of the favourable investment climate and fiscal incentives offered for investing in Malaysia.

Malaysia also has a very well developed engineering supporting industry.

Mr Yong said Malaysia as a member of the Asean Free Trade Area, provided a gateway to a market of over 500 million persons with a combined GDP of $582.4 billion and a total trade of $ 733.7 billion as per 2002 estimates.Top

 

Pact with Thailand inked
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
India today signed a protocol agreement with Thailand, which will pave the way for setting up a free trade area between the countries by 2010.

Thailand becomes the second country after Sri Lanka with which India would be implementing an FTA in a phased manner.

The protocol, signed by the Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath and Thailand’s Minister of Commerce Watana Muangsook, will come into force from September 1 this year and provides for an early harvest scheme (EHS) under which common items of export interest to both sides have been agreed for elimination of tariffs on a fast-track basis.

The launch of the implementation of the EHS provides for the elimination of tariffs on a common list of 84 items over a period of two years. The list covers approximately seven per cent of bilateral trade and includes items, which are of the export interest to both countries.

A framework agreement for establishing the FTA between India and Thailand was signed by the Commerce Ministers of both countries in October last year in Thailand.

The FTA in goods negotiations, which started in January 2004, will be concluded by March 2005 and will culminate in the establishment of a free trade area ( zero duty imports) by 2010.

For services and investments, negotiations will be concluded by January 2006 and the areas of economic cooperation include trade facilitation measures and trade and investment promotion measures.

Mr Kamal Nath said India is also engaged in negotiations with Singapore, Asean and BIMST-EC to strengthen economic cooperation.

The total trade between India and Thailand has almost doubled from $ 777.15 million in 1999-2000 to $ 1.4 billion in 2003-04.Top

 

SBI hikes home loan rates
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
The State Bank of India (SBI) has announced a hike in the interest rates on fixed home loan rates by 0.25 to 0.50 per cent.

The floating loan rates remains unchanged.

For loans with up to five years maturity, interest rates have been increased by 0.25 per cent to 8 per cent from the current rate of 7.75 per cent, the bank informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Interest on loans with maturity of 5-15 years has been increased by 0.50 per cent to 8.75 per cent from the existing 8.25 per cent.

For loans with maturity period above 15 years and up to 20 years, interest rates have been increased by 0.50 per cent to 9 per cent from the current 8.50 per cent.

The revised fixed interest rates for fresh housing loans or switchover of floating rate loans to fixed rate loans would apply with immediate effect, the SBI said. Top

 

L&T plans software centre in China
Anil K. Joseph

Shanghai, August 30
India’s leading engineering and construction conglomerate Larsen and Toubro Limited today said it plans to set up a software development centre in China and make it a manufacturing base for the global market as a part of the company’s foray into the international arena.

“We are looking at establishing a software development centre in China for our Far-East markets,” L&T’s Chairman and Managing Director A M Naik told reporters after formally inaugurating the company’s first representative office in China’s commercial hub.

“L&T Infotech, a wholly-owned subsidiary, in the near future intends to open a 100 seats IT and software development centre in China,” he said adding this would enable the company to deliver solutions and services to its local customers, including multinationals. — PTITop

 

New Fiat models on anvil

New Delhi, August 30
After the write-off of Rs 1,300 crore accumulated loss, Fiat India has embarked on a massive restructuring exercise that would see the company launch new models, which includes hatchbacks like Panda and Idea and sedan Albea.

Idea is a compact multi-purpose vehicle while Panda is a premium hatchback.

While the Idea is likely to compete in the premium hatchback market pitted against Ford’s Fusion and the soon-to-be-launched Getz from Hyundai, the Panda is likely to be up against Maruti’s Wagon R, Zen and Hyundai’s Santro. — PTI Top

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BRIEFLY

Nominations invited
Chandigarh, August 30
Bajaj Electrical Limited, an Indian power equipment major, has invited nominations from women entrepreneurs for the Indian Merchant’s Chamber- Ladies’ wing Janakidevi Puraskar. The award, 12th in the series, comprises a cash prize of Rs 1.5 lakh, a citation and a certificate, will be given to a woman entrepreneur for her outstanding contribution to rural business entrepreneurship. The last date for receiving nominations is November 2. — TNS

Goetze India
New Delhi, August 30
Goetze India Ltd (GIL), a manufacturer of pistons and rings, has inked a technology agreement with Germany-based Federal Mogul (FM) to use the latter’s specific proprietary for making contemporary pistons, GIL said in a statement. GIL already has technology pacts with Federal Mogul for piston rings and sintered parts. It has two plants located in Patiala and Bangalore. — UNI

Sify cuts rates
Chandigarh, August 30
Sify Limited has announced new rates for international calls to the Gulf . Sify’s net telephony service is available for just Rs 7 per minute from anywhere in India to Jeddah and Riyadh, while calls to other regions within the Gulf will vary between Rs 9 and Rs 13 as against the BSNL rates of Rs 19.40 per minute. — TNS

SRL Ranbaxy
Chandigarh, August 30
Cyber India Online Ltd today announced the SRL Ranbaxy CIO, Mr G. Radhakrishna Pillai, as the winner of the Extended Manager category of the Enterprise Connect Awards 2004 at a ceremony held in Mumbai. — TNS

OBC branch
Dharamsala, August 30
The Oriental Bank of Commerce opened its 13th branch in Himachal Pradesh here today. Bank director T.K.Dutta inaugurated it. AGM K.S.Shergill said the deposits of the bank had grown up to over Rs 30,000 crore and the net Non-Performing Assets of the bank were nil. — TNS
Top

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