SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Chidambaram assures more steps to check inflation
New Delhi, August 24
Finance minister P Chidambaram today said the government would not hesitate in taking further fiscal measures to check inflation, but has no control over prices of imported crude oil.

Big Cos allowed to raise funds via fast-track route
Mumbai, August 24
Capital market regulator SEBI today decided to introduce a fast- track mechanism for issuing securities, which would allow listed companies to raise funds from the markets in the least possible time.

TDSAT asked to hear Tata, govt claims again
New Delhi, August 24
The Supreme Court has asked telecom tribunal TDSAT, which had thrown out a claim filed by the Centre seeking over Rs 654 crore damages from Tata Teleservices, to hear the case afresh.

Indian-AI merger in place
New Delhi, August 24
With the Ministry of Corporate Affairs today approving the application for merger of Indian (airlines) with Air India the new company called National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL), having the brand name Air India, finally came into existence.



EARLIER STORIES

 
Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan at the launch of Motorola's new mobile phone, Razr2, in New Delhi on Thursday night.
Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan at the launch of Motorola's new mobile phone, Razr2, in New Delhi on Thursday night. The phone is priced at Rs 20,428. The company has introduced another model in the Razr series with a premium pack featuring in-box bluetooth for Rs 21,549. Besides standard features like MP3 player, external memory slot, bluetooth and camera, the phone would also have a new software — Motorola CrystalTalk — for better voice quality. — Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui 

Bill to regulate credit card payment on cards
New Delhi, August 24
The government today said it plans to bring a Bill to empower the RBI to regulate and oversee various payment and settlement systems, including those by card companies and national bodies like Clearing Company of India.

Faulty Battery
Matsushita to bear cost 
New Delhi, August 24
Finnish mobile handset maker Nokia has reached an agreement with Matsushita Battery, under which the Japanese vendor will cover the various costs related to replacement of batteries.

MTNL to get Rs 1,100-crore tax refund
New Delhi, August 24
MTNL today won a case on income tax refund of about Rs 1,100 crore, including Rs 150 crore interest.

ISD calls at 10 paise

Change in spectrum policy under study
New Delhi, August 24
The government is considering to allocate additional spectrum to mobile telecom players based on the number of calls originating from their network instead of the subscriber base, intended to enhance their efficiency.

Additional revenue from pvt Cos
BSNL’s plea rejected
New Delhi, August 24
In a setback to state-owned BSNL, telecom tribunal TDSAT today rejected its plea for additional revenue from incoming national and international roaming calls of subscribers belonging to private operators.

Merc’s new model
Chandigarh, August 24
Daimler Chrysler India today presented the premium Mercedes Benz CL-Class for the Indian market in Chandigarh. Managing director and CEO of Daimler Chrysler India, Wilfried Aulbur, unveiled the car together with the director marketing Sanjiv Sahajwala.


Dr Wilfried Aulbur (left) unveils the Mercedes Benz CL-Class, along with Manjit Singh Bala, managing director, Tai-Pan Traders Ltd, in Chandigarh on Friday. — A Tribune photograph
Dr Wilfried Aulbur (left) unveils the Mercedes Benz CL-Class, along with Manjit Singh Bala, managing director, Tai-Pan Traders Ltd, in Chandigarh on Friday.

Cipla’s defamation plea rejected
New Delhi, August 24
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an NGO working in India with the AIDS patients, today rejected pharmaceutical major Cipla’s demand for $25 million in damages for defaming the company.

Spencer’s stores still open in UP, says Goenka
Kolkata, August 24
RPG group, which owns the Spencer’s retail brand, today said its outlets are operational in Uttar Pradesh, where the government has ordered closure of all corporate-run food stores.

 

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Chidambaram assures more steps to check inflation

New Delhi, August 24
Finance minister P Chidambaram today said the government would not hesitate in taking further fiscal measures to check inflation, but has no control over prices of imported crude oil.

Expressing concern over the rise in prices of essential commodities, including fruits and vegetables, the finance minister said these could only be checked by increasing agriculture production.

But at the core level the government has brought down the inflation to 4.05 per cent after taking several taxation and monetary measures. "I will not hesitate to take further fiscal measures to control inflation," Chidambaram said in his reply to the debate on the Appropriation Bill, 2007 in the Rajya Sabha, which was returned by the Upper House.

The finance minister said the prices of essential commodities and food articles had risen because of stagnation in production. The demand-supply mismatch in items like tomato and potato cannot be bridged by imports either.

Chidambaram said the government has also no control over the crude oil prices, which have touched $72 per barrel in the international market.

Referring to the fiscal prudence, he said that he would try to bring the revenue deficit to zero this year itself.

But he was confident that by 2008-09 the revenue deficit would be wiped out, meeting the crucial targets set in the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Bill (FRBM).— PTI

Inflation up at 4.10 pc

Inflation rose to 4.10 per cent for the week ended August 11, against 4.05 per cent in the previous week, mainly due to higher prices of fruits and vegetables, bajra, masoor, gram and some manufactured goods. The wholesale price-based index, inflation stood at 5.07 per cent in the corresponding week a year ago.

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Big Cos allowed to raise funds via fast-track route

Mumbai, August 24
Capital market regulator SEBI today decided to introduce a fast- track mechanism for issuing securities, which would allow listed companies to raise funds from the markets in the least possible time.

Under the fast-track issuance of securities, lead managers can proceed with the issue or capital raising plans of companies listed on the NSE or BSE after filing the offer document with SEBI, the regulator said in a statement.

However, it added that the new mode of issuing securities will be applicable only after necessary amendments in the SEBI (Disclosure and Investor Protection) Guidelines, which are expected to be released shortly.

The new mechanism will benefit only those companies which are listed on the BSE or NSE for at least three years, and have a market capitalisation of at least Rs 10,000 crore during the last one year.

Market experts said the fast track mechanism is likely to cut down the time for raising funds significantly as also market uncertainty over process of capital issue of big firms.

SEBI also said the listed companies which meet the requirements will be eligible for "rationalised disclosures as well as simplified procedural requirements."

Once a company's board or shareholders pass a resolution to raise necessary capital from the market, the firm will get an in-principle approval from stock exchanges.

After that the prospectus, letter of offer will be prepared by lead managers as the provisions of the Companies Act and SEBI (CIP) Guidelines and same shall be filed with SEBI and stock exchanges for record purposes, it added. — PTI

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TDSAT asked to hear Tata, govt claims again

New Delhi, August 24
The Supreme Court has asked telecom tribunal TDSAT, which had thrown out a claim filed by the Centre seeking over Rs 654 crore damages from Tata Teleservices, to hear the case afresh.

While setting aside TDSAT's order that dismissed the counter claim of the government as non- maintainable, a Bench comprising Justice H K Sema and P K Balasubramanyan said the tribunal had committed error in dismissing the counter claim and added it was an appropriate case for reopening.

The court directed the government to make a proper counter-claim within three months before the tribunal, which would decide both Tata's claim and the government's counter claim in accordance with law.

The government had raised the demand for over Rs 654 crore from Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd for the loss suffered by it on account of the latter failing to provide services in Karnataka Telecom Circle.

"There was no reason to whittle down the right given to the Central government to approach TDSAT for adjudication of its claim... Normally a right to make a claim would also include a right to make a cross-claim or a counter claim..., the Bench observed.— PTI

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Indian-AI merger in place
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
With the Ministry of Corporate Affairs today approving the application for merger of Indian (airlines) with Air India the new company called National Aviation Company of India Limited (NACIL), having the brand name Air India, finally came into existence.

Although the official date for the merger of the two public sector airlines, which would create the country’s largest airline, was August 1 last but with the unions of the two airlines filing objections with the ministry of corporate affairs the merger was on hold. However, with the ministry dismissing the objections the merged airline finally came into place with Indian seizing to exist.

With the filing of this approval with the registrar of companies, the legal process for the merger has been completed, an official release said here.

Meanwhile, the board of Indian and Air India also met here, followed by the board meeting of the new entity NACIL.

V Thulasidas takes over as the chairman and managing director, while Vishwapati Trivedi will be the joint managing director of the new entity, the release said.

Post-merger, the airline will fly under the name of Air India, both domestically and on international routes. It would operate three brands - Air India, Air India express (low-cost) and Air India Cargo.

‘Air India’ has already launched its inaugural daily, non-stop Mumbai-New York flight with the first Boeing 777 200 LR aircraft. This is the first non-stop India - US flight by a domestic carrier. The new Boeing 777 aircraft was the first of the series to sport the new branding.

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Bill to regulate credit card payment on cards
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
The government today said it plans to bring a Bill to empower the RBI to regulate and oversee various payment and settlement systems, including those by card companies and national bodies like Clearing Company of India.

“We intend to bring a Bill to regulate payment systems,” finance minister P Chidambaram told the Lok Sabha today while replying to questions over credit card industry.

The Payment and Settlements Bill, cleared by Cabinet yesterday, provides for setting up a new National Payments Company that would take over the retail payment systems.

The various retail payment systems in operation include card-based paper system, manual paper-based clearing and fund transfer system.

Replying to another question with regard to cloning of credit cards resulting in frauds, Chidambaram said out of millions of cards issued throughout the country only 127 instances were reported in 2006 and the amount involved was Rs 235.42 lakh. While in 2007, till June, 61 cases have come forward involving Rs 123.11 crore.

Minister of state for finance Pawan Kumar Bansal said representations had been received from the public about rejection of their loan or credit card applications without assigning reasons.

The government has advised the RBI and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) to take corrective measures to ensure that customers of the banks get efficient and hassle-free banking services at affordable charges, he said.

Banking Ombudsmen have been appointed for quick disposal of the complaints of the bank customers, he said, adding banks are also required to set up internal grievance redressal mechanism to redress the grievances of their customers in a time-bound manner.

The IBA has issued a Fair Practices Code, which provides for furnishing reasons for rejection of loans, including credit card limits to the customers.

On the question of increasing misuse of Permanant Account Number (PAN) cards, finance minister said the government is likely to introduce biometric solution so that no one can get a duplicate card.

A joint working group in the ministry of finance has given its report after obtaining technical and commercial proposals from leading biometric solution providers, he said.

He also informed the House that the number of persons suspected to have duplicate PANs are estimated to be 13,10,127 throughout the country.

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Faulty Battery
Matsushita to bear cost 

New Delhi, August 24
Finnish mobile handset maker Nokia has reached an agreement with Matsushita Battery, under which the Japanese vendor will cover the various costs related to replacement of batteries.

“Matsushita Battery has agreed to cover the direct costs associated with the product advisory, including among other things, logistics costs, call center costs and replacement battery costs,” Matsushita Battery Industrial Co president Masatsugu Kondo said.

Nokia had on August 14 issued a product advisory warning possible malfunctioning of BL-5C batteries manufactured during November 2005 and December 2006, estimated at 46 million, and had agreed to replace them free of cost.

“Nokia and Matsushita have a long business relationship and the two companies are cooperating closely together in this situation,” he said in a communication posted on Nokia’s website.

Asked about the total cost of faulty batteries, Nokia officials refused to give details. In India, Nokia has received over six million calls. Of these, about 4.6 per cent batteries were found from the batch for which advisory was issued.

Nokia’s worldwide CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo had yesterday said: “We are investigating into the matter. But of course, they (Matsushita) are responsible to us.”

Any Nokia consumer who is currently using a Nokia product containing a BL-5C battery subject to the product advisory can seek a replacement battery free of charge, the company said in the communication released worldwide. — PTI

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MTNL to get Rs 1,100-crore tax refund
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, August 24
MTNL today won a case on income tax refund of about Rs 1,100 crore, including Rs 150 crore interest.

A senior MTNL official said the Income Tax Department had earlier claimed a penalty of 850 crore against which the PSU had gone to the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.

The tribunal today ordered that MTNL would not have to pay any penalty and would be refunded Rs 1,100 crore, including 150 crore as interest.

The official said the entire refund amount would soon be transferred to the MTNL account and the interest amount of Rs 150 crore will be reflected in the company's second quarter result.

ISD calls at 10 paise

Mumbai: Meanwhile, MTNL has embraced Internet-based telephony, offering ISD calls to its subscribers at prices as low as 10 paise per minute, company officials said today.

The service is being launched in partnership with Aksh Optifibers, a private sector company.

Subscribers who have a Triband Internet connection will soon be able to call fixed lines telephones in the US, UK and other destinations at 10 paise per minute. Calls to other destinations in the West Asia would be priced higher.

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Change in spectrum policy under study

New Delhi, August 24
The government is considering to allocate additional spectrum to mobile telecom players based on the number of calls originating from their network instead of the subscriber base, intended to enhance their efficiency.

"There are various suggestions and one of the suggestion under consideration is to change the allocation of spectrum from subscriber linked to calls originating method," minister of state for Communication Shakeel Ahmad told PTI on the sidelines of a summit on Wimax.

Spectrum allocation criteria has been the bone of contention for GSM and CDMA operators.

Earlier, while addressing the Wimax seminar, the minister asked the telecom service providers to use spectrum efficiently. He said we are still in discussions with the defence ministry for release of spectrum.— PTI

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Additional revenue from pvt Cos
BSNL’s plea rejected

New Delhi, August 24
In a setback to state-owned BSNL, telecom tribunal TDSAT today rejected its plea for additional revenue from incoming national and international roaming calls of subscribers belonging to private operators.

"We are unable to persuade ourself to approve the manner in which the appellant (BSNL) has tried to introduce revenue sharing in the mutually arrived interconnect agreement," the TDSAT said.

The telecom giant had demanded 50:50 share on national and international roaming calls as these were routed through BSNL's network and terminated on other companies' networks.

However, TRAI had on September 11, 2006 fixed revenue sharing among operators at 30 paise per minute. This prompted BSNL to approach the tribunal. — PTI

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Merc’s new model
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
Daimler Chrysler India today presented the premium Mercedes Benz CL-Class for the Indian market in Chandigarh. Managing director and CEO of Daimler Chrysler India, Wilfried Aulbur, unveiled the car together with the director marketing Sanjiv Sahajwala.

The new CL 500 is priced at Rs 1.1 crore, while the CL 600 is priced at Rs 1.6 crore.

Stating that India was one of its largest markets in near future, Dr Aulbur said that around 2,500 Mercedes were sold in India annually while Ludhiana accounted for 550 of them. Daimler Chrysler India has recently announced a retail finance scheme “start choice” for its cars in collaboration with ICICI Bank.

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Cipla’s defamation plea rejected
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), an NGO working in India with the AIDS patients, today rejected pharmaceutical major Cipla’s demand for $25 million in damages for defaming the company.

It also refuted Cipla's alleged baseless assertions regarding its claim of defamation in a recent AHF advocacy advertisement where the NGO questioned the pharmaceutical major’s policy of providing the same AIDS medicine in Africa for Rs 22,000 and in India for Rs 54,000 per patient per year.

Dr Chinkolal Thangsing of AHF also called upon the MRTPC to investigate the steep prices for Cipla's generic AIDS drugs in India compared with prices of the company in Africa.

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Spencer’s stores still open in UP, says Goenka

Kolkata, August 24
RPG group, which owns the Spencer’s retail brand, today said its outlets are operational in Uttar Pradesh, where the government has ordered closure of all corporate-run food stores.

“We have not seen any official communiqué from the state government. The stores were operational yesterday and till now,” RPG vice-chairman Sanjiv Goenka told reporters on the sidelines of RPG Cellucom store launch here.

The government had ordered the closure after a group of traders led by an opposition lawmaker attacked the outlets on Wednesday.

While Mayawati said that the decision to close the stores were taken by the district administrations of Lucknow and Varanasi, state officials said that it could be extended to other parts as well. — PTI

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