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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

DoT may issue letters of intent to all applicants
New Delhi, November 13
The government is understood to have decided to issue letters of intent (LoI) to all applicants seeking permission to start telecom services. It is expecting that at least six companies will convert them into pan-India licences after submitting over Rs 10,000 crore as initial licence fee.

Gold crashes to 20-months’ low
New Delhi, November 13
Gold prices suffered a loss of Rs 480 per ten gram, biggest one-day fall in more than 20 months, on the bullion market today due to emergence of stockists selling amid reports of a steepest fall in global markets.
Actress Geeta Basra at the inauguration of a ‘gold festival’ in New Delhi recently. Gold plunged Rs 480 per 10 gm, its biggest one-day fall in 20-months.
Actress Geeta Basra at the inauguration of a ‘gold festival’ in New Delhi recently. Gold plunged Rs 480 per 10 gm, its biggest one-day fall in 20-months. — PTI photo

Rationalise duties on ATF: Patel
New Delhi, November 13
Fearing that the sharp rise in the prices of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) could cripple the country’s aviation industry, civil aviation minister Praful Patel today urged the petroleum ministry to pitch for rationalisation of duties on ATF.



EARLIER STORIES

 

EPF Board may invest in stocks
New Delhi, November 13
In an effort to pay higher returns to its subscribers, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Board may examine the option of investing 5 per cent EPF corpus money in stock markets, union labour minister Oscar Fernandes said today.

IDBI cuts rates on term deposits
Mumbai, November 13
IDBI has reduced interest rates on some of its term deposits with effect from yesterday. The interest on its 360-day deposits has been reduced by 0.75 per cent from 9.50 per cent to 8.75 per cent, the bank said in a statement issued here today.

Tariff Hike Case
TDSAT defers hearing till Jan 17
New Delhi, November 13
Telecom tribunal TDSAT today adjourned till January 17 hearing on a petition against tariff hike imposed by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea.

Infrastructure growth, too, slows down
New Delhi, November 13
Tracking a sharp drop in industrial growth, six core infrastructure industries expanded by a disappointing 6 per cent in September as against 10.6 per cent a year ago.

Best employer Microsoft, Infy 5th
New Delhi, November 13
Global software giant Microsoft has pipped domestic IT giant Infosys as the best company to work for in India, according to a new study released on Tuesday.

Credit Target Review
Govt to turn down banks’ plea
New Delhi, November 13
The finance ministry is likely to reject a plea by banks to tone down credit growth targets for this fiscal, as RBI mid-term review did not show signs of any major slowdown in lending.

Indian firm buys 20 jets at air show
Dubai, November 13
India’s Invision Projects has signed a deal to buy 18 Phenom 100 and two Phenom 300 executive jets from the Brazilian manufacturer Embraer, marking the first fleet order from India at the Dubai Airshow.

REL gets 2 coal blocks
New Delhi, November 13
Reliance Energy Ltd (REL) today said the company has been allocated captive coal blocks in Orissa.


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DoT may issue letters of intent to all applicants

New Delhi, November 13
The government is understood to have decided to issue letters of intent (LoI) to all applicants seeking permission to start telecom services. It is expecting that at least six companies will convert them into pan-India licences after submitting over Rs 10,000 crore as initial licence fee.

As many as 46 companies have put in 575 applications for telecom licences, making it difficult for the Department of Telecom (DoT) to scrutinise every document.

Instead, the DoT is now considering putting the onus of submitting accurate and credible information on the applicants themselves, sources said.

The applicants include both domestic as well foreign players such as DLF, HFCL, Parsavnath, Unitech, Shyam Telecom in partnership with Russian telecom giant Sistema, and AT&T.

According to sources, the government is expecting that at least six players would be ready to submit the initial fee of around Rs 1,650 crore for a pan-India licence. This translates to a total fee of roughly Rs 10,000 crore. Moreover, these six new entrants alone would invest at least Rs 60,000 crore in the next two years. Besides, other small players seeking licences in lesser number of circles would also invest.

An applicant said this move would bring in the much-required competition in GSM mobile telephony, notwithstanding the stiff opposition from the existing GSM players’ lobby, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

GSM players can’t challenge decision

The government today submitted before sectoral tribunal TDSAT that its decision to allow dual technology is a matter of policy decision and cellular operators have no right to challenge it.

“It is submitted that it is a matter of policy decision which has been taken in the larger public interest and having regard to the interest of consumers who would be benefited by the increased competition,” the DoT said in an affidavit filed through Solicitor General Of India, Goolam E Vahanvati.

“The petitioners has no right to oppose or challenge this policy decision,” the affidavit said.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the representative body of existing GSM players, challenging the decision to allow dual technology in the sectoral tribunal accused the government of favouring a particular CDMA operator to enter GSM arena and also questioned the manner in which it was done.

Portability to benefit others: RCom

Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications came down heavily on the Cellular Operators Association of India’s (COAI) stand that the government’s move to allow number portability is aimed at helping a particular operator looking to enter the GSM space.

In a statement issued by Rcom here today, the firm said that newer GSM players like Aircel, Idea and Spice would benefit the most as they seek to enter new circles.

The government had yesterday announced that the mobile number portability, under which users would be able to switch operators while retaining their existing cell phone numbers, would be allowed by next year.

COAI director General T V Ramachandran had said: “Mobile number portability was being introduced to benefit a select operator desirous of entering the GSM segment and thereafter poaching on the subscribers of existing GSM players.

RCom today asked COAI to “stop shadow boxing” at the behest of two leading GSM operators, but did not name them. — Agencies

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Gold crashes to 20-months’ low

New Delhi, November 13
Gold prices suffered a loss of Rs 480 per ten gram, biggest one-day fall in more than 20 months, on the bullion market today due to emergence of stockists selling amid reports of a steepest fall in global markets.

The gold lost Rs 480 to Rs 10,030 per 10gm. A similar fall was seen on March 21 last year when it dropped by Rs 500.

The selling pressure sparked following reports that the precious metal tumbled more than three per cent in the US market last evening.

Gold tumbled in the USA after yen strengthened against major currencies, slowing the pace of investment in the precious metal and other commodities.

Gold futures for December delivery fell to $26.6, or 3.2 per cent, to $808.1 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange. A close at that price would mark the biggest percentage drop since August 16.

Silver futures for December delivery fell by 70.5 cents, or 4.5 per cent, to $14.84 an ounce.

The impact was witnessed in the domestic market here this morning when gold opened lower and plunged further to close at Rs 10,030 per ten gram. Similarly, ornaments dropped by a same margin to Rs 9,880 per ten gram and sovereign fell by Rs 50 to Rs 8,500 per piece of ten gram. — PTI 

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Rationalise duties on ATF: Patel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 13
Fearing that the sharp rise in the prices of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) could cripple the country’s aviation industry, civil aviation minister Praful Patel today urged the petroleum ministry to pitch for rationalisation of duties on ATF.

Patel, who held a meeting with petroleum and natural gas minister Murli Deora here, wanted a relief of at least Rs 1000 crore through rationalisation of duties on ATF, spiralling rates of which have hit the bottom line of airlines.

He also brought to Deora’s notice that the oil companies charged domestic airlines more for ATF than for international airlines. Chiefs of oil marketing companies were also present at the meeting.

During the one-hour meeting, Patel also pointed out that high local taxes on ATF in various states also had a severe impact on domestic airlines.

Meanwhile, sources in the oil marketing companies said, “International carriers pay upfront for ATF and the domestic companies avail of credit facility, which is bound to have difference,” an official told The Tribune.

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EPF Board may invest in stocks

New Delhi, November 13
In an effort to pay higher returns to its subscribers, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Board may examine the option of investing 5 per cent EPF corpus money in stock markets, union labour minister Oscar Fernandes said today.

Ahead of the meeting of EPF Central Board of Trustees to finalise the interest rate for 2007-08, Fernandes said that the option to make investment in the capital market was “still open”.

Replying to questions at a meeting of Economic Editors here, he said he had discussed the matter informally twice with the board members and would take up the issue once again with them to evolve a consensus.

“Since Board members, including those belonging to Leftist trade unions, do not agree to such an investment in view of volatility in the stock market, we will also try to find out other safer options like bonds,” he said.

To a question on the wage boards for journalists and non-journalists, Fernandes said the demand for interim relief would be considered. “We will take a decision after consulting the chairman of the wage boards. A little time is required for this,” he said. — PTI

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IDBI cuts rates on term deposits

Mumbai, November 13
IDBI has reduced interest rates on some of its term deposits with effect from yesterday. The interest on its 360-day deposits has been reduced by 0.75 per cent from 9.50 per cent to 8.75 per cent, the bank said in a statement issued here today.

For deposits of 500 and 800 days as also on deposits of five years, the bank has reduced its interest rates by 0.50 per cent from 9.50 per cent to 9 per cent. Interest rates on its tax-savings deposits have also been reduced by 0.50 per cent to 9 per cent per annum.

It has also realigned rates for deposits of less than 360 days and more than two years to three years by 0.25-0.50 per cent. — PTI

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Tariff Hike Case
TDSAT defers hearing till Jan 17

New Delhi, November 13
Telecom tribunal TDSAT today adjourned till January 17 hearing on a petition against tariff hike imposed by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea.

During the proceedings before the tribunal, Telecom Users Group of India-NGO that had filed the petition-sought more time to file its rejoinder to the operators’ reply on notices issued by TDSAT.

Meanwhile, the tribunal also observed that the situation has changed, as the DoT had now allowed the number portability in the sector, one the demand of the NGO.

On September 26, TDSAT had issued notices to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and three the private cellular operators admitting the NGO’s petition.

In August, the GSM operators had raised charges for local calls by 20 per cent and international calls by 20-32 per cent.

The tribunal also noted that neither the TRAI nor any one of the three operators has replied to notices issued on a petition from another NGO Telecom Watchdog on the same matter.

The Telecom Users Group of India had in its petition requested the tribunal to put the hike in tariff on hold and sought a direction to TRAI to look into the hike. — PTI

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Infrastructure growth, too, slows down

New Delhi, November 13
Tracking a sharp drop in industrial growth, six core infrastructure industries expanded by a disappointing 6 per cent in September as against 10.6 per cent a year ago.

The growth for the April-September period of 2007-08 also dropped to 6.6 per cent from 8.7 per cent in the comparable period of the previous year.

Among the six key infrastructure industries, which contribute 26.7 per cent to the overall industrial growth, crude petroleum production put up the worst performance with a negative growth of 0.7 per cent against 9.4 per cent growth in the year-ago period.

Petroleum refinery sector grew by 6.9 per cent, about half the last year’s figure of 13.4 per cent.

Electricity generation also fared poorly with a growth of 4.3 per cent against last year’s 11.5 per cent, while cement was no better with an improvement of only 5 per cent compared to an impressive 16.5 per cent last year.

However, coal turned the table from a negative 0.8 per cent to positive 6.2 per cent and finished steel retained the double-digit figure of 10.3 per cent.

The infrastructure growth numbers came on top of yesterday’s poor growth in industrial output, which declined to 6.4 per cent in September from 12 per cent last year.

Sharp drop in growth of electricity generation and a negative trend for crude oil production are “of serious concern,” an Assocham official said.

At a time when the crude oil is nearing 100 dollar per barrel in the international market, growth in the domestic production for the first six months of 2007-08 has not kept pace with the previous year. The April-September crude petroleum production was up by a mere 0.7 per cent as compared to 4.1 per cent a year ago.

Refinery products put up a growth of 9.8 per cent in the first half of this year against 12.3 per cent last year.

Capacity constraint seems to have limited the growth in cement sector that grew by 8.3 per cent during April-September this year against 10.6 per cent.— PTI

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Best employer Microsoft, Infy 5th

New Delhi, November 13
Global software giant Microsoft has pipped domestic IT giant Infosys as the best company to work for in India, according to a new study released on Tuesday.

International consultancy firm Mercer ranked Microsoft India at the top of its “15 Best Companies to Work for in India 2007” list, which is dominated extensively by technology firms.

The study was jointly conducted by Mercer with financial magazine Business Today and international market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS).

Microsoft was followed by Mindtree Consulting, Johnson and Johnson and Sapient at second, third and fourth ranks. Infosys, India’s second-biggest software exporter, topped the list in 2006 but slipped to fifth spot this year.

Other companies in the top ten include iGate (6th), Agilent Technologies, HCL Comnet, Accenture and Dr Reddy’s Labs (10th). The list also includes Marriott Hotels India at 11th spot, followed by Covansys India, HCL Infosystems, Godrej Consumer and Honeywell Technology.

J&J and Godrej Consumer, hospitality giant Marriott and Dr Reddy’s are the only four non-IT companies in the list.

Two companies — domestic IT major Satyam and HSBC — have moved out of the list, while Infosys, Dr Reddy’s Labs, Agilent and Covansys have slipped in the rankings. Three companies — J&J, HCL Comnet and Sapient have moved up the ranks in the 2007 list. — PTI

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Credit Target Review
Govt to turn down banks’ plea

New Delhi, November 13
The finance ministry is likely to reject a plea by banks to tone down credit growth targets for this fiscal, as RBI mid-term review did not show signs of any major slowdown in lending.

“Since the RBI has not revised downward the loan growth, we will also not scale down the target given by PSU banks in their Statements of Intent to the government,” official sources said. They said the government has to go with what was stated by the RBI.

RBI’s mid-year monetary review stated that total credit extended by scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) increased by Rs 3,81,333 crore (23.3 per cent) up to October 12, compared with an increase of Rs 3,66,463 crore (28.8 per cent) a year ago.

Major state-owned banks, including State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank, have already reported a slowdown in loans. PNB has even asked the government to revise its business target downward by 7-9 per cent to 16-17 per cent in light of general slowdown in the credit off-take. — PTI

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Indian firm buys 20 jets at air show

Dubai, November 13
India’s Invision Projects has signed a deal to buy 18 Phenom 100 and two Phenom 300 executive jets from the Brazilian manufacturer Embraer, marking the first fleet order from India at the Dubai Airshow.

“The deal is worth $ 69.4 and deliveries will begin in August 2010,” MD Invision Vinit Phatak said, adding that it was the largest business jet fleet order in India today.

He said with the new fleet, Invision would kickstart branded charter and air taxi operations in the country.

Invision, founded in early 90s started off as a telecom accessory provider and is a joint venture with Kathrein Werke KG of Germany. Invision Air is a subsidiary. — UNI

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REL gets 2 coal blocks

New Delhi, November 13
Reliance Energy Ltd (REL) today said the company has been allocated captive coal blocks in Orissa.

The company has been jointly allocated captive coal blocks of Rampia and Dip Side of Rampia in Orissa. The quantum of allocation would enable Reliance Energy to set up pit-head based over 1000 MW power generation capacity, a company statement said.

The centre had offered to jointly allocate these coal blocks to six companies, including Reliance. The ministry has asked all six companies to submit their response within a month. Otherwise, the blocks could be allocated to other companies. — UNI

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