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Vijay Kelkar to head 13th Finance Commission 
New Delhi, November 14
Former union finance secretary and adviser to the finance minister Vijay L Kelkar has been appointed as the chairperson of the the 13th Finance Commission, which was constituted by President Pratibha Patil today.

Rs 7,500-cr fertiliser bonds by November
New Delhi, November 14
The government would issue bonds worth Rs 7,500 crore to fertiliser companies by November end this year against the subsidy bill, which has touched a whopping Rs 48,000 crore. The bonds would be issued to companies like Kribhco and Iffco to compensate them for selling products at subsidised rates to farmers.

D-Street rally
IT investors richer by Rs 15,000 crore

Mumbai, November 14
The BSE IT index today recorded its second-highest one-day gain in the past one year and investors’ wealth in IT stocks rose by over Rs 15,000 crore.

Raja updates PM on telecom row
New Delhi, November 14
Communications minister A Raja today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and briefed him about the developments in the telecom sector, including recent policy decision like the introduction of number portability and releasing spectrum for third generation (3G) mobile services.

Portability not to affect margins: Sunil Mittal
New Delhi, November 14
Bharti Airtel today said introduction of mobile number portability is unlikely to affect the company’s margins as it expects a major churn out of subscribers in favour of GSM operators. “It will not affect our margins... we are hopeful that the margins will increase as Bharti’s network would attract high value customers from CDMA network,” Bharti Airtel CMD Sunil Bharti Mittal said.

Tech Mahindra enters IT park
Chandigarh, November 14
Tech Mahindra has chosen the city as centre for expanding its operations in the northern region.

Export of high grade iron ore dips
New Delhi, November 14
Amid growing demand to ban export of precious iron ore from India, the government today maintained that a small beginning on conservation is already visible with 23 per cent fall in the export of high grade iron ore in the first half of current financial year.


The painting, ‘Liz’ by Andy Warhol, sold for $23.5 million after premium during Christie’s bi-annual post-war and contemporary art sale in New York
The painting, ‘Liz’ by Andy Warhol, sold for $23.5 million after premium during Christie’s bi-annual post-war and contemporary art sale in New York on Tuesday. Christie’s sale reached a total of $325 million from an estimate of $242-338 million. — AFP




 

World oil rebounds in Asia
Singapore, November 14
World oil traded higher in Asia today in a technical rebound after heavy falls sparked by forecasts of lower global demand, dealers said.

SpiceJet to hike fares
New Delhi, November 14
SpiceJet today said it will increase fares by five to seven per cent in the next six months to meet rising fuel costs and ensure that it breaks even by the end of this fiscal.

Inducts Boeing 737-900 ER
New Delhi, November 14
SpiceJet today earned itself the distinction of being the only domestic airliner to procure 212-seater Boeing 737-900 ER aircraft, the latest in the 737 series.

‘BSNL services not up to mark’
People standing in a queue to pay their telephone bills in Jammu. Jammu, November14
While Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) claims to have attained complete customer satisfaction throughout the country, the BSNL subscribers in Jammu and Kashmir are not content with the quality of services provided by the company.



People standing in a queue to pay their telephone bills in Jammu.

Healthcare revolution waiting to happen: Nath
New Delhi, November 14
Pointing that a healthcare revolution is waiting to happen in the country, union commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath today stressed on public-private partnerships (PPP) to build new infrastructure in healthcare.

RCom contest for rural mobile applications
Chandigarh, November 14
Reliance Communications has announced the launch of a nation-wide contest for developing rural mobile applications. Conducted under the aegis of the Reliance developer programme, the contest aims to acknowledge and encourage outstanding young talent in the area of mobile applications development in India. 

Dutch court dismisses Nokia patent case
Amsterdam, November 14
A Dutch court dismissed a patent complaint by Nokia against chip supplier Qualcomm Inc on Wednesday.

Video
Microsoft elbows out Infosys.
(56k)

 

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Vijay Kelkar to head 13th Finance Commission 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 14
Former union finance secretary and adviser to the finance minister Vijay L Kelkar has been appointed as the chairperson of the the 13th Finance Commission, which was constituted by President Pratibha Patil today.

While B K Chaturvedi, member of Planning Commission will be part-time member of the commission; Indira Rajaraman, emeritus professor, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy; Abusaleh Shariff, chief economist, National Council of Applied Economic Research; and Atul Sarma, former vice-chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi University (formerly Arunachal University) shall be the full-time members, an official statement said here today.

Sumit Bose will be secretary to the commission.

The Finance Commission is a constitutional body set up every five years to make recommendations relating to the distribution of the net proceeds of taxes between the union and the states, the principles which should govern grants-in-aid of revenues of the states out of the consolidated fund of India and measures needed to augment the consolidated fund of a state to supplement the resources of the panchayats and the municipalities.

In addition, any other matter may be referred to the commission by the President in the interests of sound finance.

Apart from the terms of reference specifically laid down in the Constitution, the 13th Finance Commission will review the state of finances of the union and the states keeping in view the operation of the States’ Debt Consolidation and Relief Facility, 2005-2010 and suggest measures for maintaining a stable and sustainable fiscal environment consistent with equitable growth.

The commission will also review the present arrangements as regards financing of disaster management with reference to the National Calamity Contingency Fund and the Calamity Relief Fund and the funds envisaged in the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

These relate to assessment of the resources of the Centre and the state for the five-year period, taxation efforts and the potential of additional revenue mobilisation, demands on the resources of the government, requirement of states to meet the non-salary component of maintenance expenditure on capital assets and plan schemes, the objective of not only balancing receipts and expenditure but also generating surpluses, and the need to ensure commercial viability of irrigation and power projects, departmental undertakings and public sector enterprises through various means including levy of user charges and adoption of measures to promote efficiency.

It will also take into consideration the likely impact of the proposed implementation of the Goods and Services Act (GST) with effect from April 1, 2010, including its impact on foreign trade. The commission has also been asked to consider the need to improve the quality of public expenditure to obtain better outputs and outcomes. The need to manage ecology, environment and climate change consistent with sustainable development, which is an issue of national concern, will also be taken into account by it.

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Rs 7,500-cr fertiliser bonds by November
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 14
The government would issue bonds worth Rs 7,500 crore to fertiliser companies by November end this year against the subsidy bill, which has touched a whopping Rs 48,000 crore. The bonds would be issued to companies like Kribhco and Iffco to compensate them for selling products at subsidised rates to farmers.

The government also said the policy on nutrient-based subsidy on fertilisers is expected to come by the end of this year, which it maintained would benefit more farmers.

“The fertiliser subsidy has increased from Rs 11,835 crore in 2003-04 to Rs 39,191 crore in 2007-08. If we include the arrears of last year, it would go up over Rs 47,000 crore,” chemicals and fertilisers minister Ram Vilas Paswan said while addressing the Economic Editors' conference here today.

Asserting that the government has already met maximum demand of fertiliser subsidy bill, Paswan said: “Out of Rs 47,000 crore fertiliser subsidy, about Rs 37,000 crore have already been approved while the remaining Rs 10,000 crore will be cleared in the second supplementary (grants for the ministry),” he said.

Fertiliser secretary J S Sarma informed that on the issue of bonds, the ministry was in consultation with the finance ministry to determine the terms of bond.

On nutrient-based subsidy on fertilisers, Paswan said consensus has been evolved and the policy is expected to come by the end of 2007.

Allaying fears that the new policy would lead to difficulties for farmers, the minister said the nutrient-based subsidy policy would allow other nutrients to receive subsidy besides the NPK available in urea, DAP and MOP.

“In fact, the subsidy bill will go up by Rs 1,200 crore, but farmers will be benefited,” he said.

“The nutrients like sulphur and zinc are not getting subsidy, which is leading to degradation of soil," he said.

To ensure effective delivery of fertiliser subsidy, Paswan said from next fiscal the subsidy will be linked to availability of fertilisers at block level instead of at the district level at present.

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D-Street rally
IT investors richer by Rs 15,000 crore

Mumbai, November 14
The BSE IT index today recorded its second-highest one-day gain in the past one year and investors’ wealth in IT stocks rose by over Rs 15,000 crore.

Riding alongside the fastest ever single-day rally on the Sensex, the IT index rose by 4.5 per cent - second biggest after a 4.9 per cent rise on March 6, 2007.

The index has been on a downslide for the past seven trading sessions and has gained marginally only on seven occasions in the past one month.

Following a gain of about $4 billion today, the total market cap of all the IT companies rose to $91 billion. But it is still over $10 billion away from a peak of $103 billion seen on February 19.

IT stocks, the star performers till a few years ago, have been battered hard on the bourses in the past one year with a sharp appreciation in rupee against the US dollar and other foreign currencies eating into their profits.

Such has been the downslide in IT stocks that not a single IT company appears in the list of 10 most valued firms in the country at present. Till a few months ago, at least three firms — Infosys, TCS and Wipro — were on the list.

Besides, Wipro used to be the country's most valued firm at one point of time and was the first company to strike a market cap of over Rs 2 trillion during the IT boom early this decade. — PTI

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Raja updates PM on telecom row

New Delhi, November 14
Communications minister A Raja today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and briefed him about the developments in the telecom sector, including recent policy decision like the introduction of number portability and releasing spectrum for third generation (3G) mobile services.

The meeting comes in the wake of the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), a lobby of existing GSM players, labelling serious allegations against the minister saying the decision regarding use of dual technology has been taken in a completely non-transparent manner.

Raja had, last week, informed the Prime Minister that the COAI was misleading the nation against the “scientific approach” on spectrum allocation. The sector has been witnessing various controversies over the use of dual technology by a single operator and new method of spectrum allocation, even as the government has set up a fresh panel to revisit telecom engineering centre's recommendations on spectrum issues.

Both the issues have been challenged by the COAI in telecom tribunal TDSAT.

Some COAI members have sought Prime Minister’s intervention to protect their interests, while CDMA players and the new applicants have accused GSM lobby of being anti-competition.

Raja also announced a major policy decision on releasing spectrum for 3G mobile services throwing the segment open for competition from private and foreign players subject to security clearances.

GSM players have also opposed the decision to introduce number portability. The COAI has accused the government of favouring a particular operator wanting to enter their turf, while CDMA operator Reliance Communications asked these companies to gear up to face “real competition”. — PTI

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Portability not to affect margins: Sunil Mittal

New Delhi, November 14
Bharti Airtel today said introduction of mobile number portability is unlikely to affect the company’s margins as it expects a major churn out of subscribers in favour of GSM operators. “It will not affect our margins... we are hopeful that the margins will increase as Bharti’s network would attract high value customers from CDMA network,” Bharti Airtel CMD Sunil Bharti Mittal said.

Mittal added: “It should be introduced in all the circles simultaneously not only in four metros... fixed line services should also be included in it.”

On the issue of auctioning of 3G spectrum, Mittal said: “We are in favour of auctioning of 3G spectrum but there should not be any artificial scarcity of spectrum.” — PTI

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Tech Mahindra enters IT park
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 14
Tech Mahindra has chosen the city as centre for expanding its operations in the northern region.

Chairman, Mahindra and Mahindra, Keshub Mahindra, said the city had been chosen because of its rapidly developing infrastructure, IT-friendly policies and access to a pool of high quality software professionals from the region.

He said the economic growth must go hand in hand with social development and emphasised the need of human values in business philosophy. He said the Mahindra Group has always focused on creating an education epicenter within the city. He assured that the group will continue in its endeavours in close coordination with the administration.

As part of its decision, the group today announced to invest Rs 200 crore in creating a state of the art software development centre in the IT park. The foundations stone of the integrated centre was today laid by the UT Administrator, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd).

Vineet Nayyar, vice-chairman and CEO, Tech Mahindra, said at present 650 persons had been employed at a centre being run on rented accommodation in DLF building in the park. The new state-of-the-art campus, which will seat 2,500 professionals in the first phase, and 5,000 when fully complete, offers video conferencing facilities, training centres, food courts, an amphitheatre, recreation facilities, a swimming pool, a gymnasium and a sports complex for it’s employees.

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Export of high grade iron ore dips
S Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 14
Amid growing demand to ban export of precious iron ore from India, the government today maintained that a small beginning on conservation is already visible with 23 per cent fall in the export of high grade iron ore in the first half of current financial year.

“There has been a fall of 23 per cent in the export of 62 plus iron ore grade during April to September 2007. This shows that a small beginning on conservation has already been made,” steel secretary R S Pandey told The Tribune.

He said as against an export of 194 lakh tonnes of high grade iron ore from India during H1 of 2006-07, the export had been only 149 lakh tonnes during H1 of current financial year.

The overall drop in export has been three per cent during H1 of 2007-08 (370 lakh tonnes) as compared to the corresponding period last year (382 lakh tonnes), he added.

Earlier, addressing the conference, steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan said his ministry has already proposed that export of iron ore from India should be allowed only after meeting domestic need. “The proposal is pending before the Group of Ministers (GoM),” he said.

The statement of the government comes at a time when steel manufacturers have demanded that India’s urge to export iron ore should be tempered by the economic benefits of converting it into steel at home and the domestic need for resource caused by the country’s own graduation to being a big steel consumer.

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World oil rebounds in Asia

Singapore, November 14
World oil traded higher in Asia today in a technical rebound after heavy falls sparked by forecasts of lower global demand, dealers said.

In morning trade, New York’s main futures contract, light sweet crude for December delivery, was 31 cents higher at $91.48 a barrel.

The contract slumped by $3.45 to close down at $91.17 per barrel in New York trades yesterday, well below a historic peak of $98.62 reached last week. Brent North Sea Crude for December delivery was 16 cents higher at $88.99 a barrel after tumbling $3.15 in London yesterday, to $88.83 per barrel.

Recent spikes in world oil prices could be losing momentum as demand declines and output from the OPEC producers’ cartel picks up, the International Energy Agency predicted yesterday.

It cited weaker economic activity in the USA and pointed to an increase of 410,000 barrels a day in OPEC output in October. — AFP

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Inducts Boeing 737-900 ER

New Delhi, November 14
SpiceJet today earned itself the distinction of being the only domestic airliner to procure 212-seater Boeing 737-900 ER aircraft, the latest in the 737 series.

The airline, which is on an expansion mode, would induct four more such aircraft by September 2008, SpiceJet director Ajay Singh said here.

“The first Boeing would initially be deployed on our existing Delhi-Goa-Mumbai route,” he said. SpiceJet executive chairman Siddhanta Sharma said the new Boeing series had been bought keeping the long-term benefits in mind.

"The plane consumes more or less the same fuel like any in its category. But the extra 23 seats that this flight offers would mean an increase in revenue in the same sector. Moreover, we would like to offer more flights in the sectors that we currently operate helping resolve slot constraints," he added. — PTI

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‘BSNL services not up to mark’
Tejinder Singh Sodhi
Tribune News Service

Jammu, November14
While Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) claims to have attained complete customer satisfaction throughout the country, the BSNL subscribers in Jammu and Kashmir are not content with the quality of services provided by the company.

BSNL became the first telecom service provider in the state to start the much-awaited mobile service five years ago, but subscribers here are unhappy with the quality of services provided to them.

“Be it the landline, mobile or internet, BSNL has failed to be up to the expectations of its subscribers.” said Pyare lal, a subscriber of the company, adding “BSNL’s interconnectivity is the worst as it seldom connects to the mobile phones of other networks, also the intra-connectivity of BSNL network is not reliable.”

Long queues of people can be seen outside the bill payments counters of the company and they blame that the company is harassing them by not opening more counters.

“If you have to pay your bills, then you have to spend one whole day waiting for your turn outside the counter,” Ashok Kumar, a resident, said while waiting in a queue outside a bill payment counter in Jammu.

Being first mobile and the only landline service provider in the state, BSNL enjoys the major chunk of customer-base in the state.

Though two private service providers Airtel and Aircel have also entered into the telecom market with their mobile service, their market share is less compared to that of BSNL.

No BSNL official was available for comment as repeated attempts of The Tribune to contact them proved futile.

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Healthcare revolution waiting to happen: Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 14
Pointing that a healthcare revolution is waiting to happen in the country, union commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath today stressed on public-private partnerships (PPP) to build new infrastructure in healthcare.

“It assumes high priority for all the stakeholders with the sheer number of people requiring healthcare facilities,” Nath said addressing the plenary session on “Empowering India’s healthcare infrastructure - Strategic investment and partnership,” organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) along with India Healthcare Foundation here.

He said India is not short of funds with many global investors waiting to invest in the country. What is needed is a platform or a forum to channelise these investments.

He urged the Services Export Promotion Council to include healthcare and medical tourism in its ambit and initiate an interface with the government to work out a private-public partnership model to fund healthcare infrastructure.

Nath also launched the Brand Healthcare film, which offers a view of the changing face of Indian healthcare and the opportunity it represents both within the country and abroad.

Technopak Advisors prepared a study ‘Transforming Indian healthcare - Agenda for action’ on behalf of CII. Presenting an overview on the infrastructure challenges that needs to be addressed, Technopak chairperson Arvind Singhal, said the greatest challenge was facilitating capital formation of $100 billion over the next 20 years, at the rate of about $50 billion per year. 

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RCom contest for rural mobile applications
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 14
Reliance Communications has announced the launch of a nation-wide contest for developing rural mobile applications. Conducted under the aegis of the Reliance developer programme, the contest aims to acknowledge and encourage outstanding young talent in the area of mobile applications development in India. The award winning applications will be deployed on its Reliance Mobile World platform and interactive voice services portal. Also, for the first time mobile applications will be developed for both GSM and CDMA technology and Interactive Services Voice Portal. Applications can be submitted for WAP, Java, Reliance Java, Brew, Brew Lite, Symbian and VoxML environments.

Mahesh Prasad, president (applications, solutions and content group) said: “As we embark on our objective of covering over 600,000 villages by March 2008, there will be a huge market for rural applications. This initiative of ours will help us create a databank of exciting applications relevant in the rural context.” 

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Dutch court dismisses Nokia patent case

Amsterdam, November 14
A Dutch court dismissed a patent complaint by Nokia against chip supplier Qualcomm Inc on Wednesday.

Nokia and Qualcomm have been in a legal dispute after part of a licensing deal over technology patents expired on April 9, with complaints filed in the USA, Germany and the Netherlands.

The court dismissed the case based on the scope of claims that Nokia had asked, rather than the patent issue itself, Nokia said in a statement.

Nokia filed the suits to protest Qualcomm’s practice of charging first rival chipmakers, who use its technology and then also their end clients like Nokia. A German court had dismissed Nokia’s case against Qualcomm last month. — Reuters

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SpiceJet to hike fares

New Delhi, November 14
SpiceJet today said it will increase fares by five to seven per cent in the next six months to meet rising fuel costs and ensure that it breaks even by the end of this fiscal.

“The fuel prices are at an all time high and airlines cannot continue running on losses. The increase in prices would be across board,” Siddhanta Sharma, executive chairman, SpiceJet, said.

“We are on track to break even but rising fuel prices continue to worry,” Sharma said, adding with this fare hike, the company expects to break even by the end of this fiscal.

He added that due to peak season demand, this quarter would see an average yield per seat going up by Rs 200-300.

SpiceJet also asked the government to establish a level playing field for all carriers vis-a-vis international sectors by lowering down the flying years from the existing norm of five years. — PTI

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