SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Govt awards 52 oil and gas blocks
ONGC gets 24, Reliance bags seven
New Delhi, February 8
The government today awarded 52 oil and gas exploration blocks, largest ever auction, in which ONGC got 24 and Reliance Industries won the bid for seven.

Bidding for Hutch may start today
Hong Kong/New Delhi, February 8
After months of waiting, Hutchison Telecom International, which has put on block its 67 per cent stake in the Indian telecom venture, Hutch-Essar, is expected to start the bidding process tomorrow.

EPF rate: Govt non-committal
New Delhi, February 8
With interest rates on fixed deposits showing a rise, the government today remained non-committal on revising the EPF rate.

Govt to tame inflation
New Delhi, February 8
As inflation hovers around 6 per cent, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said today the government was committed to moderating it with additional measures that would take some time to bring down prices.

BMW to make cars in India
Singapore, February 8
Germany's BMW will start assembling cars in India next month and expects to produce 1,000 vehicles in the plant's first year of operation. The Munich-based company also said it would stick to its goal of selling 1,50,000 cars in Asia by next year.



Sansui leans on the Wall
Television major Sansui has signed ace cricketer Rahul Dravid as a brand ambassador for its range of TV and home theatre systems
Television major Sansui has signed ace cricketer Rahul Dravid as a brand ambassador for its range of TV and home theatre systems. — UNI

EARLIER STORIES

 
Bollywood actress Priety Zinta poses with images of four new perfumed postage stamps at a launch function in Mumbai
Bollywood actress Priety Zinta poses with images of four new perfumed postage stamps at a launch function in Mumbai on Wednesday. The stamp series featuring roses and titled Fragrance of Roses is second in line of perfumed postage stamps to be launched by the Department of Posts. — AFP

India ‘most favoured’ PE destination
New Delhi, February 8
India has emerged as the most- favoured private equity (PE) destination attracting $1,239.22 million worth investments in January, surpassing Asian giants like China and Japan, according to a study.

Simplify corporate TDS: CII
New Delhi, February
Despite several modifications being made in the provisions of tax deducted at source (TDS) for the corporate sector in past few years, there is a large scope for rationalising it under a single section by consolidating various sections, such as stipulations, rates for TDS exemption limits etc, the CII said here today.

A Sony employee introduces new component audio system "System 501", using technology of Sony's high-end model, composed by 32bit digital amplifier, super audio CD player and a pair of two-way speaker units in Tokyo
A Sony employee introduces new component audio system "System 501", using technology of Sony's high-end model, composed by 32bit digital amplifier, super audio CD player and a pair of two-way speaker units in Tokyo on Thursday. Sony will put it on the market on March 10 at 89,000 yen for amplifier, 67,000 yen for CD player and 67,000 yen for speaker units. — AFP

Assocham pleads for removal of withholding tax for private banks
New Delhi, February 8
The industry body, Assocham, has urged the Finance Ministry to allow all private banks to raise foreign currency borrowings to finance infrastructure projects, exempting these from paying a withholding tax on interest charged on such borrowings.

Training module for TRPs
New Delhi, February 8
CBDT chairperson Indira Bhargava today inaugurated a nine-day training programme for tax return preparers (TRPs) at the NIIT Training Centre here. The training preceded by a 15-days self-study programme.

Rate hike to survive, says ICICI Bank
Mumbai, February 8
Despite the Finance Minister asking public sector banks not to hike the home loan rates, top private sector lender ICICI Bank, accounting for 30 per cent of the home loans, has said all lenders would have to increase the rates for their own survival.

ICICI Bank launches remittance card
New Delhi, February 8
ICICI Bank today launched a card-based remittance product to provide a convenient and hassle-free alternative to receive remittances from abroad.

Reliance to pump in Rs 600 cr for Vimal revival
New Delhi, February 8
In an attempt to revive the once-popular brand 'Vimal', Reliance Industries has earmarked an investment of Rs 600 crore in the next one year, which will include retail network expansion and promotional campaigns.

Indian to induct A-330 planes
Bangalore, February 8
Indian is set to become the first airline in the country to induct white-bodied A-330 aircraft powered by US-based Cratt and Whitney (C and W) engines.

Verizon seeks ILD licence
New Delhi, February 8
Verizon Business India, a newly formed joint venture between Verizon Business and Videocon Group, has applied for a licence to provide international long-distance (ILD) services in India.

 

Top



 

 

 

Govt awards 52 oil and gas blocks
ONGC gets 24, Reliance bags seven
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
The government today awarded 52 oil and gas exploration blocks, largest ever auction, in which ONGC got 24 and Reliance Industries won the bid for seven.

"In the initial five years from 2007 to 2012, on a conservative estimate the winners are expected to invest over $6 billion," Petroleum Secretary M.S. Srinivasan told reporters.

He said the government would come out with the bidding for New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) VII by the middle of this month.

“We have learnt from NELP VI and would fine tune it and make it more transparent,” he said.

Asked about the lack of interest so far shown by the US-based oil and gas exploration companies, he said “The NELP VI would force them to sit back and take notice of India. The licensing policy would be as per India’s terms and not in terms of the those multinational companies.”

Mr Srinivasan said “most of the exploration majors of Europe are here and we are going to the US firms with a begging bowl to invest in the country.”

The government had offered 55 exploration blocks under NELP-VI, but received bids for 52.

He said ONGC got 24, RIL-seven, OIL-six , GSPC & Naftogaz - three each, and Santox & Essar Oil got two each and Focus, Petrogas, Cairn Energy, Prize Petroleum and Geoglobal got one block each.

Of the 21 deep water blocks, ONGC got 12, RIL seven and Santos two.

In the shallow offshore six blocks, ONGC got two, Focus, GSPC, Petrogas, Carin Energy got one each.

In the Onland 25 blocks, ONGC got 10, OIL got six, Naftogaz three, Essar Oil and GSPC got two each and Prize Petroleum and Geoglobal got one each.

Mr Srinivasan said the government had received 165 bids from domestic and overseas players for 52 blocks. It attracted interest from 36 foreign firms, the largest ever overseas response to an auction. There were no bids for two blocks.

So far, India has awarded 110 exploration blocks to bidders under five NELP rounds to shore up domestic oil and gas production.

The blocks were awarded through an international competitive bidding process.

Top

 

Bidding for Hutch may start today

Hong Kong/New Delhi, February 8
After months of waiting, Hutchison Telecom International, which has put on block its 67 per cent stake in the Indian telecom venture, Hutch-Essar, is expected to start the bidding process tomorrow.

According to sources close to the development, HTIL has sent a communication to various players asking them to submit their bids by Friday evening.

There are at least four players, including the UK-based Vodafone, NRI Hindujas and Indian entities Reliance Communications and Essar (Indian partner in Hutch-Essar JV with a 33 per cent stake), who have evinced interest in buying HTICL's 67 per cent stake.

The Hindujas are teaming up with Qatar Telecom to bid for Hutch-Essar, Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

HTIL's communication has come at a time when one of the suitor, Hindujas is still to complete the due diligence process and is expected to complete the exercise next week.

HTIL's 67 per cent stake is being valued at up to $20 billion but the two suitors — Reliance Communication and Vodafone —recently said they would be conservative while bidding for Hutch's stake.

Essar is understood to have maintained that they have the First Right of Refusal (RoFR) and need not submit any bid. — PTI

Top

 

EPF rate: Govt non-committal

New Delhi, February 8
With interest rates on fixed deposits showing a rise, the government today remained non-committal on revising the EPF rate.

"The government will take appropriate decision (on it)", Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said. The Finance Minister was replying to a question on the Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes' request to the EPFO to revise the interest rate, which now stood at 8.5 per cent.

At its meeting on January 27, the EPF Board failed to arrive at a decision on the interest rate for the current fiscal for its 4 crore subscribers. — PTI

Top

 

Govt to tame inflation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
As inflation hovers around 6 per cent, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said today the government was committed to moderating it with additional measures that would take some time to bring down prices.

"The government is committed to moderating inflation though it may take some time to contain it," he said after a Cabinet meeting.

He said the prices of various commodities had come down after fiscal measures taken by the government and RBI's decision to raise the repo rate and provisioning for certain sectors.

Claiming that the average inflation during the UPA regime has been much lower in comparison to the NDA’s , Mr Chidambaram said the government was taking the necessary steps from time to time.

When asked whether the government could take additional steps before the Budget to contain inflation, Mr Chidamabaram said: "the government will take steps as and when required," adding that public sector banks have been asked by the government to hold the interest on housing loans at the current rate.

"The sugar prices have come down by about Rs 2 a kg while those of wheat have stabilised during the past three or four days," he said, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture was taking steps to address the supply issues of food commodities.

Top

 

BMW to make cars in India

Singapore, February 8
Germany's BMW will start assembling cars in India next month and expects to produce 1,000 vehicles in the plant's first year of operation. The Munich-based company also said it would stick to its goal of selling 1,50,000 cars in Asia by next year.

BMW's plant in Chennai is the group's fifth factory in Asia and will make 3 and 5 series BMWs exclusively for the Indian market.

''It will be around 1,000 units this year and we'll bring it up to the plant's capacity of 1,700 next year,'' BMW Board member Michael Ganal said. BMW, the world's biggest premium carmaker ahead of DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz, hopes to sell around 1,000 cars this year in India, up from just 257 last year. — Reuters

Top

 

India ‘most favoured’ PE destination

New Delhi, February 8
India has emerged as the most- favoured private equity (PE) destination attracting $1,239.22 million worth investments in January, surpassing Asian giants like China and Japan, according to a study.

India ranks top in terms of PE investments in January-February and has left behind Asian giants like China with $609 million and Japan with $980 million, according to a report by Asian Venture Capital Journal (AVCJ).

The report, on Asia-Pacific emerging as the most attractive region for investment said, the total Asian private equity capital under management rose by almost 30 per cent in 2006 to $158 billion as compared to $122 billion in 2005.

"It was a watershed year for Asia pacific (private equity)," KPMG Partner and COO for Advisory in Asia Paul Borough commented on the PE investment trend in 2006.

India is also among the top 10 PE destinations last year, with the country witnessing a whopping growth of 252 per cent with investment as high as $7,009 million for 2006 as against just $1, 992 million in 2005, the report said.

The top 10 PE destinations chart includes Australia with $24,934 million worth investments, China $7,721 million and Japan $10,350 million. — PTI

Top

 

Simplify corporate TDS: CII
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February
Despite several modifications being made in the provisions of tax deducted at source (TDS) for the corporate sector in past few years, there is a large scope for rationalising it under a single section by consolidating various sections, such as stipulations, rates for TDS exemption limits etc, the CII said here today.

The CII has observed that the tax authorities under section 195 take a conservative view, resulting in blocking of money in TDS of non-resident contractors due to an excessively high estimate of profits. Excess amounts are refunded only on filing of tax returns along with the claim of refund.

To avoid hardships to non-resident taxpayers, the CII has sought clear guidelines for deduction of out-of-contract payments.

It has also suggested that short or excess deduction of income tax under section 192 in a financial year out of various employees should be allowed to be adjusted by the employer so as to obviate the need for employees to make claims for refund.

The CII has also stressed the need for rationalising TDS on data communication. When an Indian company exports software, the digital signals are converted into analog signals and are transmitted to one of the geo-stationary satellites. The signals that are beamed to the satellites are down-linked to the earth stations in, say the US, and sent to the client’s location using the bandwidth and down-linking facility provided by international service providers in the US.

The Income Tax Department is of the view that the payments to international service providers for down-linking signals from the satellites over the ocean to the US are subject to deduction of tax under section 195 of the Income Tax Act - this being regarded as a technical service.

CII is of the opinion that provision of bandwidth is a utility facility, and hence should not be considered as a technical service. Hence, payment made to foreign companies for data communications should not be covered under “Fees for Technical Services” and, accordingly, should be out of the purview of section 195, said the CII.

TDS compliance for the banks also needs to be simplified, according to the CII. It feels that to facilitate elimination of procedural complexities, reduction of paper work and simplification of tax administration, banks should be allowed to opt for a centralised jurisdiction for deposit of TDS, issue TDS certificate in Form 16A and filing of consolidated TDS returns.

Top

 

Assocham pleads for removal of withholding tax for private banks
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
The industry body, Assocham, has urged the Finance Ministry to allow all private banks to raise foreign currency borrowings to finance infrastructure projects, exempting these from paying a withholding tax on interest charged on such borrowings.

In a representation sent to the finance ministry and the RBI, Assocham President Venugopal N. Dhoot has argued that public sectors banks are exempted from levy of such a withholding tax on their interest, whenever they raise borrowings in foreign currencies from their overseas branches.

Assocham said the private banks did not fall in this ambit and discriminated against and therefore there is no level-playing field for them vis-à-vis their counterparts in the public sector.

The chamber has sought removal of this anomaly by urging the Finance Ministry to review this maltreatment against private banks in its forthcoming Budget proposals for 2007-08.

The chamber note has argued saying, “It is well recognised that foreign currency borrowings are a cost effective source of funds for corporates and infrastructure financing. Banks also raise such funds to meet their commitments in infrastructure/priority sector lending.

However, the withholding tax on the interest paid on such borrowings has in a way affected the cost structure of borrowings and given rise to increase in rates for lending by banks.

The corporates, sourcing directly the foreign currency from overseas, are also subjected to such a levy.

Top

 

Training module for TRPs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
CBDT chairperson Indira Bhargava today inaugurated a nine-day training programme for tax return preparers (TRPs) at the NIIT Training Centre here. The training preceded by a 15-days self-study programme.

NIIT has been appointed a “partner organisation” by the government for the scheme. The technical content of the training has been provided by Taxmann, a recognised leader in the field of taxation.

During 2006-07, about 5,000 TRPs will be licensed under the scheme. The TRPs will help tax-payers file income tax returns.

Top

 

Rate hike to survive, says ICICI Bank

Mumbai, February 8
Despite the Finance Minister asking public sector banks not to hike the home loan rates, top private sector lender ICICI Bank, accounting for 30 per cent of the home loans, has said all lenders would have to increase the rates for their own survival.

"Every bank has to raise interest rates on consumer loans in the backdrop of increasing cost of funds in order to survive," Deputy Managing Director of the country's largest private sector bank Chanda Kochhar said here on the sidelines of a function late last evening.

Ms Kochhar said: "We always maintain that if the cost of funds goes up, we will have no option but to pass it on to the consumer...we have to maintain the net interest margin (NIM)." ICICI Bank has hiked the home and retail loan interest rates by 1 per cent with effect from tomorrow and the interest rates on fixed deposits of less than Rs 1 lakh of a five-year tenure by 1.25 per cent.

ICICI Bank and HDFC, another private player, together account for nearly over 60 per cent of the home loans. However, HDFC has earlier said it would not go for a hike at the moment. Public sector banks accounted for about 25 per cent of the home loans.

Meanwhile, complying with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's directive, public sector banks have so far desisted from hiking the interest rates on home loans. — PTI

Top

 

ICICI Bank launches remittance card
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
ICICI Bank today launched a card-based remittance product to provide a convenient and hassle-free alternative to receive remittances from abroad.

The remittance card is an Indian Rupee denominated card. It is re-loadable for funding and can be used at any VISA-affiliated ATM and merchant establishments in India. This remittance card facility can also be availed by those beneficiaries who do not have an account with ICICI Bank in India.

Top

 

Reliance to pump in Rs 600 cr for Vimal revival

New Delhi, February 8
In an attempt to revive the once-popular brand 'Vimal', Reliance Industries has earmarked an investment of Rs 600 crore in the next one year, which will include retail network expansion and promotional campaigns.

Sources said the Mukesh Ambani-promoted firm was giving an impetus on its textiles division with the aim to bring back the Vimal brand, for which it will invest Rs 500 crore on retail expansion and another Rs 100 crore for brand revamp and promotion.

About 20 luxury stores for the Vimal brand would come up in four metros in the next two-three months, while another 500 stores would be set up across the country over the next one year, sources said.

The company has roped in Italian designer Maurizio Bonas to give the brand an international touch and has been training master tailors from across four metros as it looks to refine design skills.

"We would be relaunching the entire retail identity of Vimal and make it relevant to the modern consumer," General Manager Retail, Textile Division, RIL P.S. Rajiv said here.

The company would be relaunching the Vimal brand around April-May this year, but its popular tagline 'Only Vimal' would be retained, he added. — PTI

Top

 

Indian to induct A-330 planes

Bangalore, February 8
Indian is set to become the first airline in the country to induct white-bodied A-330 aircraft powered by US-based Cratt and Whitney (C and W) engines.

A memorandum of understanding to this effect has been signed by Indian Chairman and Managing Director Vishwapati Trivedi and Vice-President of Cratt and Whitney Commercial engines James Masotti at the Aero-India show here.

"We are happy to be associated with a reliable engine manufacturer like C and W. The induction of A-330 will allow us to further raise our standards of performance," Mr Trivedi said. Two A-330 aircraft are scheduled to join the Indian fleet later this year. C and W has 17,000 aircraft engines in service with hundreds of airlines across the world. — TNS

Top

 

Verizon seeks ILD licence

New Delhi, February 8
Verizon Business India, a newly formed joint venture between Verizon Business and Videocon Group, has applied for a licence to provide international long-distance (ILD) services in India.

Once the ILD licence is granted, Verizon Business India will be able to provide services directly to its customers in the country, although it plans to continue working closely with its existing Indian partners.

Verizon Business currently arranges for services to be provided to its multinational customers' Indian operations through partnerships with several licensed carriers in India.

''India is widely acknowledged as a high-growth economy and is playing an increasingly important role in global manufacturing and service industries,'' Verizon Business President John Killian said. — UNI

Top

 
BRIEFLY

Rs 400-cr HP project for BHEL
New Delhi, February 8
BHEL said today it had bagged a Rs 400-crore contract for setting up of a 520-MW hydroelectric project in Himachal. The company received the order for setting up four units of 130 MW by the NHPC. The underground powerhouse project, located at Bihali in Kulu district, would use water of a Beas tributary for generation of electricity. The project is slated to be commissioned in over four years. — PTI

Action Const
Mumbai, February 8
Leading mobile crane maker Action Construction Equipment today said its Cyprus-based subsidiary Frested Ltd had acquired a 73.9 per cent stake in Romanian company SC Forma SA, for $2.15 million. It also intends to increase its stake in the foreign firm by way of an open offer, through its Cyprus arm, it said. The company intends to manufacture products like cranes, loaders, forklifts in the newly acquired company and hopes to use it as a platform to foray into the European market. — PTI

Satyam in China
Nanjing (China), February 8
Satyam Computer Services today announced plans to launch its largest global delivery campus outside India in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing and said it was keen to ramp up operations in China through strategic acquisitions. "We as a company firmly believe in strategic acquisitions and 97 per cent of the people working (with Satyam) in China today are local Chinese. So we would like to strengthen our operations in China through strategic acquisitions," CEO of Satyam Computers Ltd, Rama Raju said. — PTI

Top

 



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |