SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Inflation rises to 3.11 per cent
New Delhi, November 16 
Spurt in prices of some of the manufactured items have pushed up the inflation to 3.11 per cent for the week ended November 3 as against the 2.97 per cent previous week.

Gems, jewellery exports in H1 up 21.5
pc: RBI
New Delhi, November 16 
Country’s gems and jewellery exports have risen 21.5 per cent to $9.38 billion in the first six months of the current fiscal as against $8.01 billion in the corresponding period last year. At a time when the Indian exporting community is feeling the heat of rupee appreciation, gems and jewellery export, that recorded a poor growth of 2.7 per cent in 2006-07, is witnessing a turnaround.

ONGC-Mittal block in Nigeria under scanner?
Riyadh, November 16 
Nigeria's new government is reviewing award of oil blocks in last couple of years after it received complaints of irregularities in their allotments, with some quarters expressing apprehensions that the licences won by India's ONGC-Mittal combine may also be under scanner.

 

A portrait of Kitty Fisher by artist Sir Joshua Reynolds is viewed at Sotheby's auctioneers in London ahead of its sale on Friday. The painting is estimated to fetch £2 million to 3£ million.
A portrait of Kitty Fisher by artist Sir Joshua Reynolds is viewed at Sotheby's auctioneers in London ahead of its sale on Friday. The painting is estimated to fetch £2 million to 3£ million. — Reuters photo

TRAI issues norms on collection
of dues

New Delhi, November 16 
With a view to stop harassment of telecom users by operators while collecting dues, regulator TRAI today asked service providers to follow a transparent policy on mode of recovery of dues from their customers.

LNG Deal
Fresh contract on new terms: Iran 
Riyadh, November 16 
Iran’s oil minister Gholamhossein Nozari has blamed a “misunderstanding” for the fall of the $22-billion deal to export five million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India.

Craze for VIP cell Nos wanes
Chandigarh,November 16 
Cash-rich Punjabis' craze for the VIP mobile numbers seems to be waning. With a majority of the bidders backtracking from their bids, which they placed in the September auction of the VIP numbers by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited(BSNL), the issue of fake bids has raised its ugly head again sending the nigam top brass in tizzy.

UTI Mutual Fund 
Ahmedabad, November 16 
UTI Mutual Fund announced the launch of a new scheme ‘UTI-Infrastructure Advantage Fund-series I’ here today which closes on December 19. 

RCom bags award for mobile ad campaign
Chandigarh, November 16 
Reliance Communications mobile ad campaign ‘Fair & Lovely’ scholarship programme-2007 has been adjudged winner by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) Annual Global Awards jury at Los Angeles last night. 

Japan’s electronics giant Sony’s employee displays a new digital voice recorder ‘ICD-UX80’ and its colour variations, equipped with stereo micro phones and built-in 2GB memory, enabling it to record up to 581 hours, at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo on Friday. Sony will put it on the market from November 21.
Japan’s electronics giant Sony’s employee displays a new digital voice recorder ‘ICD-UX80’ and its colour variations, equipped with stereo micro phones and built-in 2GB memory, enabling it to record up to 581 hours, at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo on Friday. Sony will put it on the market from November 21. — AFP photo

Restriction on onion export withdrawn
New Delhi, November 16 
The government has withdrawn the ‘export licence’ restriction for overseas sale of onion, as the prices of commodity have started to soften in domestic market.

Bajaj Allianz launches CenturyPlus 
Shimla, November 16 
Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance sold 15,359 policies with a new business premium of Rs 25.48 crore during the current financial year so far.

Essar Oil to expand
Mumbai, November 16
Essar Oil Ltd today said it will invest Rs 24,000 crore ($6 billion) for expanding the capacity of its Vadinar refinery in Gujarat to 34 million tons by 2010.
Calls off delisting

Telecom panel meeting fails
To meet on Nov 26 and 30
New Delhi, November 16
The telecom panel, which met here today to formulate new spectrum allocation criteria norms, remained inconclusive and will meet again on November 26 and 30.

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Inflation rises to 3.11 per cent
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, November 16
Spurt in prices of some of the manufactured items have pushed up the inflation to 3.11 per cent for the week ended November 3 as against the 2.97 per cent previous week.

The headline inflation was 5.45 per cent in the corresponding week last year.

The inflation data pertains to a period immediately after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)further tightened money supply in its mid-term policy review.

Analysts said any interest rate cut by the RBI may not happen in the immediate future to spur demand despite low inflation because inflationary expectations are very high due to rising international crude and food prices.

The increase in inflation rate is also due to five per cent increase in prices of aviation turbine fuel (ATF). Due to continuous surge in the prices of crude in the international market, public sector oil companies have hiked prices of ATF eight times this year.

Crude oil price in the international market was $94 a barrel today. Among fuel, power light and lubricants category prices of ATF went up by five per cent, while that of furnace oil shot up by six per cent, Naphtha also went dearer by four per cent.

Manufactured items, which have highest weightage in the inflation index, rose by 0.2 per cent, according to official data released here today.

Among other categories, food prices showed a mixed trend. Prices of Moong went up by three per cent, fish-marine and eggs (two per cent), bajra (one per cent), while jowar got cheaper by 3 per cent, poultry chicken, fruits and vegetables (two per cent) and arhar (one per cent).

The government has revised the inflation figure to 3.46 per cent for the week ended September 8, against the provisional figure of 3.32 per cent, as the wholesale price index finally stood at 215 points as compared to earlier estimates of 214.7.

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Gems, jewellery exports in H1 up 21.5 pc: RBI

New Delhi, November 16
Country’s gems and jewellery exports have risen 21.5 per cent to $9.38 billion in the first six months of the current fiscal as against $8.01 billion in the corresponding period last year.

At a time when the Indian exporting community is feeling the heat of rupee appreciation, gems and jewellery export, that recorded a poor growth of 2.7 per cent in 2006-07, is witnessing a turnaround, said a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) analysis on the country's foreign trade.

According to the RBI, the rise in exports growth is fuelled by a strong demand from all all international quarters, especially Hong Kong and the USA.

It further said the supply-demand imbalance is primarily responsible for sudden spurt in gold prices all over.

The rupee appreciation of more than 10 per cent this fiscal, according to analysts, has also increased the competitiveness of gems and jewellery sector by making imports of raw materials like gold and uncut gems cheaper.

The World Gold Council (WGC) has pointed out that total gold supply for the second quarter of this year stood at 840 tons whereas the demand stood at 944 tons.

“Global demand for gold jewellery showed the strongest surge, reaching $14.5 billion in Q2 2007, a 37 per cent increase over Q2 2006...,” added WGC.

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ONGC-Mittal block in Nigeria under scanner?

Riyadh, November 16
Nigeria's new government is reviewing award of oil blocks in last couple of years after it received complaints of irregularities in their allotments, with some quarters expressing apprehensions that the licences won by India's ONGC-Mittal combine may also be under scanner.

"We are reviewing award of blocks by the previous government... There were complaints about the procedure used in award of some of the blocks and we are now investigating that," Nigeria's minister of state for energy (Petroleum) Odein Ajumogobia said on the sidelines of OPEC Summit here.

Although the identities of the blocks as well as the awardees are not immediately known, industry sources said some domestic and foreign entities that obtained licences to explore oil in the energy-rich African nation through 'back door' may end up losing them.

"I dont remember if the (two) blocks awarded to ONGC-Mittal (combine) is also under review," Ajumogobia said when asked if ONGC Mittal Energy Ltd's (OMEL) Block 285 and 279 were under scanner.

OMEL, an equal joint venture of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and steel baron Lakshmi N Mittal, had in 2005 won rights to explore in OPL 279 and OPL 285 after committing to invest $6 billion in a 1,80,000-barrels per day greenfield refinery, a 2,000-MW power plant and a railway line from East to the West of Nigeria.

OMEL paid a signature bonus of $50 million for OPL 285 and $75 million for OPL 279.

In a subsequent licencing round, which happened just before elections that saw a new government, OMEL was given preferential bidding rights for yet another block (OPL 250) but it did not submit any bid.

Preferential bidding rights are kind of first right of refusal where the company can match the highest bid for the block and bag the exploration acreage.

Mittal, sources close to the steel baron say, is not keen on taking more exploration acreage in Nigeria. Foreseeing a change in the government in Nigeria, he decided to limit his exposure in the African state. — PTI

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TRAI issues norms on collection of dues

New Delhi, November 16
With a view to stop harassment of telecom users by operators while collecting dues, regulator TRAI today asked service providers to follow a transparent policy on mode of recovery of dues from their customers.

The regulator issued guidelines to service providers prescribing code of conduct for outsourcing agencies engaged by them for collecting dues.

It also asked them to set up an effective complaint handling mechanism.

The service provider has to ensure that outsourcing arrangement to an agency does not absolve them of their responsibility to fulfil their obligation to consumers and it should not affect the rights of consumers against service provider, TRAI said.

It added that the norms were necessitated after it receiving complaints from consumers about the procedures being adopted by service providers for collection of outstanding dues.

The service provider would have to inform users about their dues before giving case to an outsourced agency.

Appropriate provisions should be made in the agreements with outsourcing agencies to ensure that individuals with criminal background are not engaged as employees of the agency. — PTI

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LNG Deal
Fresh contract on new terms: Iran 

Riyadh, November 16
Iran’s oil minister Gholamhossein Nozari has blamed a “misunderstanding” for the fall of the $22-billion deal to export five million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India.

“I think there was a misunderstanding of the procedure followed for approval of such deals,” he said.

After National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) signed a sale-purchase agreement (SPA) with a consortium of Gail India, Indian Oil and Bharat Petroleum for export of five million tons a year of LNG on June 13, 2005 in Tehran, the contract was to be vetted by NIGEC’s parent company, National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), he said.

“It was mentioned that the contract will need approval of NIOC for the SPA to become effective,” said Nozari, who was managing director of NIOC prior to being appointed the oil minister by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Though the Iranian minister did not say the deal was dead, one of his aides said Tehran was considering the deal closed. “If you (India) want LNG, it has to be on a new contract on new terms (price),” the aide added.

The June 2005, LNG deal was signed by the previous government and after Ahmadinejad took over, Tehran sought review of price and delayed NIOC board approval. India, on the other hand, sought legal opinion on enforceability of the SPA.

Nozari refused any comments on the issue. Iran had in June 2005 agreed to sell LNG to India at $3.215 per mBtu but subsequently demanded at least $4.775 per mBtu in view of a sharp rise in oil prices.

India wants Iran to honour the contract at the June 2005 prices and has stated it is willing to pay the higher price for an additional 2.5 million tons of the fuel. — PTI

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Craze for VIP cell Nos wanes
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh,November 16
Cash-rich Punjabis' craze for the VIP mobile numbers seems to be waning. With a majority of the bidders backtracking from their bids, which they placed in the September auction of the VIP numbers by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited(BSNL), the issue of fake bids has raised its ugly head again sending the nigam top brass in tizzy.

In fact, the number ending with 00001 in the series 94640 series has finally fetched a modest amount of Rs 50,000.The same number fetched a whopping Rs 7.5 lakh after 00005 number(Rs 9 lakh) and 00018,which was a close second at Rs 8.5 lakh.

However, now the bidders were developing cold feet citing such reasons that the bids were placed by them or their children inadvertently, BSNL sources informed here today.

Not to talk of bids running into lakhs of rupees, the highest bid was of Rs 70,000 now.While 94644-44444 number has received a bid of Rs 44,000 the other much-sought after number 94640-00000 could fetch an amount of Rs 30,000 only.

The Punjab circle of the BSNL had come out with a special scheme to auction VIP and vanity numbers of its two new mobile series-94640 and 94641-on September 6. Introduced for the first time in the country, the scheme was apparently started to discourage the influential people from lobbying for the fancy mobile numbers, besides bringing money for the public sector undertaking.

In the wake of the fake bids, the BSNL had decided to shortlist three persons for a particular number to streamline the system of allotment of the VIP numbers.The system, it seems, failed to curb the menace of fake bids, the sources added.

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UTI Mutual Fund 

Ahmedabad, November 16
UTI Mutual Fund announced the launch of a new scheme ‘UTI-Infrastructure Advantage Fund-series I’ here today which closes on December 19. 

UTI-AMC fund manager Gautami Desai said the scheme is a three-year close-ended equity scheme with an investment objective in equity/equity related instruments of companies engaged either directly or indirectly in the infrastructure growth of the Indian economy. — UNI 

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RCom bags award for mobile ad campaign
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Reliance Communications mobile ad campaign ‘Fair & Lovely’ scholarship programme-2007 has been adjudged winner by the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) Annual Global Awards jury at Los Angeles last night. 

The innovative mobile ad campaign has been voted as the ‘Best use of mobile marketing’ in direct response category. This is also the first time that a scholarship programme has been advertised on a mobile platform.

The ‘Fair & Lovely’ scholarship programme-2007, advertised on Reliance Mobile World (R World) during August 14- September 17, received tremendous response as over 45,000 women applied for the scholarships.

MMA, US-based representative of mobile marketing industry, currently has more than 450 member companies, representing over 40 countries from across the mobile marketing value chain . 

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Restriction on onion export withdrawn

New Delhi, November 16
The government has withdrawn the ‘export licence’ restriction for overseas sale of onion, as the prices of commodity have started to soften in domestic market.

The director general of foreign trade (DGFT) has notified that the export of onions could be undertaken after getting the no-objection certificate from Nafed and 12 other state trading agencies (STEs).

The DGFT on October 15 had made it mandatory for exporters to get a licence from it before undertaking export of onions following soaring prices in domestic market. This was in addition to the no-objection certificate through which onions are exported.

The government also raised the export prices of onion to bring down the domestic prices.

The decision to regulate overseas sale coupled with hike in the minimum export price (MEP) had resulted in a sharp decline in the onion exports during October.

Onion exports have plummeted by 44 per cent during last month to 22,500 tonne compared to 40,490 tonne in the previous month.

“Literally, there was no export taking place after the licence norm was introduced. Only those who had no-objection certificates procured earlier were sending the consignments," a trader said.

Meanwhile, Nafed has written to the 12 other notified agencies, who also issue the no-objection certificate, to communicate their views regarding MEP.

Nafed along with the 12 agencies decide every month the MEP of onion. — PTI

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Bajaj Allianz launches CenturyPlus 
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 16
Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance sold 15,359 policies with a new business premium of Rs 25.48 crore during the current financial year so far.

This was stated by zonal manager of the company Manoranjan Sahoo here today while announcing the launch of new CenturyPlus, a unit-linked investment plan. He said last year over 10,000 policies were sold in the state with new business premium of Rs 21.07 crore. He added that the hill state had a huge potential for insurance business, for which the company had increased the number of offices from 12 to 15.

Referring to the new plan, he said the product was designed to provide high allocation, flexibility and continued participation in investments. It was for the first time that the loyalty bonus was being offered to customers, which would enhance the investor’s fund value. In case of default in payment of premium, the policy could be revived even after a gap of up to four years. Further, even if the policy lapsed, the fund would continue to grow. 

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Essar Oil to expand

Mumbai, November 16
Essar Oil Ltd today said it will invest Rs 24,000 crore ($6 billion) for expanding the capacity of its Vadinar refinery in Gujarat to 34 million tons by 2010.

The company would also raise about Rs 8,000 crore ($2 billion) through an issue of global depository shares to promoters on a preferential basis, it informed the BSE.

The funds would be raised to part-finance the refinery expansion project and refinance existing debt among other purposes. The refinery’s current capacity is 10.5 million tons a year, set up at a cost of Rs 12,000 crore. —PTI

Calls off delisting

New Delhi, November 16
The board of Essar Oil Ltd today said the promoters of the company no longer intend to proceed with the delisting of equity shares from the Indian Stock Exchanges. 

It had decided to quit the bourses in January and delist Essar Oil Ltd from both the BSE and the NSE. 

The company had look to delist in what it had said will offer greater flexibility in the operations and management of the company, enhance efficiencies and at the same time provide an exit opportunity for the shareholders. — UNI 

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Telecom panel meeting fails
To meet on Nov 26 and 30

New Delhi, November 16
The telecom panel, which met here today to formulate new spectrum allocation criteria norms, remained inconclusive and will meet again on November 26 and 30.

The new committee set up had been assigned to review the recent report of the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC), which had proposed tightening of existing norms by 7 - 14 times.

''The meeting remained inconclusive and we are going to meet again on November 26 and 30 to discuss the issue,'' GSM-lobby Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) director-general T V Ramachandran told reporters here.

The committee is being headed by R Bandopadhyay, additional secretary, telecom. The other members are P K Garg (wireless advisor, telecom ministry), Vijay Madan (executive director, C-DOT), Bhaskar Ramamurthy (IIT-Chennai), Ajitkumar Chathurvedi (IIT-Kanpur) and A K Srivastava (DoT).

A representative each from the COAI and the Association of Unified Service Providers of India (CDMA body) is also in the committee.

Meanwhile, the telecom tribunal TDSAT has directed the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) not to issue fresh letters of intent (LoIs) for spectrum allocation till December 12, the next date of hearing on a petition filed by COAI. — UNI 

 



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