SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Govt may open up FDI in retail, says Sahai
New Delhi, December 17
The government today asked the big retailers to come up with an ‘India model’ for retailing that protects the ‘kirana’ stores(small grocery stores) and integrates them with the retail expansion in the country.

Punjab seeks industrial package
Chandigarh, December 17
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today demanded a similar package of concessions and incentives for Punjab's beleaguered industry from Government of India on the pattern of Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand and J&K.

No hike in 6 months, say cement manufacturers
New Delhi, December 17
Denying cartelisation in the industry, the Cement Manufacturers’ Association (CMA) today said the price of cement in the country was likely to remain stable in the next six months and that the industry would enhance production of cement by 110 million tonnes in the next three years to meet future demand.

Maruti to design cars in India by 2010
New Delhi, December 17
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the country's biggest carmaker, will start designing cars in India by 2010, for which it has sent close to hundred employees for training in Japan, a senior company official said today.



EARLIER STORIES

 
Japan's automaker Daihatsu Motor president Teruyuki Minoura introduces the new boxy compact wagon "Tanto", equipped with a 660cc normal and turbo charged engine on its roomy body in Tokyo on Monday. Daihatsu will put it on the market on January 3.
Japan's automaker Daihatsu Motor president Teruyuki Minoura introduces the new boxy compact wagon "Tanto", equipped with a 660cc normal and turbo charged engine on its roomy body in Tokyo on Monday. Daihatsu will put it on the market on January 3. — AFP

Rupee loses 20 paise
Mumbai, December 17
The rupee today fell by 20 paise to end at 39.54/55 against the US currency largely due to capital outflows from domestic bourses as global equity markets fell.

F&O Segment
SEBI moots seven new trading instruments
Mumbai, December 17
Market regulator SEBI today proposed seven new trading instruments in futures and options (F&O) segment, including exchange-traded currency contracts as part of measures to provide more opportunities to investors.

11 Haryana dists achieve 100% financial inclusion
Chandigarh, December 17
The financial commissioner and principal secretary, finance and planning, Haryana, S.P.Sharma, has urged the banks to amend the parameters for making the people, especially the poor, eligible for adequate bank credit, and if need be, they should formulate new schemes in partnership with the state government for this purpose.

B’desh imports diesel from Assam refinery
Guwahati, December 17
What is construed to be a boost to the bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh, the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL), based in Assam, has dispatched its first consignment of high speed diesel (HSD) to Bangladesh.

ICICI Prudential tie-up
Chandigarh, December 17
ICICI Prudential Life Insurance today announced a strategic tie-up with Indian Post in Punjab whereby policyholders of the ICICI Prudential could pay their first premium and renewal premium in cash at about 840 post offices in the state.

Bharti in talks with realty Cos for retail space
New Delhi, December 17
Faced with difficulties in acquiring land on its own for its retail venture in the country, Bharti Enterprises is in talks with top real estate developers like DLF, Unitech for space.

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Govt may open up FDI in retail, says Sahai
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 17
The government today asked the big retailers to come up with an ‘India model’ for retailing that protects the ‘kirana’ stores(small grocery stores) and integrates them with the retail expansion in the country.

“Retail leaders should come up with a proposal to include ‘kirana’ owners so that they become part of the retail boom,” minister of state for food processing Subodh Kant Sahai said here.

Inaugurating a two-day conference and exhibition on ‘Winning with intelligent supply chains’, organised by Ficci, Sahai said: “India may open up its $330 billion retail market only after being convinced that the kirana stores will not be affected by big retailers.”

“DIPP has engaged an agency to make an in-depth study on the impact of FDI in food retail on our domestic market and the report is expected to be available by March 2008,” the minister said.

Sahai said, organised retail backed by efficient supply chain has the potential of raising the rate of growth of the food processing sector from 13 per cent to 20 per cent in the next three to five years.

He said during the 11th Plan, the ministry would launch a revamped comprehensive cold chain infrastructure scheme at different levels — farm-level primary processing centre-cum-cold chain, collection/aggregation centres and strategic distribution centres.

Sahai said since deterioration of produce sets in within a few hours of harvesting, farm-level cooling and primary processing was critical to empower the farmers. Such infrastructure at the farm gate would help the farmers preserve and add value to the produce, leading to better realisations.

He said 30 mega food parks were proposed to be established throughout the country. The proposed parks would seek to provide a mechanism to bring together farmers, processors and retailers and link agricultural production to the market so as to ensure maximisation of value addition, minimise wastage and improve farmers’ income. The food parks would function as sourcing hubs for the retail outlets.

Ficci retail committee chairman and managing director of Bharti Enterprises Rajan Bharti Mittal underlined the need for massive investments in setting up and upgrading supply chain infrastructure along with giving infrastructure status to the sector with adequate tax breaks.

Asserting that India had the potential to become the food and fruit basket for the world, Mittal said to achieve this, there was imperative need to involve the private sector in the PPP mode as the investments required were reckoned at Rs 100,000 crore.

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Punjab seeks industrial package
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today demanded a similar package of concessions and incentives for Punjab's beleaguered industry from Government of India on the pattern of Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand and J&K.

Speaking at a seminar on "Doing business with Italy" here at Confederation of Indian Industry, northern zone, Badal said he has impressed upon the Prime Minister to extend the same package to Punjab.

He called upon the industrialists to set up skill development centres in collaboration with state government to impart skill training to the unemployed youth for gainful employment. He mentioned that the Punjab Government had already envisaged a scheme to impart security training to youth at police training complex at Jahan Khelan in Hoshiarpur district.He urged the industrialists to utilise their services in their industrial units and ventures.

Referring to the strong ties between Punjab and Italy, Badal said these could be further strengthened with enhancement of economic and commercial interchange and cooperation. He sought cooperation from the Italian government to promote bilateral trade between Italy and Punjab as the state had made an outstanding contribution in the increase of exports from India, which had registered an annual growth of 40 to 46 per cent.

He appreciated the opening of local consulate office at Chandigarh with the appointment of Ranjit Malhotra as honorary consular correspondent for Punjab which would act as an out sourcing agency for visa. The Chief Minister hoped that the visa counter would save thousands of aspirants to immigrate to Italy from the clutches of illegal travel agents. He said direct international flight from Amritsar to Italy would further give fillip to the trade and economic activities.

He expressed keen interest to set up ventures in the field of engineering and in sectors like information technology, nano-technology, bio-technology and modern agro-processing industry in collaboration with Italy through the mode of technology transfer. 

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No hike in 6 months, say cement manufacturers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 17
Denying cartelisation in the industry, the Cement Manufacturers’ Association (CMA) today said the price of cement in the country was likely to remain stable in the next six months and that the industry would enhance production of cement by 110 million tonnes in the next three years to meet future demand.

“There is no cartelisation in the industry… If there are only three or four players then there could be cartelisation. How can there be cartelisation, when over 50 companies are marketing their product in the country,” H.M. Bangur, who was elected new president of the CMA today, told newspersons here.

His statement comes a fortnight after minister of state for commerce and industry Ashwani Kumar had warned government intervention if there was any evidence of cartelisation in the cement industry. Maintaining that there is “neither shortage nor surplus” of cement in the country, Bangur said the cement industry as a whole would invest Rs 50,000 crore for capacity addition in three years.

Pointing that there was only about 3 per cent increase in the price of cement during April-November 2007, Bangur said the hike was more due to reasons beyond the control of the cement industry. “Input cost, including that of coal prices have gone up and the freight charges have gone up, which definitely have bearing on the price. However, in the past two years the cement industry has booked profit through volumes and enhancing efficiency in production line,” he added.

On the government’s decision to allow import of cement to bridge the demand-supply gap, Bangur said “in an open economy the market is open for all players. But what we want is a level-playing field.”

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Maruti to design cars in India by 2010

New Delhi, December 17
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, the country's biggest carmaker, will start designing cars in India by 2010, for which it has sent close to hundred employees for training in Japan, a senior company official said today.

"We are training about 100 persons in research and development area at Suzuki Japan. They have been sent to Japan for two years and would come back in batches between 2008-10," Maruti Suzuki India's executive director (HR) S Y Siddiqui told PTI.

The training includes hardcore designing as well as developing research-related capabilities and is aimed at enabling the company to start designing cars in India by 2010, Siddiqui said.

The official said most of the current human resources investments and training activities were targeted for the year 2010.

Maruti Suzuki is targeting to sell one million cars every year by 2010, according to the company's newly appointed MD and CEO Shinzo Nakanishi, who will assume the top position from Jagdish Khattar on December 19.

Nakanishi said earlier this month that the company would invest Rs 1,750 crore in setting up a research and development wing at Manesar over the next three years.— PTI

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Rupee loses 20 paise

Mumbai, December 17
The rupee today fell by 20 paise to end at 39.54/55 against the US currency largely due to capital outflows from domestic bourses as global equity markets fell.

In fairly active trade at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (forex) market, the local currency moved in a range of 39.32 and 39.55 during the day after resuming weak at 39.37/38 per dollar. Rupee had closed at 39.34/35 on Friday.

The Indian unit gradually moved downwards in line with a sharp fall in stock market, forex dealers said. It showed signs of recovery on some dollar sales during the day, they added.

Initially, the rupee recovered to 39.32 level on dollar selling by exporters after a weak start, but ran out of steam affected by a plunge in share prices. — PTI

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F&O Segment
SEBI moots seven new trading instruments

Mumbai, December 17
Market regulator SEBI today proposed seven new trading instruments in futures and options (F&O) segment, including exchange-traded currency contracts as part of measures to provide more opportunities to investors.

SEBI proposed mini contracts in equity indices, exchange-traded currency (foreign exchange) contracts and options contracts with longer tenure.

It also suggested a volatility index and F&O contracts; bond index and F&O contracts; options on future; and other exchange-traded products to cater to different investment strategies.

The regulator has invited public comments on its note on new products in the F&O segment by December 21.

Mini contracts in equity indices will enable investors to follow broader market movement through one trading decision in an efficient and cost-effective manner. These contracts are used by financial professionals and individual investors for portfolio protection as well as to gain from market movements.

The regulator plans to initially introduce mini contracts in both index futures and index options based on BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty. It also proposes to extend the tenure of exchange-traded equity options to five years from the present life of maximum three months. — PTI

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11 Haryana dists achieve 100% financial inclusion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The financial commissioner and principal secretary, finance and planning, Haryana, S.P.Sharma, has urged the banks to amend the parameters for making the people, especially the poor, eligible for adequate bank credit, and if need be, they should formulate new schemes in partnership with the state government for this purpose.

He was addressing the 102nd meeting of State Level Bankers' Committee, Haryana, here today. He stressed upon the need of qualitative outreach to the people instead of quantitative outreach.

He emphasised that the banks and the government departments should be in partnership for the inclusive growth of the state of Haryana. He said micro-finance was another area which must be given due importance as it had been widely accepted as a growth model for the rural and semi-urban areas. He stated that the self-help groups (SHGs) could be of greater help in adding value to life, particularly in the gender-biased society that is the women folk, which constituted half of the national population.

He underlined the need for formulating the schemes for taking out the farmers from the clutches of moneylenders, besides improving the CD ratio in the districts where it was less than 40 per cent.

The executive director, Punjab National Bank, and chairman of the meeting, J.M.Garg, in his keynote address said in order to provide much needed relief to farmers and large section of the rural poor, the RBI had advised the banks to provide production credit up to principal amount of Rs 3 lakh at the rate of 7 per cent.

He disclosed that in Haryana, 11 out of 20 districts of the state had been covered under 100 per cent financial inclusion namely Bhiwani, Yamunanagar, Panipat, Sonepat, Panchkula, Kurukshetra, Narnaul, Hisar, Mewat, Jind and Rohtak. He called upon the bankers to speed up their efforts to cover the remaining nine districts under 100 per cent financial inclusion. He requested the state government to get involved with the respective district administration in the noble mission of financing initiated by the banks in the State of Haryana.

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B’desh imports diesel from Assam refinery
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, December 17
What is construed to be a boost to the bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh, the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL), based in Assam, has dispatched its first consignment of high speed diesel (HSD) to Bangladesh.

It is for the first time that any of the oil refineries in the North-East has ever exported a consignment of petroleum products to Bangladesh.

NRL’s deputy manager (corporate communication) Madhuchanda Adhikari informed that the first consignment of 1400 MT of HSD produced by the Assam refinery was loaded to two Bangladeshi barges at Silghat port in Nagaon district of Assam yesterday.

Loading of HSD from the NRL is in progress on two more Indian barges, Naharkatia and Barauni, which are scheduled to sail by the end of this month carrying total 2100 MT of the hydrocarbon fuel.

The agreement to export diesel to Bangladesh was signed on May 17 this year between NRL’s parent company, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation Limited. As per the terms of the agreement, NRL would export 1,20,000 MT of HSD annually . The initial period of validity of the contract was from June to December, 2007 to be renewed thereafter.

NRL has set a target of exporting about 10,000 MT of diesel to Bangladesh per month.

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ICICI Prudential tie-up

Chandigarh, December 17
ICICI Prudential Life Insurance today announced a strategic tie-up with Indian Post in Punjab whereby policyholders of the ICICI Prudential could pay their first premium and renewal premium in cash at about 840 post offices in the state. In tune with its philosophy of customer-first, the company initiated partnership with Indian post, to provide its customers the convenience of utilising the vast network of postal services, said ICICI Prudential Life Insurance senior vice-president Poonam Bhardwaj here today. — PTI

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Bharti in talks with realty Cos for retail space
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 17
Faced with difficulties in acquiring land on its own for its retail venture in the country, Bharti Enterprises is in talks with top real estate developers like DLF, Unitech for space.

“As a retailer, our job is to go and talk to real estate players who have got land bank. We are talking to many players, including DLF, Unitech, Parasvnath and MGM,” Bharti Enterprises managing director Rajan Bharti Mittal told newsperson on the sidelines of a Ficci organised event on retailing.

The company was in talks for both leasing and buying depending on the location, he added. Even as he asserted that the first store of Bharti retail would be opened by the first quarter of 2008, he refused to divulge whether the Wal-Mart’s name would be used in the frontend store branding.

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BRIEFLY

PNB branch in Hong Kong
Mumbai, December 17
Public sector lender Punjab National Bank (PNB) today said its Hong Kong branch has commenced operations from today. "On receipt of permission from Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) to commence business, the branch has commenced its operations with effect from December 17," PNB said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.— PTI

BHEL pact
Mumbai, December 17
Power equipment supplier BHEL today said it has signed an agreement with NTPC Ltd for setting up a joint venture company for carrying out EPC projects in the sector. The joint venture would carry out engineering, procurement and construction activities in the power sector.— PTI

i-flex Solutions
Mumbai, December 17
i-flex Solutions today said it has launched a new banking solution which will enable the IT consulting firm to foray into private banking and wealth management space. The company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange that the new solution — Flexcube Private Banking Suite — can be integrated with the existing back office applications and would be cost effective for lenders and financial institutions.— PTI

Calsoft plan
Mumbai, December 17
Software development firm California Software Company (Calsoft) today said it will acquire the remaining 49 per cent stake in Inatech Infosolutions, India, for $6.17 million (Rs 24.47 crore), making it its wholly-owned subsidiary. In a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange, the company said it has signed an MoU with Inatech, a specialised end-to-end Oracle solutions provider.— PTI

New CAG
New Delhi, December 17
Financial services secretary Vinod Rai will be new Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. His appointment will be effective from the date he assumes charge, an official statement said here today. Rai, an IAS officer of Kerala cadre, will take over from V N Kaul. — TNS

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