SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

Petronet ties up LNG import from Australia 
New Delhi, May 8
Petronet LNG Ltd, India's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) importer, has tied up 1.5 million tonnes of fuel imports from the Gorgon project in Australia.

Exports from SEZs set to reach Rs 1.25 lakh cr
New Delhi, May 8
Exports from the special economic zones (SEZs) are expected to reach the target of Rs 1,25,000 crore in the current fiscal, with Reliance Industries' Jamnagar refinery alone likely to contribute Rs 35,000 crore to the total shipments.

$28-tr wealth eroded amid global slump
New Delhi, May 8
Ever since the credit crunch surfaced in late 2007, there has been a dramatic fall in the prices of financial assets amounting to a total wealth erosion of $28 trillion across the world, economic forecasting consultancy Oxford Economics has said.

Small savings collection up 10 pc
Chandigarh, May 8
The crash of the capital market and falling bank deposit rates have helped improve the small savings collection dramatically. After a gap of three years, a reversal of trend has been seen with the small saving collection having gone up by almost 10 per cent across the country.

Inflation rises to 0.70%
New Delhi, May 8
Continued rise in food prices pushed up inflation to 0.70 per cent, the increase being for the third week in a row, even as economists did not rule out the possibility of it turning negative soon.

Cairn to begin crude oil output by month-end
New Delhi, May 8

Cairn India will begin producing crude oil from its prolific Rajasthan fields by the month-end if it gets approval from partner ONGC for field investments and if the government is able to find buyers for the oil.


A woman admires Toyota's compact car iQ at the company's showroom in Tokyo
A woman admires Toyota's compact car iQ at the company's showroom in Tokyo on Friday. Toyota Motor, the world's largest vehicle manufacturer, announced on Friday its first annual loss of 437 billion yen (about $4.4 billion), one of the worst ever, for the financial year ended March 31, 2009, amid slumping sales and soaring yen. — AFP 



EARLIER STORIES



Bollywood actress Gul Panang and Sunil Dutt, country head, Samsung Mobile, at the launch of mobile phones in Hyderabad
Bollywood actress Gul Panang and Sunil Dutt, country head, Samsung Mobile, at the launch of mobile phones in Hyderabad on Friday. Samsung launched two variants of full touch screen phones, Samsung Star (S5233) and Samsung 3G (S5603) priced at Rs 11,100 and Rs 14,499, respectively. — PTI

SMEs’ share in GDP to be 22% by 2012: Assocham
New Delhi, May 8
The contribution of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to national GDP is projected to go up to 22 per cent of India’s GDP by 2012, from the present 17 per cent.

DLF may face up to Rs 400 cr tax blow
New Delhi, May 8
The country's largest realty player, DLF, yesterday said it might have to pay additional tax of up to Rs 400 crore following a special audit of its income for the fiscal 2005-06, by the income-tax authorities.

‘Heritage on Wheels’ may turn into restaurant
New Delhi, May 8
After ferrying tourists to see the splendours of the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan for two years, the once popular "Heritage on Wheels" luxury train, currently consigned to the railway yard, may soon be transformed into a restaurant in Jaipur.

Wipro unveils ‘Tarang’
Bangalore, May 8
Wipro Technologies, the global IT Services business of Wipro Limited, yesterday launched ‘Tarang’, a product qualification and certification facility, here. Former President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam inaugurated the facility in the presence of Azim H Premji, chairman, Wipro Ltd.

Tata Steel may shut Teesside unit
Mumbai, May 8
Tata Steel, the world's sixth-largest steelmaker, said on Friday its Corus unit has opened talks which might lead to the mothballing of its Teesside Cast Products plant in England and large job losses.







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Petronet ties up LNG import from Australia 

New Delhi, May 8
Petronet LNG Ltd, India's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) importer, has tied up 1.5 million tonnes of fuel imports from the Gorgon project in Australia.

Petronet has concluded term sheets for all agreements for buying 1.5 million tonnes a year of LNG from Exxon Mobil Corp for 20 years, beginning 2014, company managing director and CEO Prosad Dasgupta told PTI here.

"The Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) will be signed before June 30," he said.

Petronet will import the LNG at its under-construction Kochi terminal in Kerala. Exxon has further said it can sell another 1.3 million tonnes of LNG to Petronet but the Indian buyer has not yet committed to additional volumes as it has not tied-up consumers for that.

"Right now we have firm commitment from buyers of 1.5 million tonnes of LNG," Dasgupta said, adding NTPC's Kayamkulam power plant was supposed to be a major consumer of the imported gas at Kochi but has not yet committed to taking any volumes.

Petronet and Exxon issued a joint statement saying they have reached agreement on supply of Gorgon LNG to Kochi but refused to divulge details like price.

US energy major Chevron Corp is the operator of the Gorgon project with a 50 per cent stake while Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch/Shell hold 25 per cent each.

The Gorgon Project plans to develop the Greater Gorgon gas fields, located between 130 km and 200 km off the north-west coast of Western Australia. The Greater Gorgon gas fields contain resources of about 40 trillion cubic feet of gas, Australia's largest-known gas resource.

"The agreement will provide for ExxonMobil's subsidiaries Mobil Australia Resources Co Pty Ltd and Mobil Exploration and Producing Australia Pty Ltd to supply approximately 1.5 million tonnes annually of LNG with the potential for additional supply, for a 20-year term," the statement said.

Dasgupta said: "Petronet LNG looks forward to finalising the agreements and moving forward with the LNG infrastructure needed to supply natural gas consumers in the Kerala region." ExxonMobil's Luke Musgrave, Vice President LNG-Australia, said: "We are pleased to move forward with Petronet LNG on securing LNG sales from the Gorgon Project." — PTI 

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Exports from SEZs set to reach Rs 1.25 lakh cr
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
Exports from the special economic zones (SEZs) are expected to reach the target of Rs 1,25,000 crore in the current fiscal, with Reliance Industries' Jamnagar refinery alone likely to contribute Rs 35,000 crore to the total shipments.

While leading SEZs like Mahindra World, Nokia, Apache, Hyderabad Gems and Jewellery became operational in 2008-09, exports from these zones fell short of target of Rs 1,20,000 crore in the last fiscal, according to the Export Promotion Council for EoUs and SEZs.

"Gems and jewellery, textiles, engineering and telecommunications SEZs, were the major contributers to the exports," council's Director-General L B Singhal said.

Singhal was confident about meeting the target for the current fiscal with the commissioning of the big ticket SEZ Jamnagar refinery by the Reliance Industries in December last.

"We are hopeful of achieving the target as the exports from the Reliance Industries Jamnagar SEZ are likely to be worth Rs 35,000 crore," he said.

In terms of sectors, the IT and ITEs dominate the approvals and notifications. Of the total zones notified, 163 related to this sector. While the sector has remained in the forefront of the India's growth story, the main reason for IT and ITEs firms rushing towards the special economic zones was tax incentives.

The total investments in SEZs were Rs 81,093 crore till March 2009.

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$28-tr wealth eroded amid global slump

New Delhi, May 8
Ever since the credit crunch surfaced in late 2007, there has been a dramatic fall in the prices of financial assets amounting to a total wealth erosion of $28 trillion across the world, economic forecasting consultancy Oxford Economics has said.

Oxford Economics estimates that the "total financial wealth has fallen some $28 trillion, or 14 per cent, from its peak. In absolute terms, this has taken wealth back to the level prevailing in third quarter of 2006."

However, the losses this time were rapid and much larger than seen when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000-02, it added.

In the US, financial wealth losses were huge at $8.1 trillion, thanks to the six consecutive quarters of declining financial wealth.

Substantial losses also occurred in the Eurozone and in emerging markets. "Wealth losses in both these areas have totalled around $11 trillion, equivalent to closer to 20 per cent of total financial wealth," the Oxford Economics report said.

Though the losses in the Eurozone and emerging markets got exaggerated as the US dollar has gained grounds against the euro and many emerging market currencies. But even in local currency terms the losses have been substantial indeed.

Wealth losses were concentrated mainly in the household sector as the US household financial wealth losses have reached $11.4 trillion, Oxford Economics said. — PTI

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Small savings collection up 10 pc
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The crash of the capital market and falling bank deposit rates have helped improve the small savings collection dramatically. After a gap of three years, a reversal of trend has been seen with the small saving collection having gone up by almost 10 per cent across the country.

It is learnt that the gross small savings collection for the country has increased from Rs 1,03,275.50 crore in January 2008 to Rs 1,14,149.93 crore in January 2009. Though the collections for February and March 2009 are still being compiled for all states and union territories, officials said the growth in collection was between 10- 12 per cent.

According to the figures made available by the National Savings Institute, gross small savings collection in Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh has seen a significant rise, especially in the last two quarters of year 2008-09. The small savings collection in Himachal Pradesh has gone up from Rs 2,206.61 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 2,390.28 crore in 2008-09. Chandigarh has seen a rise of 21 per cent (from Rs 363.72 crore to Rs 440.10 crore in 2008-09), and Haryana has witnessed a rise of 7.5 per cent (from Rs 4,277.13 crore to Rs 4,523.78 crore).

Punjab, however, has shown a slight fall in collection, mainly because of the failure of the state government to offer incentives and woo investors. Because of the huge incentives offered by Punjab government each year, investors from not only Punjab, but also from neighbouring areas of Haryana and Chandigarh preferred to invest in small saving schemes in Punjab. This year, investors have preferred to invest in their own state. Collections have fallen from Rs 8,542.61 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 7,841.28 crore in 2008-09.

Officials in National Savings Institute said that the bank deposit rates had now fallen from 10.5-11 per cent to just 7-7.5 per cent now. “People have also been weaned away from the stock markets and mutual funds because of the ongoing volatility in capital markets. As a result, investors have once again turned towards risk-free small saving schemes, which offer 8-9 per cent interest,” said Rajiv Sagar, regional director, National Savings Institute. 

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Inflation rises to 0.70%
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
Continued rise in food prices pushed up inflation to 0.70 per cent, the increase being for the third week in a row, even as economists did not rule out the possibility of it turning negative soon.

The persistent rise in prices of food items like milk, cereals, pulses, vegetables and sugar may provide another lever to opposition parties as the country goes to the last leg of the general elections in five days.

Wholesale price inflation rose by 0.13 percentage points during the week ended April 25 from 0.57 per cent in the previous week. Inflation stood at 8.27 per cent during the corresponding week a year ago.

During the week, the price of tea was up seven per cent, bajra three per cent, arhar two per cent, and milk, wheat and spices one per cent each.

Year-on-year, prices of cereals went up more than 11 per cent, pulses 14 per cent, and fruit and vegetables 9.1 per cent. At the same time, prices of milk have gone up nearly 6.5 per cent over last year, while spices were more expensive by about 8 per cent.

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Cairn to begin crude oil output by month-end

New Delhi, May 8
Cairn India will begin producing crude oil from its prolific Rajasthan fields by the month-end if it gets approval from partner ONGC for field investments and if the government is able to find buyers for the oil.

Even though Rajasthan fields will help India cut on its oil imports, ONGC has not yet approved the revised development plan for the Barmer fields. The government on the other hand has found buyers for less than one-third of the company's planned peak output.

"Our facilities will be ready to start production by end of May, subject to partner (ONGC) and government approvals and finalisation of crude sales agreements with government nominees," a Cairn spokesperson said.

Only after ONGC approves the revised field development cost of $2.4 billion can the government approve the investment in Rajasthan fields. The government has found buyers in Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Mangalore Refinery for only 2.4 million tonnes of the 8.75 million tonnes peak output planned by Cairn. It will produce 1.5 million tonnes in 2009-10 but the three firms are willing to take no more than 0.7 million tonnes.

Next year the output would climb to seven million tonnes but IOC says it could take a maximum of 1.5 million tonnes while HPCL and MRPL would take 0.5 and 0.4 million tonnes, respectively. ONGC holds 30 per cent in the fields where Cairn is the operator with 70 per cent. — PTI 

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SMEs’ share in GDP to be 22% by 2012: Assocham
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
The contribution of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to national GDP is projected to go up to 22 per cent of India’s GDP by 2012, from the present 17 per cent.

In a study carried out by industry chamber Assocham, the reason for fast growth of this sector is aggressive upgradation of technology, which has reduced input costs and increased production and exports. The study states that over 55 per cent of the SMEs have upgraded technologically.

At present, the small scale part of SMEs have been facing not only recession but credit crunch and variety of regulations from the Centre, states and local governments even as the situation has gradually started changing after enactment of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Act 2006.

The study reveals that SMEs have been growing at around 35 per cent over the past two years but going forward this sector will register a 40 per cent growth rate. Much of this will be due to this sector being technologically driven and thus will contribute to manufacturing output to an extent of 46 per cent. At present, their manufacturing contribution is around 40-42 per cent.

Assocham president Sajjan Jindal said at present SMEs’ share to national exports was at around 38 per cent, but it would surge to over 44 per cent in next five years. Due to the enactment of the MSME Act, 2006, the sector has been liberalised and deregulated to a large extent as earlier the small-scale units were mostly governed under 60 central state and local laws.

“The main constraint which the SMEs still face is the credit problem. This sector is still neglected by banks and financial institutions, mostly in the private sector domain. The credit that they receive is at very high cost and therefore their margins are narrow and input costs increase vis-à-vis their counterparts,” the Assocham chief pointed out.

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DLF may face up to Rs 400 cr tax blow

New Delhi, May 8
The country's largest realty player, DLF, yesterday said it might have to pay additional tax of up to Rs 400 crore following a special audit of its income for the fiscal 2005-06, by the income-tax authorities.

The I-T department had last year ordered a special audit of the 2005-06 financial year accounts of the realty firm.

"The Special (Audit) Report had recommended that the tax department (re)assess approximately Rs 1,200 crore as additional income," the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

DLF further said, the assessing officer had issued an assessment order on May 6 "adding substantially most of the amount suggested by the Special Audit Report".

"In an unlikely event if the said order is not reversed by the appellate authorities then it can result in a contingent liability of approximately Rs 300 crore to Rs 400 crore," the company said.

DLF, however, said it "has got an expert opinion on the enhanced taxable income and is confident that this addition will not be sustained by the appellate authorities." When contacted by PTI, DLF chief financial officer Ramesh Sanka said it would approach appellate authorities within 90 days.

DLF Brands MD resigns

DLF Brands, the retail management arm of real estate major DLF Ltd, on Thursday said its managing director Kelvin Coyle has resigned from the company.

The company, however, did not disclose anything regarding the succession plans at its helm.— PTI

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‘Heritage on Wheels’ may turn into restaurant
Anuradha Shukla

New Delhi, May 8
After ferrying tourists to see the splendours of the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan for two years, the once popular "Heritage on Wheels" luxury train, currently consigned to the railway yard, may soon be transformed into a restaurant in Jaipur.

“It is rather sad that this beautifully-designed train is parked in a railway shed instead of carrying passengers. We don't want the effort to go waste,” said B.K. Sharma, the general manager of the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corp that was running the service.

“A high-end restaurant is what we have in mind. With traditionally done interiors, this train-restaurant will be a unique concept in itself. We are confident it will attract both tourists and residents,”said Sharma.

The fully air-conditioned luxury train service started operations in January 2006, with 14 lavishly decorated coaches, two restaurants and a well appointed bar-cum-lounge. But last December, it was left to idle away at a shed in Jaipur due to several reasons. “We are exploring various options for a suitable spot where we can park “Heritage on Wheels” in its new avatar. But what we know for sure is it will be inside the main Jaipur city,” said Sharma. — IANS

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Wipro unveils ‘Tarang’
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, May 8
Wipro Technologies, the global IT Services business of Wipro Limited, yesterday launched ‘Tarang’, a product qualification and certification facility, here. Former President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam inaugurated the facility in the presence of Azim H Premji, chairman, Wipro Ltd.

Tarang is equipped with world-class capabilities for product designing and manufacturing organisations across the globe. The investment made for setting up the laboratory is said to be in the region of $8.5 million.

Tarang will offer consultancy, pre-compliance testing and certification services. The facility is equipped to test electronic products in the aerospace, automotive, computing, consumer electronics, industrial automation, medical electronics and telecommunication industries.

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Tata Steel may shut Teesside unit

Mumbai, May 8
Tata Steel, the world's sixth-largest steelmaker, said on Friday its Corus unit has opened talks which might lead to the mothballing of its Teesside Cast Products plant in England and large job losses.

Tata said the decision was unavoidable after a four-member consortium which had a slab offtake agreement decided last month to unilaterally terminate the contract, making the operations unviable.

The consortium includes Italian steelmaker Marcegaglia and South Korea's Dongkuk Steel. In January, Marcegaglia and Dongkuk had agreed to buy an 80 per cent stake in the Teesside unit.— Reuters

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BRIEFLY

HDFC Standard Life to infuse Rs 350 cr
Mumbai:
HDFC Standard Life on Friday said it plans to infuse around Rs 350 crore for its expansion this fiscal. "Last fiscal, we infused around Rs 525 crore. This year too there will be capital addition but not as it was during the previous year. We plan to infuse around Rs 350 crore of capital this fiscal," HDFC Standard Life's executive director, Paresh Parasnis said. — PTI

Punjab ranks 4th in PPP investments
Chandigarh:
Punjab has received investment worth Rs 14,516 crore through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives between year 2000 and 2008, thus getting fourth rank in PPP model investments among nine major states. An official release by Assocham said Punjab had received PPP initiatives investment in areas of civil aviation, education, health, IT, road, tourism, transport in the past eight years. — TNS

RCom slashes mobile tariffs
Chandigarh:
Reliance Communications (RCom) on Friday announced a massive reduction in its CDMA STD tariffs for both new and existing subscribers in Punjab. Reliance Mobile has introduced a new tariff plan, where customers can make local and STD calls to any phone in India at 50 paise per minute from the second minute onwards. The first minute will be charged at Re 1 for local and Rs 1.50 for STD calls. This facility is being offered through a special tariff voucher of Rs. 39, which offers this tariff for 30 days. — TNS

Gold rises by Rs 170
New Delhi:
Gold prices on Friday surged by Rs 170 to Rs 14,795 per 10 gram in the bullion market here on emergence of buying by stockists and jewellery fabricators amid firming global trend. Silver also recorded significant rise of Rs 810 to Rs 22,950 per kg. — PTI

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