SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

B U S I N E S S

Govt foresees 9% growth
Centre to ask states to cut levies
New Delhi, December 18
Despite hardening rupee and high interest rates hurting Indian exports and industry, the government today exuded confidence that GDP growth rate would be sustained over 9 per cent during the current fiscal.

Study speaks of slow down
New York, December 18
India's high growth level may not sustain and government's reforms may run out of steam as the main parties concentrate on winning support ahead of elections due in 2009, a consulting firm reported today.



2010 sees designs
from Maruti.
(56k)

Tatas bid over $2.05 b for
Ford icons

London, December 18
Jaguar and Land Rover, two iconic auto brands in the UK, are set to see a change of ownership in the new year, with their current American parent Ford Motor looking to finalise a winner by the end of 2007 or early 2008.

India presence must to become global
banks: E&Y

New Delhi, December 18
Banks aspiring to become global must have a presence in India and other emerging economies, who are set to become a major source of financial sector revenue and profit growth, according to Ernst and Young.

A silver bullion with a design of the rat is displayed in Beijing on Tuesday.
A silver bullion with a design of the rat is displayed in Beijing on Tuesday. The ornament will go on sale on December 22, to mark the upcoming Year of the Rat on the Chinese lunar calendar, which falls on February 7, 2008. — AFP photo

ESI okays new amnesty scheme
New Delhi, December 18
The ESI Corporation has enhanced the permanent disablement benefit and dependants' benefit rates to the advantage of more than one crore insured persons of the ESI scheme.

Direct tax collection up 42.50 pc
New Delhi, December 18
The government has achieved over 61 per cent of budgeted direct tax target of Rs 2,67,490 crore, with direct tax collection growing at 42.50 per cent at Rs 1,64,407 crore during April 1 to December 15, 2007 as against Rs 1,15,377 crore in the corresponding period last fiscal.


Japan’s electronics giant Sanyo Electric unveils the earphone-microphone "E-mimi kun".
Japan’s electronics giant Sanyo Electric unveils the earphone-microphone "E-mimi kun", which has earphone and microphone inside an earpiece and noise cancelling LSI to have conversations with clear voice under noisy circumstances such as factory and event site. Sanyo will put it on the market from April next. — AFP photo

EARLIER STORIES

 

IOC eyes retailing firm in Turkey
New Delhi, December 18
Indian Oil Corp (IOC), the nation's biggest refiner, is in talks to acquire a fuel retailing company in Turkey as it expands operations in the country bordering Europe.

Nath wants duty cut on Harleys
New Delhi, December 18
Commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath today said he will talk to Prime Minster Manmohan Singh for reduction of import duty on American cult bike Harley Davidson.

Jagdish Khattar Khattar leaves driver’s seat at Maruti, Nakanishi
takes over

New Delhi, December 18
Maruti Suzuki India’s poster-boy, managing director Jagdish Khattar, has called it a day after serving the country’s biggest carmaker for 14 years.

A piano duo, Yoshiko Wada (L) and Maiko Ichiyanagi, play world's smallest grand piano "Grand Pianist".
A piano duo, Yoshiko Wada (L) and Maiko Ichiyanagi, play world's smallest grand piano "Grand Pianist", produced by Japan's toy maker Sega Toys, which has 88 working keys, in Tokyo on Tuesday. The piano duo performed four-handed piano music, including Christmas songs for a small piano concert. — AFP photo

IFCI Stake
Sterlite-led pool front-runner
New Delhi, December 18
IFCI Ltd, currently in the process of finalising a strategic partner for a 26 per cent stake, has fixed the price at Rs 107 for conversion of bonds issued to PSU banks and insurance firms into equity shares.

Auto Scene
Maruti offers huge discounts
New Delhi, December 18
Car market leader Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) today rolled out a special savings scheme — Happy Customer Offer — under which it will sell cars at discounted prices ranging from Rs 18,500 to Rs 5 7,500 across various models.

Spectrum panel for pricing airwaves
New Delhi, December 18
An official panel to review frequency allocation norms has favoured pricing each megahertz of the airwaves, and put the onus of deciding whether to ask mobile operators to return excess spectrum on the government.

Future Group foray
Mumbai, December 18
After the Bharti-Wal-Mart tie-up, the $2-billion Kishore Biyani-spearheaded Future Group will soon foray into the cash and carry (wholesale operations) market with a foreign partner, a top official of the company said.

 

Top



 

 

 

Govt foresees 9% growth
Centre to ask states to cut levies
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 18
Despite hardening rupee and high interest rates hurting Indian exports and industry, the government today exuded confidence that GDP growth rate would be sustained over 9 per cent during the current fiscal.

“GDP growth figure will be maintained… It will exceed 9 per cent (during the current fiscal),” commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath told newspersons after Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry reviewed the state of Indian economy and discussed the need for maintaining the robust industrial growth.

“Leading players of industry too expressed confidence in the growth momentum despite challenges of sharp rise in rupee value, hardening of commodity prices, including crude oil, in the international market,” Nath said after the meeting, attended by industry leaders, including Ratan Tata, Rahul Bajaj, Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Bharti Mittal, who are members of the council.

Admitting that slow down in some export sectors have led to 1.50 lakh persons losing their jobs in the past four months, Nath said the Centre would at the National Development Council (NDC) meeting here tomorrow urge the state governments to reduce state levies to help the rupee-hit sectors.

“Levies in some of the states are very high and one of the options we propose to discuss with state governments tomorrow (at the NDC meeting) is to ask them to reduce the levy, which could be compensated through allocation from the Centre,” Nath said without elaborating on it.

Asked whether Centre is considering further sops for exporters, Nath remained non-committal saying “What we are experiencing now is a double-barrel attack. On the one hand, rupee appreciation is hurting, on the other huge inflow of capital is putting inflationary pressure.”

Meanwhile, on the FDI front, the Centre has decided to issue an amended notification in line with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act, 2006, lifting the cap of 24 per cent on equity participation (both foreign and domestic) in Small Scale Industry (SSI) sector.

Expressing happiness over FDI equity inflows touching $7.2 billion during 2007-08 (up to September 2007), a 65 per cent growth over the same period ($4.4 billion) previous fiscal, Nath said the FDI flows were going to be robust with India going up in the Confidence Index ladder.

Top

 

Study speaks of slow down

New York, December 18
India's high growth level may not sustain and government's reforms may run out of steam as the main parties concentrate on winning support ahead of elections due in 2009, a consulting firm reported today.

Noting that forecasts of gross domestic product (GDP) growth for fiscal 2007-08 (ending March) are being revised down wards to 8.4-8.6 per cent (growth in 2006-07 reached 9.4 per cent), Oxford Analytica says this reflects the impact of a credit squeeze initiated by the Reserve Bank of India to combat inflation, which reached 6 per cent earlier this year.

A summary of analysis by Oxford Analytica, which claims to have 1,000 scholars, was posted on the website of Forbes magazine.

On the positive side, it says, growth in agriculture, a perennial under-achiever, may accelerate following a favourable monsoon and there are also indications that a period of "jobless growth" is over, with rapid expansion in employment opportunities catching up with the rising rate of participation in the labour force.

A major positive sign is fast growth of capital goods industries and an expansion of infrastructure, which would support the economy in the long run. Besides, foreign portfolio flows are strong which are adding to local resources.

A recession in developed economies might increase outsourcing work to India, it says, noting that services, which account for over half of economy, continue to grow around 8 to 10 per cent. — PTI

Top

 

Tatas bid over $2.05 b for Ford icons

London, December 18
Jaguar and Land Rover, two iconic auto brands in the UK, are set to see a change of ownership in the new year, with their current American parent Ford Motor looking to finalise a winner by the end of 2007 or early 2008.

The bids from leading Indian conglomerates and the front-runners for the deal, Tatas and Mahindras, are worth over $2.05 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively, sources close to the development said.

While no official confirmation could be obtained, another suitor, a private equity firm led by former Ford CEO Jacques Nasser —OneEquity — is still in the reckoning, but Ford is understood to be preferring a buyer directly involved in the auto manufacturing business.

Meanwhile, US daily The New York Times today reported that Jaguar and Land Rover are poised to join Tata Motors and a decision could be made in the "next few days".

However, the report added that "a final deal, which is expected to be worth about $2 billion, will not be announced until early next year".

The report noted that Jaguar dealers in the US have expressed concern over an Indian buyer, saying it could adversely impact the value of the luxury brand, as Tata Motors is currently in process of launching its "People's Car" with a price tag of about $2,500, which is about one-twentieth of the cost for least expensive Jaguar model.— PTI

Top

 

India presence must to become global banks: E&Y

New Delhi, December 18
Banks aspiring to become global must have a presence in India and other emerging economies, who are set to become a major source of financial sector revenue and profit growth, according to Ernst and Young.

"In the near future, banks will not be able to say they are global unless they have a presence in China, India and a few other countries, because these emerging markets are going to be a major source of financial sector revenue and profit growth," the international consulting firm said in a report prepared jointly with UK-based research firm Oxford Analytica.

The report, titled 'Strategic business risk 2008 — the top 10 risks for business', noted that a late entry into these Asian markets would make it difficult for foreign banks to keep up with competition.

For the Asian banks themselves, the report pointed out, one of the main threats is the rapid transformation from "government bureaucracies into corporate governance and transparency-driven organisations".

The report also noted emerging markets as one of the 10 strategic business risks
for year 2008.

Other risks included regulatory and compliance, global financial shocks, aging consumers and workforce, industry consolidation or transition, energy shocks, executing strategic transactions, cost inflation, radical greening and consumer demand shifts.

According to the report, regulatory and compliance risk has been considered as the "greatest strategic challenge facing leading global businesses in 2008".

"This is being driven by an escalating regulatory burden in many markets, as well as numerous compliance challenges as companies extend their value chains well beyond Europe, North America, and the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China)," it said. — PTI

Top

 

ESI okays new amnesty scheme
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 18
The ESI Corporation has enhanced the permanent disablement benefit and dependants' benefit rates to the advantage of more than one crore insured persons of the ESI scheme.

This decision was taken at the 141st meeting of the ESI Corporation, chaired by labour minister Oscar Fernandes here today.

The additional relief to the beneficiaries of the ESI scheme for the above stated benefits will vary from 7 per cent to 430 per cent, an ESI statement said.

A fresh amnesty scheme has been approved by the Corporation to be effective from January 1, 2008, for relief in the damages leviable against the defaulting employers and employees whose cases have been long pending.

The Corporation is also going to introduce a system of self-certification to minimise the need of inspections of the different establishments. These self-certifications will be certified by the chartered accountants.

The achievement of the corporation for the year 2006-07 also includes enhancement in the wage ceiling for coverage of employees under the ESI Act from Rs. 7500 to Rs.10,000 p.m., 10 more slabs of daily standard benefits rates have been added from Rs. 150 to Rs. 195, it said.

The revenue collection has also registered substantial increase, which is Rs 2,453.48 crore this year.

The ESI Corporation has also enhanced the medical benefit from Rs 900 to Rs 1,000 per IP family unit per annum. The vocational rehabilitation cash allowance for the disabled insured persons has been increased from Rs 45 to Rs 123 per day.

Similarly, the funeral expenses payable for funeral of diseased insured person has also been increased from Rs 2,500 to Rs 3000, it added.

Top

 

Direct tax collection up 42.50 pc
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 18
The government has achieved over 61 per cent of budgeted direct tax target of Rs 2,67,490 crore, with direct tax collection growing at 42.50 per cent at Rs 1,64,407 crore during April 1 to December 15, 2007 as against Rs 1,15,377 crore in the corresponding period last fiscal.

According to provisional figures released by the finance ministry, corporate tax registered a growth of 42.37 per cent at Rs 98,391 crore, up from Rs 69,110 crore during the previous fiscal, while personal income tax (including FBT, STT and BCTT) grew by 42.83 per cent at Rs 65,774 crore, up from Rs 46,051 crore.

Growth in securities transaction tax (STT) was 74.36 per cent (Rs 5,895 crore against Rs 3,381 crore) and fringe benefit tax (FBT) was 16.10 per cent (Rs 3,313 crore against Rs 2,854 crore). Banking cash transaction tax (BCTT) grew by 17.04 per cent (Rs 376 crore against Rs 322 crore).

Overall direct tax growth was highest in the Mumbai region at 68.43 per cent, followed by Pune region at 58.68 per cent, north-western region (Chandigarh) at 47.98 per cent, Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad) at 43.82 per cent and eastern Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow) at 39.79 per cent.

Corporate tax growth was highest in the north-eastern region (Guwahati) at 244.18 per cent; followed by Kerala (Kochi) at 83.32 per cent, Mumbai at 80.92 per cent, eastern Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow) at 71.22 percent and Pune region at 56.24 per cent.

Personal income tax growth was highest in Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh region (Bhopal) at 160.95 per cent; followed by Nagpur region at 97.10 per cent, Pune region at 60.39 per cent, Andhra Pradesh region (Hyderabad) at 54.79 percent and Tamil Nadu region (Chennai) at 50.90 per cent.

Top

 

IOC eyes retailing firm in Turkey

New Delhi, December 18
Indian Oil Corp (IOC), the nation's biggest refiner, is in talks to acquire a fuel retailing company in Turkey as it expands operations in the country bordering Europe.

IOC has tied up with Calik Enerji of Turkey to takeover a fuel retailing company in Turkey, a company official said but declined to identify the target company.

The once state-owned POAS is the leading player in the distribution, marketing and storage of refining petroleum products in Turkey.

Besides, several other companies also have a sizeable market share, including BP, ExxonMobil, Shell, Total, and Turkish company Opet.

IOC had in consortium with Calik early this month won a licence to build an oil refinery in Turkey.

"It will be a 15 million tonne refinery costing $4.9 billion," the official said. The refinery will be at Ceyhan, where the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and a pipeline from Iraq terminate. The refinery would cater to the export markets. — PTI

Top

 

Nath wants duty cut on Harleys

New Delhi, December 18
Commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath today said he will talk to Prime Minster Manmohan Singh for reduction of import duty on American cult bike Harley Davidson.

"There will be talks," Nath said when asked what he intended to do after his letter to Singh asking for import duty cut on Harley Davidson.

Nath, who was speaking on the sidelines of Sports Goods Export Promotion Council function here, has reportedly asked the Prime Minister to consider cutting levies imposed on imports of the bike with a view to send a positive political signal to the US administration.

Earlier in the year, the government had relaxed norms on the import of Euro III compliant motorcycles of 800 cc and above engine capacity in return for allowing export of Indian mangoes to the US.

Under the current norms, imported bikes cost almost double the original price due to high import duty.

The relaxation of norms by the government was welcomed by many of the existing multinational two-wheeler makers, including Yamaha and Suzuki, which have announced plans to bring their high-end superbikes in the Indian market.

In fact, Yamaha has already introduced two of its superikes — YZF R1 and MT01 — priced at Rs 10.5 lakh (ex-showroom). Suzuki plans to launch its high-end sports bikes by April next year. — PTI

Top

 

Khattar leaves driver’s seat at Maruti,
Nakanishi takes over

New Delhi, December 18
Maruti Suzuki India’s poster-boy, managing director Jagdish Khattar, has called it a day after serving the country’s biggest carmaker for 14 years.

Khattar, who took over the reins of the erstwhile joint venture between the government and Japan’s Suzuki Motor Co. eight years back, took Maruti to new heights at a time when the Indian car mart was exploding with multinational entrants.

The company today commands more than 50 per cent of the Indian car market and has managed to keep sales growth going despite the industry witnessing a slowdown. He has been credited with out-of-box thinking that has helped company garner market share this year.

An ex-bureaucrat, Khattar in an earlier interview with PTI had said he considered himself to be lucky to witness the transition that Maruti Suzuki had seen from a government-owned entity to a completely private one.

The 65-year-old, who now wishes to don the hat of an entrepreneur, had said the 90-day strike by workers in 2001 at the company was the turning point in its history. He said the management then gave into the demands of workers when MSI would not have been what it is today.

Filling in his shoes will be Shinzo Nakanishi, the man who was the chairman of MSI for the past five years.

The first Japanese to be a the helm of MSI, he will have his task cut out to carry on the legacy left by Khattar, and more importantly maintaining MSI’s market share in an increasingly competitive environment. — PTI

Top

 

IFCI Stake
Sterlite-led pool front-runner

New Delhi, December 18
IFCI Ltd, currently in the process of finalising a strategic partner for a 26 per cent stake, has fixed the price at Rs 107 for conversion of bonds issued to PSU banks and insurance firms into equity shares.

"The board has decided to fix Rs 107 for converting 1,300 crore zero coupon optionally convertible debentures," an IFCI official told PTI.

At the given price, the country's oldest financial institution would issue 12.1 crore fresh equity shares to the banks and insurance companies who own optionally convertible bonds maturing in April 2022.

Meanwhile, the IFCI board continued its meeting for the second day today to decide on the name of its potential partner for a 26 per cent stake.

NRI billionaire Anil Aggarwal-led Sterlite Industries, jointly with global investment banking giant Morgan Stanley, is understood to have emerged as the front-runner by quoting the highest price. — PTI

Top

 

Auto Scene
Maruti offers huge discounts

New Delhi, December 18
Car market leader Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL) today rolled out a special savings scheme — Happy Customer Offer — under which it will sell cars at discounted prices ranging from Rs 18,500 to Rs 5 7,500 across various models.

The discount comes just before the company is expected to hike prices of its various models by up to Rs 12,000 for which it has already written to its dealers.

Under the new savings scheme, MSIL would offer a discount of Rs 18,500 on Omni, while its flagship hatchback Maruti 800 would come cheaper by Rs 26,000. The maximum discount of Rs 57,500 is being offered on mid-size sedan Esteem.

The company's best selling hatchback Alto would come at a discount of Rs 24,500, while Wagon-R petrol and LPG would come cheaper by Rs 45,000 and Rs 24,500, respectively. A discount of Rs 48,000 is being offered on Zen Estilo.

The discount being offered across various models also includes finance payouts and exchange bonus apart from the customer offer.

However, the company is not offering any discount on its premium hatchback Swift (both diesel and petrol) and premium sedan SX4 as demand continues to outgrow supply. 

Hyundai cars to cost more

Hyundai Motor India today said it will hike prices of its cars across all models between 2-3 per cent by January 2008 owing to rising input and freight costs.

"From the first week of January there will be a price hike across all the models. The increase could be between 2-3 per cent," a company official said.

He said the price increase will include even the latest hatchback i-10, which was launched with an introductory price starting from Rs 3.39 lakh. The official said the price rise was due to the rising input costs and freight cost.

Skoda India

Premium car maker Skoda Auto today said it will raise prices across all models by Rs 20,000 from January next year. The company said the hike was necessitated due to rising input costs. — PTI

Top

 

Spectrum panel for pricing airwaves

New Delhi, December 18
An official panel to review frequency allocation norms has favoured pricing each megahertz of the airwaves, and put the onus of deciding whether to ask mobile operators to return excess spectrum on the government.

"Legal and other policy issues have to be considered by legal experts and related to policy about return or non-return of spectrum. But every megahertz of spectrum has to cost somehow," the committee, headed by additional secretary in the Department of Telecom R Bandhopadhyay, said in a note.

At present, mobile operators get start-up spectrum virtually free as it comes bundled with the licence. Companies need to pay Rs 1,651 crore for a pan-India licence. Telecom regulator TRAI had also earlier suggested that spectrum fee should be de-linked from the licence fee.— PTI

Top

 

Future Group foray

Mumbai, December 18
After the Bharti-Wal-Mart tie-up, the $2-billion Kishore Biyani-spearheaded Future Group will soon foray into the cash and carry (wholesale operations) market with a foreign partner, a top official of the company said.

"We are developing the cash and carry model with an overseas partner," Future Group's CEO Kishore Biyani told PTI here, without giving details.

Biyani will also be entering garment manufacturing for the first time with his group company, Pantaloons, in a joint venture with the National Textile Corporation (NTC).

NTC will be holding 51 per cent stake, while Pantaloons would hold the remaining 49 per cent, he said, adding that the details of the project will be known by December end. — PTI

Top

 
BRIEFLY

Stock split
Mumbai, December 18
Century Plyboards India Ltd today said it will split equity shares of the company in 1:10 ratio. The board of directors at a meeting held today approved the splitting of equity shares of face value Rs 10 to Re 1 denomination, the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.— PTI

IBM awarded
Chennai, December 18
Software major IBM today said it has received the first-ever Frost and Sullivan 2007 Market Leadership Award for Storage Solutions in India. Frost and Sullivan, which had been conferring best practices awards in areas such as enterprise telephony, network security, database and enterprise application software, has for the first time recognised excellence in the area storage solutions in India, IBM said.— PTI

Idea contract
New Delhi, December 18
Nokia Siemens Networks, infrastructure solutions provider for communications industry, today said it has won a three-year contract worth $150 million from private mobile operator Idea Cellular to build a greenfield GSM network in Bihar. The network would be ready for commercial operations by early 2008, subject to spectrum availability.— PTI

Gold gains
New Delhi, December 18
Mirroring the inflation concerns in the US, the gold prices recovered by Rs 55 to Rs 10,260 per 10 gram in the bullion market here with stockists preferring to buy and enlarge their positions amid firm international markets where the precious metal rose. Standard gold and ornaments rose by Rs 55 each to Rs 10,260 and Rs 10,110 per 10 gram, respectively. — PTI

MS grant
Bangalore, December 18
Microsoft India Pvt Limited today announced a funding of Rs 1.9 crore to three NGOs for enabling IT access to under-served communities in urban slums and rural India. The beneficiaries of the fund are Saath Charitable Trust, Smile Foundation and Nasscom Foundation, which will receive grants amounting to Rs 1,01,34,771, Rs 71,20,540 and Rs 23,94,744, respectively. — PTI

DuPont launch
Chennai, December 18
DuPont Advanced Fiber Systems India has launched ReliatraN Transformer Solutions again in India. With this launch, state-of-the-art global design and manufacturing technology will be introduced in India again with Indo Tech Transformers Limited. The agreement was signed here by Alok Bhatia, regional manager, DuPont India, and P.S.Jagdish, director, Indo Tech. — TNS

Top

 



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |