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FM rules out more sops to exporters
New Delhi, August 8
Finance minister P Chidambaram has ruled out any more sops for the exporters hit hard by the rising rupee asking them to get used to stronger currency as dollar inflows would continue to grow.

We have taken note of the short-term pain of exporters and we have given them a package. But we hope that they will quickly adjust to the new level of rupee’ 

Govt gives extension to RIL’s Mumbai SEZ; clears 6 more
New Delhi, August 8
The government today gave formal approval to four SEZs, including two IT/ITES SEZs by Infosys Technologies Limited in Andhra Pradesh and in-principle approvals to two SEZs in Maharashtra.

ONGC seeks gas price of $4.75 per mBtu
New Delhi, August 8
Spicing up the ongoing debate on natural gas pricing, state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has warned its over $6-billion investment could become infructious if it did not get a minimum market price of $4.75 per million British thermal unit (mBtu).

GSPC-Essar JV bid for oil block in Syria
New Delhi, August 8
A consortium of Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GPSC) and Mumbai-based Essar Group has bid for an oil and gas exploration block in Syria.






 
Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata speaks at the AGM of Tata Power in Mumbai
Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata speaks at the AGM of Tata Power in Mumbai on Wednesday. Tata Power is in talks with French nuclear group Areva about sourcing nuclear power equipment, he told shareholders. 
— Reuters

India to remove barriers on 20 import items: Pak
Islamabad, August 8
India has agreed to remove barriers on import of 20 items from Pakistan without insisting on most favoured nation (MFN) status and transit facility for Afghanistan, a senior official here said today.

Indian sugar to ‘sweeten’ Pakistan’s markets 
Islamabad, August 8 
Indian sugar is all set to hit the local market in a big way as two consignments of 12,000 tonnes are reaching Pakistan in next two to three days.

Regulate DTH service tariff: Tata Sky
New Delhi, August 8
To ensure a healthy growth in the Direct-to-Home (DTH) sector, leading DTH player Tata Sky today called for regulation of tariff by the government.

Managing director & CEO of Tata Sky Vikram Kaushik and TV star Rakshanda Khan at a press conference to mark Tata Sky’s 1 million subscriber base in New Delhi on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal
Managing director & CEO of Tata Sky Vikram Kaushik and TV star Rakshanda Khan at a press conference to mark Tata Sky’s 1 million subscriber base in New Delhi

PC for unified levy in telecom
New Delhi, August 8
Crores of telephone users can hope for a cut in call charges with Finance Minister P Chidambaram favouring a unified levy of taxes for the telecom sector.

India eyes FDI from Gulf 
Dubai, August 8
India, which is wooing foreign investment in all sectors, especially in infrastructure, is eyeing FDI's from the cash-rich Gulf region.
Lufthansa's vice-president  Andreas Bierwirth and Miles and More International GmbH managing director Carsten Schaeffer after the launch of 'Miles and More credit card' in New Delhi
Lufthansa's vice-president  Andreas Bierwirth and Miles and More International GmbH managing director Carsten Schaeffer after the launch of 'Miles and More credit card' in New Delhi on Wednesday. The credit card packages all travel benefits required by international frequent flyers. The card is available in two variants — Visa Platinum and Visa Signature. It is available in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata and the bank has plans to roll out to other metros at a later date. — Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui

PNB pays Rs 109-cr dividend
New Delhi, August 8
Punjab National Bank CMD K.C. Chakrabarty today presented a dividend cheque of Rs 109.34 crore to union finance minister P Chidambaram.

Logan launched in HP
Shimla, August 8
Mahindra Renault, a joint venture between Mahindra & Mahindra and Renault of France, today launched its premium French car “Logan” in Himachal Pradesh.

To invest Rs 2,000 cr
Tata Sky will invest Rs 2,000 crore in the coming years in its infrastructure and expects a seven-fold increase in its subscriber base at 8 million by 2012.

Video
Wal-Mart sees surge in India sourcing.
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FM rules out more sops to exporters

New Delhi, August 8
Finance minister P Chidambaram has ruled out any more sops for the exporters hit hard by the rising rupee asking them to get used to stronger currency as dollar inflows would continue to grow.

The government had announced a Rs 1,400-crore package in July for exporters.

"We have taken note of the short-term pain of exporters and we have given them a package. But we hope that they will quickly adjust to the new level of rupee," finance minister P Chidambaram told PTI.

Exporters are demanding more sops to deal with rupee appreciation against the US dollar, complaining that their realisations have gone down due to the rupee effect and the prices they are quoting for new orders are turning away customers.

The rupee has appreciated about 9 per cent since March.

From the lows of over Rs 45 in October-November last year, it is now ruling slightly above Rs 40.

Commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath also supported the exporters yesterday stating that the government was thinking of a new package for exporters. "The appreciating rupee has impacted exports and we are seized of the matter," he said.

The finance minister, however, said there could not be a situation where the economy grows but rupee remain weak.

Exporters should take this into account while booking new orders, he added.

Chidambaram said the rupee has become strong against the US currency because of dollar's weakness.

"It is only vis-a-vis the dollar that the rupee has become strong. Rupee has not become very strong against other currencies," he said.

Exporters feel the rupee appreciation has made the export target of $160 billion for the current year difficult to achieve as overseas sales growth is gradually coming down and for the month of June it settled at 14 per cent as against 23 per cent in April.

The value of dollar against the rupee is coming down as fund inflows are increasing and the Reserve Bank of India is not buying dollars to check the rise in the domestic currency.

The central bank has reduced its intervention because it wanted a check on money supply that was fuelling inflation.

India's reserves have mounted to about $225 billion thanks to huge inflows from foreign institutional investors, who have remained bullish on stock markets, and foreign direct investments going into industry and services.

Besides, the country is receiving big chunks of remittances from the non-resident Indians.

"No developing economy can say I do not want capital inflows into the country. China does not say that. We have to learn to manage these inflows. It is difficult... it exacts a cost. But we must factor all that and learn to manage inflows," he said. — PTI

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Govt gives extension to RIL’s Mumbai SEZ; clears 6 more
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8
The government today gave formal approval to four SEZs, including two IT/ITES SEZs by Infosys Technologies Limited in Andhra Pradesh and in-principle approvals to two SEZs in Maharashtra.

The government has also decided to give extension for Reliance Industries Limited’s Maha Mumbai SEZ by a year to enable it to reduce its size to 5000 hectares to comply with new SEZ rules.

Indian IT giant Infosys proposed to build SEZs of 119.87 hectares and 60.93 hectares in Andhra Pradesh’s Rangareddy district.

The go-ahead was given at a meeting of the Board of Approval on SEZs presided over by commerce secretary G K Pillai.

The other SEZs cleared are Genpact, Enfield Infrastructure Limited, Veritas Infrastructure Development Limited and ISPAT Industries Limited.

Infosys has received initial go-ahead for two IT zones to be set up near Hyderabad, while Genpact has received formal approval for an IT SEZ in Jaipur and Enfield Infrastructure was given a green signal for an IT zone at South 24 Parganas in West Bengal.

“We would extend the Maha Mumbai SEZ for one year with the reduced size to 5,000 hectares. The file is currently under process in the Ministry,” Pillai told reporters replying to a question on the status of the RIL SEZ.

The commerce secretary also indicated that acquisition of land for the proposed SEZ should be carried on with proper consent of the owners that would be applicable to all SEZ developers.

“All land negotiations have to be carried on with consent,” he said.

The validity of the in-principle approval given to the Mukesh Ambani-promoted Maha Mumbai SEZ is scheduled to expire this week.

So far formal approvals have been granted for 362 SEZs, out of which 136 have been notified. Another nine proposals would be taken up for clearance at the BoA’s next meeting on August 30.

According to Pillai, over Rs 45,377 crore have been invested in these notified SEZs and that these SEZs are providing direct employment to over 38405 persons.

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ONGC seeks gas price of $4.75 per mBtu

New Delhi, August 8
Spicing up the ongoing debate on natural gas pricing, state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has warned its over $6-billion investment could become infructious if it did not get a minimum market price of $4.75 per million British thermal unit (mBtu).

ONGC chairman and managing director R.S. Sharma has written to petroleum secretary M.S. Srinivasan seeking immediate hike in price of gas it sells under regulated regime as it was incurring Rs 700 crore loss on the business.

Sharma also sought market determined prices, as promised by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in June 2005, for gas from new fields to compensate for the rise in cost.

The demands come at a time when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has referred the issue of pricing of gas to an Empowered Group of Ministers after power and fertilizer sectors in general and Anil Ambani Group in particular wanted the government to renege on its promise of giving market-determined prices to companies investing in gas exploration.

Sharma asked the government to raise the rates of gas sold under administered pricing mechanism (APM) to Rs 3.6 per cubic metre from current Rs 3.2 as has been recommended by the Tariff Commission. He also sought an annual escalation of 20 per cent to gradually align the price to market rates.

For non-APM gas, "the market price should at least be at parity with prices finalised in recent past for gas (from private fields) with minimum benchmark of $4.75 per mBtu," he wrote.

Sharma said the price of gas, according to T.L. Shankar Committee, were to be brought to 100 per cent fuel oil partiy by 2001-02. "However, the same could not be achieved as the government put a ceiling on the prices of gas, produced by national oil companies," he said.

The price received by ONGC was highly unremunerative, he said.

Sharma said the prices of natural gas in India were much lower than international prices and cost plus mechanism deters investment and competitiveness.— PTI

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GSPC-Essar JV bid for oil block in Syria

New Delhi, August 8
A consortium of Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GPSC) and Mumbai-based Essar Group has bid for an oil and gas exploration block in Syria.

Syria had offered seven onshore oil and gas blocks in the latest auction and a 50:50 joint venture of GSPC and Essar Exploration and Production Ltd bid for block XIV last month, sources in GSPC said.

This is the first time GSPC and Essar have bid together for an oil property abroad. While GSPC has seven oil and gas blocks in Yemen, Egypt and Australia, Essar holds interest in five fields in Myanmar, Madagascar and Nigeria.

The sources said Gujarat government-run GSPC won three out of four blocks it had bid recently in Yemen. GSPC, which is the operator with 45 per cent stake, and its partners Jubilant Enpro (30 per cent) and Alkor Petro (25 per cent) won blocks 19, 28 and 57.

Essar, on the other hand, recently won an offshore oil block 226 in Nigeria with reserves of up to 80 million barrels. It also has 100 per cent stake in two contiguous exploration blocks L (on-land) and A-2 (offshore) in Myanmar.

Essar has already taken stakes in three oil and gas exploration blocks in Madagascar and is now scouting for upstream opportunities in 12 countries in the West Asia, Central Asia, South-East Asia and Africa, sources said. — PTI

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India to remove barriers on 20 import items: Pak

Islamabad, August 8
India has agreed to remove barriers on import of 20 items from Pakistan without insisting on most favoured nation (MFN) status and transit facility for Afghanistan, a senior official here said today.

Expressing satisfaction over the progress made at the last week’s Indo-Pak trade talks, commerce secretary Asif Ali Shah said, “I hope that Pakistan’s exports to India will increase to a reasonable level.”

The two-day talks held in New Delhi under the fourth round of composite dialogue process were followed by a meeting of joint study group (JSC) of the two countries.

The commerce ministry would consult all stakeholders before communicating the list of 20 items of Pakistan’s preference, Shah was quoted as saying by local daily ‘Business Recorder’ today. He said India made the offer without insisting on MFN status and transit facility for Afghanistan.

The list to be prepared in consultations with the business and industry should comprise items, which Pakistan can export easily, without affecting domestic needs, he said.

Shah said India also showed readiness to import Pakistani cement and for this purpose, six cement factories have been selected.

Indian officials said New Delhi decided to facilitate trade on 20 items of interest to Pakistan, while seeking addition of 484 items in the 1,075-item list on which Islamabad allows trade with New Delhi. The bilateral trade between currently stood at $ 1.67 billion with balance of trade heavily in favour of India.

Shah said in the first phase, to be completed in the current month, three Pakistani companies would start exporting cement to India via land routes. Three other firms would be able to dispatch their consignments next month, he said.

Shah said Indians were concerned over lack of infrastructure at border, which was necessary to facilitate bilateral trade. However, both sides agreed that Pakistan and India would complete the infrastructure on their sides to facilitate transportation of goods by road.

Shahid Bashir, joint secretary, foreign trade, who was part of the delegation, which took part in the talks, said Pakistan’s exports to India could fetch $ 200 million to 300 million during the current fiscal year.

He said during the talks India did not take up the issue of transit facility for Afghanistan, which was its long-standing demand. “This time, neither they (Indians) raised the issue of MFN status nor of SAFTA,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. — PTI

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Indian sugar to ‘sweeten’ Pakistan’s markets 

Islamabad, August 8 
Indian sugar is all set to hit the local market in a big way as two consignments of 12,000 tonnes are reaching Pakistan in next two to three days.

The first consignment of 6,000 tonnes is due in Lahore via Wagah border tomorrow and the second consignment of equal quantity in Karachi before the end of the current week.

Indian sugar influx into Pakistan seems increasing; Pakistan’s ‘Business Recorder’ newspaper today quoted officials as saying.

Pakistani sugar importers are in a race to secure their deals with Indian sugar exporters, it said.

Total volume of the orders booked from India for sugar import can be judged from the first few consignments, which are going to add roughly 50,000 tons in the local market by August 31.

Uninterrupted sugar import from India indicates that 25 per cent duty is not enough to discourage influx of subsidised Indian sugar. The land route via Wagah makes Pakistan’s market an attraction to the Indian exporters, the newspaper said.

India has around one million tonnes surplus sugar. Pakistani importers are buying sugar from India at $ 285 per ton and its cost at Karachi and Lahore is roughly between Rs 25.50 and Rs 26 against Rs 28 per kg local market rates.

A difference of Rs 2 per kg is enough to bait the Pakistani importers. They rushed to Indian businessmen as soon as the sugar prices in the local market crossed a break-even level, the report said. 

The newspaper quoted the Pakistan Sugar Mills Association, however, as criticising the Indian imports saying that the “destruction” of local sugar industry would mean destruction of a whole chain including the growers, a large number of people, who earn their living during the crushing season.

They are demanding that the government should take notice of the new situation and revise duty on sugar import from 25 per cent to at least 35 per cent to make sure that local industry get enough space to sell its stocks.

They are also pressing the government for endorsement of Trading Corporation of Pakistan’s (TCP) plan to buy the new stocks from the mills and off-load last year’s buffer stocks, saying it can equally protect interest of all sugar sector stakeholders. — PTI

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Regulate DTH service tariff: Tata Sky

New Delhi, August 8
To ensure a healthy growth in the Direct-to-Home (DTH) sector, leading DTH player Tata Sky today called for regulation of tariff by the government.

“Tariff rationalisation is a must. DTH is currently saddled by bundling of content by broadcasters. It is important that prices are regulated, so that quality of services can be further enhanced,” said company MD and CEO Vikram Kaushik.

He also advocated allowing partial exclusivity of content for the DTH players. “The current recommendation says ‘No exclusive contracts would be permitted between the broadcasters and distributors of TV channels’, but if a mere 15-20 per cent of exclusive content is allowed, that would be an incentive for players to invest in newer transparent platforms like DTH,” Kaushik said. — UNI

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PC for unified levy in telecom

New Delhi, August 8
Crores of telephone users can hope for a cut in call charges with Finance Minister P Chidambaram favouring a unified levy of taxes for the telecom sector.

Telecom operators pay 30 per cent of their revenue as levies like annual licence fee, spectrum charges, contribution to universal service obligation (USO) fund and the total burden adds up to 40 per cent along with service tax.

“We have proposed a single unified levy... We have asked Department of Telecom to constitute a committee. The committee to the best of my knowledge has not yet submitted the report,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram told PTI.

DoT sources said rationalisation of tax is necessary and the committee has taken certain steps towards it. They, however, did not disclose the details.

Telecom players have been asking for rationalisation in taxes with the introduction of a single unified levy saying that it would result in a cut in telephone tariffs.

Presently, there are different licence fees for access services like basic and cellular mobile services and STD and ISD operations.

The industry has been seeking replacement of several taxes by a single service tax to lower the tax burden and encourage more investment in the world’s fastest growing telecom market. — PTI

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India eyes FDI from Gulf 

Dubai, August 8
India, which is wooing foreign investment in all sectors, especially in infrastructure, is eyeing FDI's from the cash-rich Gulf region.

"India is keen to promote its trade and political ties with the neighbouring countries of East and West, as it is keen to get funds for its infrastructure development as the country aims to join the ranks of the economic powerhouses of Europe, US and Japan," India's minister of state for commerce and industry Ashwani Kumar told a meeting of top Dubai businessmen and professionals organised by the Indian Business Professionals Council last evening.

Kumar said: "The UPA government is keen to boost traditional ties, dating back to thousands of years, with the West Asia region which forms part of India's immediate neighbourhood."

Speaking about the initiatives taken by the government, he said India proposes to establish petroleum, chemicals and petrochemicals investment regions (PCPIRS) at various locations.

"These regions are envisaged as growth engines that will boost manufacturing, augment exports and generate large-scale direct and indirect employment." — PTI

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PNB pays Rs 109-cr dividend
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8
Punjab National Bank CMD K.C. Chakrabarty today presented a dividend cheque of Rs 109.34 crore to union finance minister P Chidambaram.

This final dividend of 60 per cent for the financial year 2006-07 is in addition to 40 per cent interim dividend of Rs 72.90 crore already paid by the bank to Government of India.

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Logan launched in HP

Shimla, August 8
Mahindra Renault, a joint venture between Mahindra & Mahindra and Renault of France, today launched its premium French car “Logan” in Himachal Pradesh.

A spokesperson of the company said that its authorised dealer had arranged for in-house ready finance for the car which was being sold through showrooms at Shimla, Solan and Baddi.— TNS

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To invest Rs 2,000 cr

Tata Sky will invest Rs 2,000 crore in the coming years in its infrastructure and expects a seven-fold increase in its subscriber base at 8 million by 2012.

The company, which reached a subscriber base of one million in its first year of launch, also plans to introduce new value-added services, which includes features in interactive TV and launch of personal video recorder (PVR), which enable users to pause live TV.

“We have already invested Rs 1,000 crore and plans to invest Rs 2,000 crore more in the medium term to meet the requirements,” MD Vikram Kaushik said.

The company will very soon come out with a service, which will enable customers to recharge their connections through SMS. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

DBS Chola MF
Chennai, August 8
DBS Chola Mutual Fund today announced the launch of a three- year close-ended equity fund, DBS Chola Infrastructure Fund, with automatic conversion to open-ended scheme on maturity. The scheme offers cumulative and dividend options and units will be offered at Rs 10 per unit. The minimum application amount is Rs 5,000 and in multiples of Re 1 thereafter. The fund is open for subscription between August 7 and September 6. — PTI

ING Vysya Life
Hyderabad, August 8
ING Vysya Life Insurance today announced the launch of 'ING Positive Life', a unit-linked saving solution, targetting 1.5 million customers of its sister concern ING Vysya Bank. The plan is targeted at the regular savings segment and is flexible to suit the profile of an individual customer from the ages of 0 to 50 years. The policy terms are 10, 15 or 20 years and there is flexibility of premium paying term from a minimum of three years to the policy term,'' a company spokesman said.— UNI

TCL launch
New Delhi, August 8
Consumer Electronics global major TCL India Holdings Pvt Ltd today launched 11 new models of colour televisions (CTVs) in a highly competitive Indian TV market. The new models come at a entry level price of Rs 4,500. The company also introduced a 'scratch card offer' which comes with every TCL product. — UNI

PVR multiplexes
Mumbai, August 8
Ajay Bijlee-promoted PVR Ltd today announced the opening of two multiplexes in Delhi and Ludhiana respectively, on August 10, taking the total number of silver-screens in operation to 89 across the country. The PVR multiplex at Rohini in Delhi would have three screens with 818 seats at the Fun City Mall, while the one in Ludhiana would be at Flamez Mall with four screens and a capacity of 1,068 seats.
— PTI

Vishal Retail
Mumbai, August 8
Delhi-based Vishal Retail today said it plans to invest Rs 200 crore to set up 40 additional stores mostly in northern India. "In addition to 53 stores that we have at the moment across 41 cities, we want to put up 40 more in the current fiscal year entailing Rs 200 crore investment," Vishal Retail managing director Ramchandra Aggarwal said. — PTI

Quattro buyout
Bangalore, August 8
Quatrro Mortgage Solutions, a subsidiary of Quatrro BPO Solutions, founded by Raman Roy, has announced the acquisition of mortgage technology platform and onshore-offshore loan processing operations of US-based Preferred Financial Group, Inc. Using this acquisition as a base, Quatrro plans to provide services to US mortgage lenders across the USA. — PTI

UTI-Shinsei JV
Mumbai, August 8
Unit Trust of India (UTI) and Shinsei Bank of Japan today joined hands to set up a regional asset management JV UTI International Ltd. UTI Asset Management Company Pvt Ltd (UTI AMC) of India and Shinsei Bank of Japan have signed a joint venture agreement to set up UTI International (Singapore) Pte Limited. The company shall be engaged in investment management and distribution of financial products in the South-East Asian region.— UNI

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