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Sahara, IBM, Indian booked for tax evasion 
New Delhi, March 6
Sahara Group, software giant IBM India and state-run carrier Indian are among the nine major companies booked for service tax evasion of a total of Rs 300 crore in this fiscal, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.

Leyland emerges top for PTL stake
Mumbai, March 6
Ashok Leyland said today final bids for a stake of up to 43.5 per cent in Punjab Tractors Ltd. (PTL) had been submitted, but declined to say how much it had bid.

Badal sees industry as partner in growth
Chandigarh, March 6
The Punjab Government sees industry as a partner in progress to take the state forward. This was stated by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, while addressing a delegation of CII, comprising eminent industrialists from the state, here today.

Inflation to be moderated: FM
New Delhi, March 6
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram today assured Parliament that the government would continue to take fiscal, monetary and supply-side steps to moderate the high inflation rate and would not hesitate to import foodgrains and pulses, if need arose.

ONGC strikes gas in KG basin
New Delhi, March 6
ONGC has discovered natural gas reserves in Krishna Godavari basin off the Andhra coast, minister of state for petroleum and natural gas Dinsha Patel said today.

 

A model displays an outfit by Australian label Vixen and a hat by milliner Melissa Jackson at the Melbourne Fashion Festival on Tuesday.
A model displays an outfit by Australian label Vixen and a hat by milliner Melissa Jackson at the Melbourne Fashion Festival on Tuesday. — AFP

EARLIER STORIES

 
A model displays Hewkett-Packard's (HP) tablet PC "Pavilion notebook PC tx1000", equipped with an AMD's turion processor on its CPU and a 12.1-inch touch-screen LCD display, in Tokyo on Tuesday.
A model displays Hewkett-Packard's (HP) tablet PC "Pavilion notebook PC tx1000", equipped with an AMD's turion processor on its CPU and a 12.1-inch touch-screen LCD display, in Tokyo on Tuesday. — AFP

Tata aims big, unveils ‘Elegante’
Geneva, March 6
With an eye on moving up to the bigger segment, Tata Motors has unveiled its concept car 'Elegante' - a vehicle larger than its existing sedan Indigo-- at the Auto Show here.

No move to remove CST for oil Cos 
New Delhi, March 6
There is no proposal to selectively remove the central sales tax (CST) only in respect of oil companies, minister of state for finance S.S. Palanimanickam said in the Rajya Sabha today.

  • Investment of PF  into stocks

DLF forms JV for life insurance biz
New Delhi, March 6
Real estate giant DLF and Prudential Financial Inc (PFI), one of the biggest US life insurers, today announced a tie-up to foray into the life insurance business and invest about Rs 1,000 crore over the next 10 years in the venture.

Opel's new Corsa OPC is displayed at the 77th Geneva car show at Palexpo in Geneva on Tuesday.
Opel's new Corsa OPC is displayed at the 77th Geneva car show at Palexpo in Geneva on Tuesday. — Reuters

Maharashtra mulls Dabhol takeover
Mumbai, March 6
Faced with a peak-hour power shortage of 5700 MW even before the start of the summer, the Maharashtra government is mulling a complete takeover of the Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt Ltd plant at Dabhol.

Pak allows duty drawback facility on exports
Islamabad, March 6 
With an aim to tap the available options for exports through land route to neighbouring countries, including India, Pakistan has allowed duty drawback facility on the export of its local products.

Software to combat cyber crime
New Delhi, March 6
With militant outfits increasingly taking to internet for passion on information and financial institutions, including banks, becoming victims of cyber attack, the C-DAC has come out with a software to combat cyber crimes.

PNB interim dividend
New Delhi, March 6 
Punjab National Bank has paid 40 per cent interim dividend amounting to Rs 72.90 crore for the financial year 2006-07 to the Government of India.

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Sahara, IBM, Indian booked for tax evasion 

New Delhi, March 6
Sahara Group, software giant IBM India and state-run carrier Indian are among the nine major companies booked for service tax evasion of a total of Rs 300 crore in this fiscal, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.

The Directorate-General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI) has booked nine companies and seven non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), including India Bulls, for service tax evasion, minister of state for finance S.S.Palanimanickam said in a written reply.

The government was taking action to recover the amount in cases where investigations had been completed.

The DGCEI had booked Lucknow-based Sahara India and Sahara Airlines, part of the Sahara Group, for alleged involvement in service tax evasion amounting to Rs 89.07 crore and Rs 10 crore, respectively.

According to sources in the Finance Ministry, Sahara India was collecting public deposits on behalf of another group company, Sahara Financial Services.

As per the provisions of the Act, Sahara India was required to collect service tax for providing its services to Sahara Financial Services.

The sources said after preliminary investigations last year, the company was found indulging in tax evasion. Later, it admitted its fault and even deposited Rs 10 crore. The amount of duty evasion had now been revised upward, they said.

The DGCEI had also booked software giants IBM India for tax evasion amounting to Rs 72.25 crore and SAP India for Rs 38.43 crore.

The minister also said even public sector carrier Indian had been found involved in service tax evasion amounting to Rs 27.30 crore.

Karnataka State Beverages Corporation Ltd evaded service tax of about Rs 11 crore, while Kolkata-based G.S.Atwal & Co evaded tax of Rs 10 crore during 2006-07.

Another case had been registered against Gurgaon-based Xerox India Ltd for Rs 20 crore duty evasion in this fiscal.

Giving details of companies found indulging in service tax evasion above Rs 10 crore in a year, he said the DGCEI had booked cases against 13 companies in 2005-06 for duty evasion amounting to Rs 211.20 crore.

In 2004-05, the directorate booked five cases against the SBI, the Airport Authority of India, HAL for duty evasion of Rs 232.32 crore.

The DGCEI had also booked India Bulls Securities Ltd, Anand Rathi Securities, Keynote Corporation and HDFC General Insurance Ltd, among others, for evasion of about Rs 5 crore.

India Bulls had already deposited Rs 4.70 crore and the matter was under investigation, he added. — PTI 

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Leyland emerges top for PTL stake

Mumbai, March 6
Ashok Leyland said today final bids for a stake of up to 43.5 per cent in Punjab Tractors Ltd. (PTL) had been submitted, but declined to say how much it had bid.

"Yesterday was the last day for bids. That is all we can say," K. Sridharan, executive director of finance, said.

Earlier, television channel CNBC-TV18 said Ashok Leyland, India's second-biggest bus and truck maker, had emerged as the frontrunner with a bid of Rs 380-390 a share.

Ashok Leyland had earlier said it had bid for the 29 per cent stake held by private equity firm Actis. Local papers said the Burman family, which holds 14.5 per cent, had also put their stake on the block.

But a Burman family member said a final decision had not been made.

"If Actis does sell, chances are the family will also sell its stake," Anand Burman, vice-chairman of Dabur India, said.

The Economic Times said today bids were at Rs 350-450 a share, valuing the company at up to $605 million, while the Business Standard said bids were at Rs 350-400 a share, valuing the company at Rs 24 billion.

Other bidders included Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, privately-held Tractors and Farm Equipment Ltd. (TAFE), Deere & Co., and a former director of Punjab Tractors with private equity firms, the Business Standard said.

M&M said yesterday its board had approved bidding for about 43 per cent in Punjab Tractors.

Earlier, analysts had estimated a buyer would have to pay Rs 300-325 a share for the stake in India's fourth-biggest tractor and farm equipment maker.

The successful bidder would also have to make an open offer for a further 20 per cent held by shareholders, according to Indian law. — Reuters

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Badal sees industry as partner in growth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
The Punjab Government sees industry as a partner in progress to take the state forward. This was stated by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, while addressing a delegation of CII, comprising eminent industrialists from the state, here today.

The Chief Minister reiterated his responsibility to gear up the pace of progress in Punjab and invited industry participation in enhancing power generation system and augmenting alternate sources of energy.

CII northern region, Rajinder Gupta, vice-chairman, CII, Punjab State Council, stressed the need for taking immediate steps in areas of diversification of agriculture with a focus on making it more remunerative.

Mahesh C. Munjal, managing director, Majestic Auto Ltd., reiterated that CII and the Punjab Government needed to work jointly to develop a strategy for economic development of the state. 

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Inflation to be moderated: FM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 6
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram today assured Parliament that the government would continue to take fiscal, monetary and supply-side steps to moderate the high inflation rate and would not hesitate to import foodgrains and pulses, if need arose.

The (then) government took 12-18 months to moderate the inflation rate in 2000-01 when it hovered over 8 per cent for 12 weeks and above 6 per cent for 48 out of 52 weeks, Mr Chidambaram said.

“Inflation (the present rate) is not as high as 2000-01. We are confident, inflation will be moderated,” he said.

Pointing that the inflation rate last week dipped to 6.02 per cent from the previous week rate of 6.5 per cent, Mr Chidambaram said it was expected to decline further after the arrival of fresh wheat and potato crop in the market.

Mr Chidambaram said demand-supply mismatch was the primary source for fuelling inflation. The production of wheat and pulses was way short of demand and, in the long term, augmenting production and productivity was essential to erase the gap.

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ONGC strikes gas in KG basin

New Delhi, March 6
ONGC has discovered natural gas reserves in Krishna Godavari basin off the Andhra coast, minister of state for petroleum and natural gas Dinsha Patel said today.

"Exploratory efforts by ONGC have led to the discovery of gas in the ultra-deep waters of KG-DWN-98/2 block in KG offshore," he said in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha here.

He, however, said the quantum of gas has not been ascertained so far.

"Commercial production (will) depend on commerciality of discovery," he said.

ONGC has, however, stated that it has found 2.09 to 6.73 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of initial in-place volumes in northern structure and 2.61 to 8.03 tcf in the southern structure identified through the UD-1 well in block KG-DWN-98/2. The total inplace volumes for both culminations have been estimated between 2.09-14.76 tcf.

The state-run firm holds 90 per cent interest in the block while the remaining 10 per cent is with Cairn India.

To another question, Pael said ONGC accounted for 75.8 per cent of country's crude oil production in 2005-06.

"Crude oil production of ONGC in 2006-07 till December 2006 was 19.495 million tonnes (76.5 per cent of total production of 25.48 million tonnes) as against target of 20.239 million tonnes," he said. — PTI

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Tata aims big, unveils ‘Elegante’

Geneva, March 6
With an eye on moving up to the bigger segment, Tata Motors has unveiled its concept car 'Elegante' - a vehicle larger than its existing sedan Indigo-- at the Auto Show here.

Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata said Elegante had been conceptualised to incorporate a four cylinder transverse petrol and diesel engines from 1.4 litre to 2 litres and a compact V6 petrol power unit.

The diesel version had the common rail direct injection turbo engines and the capability to comply with Euro V emission norms.

The company also unveiled its new pick-up vehicle, which could be launched in the Indian market within the next two to three months, Tata Motors managing director Ravi Kant said.

The pick-up truck would have three diesel engine variants starting from 90 hp to 140 hp and also in two wheel and four wheel drive versions.

It would be launched in India and followed by other markets like South Africa, Europe and West Asia. — PTI

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Takes a dig at rivals

Tata group Chairman Ratan Tata today hit out at competitors, saying that they would come in the way of the group coming up with a car priced below Rs 1 lakh even if the government offered special incentives. He declined to name the competitors but qualified these rivals as “everybody who is parochial and wants to protect their product”. Tata said: “Even if the government were to think of giving special incentives for small car, competitors will make it sure that, that did not happen to us.”

He was responding to a query if the car could be priced below Rs 1 lakh with government support.

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No move to remove CST for oil Cos 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 6
There is no proposal to selectively remove the central sales tax (CST) only in respect of oil companies, minister of state for finance S.S. Palanimanickam said in the Rajya Sabha today.

Replying to Tariq Anwar, the minister said inter-state sale transactions were subject to lCST.

The CST is levied when the sale or purchase of goods either (i) occasions the movement of goods from one state to another; or (ii) is effected by a transfer of document of title to the goods during their movement from one state to another. The CST is levied uniformly on all inter-state sale transactions, including such transactions between oil companies.

As part of the tax reform process, it is proposed to phase out the CST gradually over the next three years, since CST is inconsistent with VAT. As part of this process, it is proposed to reduce the CST rate from 4 per cent to 3 per cent w.e.f. April 1.

Investment of PF into stocks

Minister of state for finance P.K.Bansal said that there was no compulsion to invest Provident Fund in stocks.

The minister informed the Rajya Sabha that the pattern of investment was received in January, 2005, with a view to providing wider avenues for investment by non-government provident funds, superannauation funds and gratuity funds.

As per the revised pattern, an amount up to 5 per cent of the total portfolio has been allowed to be invested in shares of those companies that have an investment grade debt rating from two credit rating agencies, he said.

However, there was no compulsion to invest in the stock market as per this pattern. 

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DLF forms JV for life insurance biz

New Delhi, March 6
Real estate giant DLF and Prudential Financial Inc (PFI), one of the biggest US life insurers, today announced a tie-up to foray into the life insurance business and invest about Rs 1,000 crore over the next 10 years in the venture.

As per the agreement, DLF will have 74 per cent stake in the joint venture — DLF Pramerica Life Insurance Company Ltd (DLF Pramerica), while Prudential will hold 26 per cent stake, the maximum permissible for a foreign company.

The announcement comes a day after global banking giant HSBC joined hands with Oriental Bank of Commerce and Canara Bank for a life insurance venture.

The new company will initially have a paid-up capital of Rs 100 crore, including Rs 26 crore by Prudential. The two partners plan to scale up investment to $250 million (about Rs 1,000 crore) over the next 10 years, said Kapil Mehta, chief representative, India of Prudential Financial. — PTI

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Maharashtra mulls Dabhol takeover
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 6
Faced with a peak-hour power shortage of 5700 MW even before the start of the summer, the Maharashtra government is mulling a complete takeover of the Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt Ltd plant at Dabhol.

The power plant, originally owned by the ill-fated Enron Corporation, is now owned by a consortium comprising NTPC, GAIL India, the Maharashtra Power Development Corporation, IDBI and ICICI Bank. The two banks, which are lenders to the project, have made it clear that they do not have the funds to construct the LNG terminal and a regassification facility to run the plant. The plant runs on expensive naphtha, which is also in short supply in the international market.

With a proposal to sell the LNG terminal and the regassification facility to the private sector, the Maharashtra government is worried that power from the Dabhol plant will not be made available to the state at all. To worsen the situation, another proposal was made last week to turn this plant into a merchant power generation facility. This would enable the consortium to sell power from the plant to the highest bidder from across the country.

Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said the state government would object to such a proposal since it was depending on the 2100 MW generated by the Dabhol plant to tide over the power shortage.

By May-end the plant would be able to generate just 1200 MW of power with the remaining power likely to be generated only by December when Phase II of the plant is completed.

Sources say that one option before the state government is to float a special-purpose vehicle to generate funds to complete construction of the plant. Should this move be opted for, the state government will have to issue bonds in the open market. The central government and the union finance ministry may also be called to play a role since tax benefits may have to be given to these bonds.
It is estimated that the entire cost of the plant, including the LNG terminal and the regassification facility, would touch about Rs 13,500 crore.

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Pak allows duty drawback facility on exports

Islamabad, March 6 
With an aim to tap the available options for exports through land route to neighbouring countries, including India, Pakistan has allowed duty drawback facility on the export of its local products.

This would facilitate enhanced exports from Pakistan to neighbouring countries like India, China, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asian Republics (CARs), 'Daily Times' quoted Pakistan's customs officials as saying.

The government would reimburse customs duty paid on the import of raw materials, which would be subsequently used in manufacturing products for exporting to neighbouring countries via the land route.

The facility would enable local industries to be competitive and increase their exports to the neighbouring country's markets.

This is for the first time that the government has provided duty drawback facility to exporters on export of local products through the land route.

Earlier, the facility was available only to those exporters who were exporting their products through air transport to neighbouring countries.

The government had discouraged the facility on export through the land route for the fear of re-import or fake exports to the country.

Now the facility has been allowed by foreseeing the good scope of Pakistan's exports to neighbouring countries. Misuse of this facility would be eliminated through different options available with the government. — PTI

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Software to combat cyber crime
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 6
With militant outfits increasingly taking to internet for passion on information and financial institutions, including banks, becoming victims of cyber attack, the C-DAC has come out with a software to combat cyber crimes.

The software developed by Resource Centre for Cyber Forensics, set up by the department of information technology (DIT) at C-DAC, was released by minister of communication and information technology Dayanadhi Maran here today.

The “CyberCheck Suite Version 3.0” tools for cyber forensics would be immensely helpful to investigating agencies, especially the CBI, as it has to deal with large number of cyber crimes. The tools developed by C-DAC have been evaluated by leading law enforcement agencies in India.

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PNB interim dividend

New Delhi, March 6 
Punjab National Bank has paid 40 per cent interim dividend amounting to Rs 72.90 crore for the financial year 2006-07 to the Government of India.

Bank’s chairman and managing director S.C. Gupta presented the dividend cheque to finance minister P Chidambaram. The bank earned a net profit of Rs 1,302.38 crore for the nine months of the current financial year 2006-07. Net interest income of the bank increased by 18 per cent on year-on-year basis to reach Rs 4,092 crore. — TNS

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BRIEFLY

Temasek exits Apollo
Mumbai, March 6
Temasek Holdings, the Singapore government's investment company, has sold its full 5.26 per cent stake in Apollo Hospitals Enterprise for Rs 133.68 crore. The stakes were held by two investment firms Maxwell Mauritius Pte and Aranda Investments Pte. Maxwell Mauritius Pte sold 20.79 lakh shares while Aranda Investment Pte sold 6.4 lakh shares for Rs 491.50 each in a bulk deal on March 5 — PTI

Rupee stronger
Mumbai, March 6
The rupee staged a smart recovery and today ended at 44.4650/4750 a dollar, up 16.50 paise from last close, buoyed by a strong bounce in equity markets on the back of emergence of FII inflow and firm trend in Asian currencies. The Interbank foreign exchange (forex) market witnessed fairly good activity and the local currency moved in a range of 44.4650 and 44.5900 after resuming firm at 44.55/57 per dollar from previous close of 44.63/64 per dollar. — PTI

Gold, silver up
Mumbai, March 6
Spot Gold and Silver recovered today on bullish global advices with the white metal rising by Rs 336 per kg and gold by Rs 80 per 10 gm on the Bombay Bullion Exchange. — UNI 

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