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Enough spectrum for new entrants: DoT
New Delhi, November 19
In what could dent GSM operators claims about spectrum availability and its allocation but vindicate the communication minister's views on them, the Department of Telecom today said nearly 65 Mhz of frequency would be available for allotment to new and existing players.

Empowered panel to take up report on
GST soon

New Delhi, November 19
The finance ministry will present the working group report on the guidelines of the movement towards goods & services tax to the empowered committee of state finance ministers soon, Prathasarathi Shome, adviser to the union finance minister, said here today.

Tax collection grows by 43 pc
New Delhi, November 19
The direct tax collection recorded a growth of over 42.9 per cent for the period April 1, 2007 to November 15, 2007, which stood at Rs 1,40,373 crore as against Rs 98,216 crore during the same period last fiscal.

Gautier set to enter India
Plans first store by year-end
New Delhi, November 19
Seeing a good potential in the burgeoning Indian retail industry, French conglomerate Gautier — one of the best-known furniture brands in the world is all set to enter the Indian market.

Asean Import Market
Indo-China gap widening: Ficci
New Delhi, November 19
The current share of India in Asean global imports is not only minuscule, more importantly the fast-growing share of China is over seven times that of India, revealed a Ficci study on India-Asean bilateral trade.




Zipping in from Thialand!
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EARLIER STORIES

 
A pedestrian walks past Christmas tree along Orchard road in Singapore
A pedestrian walks past Christmas tree along Orchard road in Singapore on Monday. Singapore raised 2007 growth targets to 7.5-8 per cent from 7-8 percent after the economy grew at a faster pace in the third quarter on the back of a strong performance in the financial and construction sectors.
— AFP

Indians most affluent in Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley, November 19
Indians in Santa Clara County, home of the Silicon Valley, have the highest median household income, own the most valuable homes, and are the best educated, according to a latest Census report.

RCom’s plea against COAI rejected
New Delhi, November 19
Telecom tribunal TDSAT today rejected a contempt application filed by Anil Ambani group company Reliance Communications (RCom) against the Cellular Operators Association of India, for allegedly taking the legal battle on spectrum for a media trial.

Talwandi Sabo Project
Reliance Power, L&T among bidders
New Delhi, November 19
Reliance Power, Larsen and Toubro and Lanco Infratech are among the 10 companies that have bid for setting up the 2,000 MW coal-based thermal power project at Talwandi Sabo in Punjab.

SIDBI pact for green technologies in SMEs
Chandigarh, November 19
Small Industries Development Bank of India today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ludhiana Hand Tools and Forging Envirocare Pvt. Ltd. The latter is a special purpose vehicle floated by small and medium enterprises units in Ludhiana’s steel forging cluster and is a part of SIDBI’s vision to enable SMEs embrace green technologies and facilitate environmental protection.

First South Asian bank opens on Long Island
New York, November 19
The first South Asian bank serving the ethnic community has opened in Long Island, an upscale suburb of New York. Habib American Bank opened its sixth branch on Saturday in Hicksville, which has a sizeable South Asian community.

Virgin to foray into mobile market
New Delhi, November 19
British billionaire and chairman of diversified Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson today said the company will foray into the Indian mobile telephony business along with a local partner very soon.

DLF gets Rs 1,675-cr PE investment
Chandigarh, November 19
Real estate major, DLF has announced that the company has attracted participation of private equity (PE) real estate funds in its township projects by diluting 49 per cent stake at a premium, in seven residential projects to Merrill Lynch & Co entity for a consideration of Rs 1,481 crore.





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Enough spectrum for new entrants: DoT

New Delhi, November 19
In what could dent GSM operators claims about spectrum availability and its allocation but vindicate the communication minister's views on them, the Department of Telecom today said nearly 65 Mhz of frequency would be available for allotment to new and existing players.

DoT has earmarked 100 MHz for existing 2G mobile services. Out of this, so far a maximum of about 35 to 40 MHz per circle has been allotted to different operators and it is being used by them to provide services to about 250 million subscribers, a departmental note said.

"The remaining 60 to 65 MHz, including spectrum likely to be vacated by Defence Services, is still available for 2G services," DoT said in the paper.

Therefore, there is enough scope for allotment of spectrum to few new operators even after meeting the requirements of existing operators and licencees.

An increase in number of operators would certainly bring real competition which would lead to better services and lower tariffs, DoT said, adding that "with four more new players coming in... the mobile tariffs may fall by over 50 per cent from the current level."

Assuming the existing efficiency level of spectrum, DoT is of the view that operators can easily provide services to about 750 million subscribers with 100 MHz earmarked for 2G services.

This would seriously dent the stand of existing GSM operators' lobby COAI that inviting more operators would destabilise the business of existing players.

"This number (750 million) can be substantially increased with more efficient use of spectrum through increased and real competition," the DoT said.

The DoT said with the present pace of seven million mobile user additions per month and spectrum efficiency, it would take about six years for saturation of 2G spectrum.

Apart from this, a large number of subscribers would be added with the launch of 3G services in 2008, it said.

On the issue of auction of 2G spectrum, the Department said it was considered by telecom regulator TRAI and the Telecom Commission, but was not recommended as the existing licence holders, who already have 10MHz of spectrum per circle, have got it for free. — PTI

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Empowered panel to take up report on GST soon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
The finance ministry will present the working group report on the guidelines of the movement towards goods & services tax (GST) to the empowered committee of state finance ministers soon, Prathasarathi Shome, adviser to the union finance minister, said here today.

“The overall structure of the recommendations for the empowered committee have been finalised. These will be taken up for discussion when the committee meets for two days on November 28 and 29,” Shome said.

He was speaking at the inaugural session of the two-day international tax conference on ‘International taxation: A paradigm shift’ organised by Ficci in association with OECD and International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD) here.

Shome said the movement towards GST by 2010 was apace and it was now for the political leaders to examine the recommendations and put them out for a wider public discussion. He, however, reminded the delegates to the conference that a holistic view of the GST needs to be taken by the stakeholders, not just how their immediate business interests would be affected.

He underlined the need for a strategic partnership between the taxpayers and the government so that a co-operative spirit prevails with regard to tax levy and compliance.

He held out the assurance that the finance ministry would look into provisions of Section 195 under which any sum payable to a non-resident and chargeable to tax is subject to a withholding tax by the payer.

Under Section 195, though, the deductor or recipient can apply for a lower/nil rate, delays occur in the issuance of such certificates.

Ficci secretary general Amit Mitra had earlier suggested providing an option to the deductor to remit 80 per cent of the amount sought to be remitted and to furnish a certificate from the bank for holding 20 per cent of the balance amount as ‘good for payment’ towards the tax liability, which may be paid later to the extent ultimately determined payable.

Chairperson of Ficci taxation committee Pradeep Dinodia stressed the need for a mindset change on the part of the Revenue Department officials to create an environment of faith, trust and transparency.

Co-chairperson of the taxation committee and national tax director of Ernst and Young Gaurav Taneja spoke of the imperative need to overcome the adversarial positions taken by the assessment authorities and the tax payers and called for creation of a climate of certainty in taxation through guidance to tax payers and timely issuance of administrative circulars.

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Tax collection grows by 43 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
The direct tax collection recorded a growth of over 42.9 per cent for the period April 1, 2007 to November 15, 2007, which stood at Rs 1,40,373 crore as against Rs 98,216 crore during the same period last fiscal.

With net collection of Rs 1,40,373 crore, over 52 per cent of the budgeted direct tax target of Rs 2,67,490 crore stands already achieved.

Corporate tax registered a growth of 45.74 per cent at Rs 83,934 crore, up from Rs 57,593 crore during the previous fiscal, while Personal Income Tax (including FBT, STT and BCTT) grew by 39.96 per cent at Rs 56,212 crore, up from Rs 40,453 crore.

Growth in Securities Transaction Tax (STT) was 69.37 per cent (Rs 4,924 crore against Rs 2,908 crore) and Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) was 27.11 per cent (Rs 3,078 crore against Rs 2,422 crore). Banking Cash Transaction Tax (BTT) grew by 16.99 per cent, according to official data released here today.

Tax deduction/collection at source increased by over 50 per cent, while self-assessment tax (paid voluntarily before submission of tax return) increased by 89.3 per cent, indicating continued improvement in tax administration and tax compliance levels.

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Gautier set to enter India
Plans first store by year-end
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
Seeing a good potential in the burgeoning Indian retail industry, French conglomerate Gautier — one of the best-known furniture brands in the world is all set to enter the Indian market.

Gautier is looking for a partnership and is engaged in talks with some leading retail companies in India to forge an alliance. It plans to set up large format (20,000 to 40,000 sq feet) retail outlets throughout the country where the range of Gautier furniture and home solutions will be exclusively retailed.

For the first time, the entire range of authentic Gautier products (designed and manufactured by Gautier in France) would be available to the Indian consumer in an internationally benchmarked retail environment, a company statement said here today.

“The burgeoning lifestyle aspirations of the new-age Indian consumers coupled with the retail industry boom sweeping through the country has prompted Gautier to seriously look at establishing its presence in the Indian market”, the statement quoted the chairman and managing director M Dominque as saying.

Gautier plans to open its first retail outlet by the end of the year in Delhi and then expand it further to other states and would be launching a range of furniture solutions that would be specifically suited to Indian lifestyles, home spaces and usage habit.

A big attraction for Indian customers would be Gautier’s comprehensive range of junior and nursery furniture solutions for children and infants, besides thematic concepts of Gautier bedrooms, living rooms and storage units.

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Asean Import Market
Indo-China gap widening: Ficci
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19
The current share of India in Asean global imports is not only minuscule, more importantly the fast-growing share of China is over seven times that of India, revealed a Ficci study on India-Asean bilateral trade.

What is particularly worrying is the widening gap between the share of India and China over the last 10 years, according to findings of the study released on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s departure to Singapore for the 6th India-Asean Summit.

Ficci pointed out that while India’s share has marginally moved up from 1 per cent to 1.6 per cent between 1997 and 2006, China has recorded a spectacular jump in its share by over three times from 3.7 per cent to 11.4 per cent in the same period.

The study, ‘Gulf of difference: Share of India and China in Asean imports’, has undertaken product-wise comparison between exports of India and China to Asean for 2006.

Most interesting finding, which emerged is that for as many as 20 products out of India’s top-25 exports to Asean, China’s share is higher than India’s in Asean global imports. It is important to note that these top-25 products together account for nearly 93 per cent of total imports into Asean from India in 2006.

Ficci also observed that an assessment of shares captured by India and Asean in each other’s global trade suggests asymmetrical pattern of trade flows between the two economies.

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Indians most affluent in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley, November 19
Indians in Santa Clara County, home of the Silicon Valley, have the highest median household income, own the most valuable homes, and are the best educated, according to a latest Census report.

The report provides a snapshot of Santa Clara County, one of the only two counties in the country, shows that Indians have median income of $116,240, which is about 44 per cent above the county’s median of about $81,000, said the San Jose Mercury News.

The report profiled the four largest immigrant communities — Indians, Mexicans, Chinese and Vietnamese. It found that although three-quarters of the Indian population was born abroad, they own the most valuable home of about median home price of $860,000, compared with the county’s price of $743,000.

More than four in five Indian adults have at least a bachelors’ degree and Indians are most likely to be white-collar professionals, with about 80 per cent engaged in management, professional and related occupations.

Kailash Joshi, a prominent Indian entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, told the Mercury News that he believes Indians flourish in the US not just because of their commitment to education, but because their native country prepared them for America’s ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity, and its aggressive market economy.

A significant share of the valley’s Chinese population lacks an advantage its Indian counterpart enjoys - English. — PTI

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RCom’s plea against COAI rejected

New Delhi, November 19
Telecom tribunal TDSAT today rejected a contempt application filed by Anil Ambani group company Reliance Communications (RCom) against the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), for allegedly taking the legal battle on spectrum for a media trial.

Reliance Communica-tions wanted officials of COAI, including its director general T V Ramachandran, to be punished for contempt of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), an argument dismissed by the appellate authority.

The tribunal, however, turned down the request of the COAI to impose cost on RCom.

The COAI countered the charges, saying Anil Ambani himself was giving out information to the media on the spectrum war, including a letter written by him to the Prime Minister that attacked GSM operators Vodafone and Bharti Airtel.

During the proceedings, RCom's counsel contended that COAI was making statements on a daily basis in the media on this subject, which is a sub judice matter. He also requested the tribunal to pass a direction to the COAI restraining them for taking the matter to the media.

However, TDSAT chairman Justice Arun Kumar turned it down. — PTI

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Talwandi Sabo Project
Reliance Power, L&T among bidders

New Delhi, November 19
Reliance Power, Larsen and Toubro and Lanco Infratech are among the 10 companies that have bid for setting up the 2,000 MW coal-based thermal power project at Talwandi Sabo in Punjab.

Essar Power, Sterlite Industries, Torrent Power, GVK Power & Infrastructure, Jindal Steel and Power, Devona Thermal Power and Infrastructure of Indiabulls, and Gujarat Paguthan Energy Corporation Pvt Ltd, are the others which have placed bids against request for qualification invited by Punjab State Electricity Board, industry sources said today.

NTPC, Tata Power, Nagarjuna Construction, CESC Ltd, Suez Energy, Chambal Infrastructure Ventures Ltd, Adani Enterprises, Bilt Power, Siti Energy, and CLP, which were understood to have evinced interest in the project during the initial stages, however, did not submit bids.

The project is being awarded on tariff-based competitive bidding on the lines of the 4,000 ultra mega power projects. A special purpose vehicle Talwandi Sabo Power Ltd (TSPL), which will be a wholly owned company of PSEB, has been formed to facilitate tie-up of inputs and clearances for the project.

The selected developer will enter into a supply agreement with PSEB for a period of 25 years. TSPL has engaged Power Finance Corp as the overall consultant for selection of developer for this project.

The project is likely to be awarded within a month, sources in PSEB said. — PTI

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SIDBI pact for green technologies in SMEs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ludhiana Hand Tools and Forging Envirocare Pvt. Ltd. The latter is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) floated by small and medium enterprises (SME) units in Ludhiana’s steel forging cluster and is a part of SIDBI’s vision to enable SMEs embrace green technologies and facilitate environmental protection.

The MoU was signed in the presence of RM Malla, chairman and managing director, SIDBI and Charles Cormier, team leader, Energy & Environment (India), World Bank.

As per the MoU, SIDBI will collaborate with the SPV to provide financial assistance to SMEs participating in the clean development mechanism (CDM) project being implemented at the steel forging cluster in Punjab.

The SIDBI-Ludhiana SPV combine will encourage SMEs to take up energy saving initiatives. This would make SMEs eligible for revenues through sale of CER. The SPV’s role would be to bundle the CER accruals and provide other services to the units.

The World Bank has given its backing to this initiative by agreeing to purchase 990,000 CER units from the SPV. The bank is also helping the SPV in the development and implementation of the CDM project. Around 300 SMEs are expected to benefit from the project.

Speaking on the occasion, Malla said: “SIDBI has been trying to provide innovative solutions to SMEs and that we are happy to be their integral partner for the energy saving initiative in the Ludhiana CDM project.”

Charles Cormier said: “SMEs in Ludhiana Steel cluster India have taken the lead in energy conservation and adoption of green technology. We would like see this initiative being replicated in other SME clusters as well.”

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First South Asian bank opens on Long Island

New York, November 19
The first South Asian bank serving the ethnic community has opened in Long Island, an upscale suburb of New York.

Habib American Bank (HAB) opened its sixth branch on Saturday in Hicksville, which has a sizeable South Asian community.

“The South Asian community - our special focus - in the area is palpably excited about the opening of our branch,” Saleem Iqbal, chief operating officer of HAB, told IANS.

“Three hundred people turned up for the inauguration. The number of accounts opened in one day here equalled what we got in three months of starting operations elsewhere,” Iqbal said.

HAB — unrelated to Pakistan’s Habib Bank but owned by the Habib family - was incorporated in 1983 in the US with its headquarters in New York, making it the oldest commercial bank serving the South Asian community. It has branches in New York, New Jersey and California.

Besides the usual retail services, HAB caters to small businesses ranging from retail stores to import and export trading/manufacturing companies. It takes care of home mortgages and commercial real estate financing also.

Knowing South Asian women’s predilection for jewellery, the Hicksville branch has provided for lockers also.

The branch manager is Sabiha Mithaiwala, of Indian origin. — IANS

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Virgin to foray into mobile market

New Delhi, November 19
British billionaire and chairman of diversified Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson today said the company will foray into the Indian mobile telephony business along with a local partner very soon.

''We will be making the announcement in two and a half months time and it is not long before Virgian moves into Indian mobile business,'' he said here.

Recently, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has received 575 applications from 46 domestic and foreign firms to launch mobile services.

Sir Branson said the company has already decided on the local partner for its India venture.

In 2005, India had raised the ceiling for foreign ownership in telecommunications-services companies to 74 per cent from 49 per cent, paving the way for more foreign investment in the world's fastest-growing cellphone market.

Speculations have it that the Virgin Group is in talks with Tata Teleservices to introduce Virgin Mobile brand in India.

Under the venture, Virgin is planning to become an exclusive franchisee of Tata Teleservices and form a new entity largely owned by Tata Teleservices. — UNI

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DLF gets Rs 1,675-cr PE investment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 19
Real estate major, DLF has announced that the company has attracted participation of private equity (PE) real estate funds in its township projects by diluting 49 per cent stake at a premium, in seven residential projects to Merrill Lynch & Co entity for a consideration of Rs 1,481 crore.

The mid-income housing projects, located in Chennai, Bangalore, Kochi and Indore would get fully developed in about 7-8 years time frame.

In a separate transaction, the company has also diluted 49 per cent stake in another housing project in Panchkula to Brahma Investments for a consideration of Rs 194 crore, according to T.C. Goyal, managing director of the company.

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BRIEFLY

Gitanjali Gems
Mumbai, November 19
Gitanjali Gems today said it has acquired US-based Rogers Ltd for an unclosed amount. Gitanjali Gems has acquired a 100 per cent stake in the specialty retailer that operates 46 stores in the USA and has a current revenue of $80 million. — PTI

L&T bags order
Mumbai, November 19
Larsen & Toubro, along with Shanghai Urban Construction Corporation, has bagged a contract worth Rs 275-crore from Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited. The design-and-build contract is for the construction of a 2.4 km underground twin-tunnel starting from the IGI Airport to Dwarka Sector-21. — PTI

Suzlon Energy
Mumbai, November 19
Suzlon Energy has said its Australian subsidiary has bagged two contracts totalling over 200 MW capacity in that country. “Suzlon Energy Australia Pvt Ltd has signed for two major new orders in Australia. The contracts totalling over 200 MW of capacity were signed with Sydney’s renewable power ventures and utility major AGL Energy,” Suzlon Energy said. — PTI

Nicholas Piramal
Mumbai, November 19
Nicholas Piramal India (NPIL) has said it has entered into an agreement with MSD Pharmaceuticals for research and development works in the field of oncology. NPIL would receive payments of up to $175 million per target associated with progress in the development of the drug, NPIL said. — PTI

Plethico Pharma
Mumbai, November 19
Plethico Pharmaceuticals has said it will acquire US-based Natrol Inc for $80.7 million (Rs 317.07 crore) to consolidate its position as a global player in herbal healthcare products. The acquisition would be made by an initial tender offer to acquire the outstanding stock of the US-based manufacturer of nutritional products Natrol Inc at $4.4 per share, Plethico Pharma said. — PTI

Arena Animation
Chandigarh, November 19
Arena Animation, the global leader in animation and multimedia education, has been conferred Maharashtra IT Award 2007 by Government of Maharashtra for its contribution to animation and IT in Maharashtra. R. Krishnan, executive director, Aptech Ltd & global head, Arena Animation, received the award at Mumbai. — TNS

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