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Inflation dips further to 3.79 pc
New Delhi, September 7
Inflation dipped to 16-month low at 3.79 per cent for the week ended August 25, thanks to cheaper food products and some manufactured items. The inflation was 3.94 per cent in the previous week and the annual inflation rate was at 5.27 per cent during the corresponding week of the previous year, according to an official data released here today.

No proposal to up FIIs' holding in PSU banks
New Delhi, September 7
The government today said no proposal was under consideration to raise the foreign institutional investors' (FIIs) holding in public sector banks from the existing 20 per cent.

BSNL plans major expansion
To invest Rs 22,880 crore this fiscal
New Delhi, September 7
BSNL today said it would be investing Rs 22,880 crore in 2007-08 for expanding telecom services and has finalised the tender for adding 22.75 million GSM lines to Ericsson and Nokia-Siemens and is set to add two million connections a month from next year.

TDSAT pulls up TRAI over tariff hike
New Delhi, September 7
The Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) today pulled up the regulator TRAI for not intervening till now in the matter of recent tariff hike by three major telecom players - Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea.



EARLIER STORIES

 
A Chinese woman buys lunch from a food cart in Beijing on Friday.
A Chinese woman buys lunch from a food cart in Beijing on Friday. Beijing will shut down all unlicensed restaurants and food producers by year-end in a bid to prevent cases of food poisoning during next year's Olympics, state media said. — AFP photo

Petro price hike likely
New Delhi, September 7
Petrol and diesel prices are likely to be hiked by Rs 2 a litre and Re one per litre respectively after the current monsoon session of Parliament ends next week.

Air travel to be dearer
New Delhi, September 7
Domestic air travel will be costlier as major airlines, including state-owned Indian, have increased fares following continuous rise in prices of jet fuel in the past few months.

MUL to export 12,000 Estilos
New Delhi, September 7
Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL), which has been exploring new overseas markets to boost exports, has got a shot in the arm with its compact car Zen Estilo receiving an order for 12,000 units from Indonesia.

Scope awards presented
New Delhi, September 7
Union minister of heavy industries and public enterprises Sontosh Mohan Dev has presented the ‘Scope meritorious awards in specialised fields, 2005-06’ at a function organised by the standing conference of public enterprises, here.
Himachal minister for animal husbandry Harsh Mahajan along with Probir Mazumdar(R), vice-president, sales & marketing, RP Infosystems, at the launch of computers in Shimla on Friday.
Himachal minister for animal husbandry Harsh Mahajan along with Probir Mazumdar(R), vice-president, sales & marketing, RP Infosystems, at the launch of computers in Shimla on Friday. —Tribune photo by S. Chandan

Kolkata to have 2nd airport
Kolkata, September 7
The civil aviation minister Praful Patel announced today that the private airlines would be allowed to open more new routes on a large scale and operate their services for benefiting the people living in the remote areas in the country.

India-EU trade agreement
Call for a cautious approach
Guwahati, September 7
A workshop on India-EU trade and investment negotiations held here to sensitise stakeholders from the North-East today focused on identifying products of concern to India before entering into bigger trade partnership with the European Union (EU) countries.

Ford mulls small car for India
Chandigarh, September 7
Ford India today said the company was looking into options to launch a small car for Indian market.

RP Infosystems unveils desktops, laptops
Shimla, September 7
RP Infosystems, a Kolkata-based subsidiary of the RP Group, today made its entry in northern India with the launch of its indigenous Chirag brand of desktop and laptop computers.

L&T to train unemployed youth
Karnal, September 7
Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Haryana government to train less skilled and unemployed youth at the local ITI here. Under this programme, 50 persons will be trained initially.

Reliance Gas Pricing
CPI seeks PM’s intervention
New Delhi, September 7
As the Empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM) deliberate on the pricing of gas produced from the Krishna Godavari Basin by Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), the CPI has asked the government to call for fresh bids for determining the market price of gas and to look at the issue holistically as it would impact the exchequer and the common man in a big way.


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Inflation dips further to 3.79 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
Inflation dipped to 16-month low at 3.79 per cent for the week ended August 25, thanks to cheaper food products and some manufactured items.

The inflation was 3.94 per cent in the previous week and the annual inflation rate was at 5.27 per cent during the corresponding week of the previous year, according to an official data released here today.

With inflation remaining well below the 4 per cent mark, expectations are welling on the possibility of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) softening its stringent monetary policy embarked from the beginning of 2007.

However, analysts here feel that still there is inflationary pressure on food items, especially wheat, rice and pulses and unless production/availability in these commodities increases, inflation might look up.

Therefore, the RBI would like to monitor the inflation graph for some more weeks before it takes a call on softening monetary policy, they said.

Among essential commodities, prices of wheat, fruits, vegetables, maize and fish declined by one per cent each.

The index for food products group rose by 0.2 per cent to 186.6 for the previous week due to higher prices of Gur (3 per cent) and rice bran oil, gingelly oil and soyabean oil (one per cent each).

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No proposal to up FIIs' holding in PSU banks

New Delhi, September 7
The government today said no proposal was under consideration to raise the foreign institutional investors' (FIIs) holding in public sector banks from the existing 20 per cent.

Representations have been received from public sector banks to increase foreign investment limit. However, there is no proposal under consideration to amend the limit, minister of state for finance P K Bansal told Lok Sabha in a written reply.

He also said the aggregate foreign investment in private sector banks from all sources, including foreign direct investment, foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and non-resident Indians (NRIs) cannot exceed 74 per cent of a bank's paid-up capital.— PTI

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BSNL plans major expansion
To invest Rs 22,880 crore this fiscal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
BSNL today said it would be investing Rs 22,880 crore in 2007-08 for expanding telecom services and has finalised the tender for adding 22.75 million GSM lines to Ericsson and Nokia-Siemens and is set to add two million connections a month from next year.

“We have planned major expansion and growth targets for the current financial year. In the last year, we have not been able to grow and were going slow, which is why we had come down to number three position in terms of subscribers. By 2008, we should be back at number two,” BSNL’s new chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal said.

BSNL awarded Ericsson a $1.3 billion order for equipment and services and Nokia also would win a big deal soon. Under the contract, Ericsson will supply 13.12 million lines at Rs 3,700 per line, Goyal said.

BSNL had originally tendered for more than 45 million lines but scaled back its plans during months of discussions with Ericsson and Nokia.

Goyal said BSNL generated a revenue of around Rs 39,715 crore and net profit of about Rs 7,806 crore in 2006-07.

While Ericsson has accepted the letter of intent for laying 13.125 million lines, an offer would soon be given to Nokia for adding a capacity of 9.675 million GSM lines.

The company is planning to add 10 million additional mobile subscribers and a market share of 33 per cent by the end of current fiscal.

This is based on the firm’s rural expansion, where it is planning to connect 50,000 villages either through mobile or landline connectivity.

The PSU is also planning to ramp up its presence in the CDMA market by adding 3.6 million users to reach to the level of six million.

BSNL is also waiting to place orders for the procurement of 3G (third generation) lines, which it indicated could be with the existing vendors.

“The 3G orders would be placed once the government comes out with the spectrum policy. If the first phase of roll out goes well, then it would be with the existing vendors and the size of the deal would be around Rs 17,200 crore,” Goyal said.

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TDSAT pulls up TRAI over tariff hike

New Delhi, September 7
The Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) today pulled up the regulator TRAI for not intervening till now in the matter of recent tariff hike by three major telecom players - Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea.

Replying to a petition by NGO, Telecom Watchdog, on last month’s hike in charges by the operators, TRAI said: “We are constantly watching in this issue... and still the charges are within the ceiling limits”.

“What are you watching? This is not a simple bird watching. You have to intervene,” a TDSAT bench headed by Justice Arun Kumar told TRAI.

Telecom Watchdog sought an the regulator’s intervention on the price hike by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea and alleged that the three telcos have formed a cartel and increased local call charges by 20 per cent along with 20-32 per cent increase on ISD calls.

TRAI has put the tariffs under forbearance policy, through which it monitors the level of charges, after a persistent downward trend due to competition in the past.

The NGO further alleged that the trio was even violating the ‘principle of economics of sale’ as they were charging higher tariff in Delhi in comparison to Chennai. — PTI

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Petro price hike likely

New Delhi, September 7
Petrol and diesel prices are likely to be hiked by Rs 2 a litre and Re one per litre respectively after the current monsoon session of Parliament ends next week.

The petroleum ministry has moved a cabinet note seeking hike in prices of petrol, diesel, PDS kerosene and domestic cooking gas LPG in line with the rise in international crude oil prices. But it has not specified the quantum of hike, leaving it for the cabinet to decide, officials said.

Currently, petrol is being sold at a loss of Rs 2.79 per litre while diesel is priced Rs 4.65 a litre below the cost.

Oil companies suffer a loss of Rs 15.5 on sale of every litre of kerosene and Rs 178.15 on sale of every LPG cylinder.

Officials said given the political sensitivity of mass- consumed cooking fuels LPG and kerosene, the hike may be restricted only to petrol and diesel.

State-run IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum would together lose Rs 52,452 crore in revenues this fiscal year if fuel prices are not raised in line with cost.

The petroleum ministry has projected a revenue loss of Rs 16,120 crore on kerosene, Rs 11,088 crore on domestic LPG, Rs 6,682 crore on petrol and Rs 18,562 crore on diesel in 2007-08. — PTI

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Air travel to be dearer

New Delhi, September 7
Domestic air travel will be costlier as major airlines, including state-owned Indian, have increased fares following continuous rise in prices of jet fuel in the past few months.

Indian today announced a hike ranging between Rs 45 to Rs 400 in its domestic fares for all discounted, unchecked and apex class tickets. The new prices will come into effect from September 10.

Officials of the public sector firm said the maximum hike of Rs 400 was only on two sectors — Delhi to Thiruvananthapuram and Delhi to Kochi. In other sectors, the fare hike was at an average of Rs 200.

The prices of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) or jet fuel, which constitutes 30-35 per cent of the operating cost of airlines, has been increasing between 2-3 per cent for the past several months, forcing the aviation industry to increase the fares.

According to sources, Jet Airways also increased the fares effective from yesterday.

A Kingfisher Airlines spokesperson said though no decision had been taken so far about increasing the fares, it could consider increase it if other airlines did so. — PTI

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MUL to export 12,000 Estilos

New Delhi, September 7
Maruti Udyog Ltd (MUL), which has been exploring new overseas markets to boost exports, has got a shot in the arm with its compact car Zen Estilo receiving an order for 12,000 units from Indonesia.

MUL had launched Zen Estilo in Indonesia in May this year and has already exported 5,500 units so far.

The company now plans to ship 1,000 units of the model every month to Indonesia, where it is up against competitors like Atos from Hyundai, QQ Chery and Kia Picanto. Besides, MUL is also intensely focussing on penetrating deeper into existing export markets, where in many cases it is pitched against cheap imported second-hand big cars. — PTI

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Scope awards presented
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
Union minister of heavy industries and public enterprises Sontosh Mohan Dev has presented the ‘Scope meritorious awards in specialised fields, 2005-06’ at a function organised by the standing conference of public enterprises, here.

The awards were received by S.K. Garg, CMD, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation for corporate social responsibility and responsiveness; Sarthak Behuria, chairman, IOC and V.C. Agarwal, director (HR) IOC for best practices in human resource management; A.K. Singhal, director (finance), NTPC for good corporate governance; A.K. Puri, CMD, BHEL for research & development and innovation; S. Jayaraman, CMD, Neyveli Lignite Corporation for environmental excellence and sustainable development and Lalit Kohli, MD, National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation for best managed PSE set up under Section 25, a release said.

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Kolkata to have 2nd airport
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, September 7
The civil aviation minister Praful Patel announced today that the private airlines would be allowed to open more new routes on a large scale and operate their services for benefiting the people living in the remote areas in the country.

Patel declared that Air Deccan had already been permitted to run its flights from Behala airport to Coochbehar in north Bengal from the current month and similarly, some other private airlines would also be allowed to operate in Bengal and other states so that the poor could avail the opportunity of flying at minimal prices.

After a meeting with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the minister said the centre had agreed to invest Rs 10,000 crore for setting up a second airport of international standard at Andal near Durgapur industrial town in Bengal.

Netaji Subhas International Airport would also be modernised and upgraded at a cost of Rs 2,000 crore and all formalities have been completed in this regard. Patel said Bagdorgra airport would also be upgraded to the international standard.

After his meeting, Bhattacharjee said he was happy that the minister was responsive to their needs.

The Chief Minister said the Lufthansa airlines wants to run a daily flight from Kolkata to Frankfrut and the civil aviation minister had agreed to accept its proposal.

He said they would soon convey the centre’s permission in this regard to the airlines.

Bhattacharjee said the state would extend all help and co-operation to the civil aviation ministry for upgrading the airport so that it could attract more international flights to operate through the airport. The Chief Minister had already assured the center that labour unrest would not be allowed to hamper the development activities at the airport and the trade unions were already told to act accordingly.

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India-EU trade agreement
Call for a cautious approach
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 7
A workshop on India-EU trade and investment negotiations held here to sensitise stakeholders from the North-East today focused on identifying products of concern to India before entering into bigger trade partnership with the European Union (EU) countries.

Inaugurating a workshop, which was held under the aegis of Department of Commerce, Government of India, UNCTAD India Project and Indian Chamber of Commerce, Harish Sonowal, principal secretary of the Department of Industries and Commerce, Assam government, called for utmost caution in the negotiation process so as to protect products and interests of grass root farmers and weavers etc.

He said we should keep in mind lessons from the history while approaching the path of bilateral trade partnership with the EU in much bigger way than it is today.

He said India should negotiate hard with the EU for removal of certain trade barriers to get a level-playing field in respect of trading Indian goods.

Giving a presentation on behalf of the Department of Commerce, Government of India, Bipin Menon, joint director of foreign trade informed that EU had remained India’s largest trading partner.

He informed that India’s exports to EU countries was worth $23.23 billion in 2005-06 as against import volume of $26 billion. He informed that Indian and the EU recently launched negotiations for a bilateral trade and investment agreement (BITA) which would include agreement on goods and services as well as agreements on investment.

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Ford mulls small car for India
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Ford India today said the company was looking into options to launch a small car for Indian market.

"Small car is quite an important segment as it accounts for half of total sales of cars in India," stated Ford India vice-president (marketing, sales, service) Scott McCormack.

Meanwhile, the company has also planned to launch service carnivals at 18 different locations across Punjab and Chandigarh.

Branding its new outlet as Ford brand retail, the company has plans to increase its dealership network from 115 at present to 135 during this calendar year in order to extend its customer reach. "These new outlets will be opened in tier II and tier III cities which will also include Meerut, Gandhidham and Sahibabad," said Scott.

Ford sold 42,060 cars in 2006 in the country, posting a growth of 87 per cent, which were led by Fiesta.

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RP Infosystems unveils desktops, laptops
Tribune News Service

Shimla, September 7
RP Infosystems, a Kolkata-based subsidiary of the RP Group, today made its entry in northern India with the launch of its indigenous Chirag brand of desktop and laptop computers.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh unveiled the first computer manufactured in the state at Parwanoo by the company, here today. He expressed hope that the availability of reasonably priced indigenous high-quality product would help increase PC penetration in the hill state.

Chairperson of the RP Group Kaustuv Ray said the company was looking to set up a new unit with CRT and LCD monitor manufacturing facility at an investment of Rs 40 crore to cover the northern region. The first unit at Ghusuri in West Bengal had witnessed a 150 per cent growth to capture 16 per cent market share in the state. The desktops priced in the Rs 14,400-Rs 28,500 range and laptops in the Rs 24,000 -Rs 63,000 range would make the product more affordable.

The RP Infosystems would soon set up an IT hardware SEZ project in the country which would be the first-of-its-kind in South Asia. It would be a Rs 1,000-crore backward integration project providing direct employment to 5,000 persons. The company had appointed Subir Saha, former chairperson of the ONGC, as director and strategic adviser to execute the project.

The company already has offices in China and Hong Kong and it would soon set up one in Dubai.

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L&T to train unemployed youth
Tribune News Service

Karnal, September 7
Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Haryana government to train less skilled and unemployed youth at the local ITI here. Under this programme, 50 persons will be trained initially.

The course, which started today, will last for three months and each trainee would get a monthly stipend of Rs 750. The state government will spend Rs 600 on each trainee. After the completion of the course, the trainees will be absorbed into L&T and employed in the company’s construction business.

Regional manager, L&T,Col N. B. Saxena said training will be imparted by experts from the company. “Remuneration will be based on the skill level of the worker,” he said, adding that a skilled worker would be able to earn up to Rs 13,000 per month.

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Reliance Gas Pricing
CPI seeks PM’s intervention
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
As the Empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM) deliberate on the pricing of gas produced from the Krishna Godavari Basin by Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), the CPI has asked the government to call for fresh bids for determining the market price of gas and to look at the issue holistically as it would impact the exchequer and the common man in a big way.

In a letter written by CPI leader Ajay Chakraborty to the Prime Minister today, he said: “It seems the eGoM is only interested in deliberating on the gas pricing issue and are not concerned about the various other matters.”

He said the bidding done by private contractor for determining the market price has raised serious issue on the whole aspect and it is requested that the eGoM should recommend for calling fresh bids through an open and transparent tendering process.

He urged the eGoM to look into the project cost, which has been increased from $2.47 billion to $8.84 billion without any proportional increase in production of gas.

The CPI leader said in the absence of a clear cut policy on the gas supply/transportation activities at present, the whole chain of gas production to the city gas distribution is being handled by the producer.

This would lead to a monopoly in the business environment and even the petroleum and natural gas regulatory authority also apprehends that the present scenario in the country would lead to monopolistic structure of controlling gas production to retailing.

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BRIEFLY

Honda recall
Tokyo, September 7
Honda Motor will recall 63,099 vehicles in the country to fix faulty brakes. The recall, which starts tomorrow, affects Civic small cars and Stream minivans built between August 2005 and January 2007, the company said. About 34,300 of the recalled minivans also have faulty speedometers. — Bloomberg

ICRA rating
Mumbai, September 7
ICRA today said it will assign ratings to the State Bank of India’s (SBI) loans and other exposures. SBI has signed a MoU with ICRA, under which the rating agency would rate the bank’s loans and its other exposures under the standardised approach of the RBI’s new capital adequacy framework for basel-II.— PTI

TCS centre
Bangalore, September 7
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) plans to open its third IT centre in China in the current fiscal and increase its headcount five-fold to 5,000 by 2010, a senior official said today. The new centre would be established before March-end in China, where the company currently has a workforce of 1,000, TCS said. — PTI

Club Air
Chandigarh, September 7
Club One Air has launched its aircraft maintenance management programme. This program is designed to encompass the complete management of aircraft, from aircraft selection, its purchase, to complete aircraft operations and everything in-between. — TNS

Awarded
Mandi, September 7
Managing partner of Ashoka Steel Furniture Industries Ashok Sethi was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Shiromani award-2007 for his outstanding contribution in the field of industry in the state. The award was given by the Governor of Haryana AR Gidwai in New Delhi held to mark the 63rd birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi. — TNS

Air Deccan
Chandigarh, September 7
Air Deccan has announced two lakh tickets at special fares to mark the upcoming festive season. Bookings will open on September 9 and will close on September 11. The special fares can be availed for travel between September 20 and October 31. — TNS

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