SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Inflation eases at 4.85 per cent
New Delhi, June 8
Much to the cheer of the Congress-led UPA government, inflation for the first time in the past eight months dropped below the 5 per cent mark and stood at 4.85 per cent for the week ended May 26 as against 5.06 per cent in the previous week.

Bathinda Refinery
FIPB rejects Mittal’s proposal
New Delhi, June 8
Steel tycoon L.N. Mittal's plan to pick up 49 per cent stake in state-run HPCL's Bathinda refinery has hit a roadblock with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) today rejecting the proposal.

AEPC gears up for global competition
New Delhi, June 8
For promoting country’s textile and garment export, the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) is not only increasing the number of Apparel Training and Design Centres (ATDC) from 25 to 50 by the year-end, but is also going to start a pilot project which will be a training as well as production centre.

3G may overcome bandwidth paucity: Operators
New Delhi, June 8
The country’s leading telecom operators have pitched for 3G as it could provide the much-needed solution for spectrum and overcome the present paucity of bandwidth. However, there were differences on the way spectrum should be awarded to telecom firms.



EARLIER STORIES

 
Japan's toy maker Sega Toys’ employee displays an electronic gadget "i penguin", a penguin shaped robot with seven LED lights and a speaker on its body to connect to a music player, in Tokyo on Friday. The i penguin swings its body and flashes LED lights to express emotion with colour patterns to react to the music. Sega Toys will put it on the market next month.
Japan's toy maker Sega Toys’ employee displays an electronic gadget "i penguin", a penguin shaped robot with seven LED lights and a speaker on its body to connect to a music player, in Tokyo on Friday. The i penguin swings its body and flashes LED lights to express emotion with colour patterns to react to the music. Sega Toys will put it on the market next month. — AFP
Actress Madhur Jaffery helps minister of state for industry Ashwani Kumar in identifying different kinds of mangoes at their launch at the Indian Consulate in New York on Thursday.
Actress Madhur Jaffery helps minister of state for industry Ashwani Kumar in identifying different kinds of mangoes at their launch at the Indian Consulate in New York on Thursday. — PTI

Major telcos face DoT penalty
New Delhi, June 8
Irked over delay by operators in rolling out telecom networks, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has issued notices to leading service providers, including Tatas, Bharti and Reliance, asking why they should not be penalised.

Security printing presses
FM rules out privatisation
Hyderabad, June 8
Union finance minister P Chidambaram today asked security printing press units to explore new business opportunities in the areas of printing university degree certificates, smart cards and national identity cards to stay ahead in the competitive market.

Govt may not sell Dabhol’s LNG unit
New Delhi, June 8
The government is unlikely to sell the Dabhol power plant's LNG receipt facility as state-run utility NTPC has been asked to pump in Rs 500 crore to bail out the project from defaulting on payments to contractors.

DEPB rates may be hiked
New Delhi, June 8
The finance ministry is considering a suggestion of the commerce ministry to enhance duty neutralisation rates to make up for revenue lost by exporters due to sharp appreciation in the rupee.

PEDA inks pact for energy conservation
Chandigarh, June 8
Taking power conservation a step forward, the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) has signed an MoU with USAID, which will conduct a detailed survey of power intensive industries in Mandi Gobindgarh and Ludhiana to suggest replacement of turbines and boilers to improve the production efficiency while saving power.

Rupee tumbles by 43 paise
Mumbai, June 8
The rupee today tumbled by 43 paise and ended at a four-week low of 41.13/14 against the greenback on sustained dollar demand from public sector bank on behalf of the central bank, amid weakness in equity market.

HP initiates crop insurance scheme
Shimla, June 8
In order to ensure compensation to the farmers on account of damage due to natural calamities, current kharif season crops like maize, paddy and potato would be covered under the national agriculture insurance scheme.

Vodafone rejects restructuring call
London, June 8
Mobile leader Vodafone has rejected a restructuring call by an activist investor lobby that would have unlocked up to $75 billion to shareholders, saying such business strategies could have prevented it from recent acquisitions such as Hutch-Essar in India.

UAE lifts ban on Indian poultry products
Dubai, June 8
The UAE has lifted a ban on import of eggs and other poultry products from India.

DLF to bring Hilton brand to Kolkata
Kolkata, June 8
Real estate giant DLF today announced an investment of Rs 3,000 crore for developing two hotels and a service apartment here.

M&M to raise Rs 1,350 cr
Mumbai, June 8
Shareholders of Mahindra and Mahindra have given their go-ahead to the company’s plans to raise up to Rs 1,350 crore for launching new products, capacity expansion and acquisitions.

SBI branch in Israel
Tel Aviv, June 8
The State Bank of India (SBI) has become the first foreign bank to open a branch in Israel’s diamond exchange.

 

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Inflation eases at 4.85 per cent
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 8
Much to the cheer of the Congress-led UPA government, inflation for the first time in the past eight months dropped below the 5 per cent mark and stood at 4.85 per cent for the week ended May 26 as against 5.06 per cent in the previous week.

The fall in inflation could be attributed to fall in the prices of some of the food items and some manufactured products coupled with base effect of last year.

Significantly, the wholesale price index for the corresponding period last year was 4.99 per cent, 0.14 per cent higher.

Both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P Chidambaram have been expressing hope that the various fiscal and monetary measures taken by the government would moderate inflation.

In fact, the drop in inflation below 5 per cent has come much earlier than expected as the government and the RBI had set a target of bringing down the inflation to 4.5 per cent by the year- end.

The drop in inflation will also ease pressure on the RBI to take further monetary measures to rein in inflation.

The RBI had increased the cash reserve ratio (CRR) three times since December 2006 to mop up funds and slow down the fast pace of credit growth.

Rising interest rates and reserve requirements had prompted banks to increase their lending rates by between 200 basis points and 250 basis points since December much to the dismay of borrowers, especially home loan seekers.

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Bathinda Refinery
FIPB rejects Mittal’s proposal

New Delhi, June 8
Steel tycoon L.N. Mittal's plan to pick up 49 per cent stake in state-run HPCL's Bathinda refinery has hit a roadblock with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) today rejecting the proposal.

"The FIPB noted that the country needs more foreign direct investment in oil refining. But as under the present policy as FDI in public sector refineries cannot go beyond 26 per cent, so a decision was deferred," sources said.

Mittal, through his UK-based subsidiary Mittal Investments, had sought FIPB clearance to invest Rs 3,506 crore for 49 per cent stake in the Rs 17,983-crore refinery.

With the decision being deferred, HPCL-Mittal combine would have to wait till the government reviews the FDI policy.

The company has signed a joint venture agreement with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. Earlier, UK-based BP had terminated the MoU with HPCL to partner in Bathinda refiney.

Around 1,993 acres of land has already been acquired at Bathinda for the project. The venture has also taken 230 acres on lease at Mundra in Gujarat for a crude oil terminal. — PTI

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AEPC gears up for global competition
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 8
For promoting country’s textile and garment export, the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) is not only increasing the number of Apparel Training and Design Centres (ATDC) from 25 to 50 by the year-end, but is also going to start a pilot project which will be a training as well as production centre.

Talking to The Tribune, AEPC deputy director general B V Somasekhar said the pilot project would ensure that trainees earn while they learn.

The project, which is being launched in collaboration with the industry, will produce textile products. The industry would provide material and pay these trainees, Somashekhar said, adding that there would be campus placement after the completion of the course.

The pilot project, which is being launched in Tamil Nadu, would be replicated in other states after its success, he said

Talking about the growing textile sector, which is going to employ 17.35 million by the end of the 11th Five Year Plan, Somashekhar said there was an urgent need of skilled human resources in the textile sector in light of the growing global market and that is why the AEPC has decided to step up the training programme by opening more ATDCs.

“Presently, we have 25 ATDCs and are to open another 10 centres by the end of next month. Another 15 centres would be opened in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Chattisgarh and West Bengal, hopefully, by the end of the year. While we have an ATDC at Ludhiana, there is a move to start another centre at Amritsar which would give boost to micro enterprises in the region,” Somashekhar informed.

“We try to develop the skill at the grass root level, so that all the persons employed in the industry are aware of the quality parameters needed for the export market, which is growing at about 10 per cent and is expected to touch 16 per cent in coming years,” the AEPC official said.

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3G may overcome bandwidth paucity: Operators
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 8
The country’s leading telecom operators have pitched for 3G as it could provide the much-needed solution for spectrum and overcome the present paucity of bandwidth. However, there were differences on the way spectrum should be awarded to telecom firms.

T.V. Ramachandran, director-general, Cellular Operators Association of India, said regulatory consultation is required as far as limitation of spectrum and assignment of bandwidth is concerned.

“First rights should be with the existing players in issuing 3G spectrum”, he said while participating at the second annual telecom regulatory seminar, organised by the CII.

India has customised its own solution to the spectrum requirement and Indian cellular operators have accepted the subscriber-linked spectrum policy, he added.

S.C. Khanna, secretary-general, AUSPI, said CDMA and GSM should be given same platform of performance for the growth of telecom in India.

He said spectrum vacation cannot take place unless Planning Commission, ministry of defence, finance and telecom come together to frame a policy.

Khanna said broadband could become affordable if the terminal cost comes down. He urged the computer manufacturers to bring down the cost of their products to ensure high broadband penetration.

India needs to follow the global trends and technology neutral platform for the timely availability of the required spectrum, said K Sridhara, Member Technology, Department of Telecommunications.

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Major telcos face DoT penalty

New Delhi, June 8
Irked over delay by operators in rolling out telecom networks, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has issued notices to leading service providers, including Tatas, Bharti and Reliance, asking why they should not be penalised.

While Tata Teleservices faces a penalty of Rs 150 crore, Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications faces a fine of Rs 140 crore and Sunil Mittal-headed Bharti Airtel Rs 50 crore.

The penalties are for not meeting the roll-out norm on time as stipulated in the licensing conditions. These penalties are decided on the number of circles in which the operators have failed to roll out networks as desired.

When contacted, officials of various companies confirmed receiving the show-cause notices.

Both industry associations - COAI and AUSPI - have taken up the matter with DoT and would be giving a formal reply to the DoT very soon, association sources said.

Besides these three, Aircel also faces a penalty of Rs 50 crore while Hutch and HFCL have been given a show-cause notice to explain why they should not be fined Rs 10 crore each.

Together all these companies face a penalty of Rs 400 crore. — PTI

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Security printing presses
FM rules out privatisation
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 8
Union finance minister P Chidambaram today asked security printing press units to explore new business opportunities in the areas of printing university degree certificates, smart cards and national identity cards to stay ahead in the competitive market.

Participating in the silver jubilee celebrations of the Hyderabad unit of Security Printing Press, Chidambaram said new opportunities were cropping up in electronic communication, which could be tapped by security printing press units.

He cited the example of printing of national identity cards for the entire country, MICR (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition) cheques, driving licenses and other smart cards with special security features. In the area of identity cards alone, there is a market potential for 100 crore cards, Chidambaram said.

Ruling out privatisation of security printing press units, the finance minister said they would continue to be owned by the government, but need to continue to function as commercial organisations.

He also disclosed that the government was planning fresh investments for expansion of security printing press operations across the country.

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Govt may not sell Dabhol’s LNG unit

New Delhi, June 8
The government is unlikely to sell the Dabhol power plant's LNG receipt facility as state-run utility NTPC has been asked to pump in Rs 500 crore to bail out the project from defaulting on payments to contractors.

The Empowered Group of Ministers headed by external affairs minister Pranab Mukhejree, at its meeting yesterday, decided against hiving-off the LNG unit and instead asked joint promoters NTPC and GAIL to run the power plant and LNG terminal as integrated project, official sources said.

The government was earlier mulling buying gas for the power plant from a local producer like Reliance Industries instead of importing costly LNG and selling the five million tonnes LNG import and regasification terminal to bring down debt.

However, the valuation of the import terminal, together with cost of completing the unfinished portion and building a breakwater, came to over Rs 4,400 crore, much more than the Rs 2,800 crore needed to build a similar sized new facility.

Sources said NTPC will infuse an additional Rs 500 crore into Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt Ltd (RGPPL), the owner of the Dabhol assets, for completing the 2,150 MW power project.

While NTPC would operate the power plant, gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd would source five million tonnes of LNG for the plant. The power plant requires 2.1 million tonnes of LNG, while the remaining will be sold to other consumers. — PTI

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DEPB rates may be hiked

New Delhi, June 8
The finance ministry is considering a suggestion of the commerce ministry to enhance duty neutralisation rates to make up for revenue lost by exporters due to sharp appreciation in the rupee.

“Commerce secretary G K Pillai has informed us that serious discussions would be initiated with the finance ministry and the RBI for enhancing the DEPB (Duty Entitlement Passbook Scheme) and drawback rates to four to five per cent,” Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) president Ganesh K Gupta said here.

Another proposal to compensate exporters in the backdrop of a fluctuating currency is that they may be paid interest on their Export Earners Foreign Currency Account at par with what foreign currency non-resident account holders get.

Gupta said commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath has convened a meeting with exporters on June 13 to review the situation. — PTI

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PEDA inks pact for energy conservation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 8
Taking power conservation a step forward, the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) has signed an MoU with USAID, which will conduct a detailed survey of power intensive industries in Mandi Gobindgarh and Ludhiana to suggest replacement of turbines and boilers to improve the production efficiency while saving power.

The cost of machines will be recovered within three years from resultant power savings, said Tejinder Pal Singh Sidhu, chief executive, PEDA, and added that the turbines would reduce green house gas emissions.

Meanwhile, 29 sites have been offered across Punjab to bidders to generate power from alternative sources like cotton-seed stock, rice bran, mustard, eucalyptus. One such plant is already functioning successfully in Muktsar while one more will be allotted in Abohar.

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Rupee tumbles by 43 paise

Mumbai, June 8
The rupee today tumbled by 43 paise and ended at a four-week low of 41.13/14 against the greenback on sustained dollar demand from public sector bank on behalf of the central bank, amid weakness in equity market.

The local currency moved in a wide range of 40.85 and 41.25 during the day, after resuming at 40.85/90 per dollar.

It had closed at Rs 40.70/71 a dollar yesterday.

Consistent dollar buying by state-owned banks at the behest of the RBI drove rupee to the day's low of 41.25, forex dealers said.

The rupee sentiment was also dampened by a pull out by foreign institutional investors since June 5, they added.

The RBI seemed to have stepped its intervention in the exchange market after inflation eased consistently.

Oil companies too made fairly heavy dollar purchases at the weekend in the light of high global crude prices. Oil prices eased but were still high at $66.75 per barrel in Asian trade. — PTI

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HP initiates crop insurance scheme
Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 8
In order to ensure compensation to the farmers on account of damage due to natural calamities, current kharif season crops like maize, paddy and potato would be covered under the national agriculture insurance scheme.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the state level crop insurance co-ordination committee held here today under the chairmanship of principal secretary, revenue. For farmers wanting to take a loan on maize, paddy and potato, the crop can be insured up to October 31. The scheme is compulsory for loanee farmers, while the last date for crop insurance for non-loanee farmers will be July 31.

Director (agriculture) J C Rana informed that the sum insured extends up to the value of threshold yield of crop with an option to cover up to 150 per cent of average of the crop on payment of extra premium.

Rana asked the farmers to approach the nearest cooperative society, rural banks and commercial banks for this purpose. He added farmers could also contact the agriculture extension officers and agriculture development officers in their respective areas for further details.

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Vodafone rejects restructuring call

London, June 8
Mobile leader Vodafone has rejected a restructuring call by an activist investor lobby that would have unlocked up to $75 billion to shareholders, saying such business strategies could have prevented it from recent acquisitions such as Hutch-Essar in India.

Efficient Capital Structures (ECS), a hedge fund backed by telecom equipment maker Marconi Plc's former CEO John Mayo, shot off a letter to Vodafone earlier this week claiming that restructuring could release £17-38 billion in shareholder value and asked that four resolutions be put to vote at the company's July 24 AGM.

However, Vodafone said in a regulatory filing late last night that its board has reviewed the proposals and "unanimously concluded that continued execution of its clearly stated strategy will deliver greater value for shareholders."

Vodafone shares, which rose nearly two per cent yesterday after the disclosure of the restructuring call, dropped 1.5 per cent to 156 pence a share today. — PTI

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UAE lifts ban on Indian poultry products

Dubai, June 8
The UAE has lifted a ban on import of eggs and other poultry products from India.

The minister for environment and water Mohammed Saeed Al Kindi has issued an administrative decree lifting the ban imposed on the importing of live birds and poultry products from countries hit by bird flu, including India, the official Emirates news agency reported.

The ministry's decision to lift the ban was based on information from the World Organisation for Animal Health which gave India a clean chit. — PTI

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DLF to bring Hilton brand to Kolkata

Kolkata, June 8
Real estate giant DLF today announced an investment of Rs 3,000 crore for developing two hotels and a service apartment here.

The company would set up a luxury hotel, a budget hotel and service apartments here for which it would invest Rs 3,000 crore, DLF chairman A S Minocha told reporters.

While the budget hotel would have 320 rooms, the luxury one would have 250 rooms. The hotels will be set up under the Hilton brand. — PTI

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M&M to raise Rs 1,350 cr

Mumbai, June 8
Shareholders of Mahindra and Mahindra have given their go-ahead to the company’s plans to raise up to Rs 1,350 crore for launching new products, capacity expansion and acquisitions.

Accordingly, the board has been authorised to offer securities to raise up to $300 million (Rs 1,230 crore) from international markets, public offering or on private placement basis. — PTI

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SBI branch in Israel

Tel Aviv, June 8
The State Bank of India (SBI) has become the first foreign bank to open a branch in Israel’s diamond exchange.

“We have thirty years of experience in diamond financing and have offices in all the major centres associated with the trade, Tel Aviv completes the loop,” SBI chairman OP Bhatt informed. — PTI

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