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Manmohan to discuss petro pricing with FM, Deora
New Delhi, February 8
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will convene a meeting with Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora shortly to discuss pricing of petrol, diesel, LPG and kerosene.

Dabhol may initially run on naphtha
New Delhi, February 8
The beleagured Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra will be initially run on naphtha when it restarts in the second half of 2006 as its new owners — GAIL and NTPC — have not been able to tie-up LNG for the 2,184 MW plant.

PHDCCI submits list to Haryana
Chandigarh, February 8
The PHDCCI has suggested that the Haryana Government should eliminate revenue deficit, improve credit rating, put a ceiling on guarantees and follow a recruitment and wage policy for achieving higher efficiency in state finances.






Model Indrani Dasgupta poses with Omas pen at a press conference in New Delhi
Model Indrani Dasgupta poses with Omas pen at a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. Omas, a part of Louis Vuittion Moet Henessy (LVMH) group, launched a wide range of handcrafted pens in India. The pens are priced between Rs 8,900 and Rs 26,900. — Tribune Photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
Chairman Anil Ambani to list firms by March
Mumbai, February 8
Anil Ambani has taken over as the Chairman of the four companies which were handed over to his group by brother Mukesh Ambani yesterday.

Vegetable oil sector seeks sops from Punjab
New Delhi, February 8
While the vegetable oil sector has sought concessions from the Punjab government in the forthcoming state budget to wade through the crisis afflicting the sector, the vanaspati industry has urged the Centre to put vanaspati on the negative list of free trade agreements with Sri Lanka, Nepal and other SAARC countries.

HCL Tech may clinch overseas insurance deal
New Delhi, February 8
IT services giant HCL Technologies today said it is planning to set up a delivery centre in Pune as part of its plans to venture into small towns and cities.

Gold plunges
Mumbai, February 8
Gold met with heavy-selling pressure and plunged by a whopping Rs 270 per 10 grams on the bullion market here today due to steep fall in the global prices following heavy profit-selling by funds.

EARLIER STORIES

 

Pak team to attend food expo
Lucknow, February 8
A six-member delegation from Pakistan will attend the India Food Expo getting under way here tomorrow.



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Manmohan to discuss petro pricing with FM, Deora

New Delhi, February 8
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will convene a meeting with Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora shortly to discuss pricing of petrol, diesel, LPG and kerosene.

“I met Prime Minister this morning for finding a way for not raising prices of domestic cooking gas (LPG) and PDS kerosene (necessitated due to spurt in global oil prices). Prime Minister said he would convene a meeting with Finance Minister soon for solutions,” Mr Deora told reporters here.

The government’s ban on raising fuel prices despite rise in raw material (crude oil) cost has resulted in public sector fuel retailers — IndianOil Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp, IBP and Hindustan Petroleum Corp — posting net loss of Rs 2,898 crore this fiscal.

“I am not in favour of raising LPG and kerosene prices as these fuels were used by poor and vulnerable sections of the society. We need to see how through duty adjustments, raising government subsidy and issuance of oil bonds for the unrecovered cost, the financial health of oil PSUs are restored,” he said but did not indicate when the meeting would take place.

Asked if he agreed with the recommendation of the C Rangarajan Committee, appointed by Prime Minister to look into fuel pricing policy, to raise petrol price by Rs 1.27 a litre and diesel by Rs 2.18 per litre, Mr Deora said: “We have requested the committee to submit its report to us by this week. I cannot say if auto fuel prices would rise or not.”

Mr Deora said his ministry was seeking a slew of fiscal incentives, including infrastructure status, for exploration and production business and exemption from service tax as measures to boost domestic oil hunt.

In his wish-list for the Budget 2006-07, Mr Deora has sought infrastructure status to E&P business, LNG import projects and cross-country pipelines so as to give them a 10 year tax holiday.

To promote domestic E&P, he also sought eliminating service tax on survey and exploration of mineral.

He has sought nil customs duty on capital goods imported for new refineries/refinery expansion and green fuel projects and expansion of duty free list of items requirement for exploration and production of oil and gas.

Mr Deora also demanded ‘Declared Goods’ status to natural gas so that the fuel attracts a uniform 4 per cent sales tax all over the country.

To cut the losses made by public sector oil firms on sale of cooking fuels, he has sought Declared Goods status for subsidised products attracting 4 per cent uniform sales tax. States currently levy sales tax ranging from 8 to 14 per cent on LPG.

He also sought exemption from payment of service tax on LPG (domestic) and kerosene.

Mr Deora, within days of taking charge of the Petroleum Ministry on January 30 held discussions with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Mr Rangarajan, who heads the inter-ministerial committee to suggest pricing and taxation policy of petroleum products, to demand increase in government subsidy on LPG and kerosene. — PTI

Pipeline a ‘commitment’

Mr Deora today reaffirmed New Delhi’s commitment to the over $7-billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, saying it will further the dialogue on the project when Pakistan’s Oil Minister visits India next week.

“We are committed to making the project happen. We need the gas from Iran (to meet energy needs of the growing economy) and will continue to pursue the pipeline project,” he told reporters here.

“Pakistan’s Oil Minister is visiting us on February 17. I will welcome him,” he said, adding that discussions during the visit would focus on the IPI pipeline project. The agenda of the talks would be project structure, framework agreement, technical and legal issues and political insurance of the pipeline. — PTI


Panel for kerosene coupons

The Rangarajan Committee, which may give its report on February 14, is likely to make major changes in the pricing mechanism policy and “clearly define various components” for fixing retail prices of petroleum products.

Giving broad indications after meeting Petroleum Minister, former Governor of RBI and Chairman of the committee Mr C Rangarajan said that the report is also considering a scheme for the poor consumers of kerosene and LPG.Under the proposed scheme, persons living Below the Poverty Line (BPL) will be given coupons or credit cards for the purchase of kerosene.

“We will clearly define import parity, landed cost, market determine prices of petroleum products,” he said. — UNI

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Dabhol may initially run on naphtha

New Delhi, February 8
The beleagured Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra will be initially run on naphtha when it restarts in the second half of 2006 as its new owners — GAIL and NTPC — have not been able to tie-up LNG for the 2,184 MW plant.

“It looks like it will have to be run on naphtha. We are 4,500 MW short of power and we have requested that the plant be run (on naphtha) for 3-4 hours everyday to at least meet the peak demand,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told reporters after a 40-minute meeting with Petroleum Minister Murli Deora here.

Naphtha costs at least double the landed cost of LNG and will push up the cost of electricity generation from the plant, the single reason for the plant to shut down four years ago.

“We know that the cost of power will be more than Rs 2.80 per unit (kWh) agreed earlier... but there is no alternative. We are currently buying power from (NTPC’s) Kawas plant at Rs 7.50 per unit,” he said, indicating the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) will subsidise Dabhol power.

According to estimates, MSEB, which is to buy the Dabhol power, will have to bear a loss of about Rs 190 crore if the plant was to run on naphtha for three months.

While Mr Deora admitted that LNG was hard to find in global markets, Mr Deshmukh said there might be slippage of couple of months from the early June start-up date earlier decided by the government. — PTI

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PHDCCI submits list to Haryana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
The PHDCCI has suggested that the Haryana Government should eliminate revenue deficit, improve credit rating, put a ceiling on guarantees and follow a recruitment and wage policy for achieving higher efficiency in state finances.

These suggestions were contained in a pre-Budget memorandum submitted to the state Finance Minister, Mr Birender Singh, by Mr Mohit Jain, Chairman of the Haryana committee of the PHDCCI, here today.

Advocating the need for redefining the VAT system, Mr Jain said uniformity in classification, doing away with the multiple taxes like entry tax, need for safeguarding exemption schemes, lack of uniformity in giving credit on capital goods were a few issues being faced by the state industry. He said the government should also consider to revise its tax on footwear which was presently attracting 12.5 per cent VAT and treat footwear on a par with the garment industry by reducing VAT to 4 per cent. The CST on bulk drugs should be also reduced to 2 per cent to make industry competitive.

The PHDCCI suggested amendments to the Haryana SEZ Act, 2005, and the IT Policy to exclude all IT, ITES, SEZs from house tax.

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Chairman Anil Ambani to list firms by March
Tribune News Service and Agencies

Mumbai, February 8
Anil Ambani has taken over as the Chairman of the four companies which were handed over to his group by brother Mukesh Ambani yesterday. As per a statement put out by the Anil Ambani camp, he will be the new Chairman of Reliance Natural Resources Ltd, Reliance Energy Ventures Ltd, Reliance Capital Ventures Ltd and Reliance Communication Ventures Ltd.

Under the agreement thrashed out between the two brothers, all four companies would be listed on the stock exchanges. The Anil Ambani camp put out that documents to list RNRL, REVL and Reliance Capital Ventures Ltd have already been filed with the stock exchanges and listings would be completed before March.

Reliance Capital Ventures Ltd (RCVL) is scheduled to be listed on the BSE and NSE on February 13, followed by Reliance Energy Ventures Ltd (REVL) on February 20, Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL) on February 27 and Reliance Communication Ventures Ltd (RCoVL) on March 6.

The Boards of the respective companies today decided to submit a revised information memoranda with full and correct information and details to the BSE and NSE at the earliest, to facilitate their early listing on the stock exchanges for the benefit of 22 lakh shareholders, a press note issued here today said.

At the meetings held today, the Boards of the four companies reviewed the listing documents, including the draft information memoranda of the respective entities submitted to the BSE and NSE when they were under the control of Reliance Industries (RIL).

Reliance-ADA group has already communicated to Sebi, BSE and NSE in this regard and requisite approvals were awaited.

After gaining control of the four entities, Anil Ambani group today rechristened the insurance business it acquired from AMP Sanmar as ‘Reliance Life Insurance Company.’

ADAG has obtained necessary regulatory approvals from Registrar of Companies and IRDA to change the name of AMP Sanmar Life to Reliance Life Insurance Company, ADAG said in a press note.

“Henceforth, the company will issue all policy contracts under the Reliance Life Insurance name. All existing policy contracts will also stand transferred to Reliance Life entity with all original contractual terms and commitments,” the press note said.

He also announced Reliance Capital Ventures and Reliance Energy Ventures, two of the four companies acquired by him from elder brother Mukesh, would be merged with Reliance Capital Ltd and Reliance Energy Ltd, respectively.

The newly-constituted Boards of Reliance Capital Ventures and Reliance Energy Ventures today approved their merger with flagship financial services company Reliance Capital and power entity Reliance Energy Ltd.

“The proposed scheme of amalgamation envisages a share exchange ratio of five equity shares of RCL for every 100 shares of RCVL,” Reliance-ADAG said in a statement.

Similarly, the exchange ratio of 7.5 equity shares of REL for every 100 shares of REVL has been fixed, it said.

The proposed scheme of amalgamation is subject to regulatory and shareholders’ approvals.

Subsequent to the amalgamation, the shares of RCL and REL held by RCVL and REVL respectively would be cancelled.

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Vegetable oil sector seeks sops from Punjab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
While the vegetable oil sector has sought concessions from the Punjab government in the forthcoming state budget to wade through the crisis afflicting the sector, the vanaspati industry has urged the Centre to put vanaspati on the negative list of free trade agreements with Sri Lanka, Nepal and other SAARC countries.

In a pre-Budget memorandum to the state Finance Minister Surinder Singla, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of Punjab urged the state government to reduce the central sales tax on vegetable oil and vanaspati to 1 per cent, exempt sunflower seed from market fee, exempt deoiled rice bran and deoiled cakes from VAT and impose 12 per cent VAT on imported vanaspati.

Association president A.R. Sharma said the industry was facing a crisis due to the creation of huge capacities of vegetable oil refining in the coastal areas of Gujarat, which enjoy tax holidays, flooding of imported vegetable oil in the Indian market, import of duty-free vanaspati from Nepal and Sri Lanka under FTAs.

The association demanded that sunflower seed, a major oilseed crop of Punjab, should be exempted from the market fee. It said the state government had exempted a number of oilseeds from the market fee to encourage production, but somehow sunflower did not figure in the list.

Mr Sharma said Haryana had exempted deoiled rice bran and deoiled cakes from VAT, resulting in the shifting of solvent extraction industry to the neighbouring state from Punjab. This shifting had resulted in a shortage of raw material in Punjab. Further, nine states had exempted deoiled rice bran from VAT/ST and in eight states there was no VAT/ST on deoiled cakes.

To provide a level playing field, the association urged the Punjab Government to exempt deoiled rice bran and deoiled cake from VAT.

Meanwhile, in the memorandum submitted to the Centre, the Indian Vanaspati Producers Association (IVPA) said if the duty on the imported crude palm oil (CPO) could not be reduced to 20 per cent on an actual user basis, the tax disparity between imported vanaspati and the raw material should be eliminated which cost the domestic producer Rs 12,000 more per tonne.The imported stuff is selling at Rs 75 to Rs 105 per tin lower than the best domestic brands.

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HCL Tech may clinch overseas insurance deal

New Delhi, February 8
IT services giant HCL Technologies today said it is planning to set up a delivery centre in Pune as part of its plans to venture into small towns and cities.

“We are exploring Pune as a location for setting up a facility. It is a matter of time before it comes up,” Mr Saurav Adhikari, Vice-President, Corporate Strategy at HCL Technologies, said on the sidelines of company’s customer meet.

In Noida, where HCL technologies is headquartered, it is planning a campus spread over 46 acres. In Bangalore, it is building a campus spread over an area of 26 acres, while it has acquired 50 acres for its Chennai campus.

The company is close to finalising a multi-million dollar and multi-year services deal with a western insurance major.

Refusing to divulge further details on the size, name and timing of the deal, Mr Adhikari said: “It is a big deal covering all parts of HCLT’s offerings — technology, applications, remote infrastructure and BPO... we should be able toannounce it in not too distant future.

“The preparations for the deal like recruitment, training and operationalisation has already begun and the impact of the deal (in terms of revenue) would be felt within the next two quarters.”

In fact, in principle the deal has been signed but a few ratifications are in the process of taking place, he said.

Usually, a multi-year deal spreads over five to 10 years. — PTI

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Gold plunges

Mumbai, February 8
Gold met with heavy-selling pressure and plunged by a whopping Rs 270 per 10 grams on the bullion market here today due to steep fall in the global prices following heavy profit-selling by funds. Silver also crashed by Rs 185 per kilo in sympathy with gold. Standard gold (99.5 purity) fell ending at Rs 7,940 revealing a huge loss of Rs 270. — PTI

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Pak team to attend food expo
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 8
A six-member delegation from Pakistan will attend the India Food Expo getting under way here tomorrow.

For the first time a neighboring country has shown interest in food processing- related technologies in an expo outside metropolitan cities, claimed Indian Industries Association general secretary Anil Gupta.

As many as 170 exhibitors from the country are putting up stalls in the four-day exhibition.

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