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3G auction in next fiscal
New Delhi, February 17
Facing lack of interest from foreign bidders and opposition from the armed forces for vacating the spectrum till they were provided with an alternate spectrum, the government today made it official that the auction for the next generation 3G spectrum would only take place in the next financial year.

Rs 2,400 cr allocated for promotion of trade
New Delhi, February 17
The Finance Ministry has allocated sufficient funds to promote foreign trade and exports in 2009-10. It has provided Rs 2,400.28 crore for promotion of foreign trade, more than Rs 2,270.09 crore allocated in 2008-09. This falls short of the revised estimates in 2008-09, which had grown by a whopping Rs 3,752.12 crore, on account of whopping increase in the non-Plan expenditure from Rs 1,829.84 crore to Rs 3,301.34 crore in 2008-09.

Buyer for Satyam likely by month-end
New Delhi, February 17
As Minister for Corporate Affairs P C Gupta said today in Parliament that investigations in the Rs 7,800-crore Satyam fraud, allegedly by its chairman Ramalinga Raju have been handed over to the CBI, one of the members of the newly constituted board of the company said that a buyer for it may emerge by the month-end.



EARLIER STORIES



India set to miss export target
New Delhi, February 17
The government admitted in the Lok Sabha today that it would not be able to meet the trade target of $200 billion fixed for the 2008-09 fiscal. “Owing to global financial crisis and economic slowdown of developed economies, the target of $200 billion is unlikely to be achieved, though we hope to achieve exports to the tune of $170-175 billion,” Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar said during the question hour today.
Construction workers walk in Moscow's new financial district, Moscow City, on Tuesday. Russia's Economy Ministry expects the economy will shrink by 2.2 per cent this year, a much deeper contraction than the previously forecast 0.2 per cent, a deputy minister was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Construction workers walk in Moscow's new financial district, Moscow City, on Tuesday. Russia's Economy Ministry expects the economy will shrink by 2.2 per cent this year, a much deeper contraction than the previously forecast 0.2 per cent, a deputy minister was quoted as saying on Tuesday. — Reuters

Buddha lays stone of Rs 3,500-cr steel plant
Kolkata, February 17
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today laid a foundation stone of the proposed Rs 3,500-crore integrated steel plant in Purulia district.

Textile industry in crisis
Ludhiana, February 17
As many as 25 major textile companies of the country have witnessed a loss in the first nine months of 2008 worth Rs 550.12 crore against a profit of Rs 294.50 crore during the corresponding period of 2007, thus causing a droop of 287 per cent. This was disclosed here today by S P Oswal, chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles. Oswal met the Secretary, Textile Ministry, in Delhi last week and made a presentation on the situation prevailing in the textile industry of the country.

Settlement of Claims
Industrial units up in arms against PFC
Chandigarh, February 17
Several industrial units across Punjab are up in arms against Punjab Financial Corporation (PFC) for failing to withdraw legal proceedings initiated against them, even after these units had settled all claims and obtained no-objection certificates (NOC) from PFC.

RIL to restart crude oil production
New Delhi, February 17
Reliance Industries may restart crude oil production from its predominantly gas-rich KG-D6 fields next month but is likely to shut the fields again by early April to hook up more oil wells to raise output.

 





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3G auction in next fiscal
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 17
Facing lack of interest from foreign bidders and opposition from the armed forces for vacating the spectrum till they were provided with an alternate spectrum, the government today made it official that the auction for the next generation 3G spectrum would only take place in the next financial year.

It, however, said here today that the Group of Ministers (GoM), to sort out the issues such as the number of slots and reserve price for the 3G services, will be constituted this week.

"GoM is likely to be constituted this week. We are still hopeful that the 3G spectrum option has a possibility of happening before the end of the current fiscal. There is still some time," Telecom Minister A Raja said.

In the Interim Budget presented yesterday by Pranab Mukherjee, the government had talked of 3G auction only in 2009-10.

Also, the government has brought down its expectation of the revenue it would generate from the auction of the spectrum. It has estimated that it will get around Rs 20,000 crore from the auction, a downturn from the Rs 44,000 crore target set initially.

While the two state-run telecom companies, BSNL and MTNL, have launched 3G services in limited circles, the decision of the government to take up the auction in the next fiscal would hurt the private telecom players. BSNL is all set to launch 3G services in Chennai on February 23.

The third generation (3G) spectrum is essential to launch high-speed value-added mobile telephony services.

Reports suggested that defence forces would shortly release 15 MHz of spectrum for the mobile services, soon after a memorandum of understanding between the Department of Telecom and the Ministry of Defence gets signed in a week.

The estimates on revenue seem to have been cut due to the economic slowdown. According to the Budget documents, the government expects to earn Rs 33,335.33 crore from various licence fees and spectrum charges (primarily from 3G auction) in 2009-10, which is more than twice of what it expects to earn in 2008-09 at Rs 13,174.29 crore.

Incidentally, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has prepared a draft note for the Cabinet on 3G auction, which recommends hiking the base price for each block of a pan-India licence from Rs 2,020 crore to Rs 4,040 crore as per the demand of the Finance Ministry.

However, the Cabinet has still not taken a final decision to clear the auction, which was, earlier expected to be completed by January 30. The Cabinet note had set a new deadline of end-March.

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Rs 2,400 cr allocated for promotion of trade
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 17
The Finance Ministry has allocated sufficient funds to promote foreign trade and exports in 2009-10. It has provided Rs 2,400.28 crore for promotion of foreign trade, more than Rs 2,270.09 crore allocated in 2008-09. This falls short of the revised estimates in 2008-09, which had grown by a whopping Rs 3,752.12 crore, on account of whopping increase in the non-Plan expenditure from Rs 1,829.84 crore to Rs 3,301.34 crore in 2008-09.

However, the exporting community is not happy with the Budget and says that “looking at global slowdown and stimulus announced by other countries, we were expecting exemption of fringe benefit tax/service tax, re-introduction of income tax exemption on exports, increase in investment allowance and higher allocation for marketing development schemes. However, only the interest subvention schemes has been extended for a limited period of 6 months,” said Federation of Indian Exports Organisation (FIEO) president A Sakhtivel.

The Finance Ministry has provided the Commerce Department an allocation of Rs 3,660.56 cr for 2009-10 which is definitely more than Rs 3,535.24 made in 2008-09, but falls short of the revised estimates made for the current fiscal at Rs 4,949.02 crore, according to demands for grants for 2009-10 presented in the Lok Sabha.

But, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has been allocated Rs 1,183.03 crore in 2009-10, as against Rs 723.45 crore in 2008-09. The current 
fiscal’s allocation has, however, revised upward to Rs 748.03 crore.

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Buyer for Satyam likely by month-end
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 17
As Minister for Corporate Affairs P C Gupta said today in Parliament that investigations in the Rs 7,800-crore Satyam fraud, allegedly by its chairman Ramalinga Raju have been handed over to the CBI, one of the members of the newly constituted board of the company said that a buyer for it may emerge by the month-end.

The board, which has been constituted by the government, has been looking for a buyer for the company which has been facing a financial crunch.

Senior member of the Satyam board, Deepak Parekh said here that a buyer was likely to emerge by the end of February when asked specifically whether he saw any buyer coming forward for the company. "Yes. By the end of this month," he said.

Satyam has already accelerated its plans to find a suitable buyer after India's market regulator amended takeover rules.

As part of the efforts to present the interested party with a suitable company, the software exporter has also got plans to downsize its work force, especially at the senior level.

Already two officials at senior level have quit and more resignations are expected to follow. Satyam, India's fourth-largest outsourcer, has been in news and facing the financial crunch since January 7 last when its founder Ramalinga Raju quit as chairman, revealing profits have been falsified for years and almost Rs 7,800 crore had been embezzled.

Later, the government dissolved Satyam's board and appointed six directors to save the company and its over 50,000 employees. The new board has appointed Goldman Sachs and Avendus, an Indian investment bank, to help find potential investors.

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India set to miss export target
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 17
The government admitted in the Lok Sabha today that it would not be able to meet the trade target of $200 billion fixed for the 2008-09 fiscal. “Owing to global financial crisis and economic slowdown of developed economies, the target of $200 billion is unlikely to be achieved, though we hope to achieve exports to the tune of $170-175 billion,” Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar said during the question hour today.

He listed gems, jewellery, textiles, garments, handicrafts, automobiles, leather, leather products, marine products, plastic and linoleum as the hardest-hit sectors, which have lost considerable number of jobs as well. “We are trying to mitigate the troubles of these sectors,” he said.

He said the government and the RBI were closely monitoring both domestic and international economic developments. “The RBI has already taken several steps to reduce the cost of credit and improve liquidity for trade and industry,” the Minister said, earlier mentioning that the government had fixed the $200 billion trade target when it announced the annual supplement to the foreign trade policy on April 11 last.

The Minister then listed RBI measures to improve the credit and liquidity situation and arrest the decline in export growth rate. These include the reduction in repo rate, reverse repo rate, statutory liquidity ratio and CRR.

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Buddha lays stone of Rs 3,500-cr steel plant
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, February 17
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today laid a foundation stone of the proposed Rs 3,500-crore integrated steel plant in Purulia district.

The project, which will include a power plant, will be implemented jointly by Shyam Industries Ltd and the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC). About 150 acres of land will be needed for the plant, of which 74 acres had been already identified.

Incidentally, the work at two major steel plants at Jhalda in Purulia and Salboni in west Midnapore district, whose foundation stones were laid two years ago, were now temporarily stalled since the investors were facing problems in obtaining foreign loans in the wake of global financial crisis.

The two investors, namely Balaji group and the Jindal industries, however, assured the state government that they would re-start their work at Jhalda and Salboni, respectively, as soon as they overcome funding crisis.

While Jindal’s Salboni’s steel plant would cost Rs 30,000 crore, the Balaji group had planned Rs 1,700- crore investment 
in the Jhalda project, which, when completed, would employ about 1,000 and 20,000 persons, respectively.

Laying the foundation stone in Purulia’s Raghinathpur today, the Chief Minister said he had been assured by the Shyam Industries that there would be no problems in the procurement of funds for their plant. The plant would provide jobs to some 2,000 youths.

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Textile industry in crisis
Sheetal Chawla
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 17
As many as 25 major textile companies of the country have witnessed a loss in the first nine months of 2008 worth Rs 550.12 crore against a profit of Rs 294.50 crore during the corresponding period of 2007, thus causing a droop of 287 per cent. This was disclosed here today by S P Oswal, chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles. Oswal met the Secretary, Textile Ministry, in Delhi last week and made a presentation on the situation prevailing in the textile industry of the country.

The textile companies included Vardhman Textiles, Welspun India, Rajasthan Spinning, Nahar Industrial Enterprises, Nahar Spinning and Exports, Abhishek Industries, Rajapalayam, Gangotri Textiles, Winsome Yarns Ltd, Prime Textiles Ltd, Ambika Cotton, Patspin India, Raymond Limited, Gtn Textiles, Cheslind Textiles Ltd, Super Spinning Mills Ltd, JCT Ltd, Winsome Textiles Ltd, Maral Overseas Ltd, Malwa Cotton and Himatsingka Seide.

Oswal told The Tribune that global recession in major textile-importing economies like the USA, European Union and Japan has adversely affected textile exports from India.

For the first time in many years, US textile imports have declined by 3 per cent during January-November 2008. On the other hand, Bangladesh and Vietnam have recorded positive growth in clothing exports to the USA in January-November 2008.

According to Oswal, India's textile exports are expected to decline by 10 per cent from $22 billion during 2007-08 to $20 billion in 2008-09. However, Chinese exports grew by 8 per cent to $185 billion in 2008 from $171 billion in 2007. He revealed that the competing countries have responded swiftly to save their textile industry as China has increased the export rebates from 9 per cent to 17 per cent in a span of three months. China also decreased the interest rate to 5.5 per cent to enable the industry to cope up with financial problems and to keep the mills running. Pakistan has extended research and development support to 6 per cent to garment exports and also allowed mark-up subsidy of 3 per cent on spinning sector on outstanding loans for financing import of machinery. Pakistan has also announced two-year moratorium period for repayment of all loans to help the industry.

Oswal pointed out that the Government of India reduced the duty drawback rates in September 2008, which increased the difficulties of the textile exporters. The government has partially increased the rates but still same are quite lower than pre-September 2008 level. Further, increase in MSP of cotton by 40 per cent by the government has crippled the industry to withstand the global economic meltdown, which has started showing its negative impact in domestic market as well.

Oswal has called upon the government to put up a general moratorium of two years for loans given to textile industry and overall repayment should be extended by two years. This will enable the mills to keep running till the recession is over… even if there are no profits.

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Settlement of Claims
Industrial units up in arms against PFC
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Several industrial units across Punjab are up in arms against Punjab Financial Corporation (PFC) for failing to withdraw legal proceedings initiated against them, even after these units had settled all claims and obtained no-objection certificates (NOC) from PFC.

Though these units have been pleading that the cases against them be withdrawn by the corporation, the state government officials say that law will take its own course. A senior functionary of the Industries Department informed TNS that the matter was being considered by the executive committee of PFC. It was, however, decided that the law be allowed to take its own course and the cases may not be withdrawn by PFC.

“Though these 18 industrial unit owners have settled all their claims, but the dues were paid only after the due date for payment was over. Thus, it was decided that the cases filed against them under the Negotiable Instruments Act be pursued till their logical conclusion,” said Principal Secretary, Industries, Punjab, S S Channy. He added that a number of these persons had settled their loans under the OTS scheme launched by the state government.

“Only because they had paid the dues after the last date for the OTS, we had filed cases against them,” he added.

These units had availed term loans from the corporation in the early 1990s. Over a period of time, these units failed to honour the post- dated cheques issued to PFC at the time of availing the loan. The bankers returned these cheques as unpaid on account of non- availability of funds, and PFC filed cases against such defaulting units under the Negotiable Instruments Act.

A Barnala-based unit owner, requesting anonymity, said they had also paid two per cent extra penal interest as the payment was delayed beyond the due date. “We have been issued NOC and the securities have been released by PFC. We are unnecessarily being harassed by the PFC as it refuses to withdraw the court cases against us,” he said.

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RIL to restart crude oil production

New Delhi, February 17
Reliance Industries may restart crude oil production from its predominantly gas-rich KG-D6 fields next month but is likely to shut the fields again by early April to hook up more oil wells to raise output.

The MA field in KG-D6 off the Andhra coast, began pumping oil in September 2008 and had produced 790,000 barrels of oil till December 9 when output ceased due to equipment failure.

"Production is expected to recommence in March after completion of necessary repairs and modification," a source said. Gas from the block is also expected to start flowing from the first week of March.

Reliance was producing about 10,000 barrels of oil per day from two wells before the shutdown and it would add another well to raise the output in March.

The source said three more wells were likely to be brought into production when the field takes the planned shutdown in March-end or early April. "Output is expected to rise to 40,000 bpd before the end of April-June quarter." Reliance had sold the first cargo of over 430,000 barrels of oil to Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd's Vizag refinery and the second cargo is slated to go to Chennai refinery (CPCL).

CPCL has contracted 450,000 barrels of oil from Reliance at a discount of $5.34 a barrel to the internationally traded price of Nigerian Bonny Light crude oil. The price is the same that was offered by HPCL. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Oil falls below $37
Singapore
: Oil prices fell below $37 a barrel on Tuesday in Asia as a deepening global slowdown weighed on expectations for crude demand. Light, sweet crude for March delivery fell 76 cents to $36.75 a barrel by midday in Singapore on the New York Mercantile Exchange after settling at $37.51 on Friday. The contract rose 11 cents on Monday in Asian and European trading while US markets were closed for the Presidents Day holiday.— AP

Re crashes by 88 paise 
Mumbai
: Closing in on 50-mark, the Indian rupee on Tuesday crashed by a massive 88 paise, the biggest fall in more than three months, to close at nearly two-and a half month low of 49.70/72 against the US currency. Forex dealers attributed the steep fall in the rupee to extremely sluggish global equity markets, which they said may lead to increased capital outflows.— PTI

Banks' strike hits operations
Mumbai
: Clearing operations and other transactions were partially affected in around 5,000 branches of State Bank of India's six associate banks on Tuesday after their employees went on a nationwide strike to press various demands. Unions are demanding immediate termination of merger proposals between associate banks with the parent and allowing benefits to associate banks' staff at par with SBI employees.— PTI

Gems, jewellery exports up
Mumbai
: India's gem and jewellery exports rose by 7.05 per cent to Rs 72,529.67 crore in the April-January 2009 period, according a Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) data. Exports of gem and jewellery stood at Rs 67,754.95 crore in the same period last fiscal. However, exports in dollar terms declined by 2.29 per cent to $16,387.18-million as compared to $16,771.03 million in the same period last year.— PTI

Awarded
Chandigarh
: Vivek Kumar Arora, chairman of Chandigarh branch of Northern India Regional Council of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), has received the best chairman of branch award from S. Prabhu, former Union Minister at a function organised by Northern India Regional Council of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India at New Delhi on Monday. — TNS

LIC Jeevan Varsha
Chandigarh
: LIC has launched Jeevan Varsha, a close-ended guaranteed additions plan, which provides guaranteed benefits on death as well as maturity. The plan is open for sale till March 31. Raghupal Singh, senior divisional manager, Chandigarh division, said this was a money-back plan with only two policy terms — nine years and 12 years, with premium paying term restricted to only nine years for both. — TNS

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