SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


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

Diamond trade begins to sparkle again
Mumbai, May 14

After reeling under the global slowdown for more than a year, the sparkle has begun to return to the diamond-cutting and polishing industry.According to information available from the trade, orders are beginning to trickle in and cutting and polishing units in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Mumbai that had suspended operations last year are resuming business.

Budget 2009-10
No relaxation in indirect taxes, hints FinMin

New Delhi, May 14
Revenue Secretary P V Bhide has said that no further relaxation in excise and service taxes would be possible in the Budget for 2009-10.

Exports slip again
New Delhi, May 14
India's exports shrank in April for the seventh month in a row, this time by 33 per cent, opening the fiscal 2009-10 on a negative note amidst demand recession in major global markets like the US and Europe.

India Inc sees turnaround in H2 
New Delhi, May 14
The Indian economy is expected to see a turnaround only in the second half of 2009-10 even as an industry survey pegs GDP growth at 5-6 per cent for the year, despite improvement in the outlook. The CII Business Confidence Index (CII-BCI) improved by 2.4 points for April-September this fiscal compared to the previous six months.


In this file photo, a Wal-Mart store sign is seen in Durate, California.
In this file photo, a Wal-Mart store sign is seen in Durate, California. The world's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart, reported on Thursday a $3.02 billion net income for the first quarter of 2009. — AFP


EARLIER STORIES



The BT (British Telecom) tower is pictured in central London on Thursday. British telecom operator BT said on Thursday it would cut up to 15,000 more jobs, or 10 per cent of its staff, after posting an annual net loss of £83 million in 2008-09 financial year.
The BT (British Telecom) tower is pictured in central London on Thursday. British telecom operator BT said on Thursday it would cut up to 15,000 more jobs, or 10 per cent of its staff, after posting an annual net loss of £83 million in 2008-09 financial year. BT added in a results statement that it had already cut 15,000 jobs over the last 12 months, which was 5,000 more than previously announced. — AFP 

Slowdown Effect: JSW halves workforce in US 
New Delhi, May 14
Hit hard by the global economic crisis, Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Steel has almost halved its workforce at its US steel mills to remain competitive in the current scenario.

SEBI to pay first year peer review auditing fee
Kolkata, May 14
Market regulator SEBI said today it would pay the first year fee to auditors who will undertake peer review of accounts of the Sensex index tracker companies, a concept which was introduced to prevent recurrance of Satyam like frauds.

NTPC inks 8,500-cr loan pact
New Delhi, May 14
State-run power producer NTPC today said it has signed a loan agreement with State Bank of India for Rs 8,500 crore, which will be used for funding a basket of projects in pipeline.

RIM wins domain dispute against Indian firm
New Delhi, May 14
Research In Motion (RIM), the maker of popular Blackberry smart phones, has clinched victory in an Internet domain name dispute against an Indian firm at the World Intellectual Property Right Organisation (WIPO).

Tata Power moves SC on Sasan coal
New Delhi, May 14
Tata Power today moved the Supreme Court challenging the government decision that allowed Reliance Power to divert surplus coal from the Sasan power project.

Sony posts loss of $1 billion
Tokyo/New Delhi, May 14
For the first time in 14 years, Japanese electronics major Sony Corp has reported an annual loss, as sliding sales and surging yen took a toll on its business.

BoI, UBI to market Star Union Dai-ichi Life products
Mumbai, May 14
Public sector lenders, Bank of India and Union Bank of India, have joined hands with Japan's Star Union Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company as the latter's distribution partners under the corporate agency model. Under the pact, Star Union Dai-ichi Life would be strengthening its distribution platform by tying up with five Regional Rural Banks of Bank of India, a statement said. — TNS





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Diamond trade begins to sparkle again
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 14
After reeling under the global slowdown for more than a year, the sparkle has begun to return to the diamond-cutting and polishing industry.

According to information available from the trade, orders are beginning to trickle in and cutting and polishing units in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Mumbai that had suspended operations last year are resuming business. "While orders from traditional markets like the USA and Europe are still slow, new markets like Singapore and Hong Kong have opened up," says Amit Jain, a small diamond exporter in Mumbai.

The diamond trade controlled by Palanpuri Jains from Rajasthan and Gujarat are using their family networks in Asian countries to tap newer markets. Some say, small diamonds cut and polished in India are becoming popular in Asia as buyers downtrade from bigger stones during the downturn. Diamond exporters have also begun targeting buyers in the domestic market with encouraging results, say sources.

Data put out by the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council indicates that exports of polished diamonds fell 8.24 per cent to $13.02 billion in financial year 2008-09 as compared to the previous year.

However, gems and jewellery exports on the whole grew marginally to $21.12 billion in FY09 from $20.82 billion a year ago on the back of gold jewellery exports, which shot up 23.64 per cent at $ 6.86 billion in FY 09, according to the GJEPC.

However, things could turn better in the new financial year, according to the diamond trade. According to GJEPC, it is in the process of setting new export targets for the current financial year after taking into account the business climate in the US. America accounts for more than 50 per cent of India's diamond exports.

Of the 3,000 cutting and polishing units in Surat, the biggest diamond export hub in the country, more than 2,000 had downed their shutters after last Diwali. However, with the business climate showing signs of improvement, about 500 units have slowly reopened for business. About six lakh people are employed in these units in Surat and parts of Saurashtra in Gujarat.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India has asked banks to extend loans on easier terms to cutting and polishing units that need to buy rough diamonds from the international markets.

According to directives issued by the RBI, banks have also been asked to restructure loans to sick units in the industry. As a result, the units that are restarting operations have begun to pick up rough diamonds from the market, raising hopes of an accelerated recovery. The price of rough diamonds have risen by more than 20 per cent in May, according to industry reports.

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Budget 2009-10
No relaxation in indirect taxes, hints FinMin
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 14
Revenue Secretary P V Bhide has said that no further relaxation in excise and service taxes would be possible in the Budget for 2009-10.

“Moreover, there is no possibility for further bringing down corporate tax, and removal of surcharge on it,” indicated Bhide. The revenue secretary and his team is holding pre-Budget meetings with industry leaders and associations to draw up their demands for the upcoming Budget. However, the government would remove inadvertent duty structure wherever it exists.

At present, inadvertent duty structure prevails for good number of industries, under which import duty on raw materials is much higher as compared to finished products, which puts domestic industry into a great disadvantage.

Meanwhile, the industry has stressed the need to give some more incentives for exporters as exports will continue to suffer the wrath of global meltdown in the currrent fiscal also.

On the part of the Finance Ministry, a blueprint laying out roadmap for execution of Goods and Services Tax (GST) is being finalised.

Elaborating on the GST, Nihal Kothari, who represented Assocham, said the Finance Ministry would finalise a detailed blueprint for submission to new government so that it is put in place as early as possible.

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Exports slip again

New Delhi, May 14
India's exports shrank in April for the seventh month in a row, this time by 33 per cent, opening the fiscal 2009-10 on a negative note amidst demand recession in major global markets like the US and Europe.

A sharp drop of 33 per cent in export consignment to $10.79 billion in April, 2009, over a year-ago period was "expected ...with global slowdown and contraction of nine per cent (in) global trade," Commerce Secretary G K Pillai told reporters on the sidelines of a Ficci function here today.

Pillai said the downward trend in exports would continue for the next three-four months. "Then (exports) would pick up," he said.

The Commerce Secretary said imports were also down by 32 per cent in the opening month of the current fiscal.

However, the official data for April will be released on June 1, giving details of exports, imports and the trade deficit.

Exports plunged by 33.3 per cent in March, the most in over a decade, while the country's exports aggregated $168.70 billion in the fiscal 2008-09, managing a paltry growth rate of 3.4 per cent.

"India's exports have been badly affected due to the ongoing economic and financial crisis," the Confederation of Indian Industry said. However, 36 per cent of the CII-Business Confidence survey expects the situation to improve in the first six months of the current fiscal. — PTI 

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India Inc sees turnaround in H2 

New Delhi, May 14
The Indian economy is expected to see a turnaround only in the second half of 2009-10 even as an industry survey pegs GDP growth at 5-6 per cent for the year, despite improvement in the outlook.

The CII Business Confidence Index (CII-BCI) improved by 2.4 points for April-September this fiscal compared to the previous six months. "The index improved mainly on higher expectations for the coming six months, raising hope that the recovery may well be around the corner...," the CII-BCI said.

However, given the severity of the global slowdown, 96 per cent of the respondents in the survey of 374 companies felt it would be only in the second half of the current fiscal and beyond that the economy "would witness a turnaround and begin returning to normal growth".

The outlook survey ruled out deflation in the economy pegging inflation at about two per cent for the year. As many as 82 per cent of the respondents did not see drop in employment in the next six months dismissing job loss fears.

Under the impact of global downturn, the country's industrial output in March fell for the second month in a row and contracted by 2.3 per cent, the lowest in 16 years, according to government data released on Tuesday.

After an average nine per cent growth for the past four years, the Indian economy is estimated to have expanded at about seven per cent in the previous fiscal.— PTI 

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Slowdown Effect: JSW halves workforce in US 

New Delhi, May 14
Hit hard by the global economic crisis, Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Steel has almost halved its workforce at its US steel mills to remain competitive in the current scenario.

"We have cut jobs by 40-50 per cent at our units in the US in the last two quarters to bring the workforce in line with the capacity utilisation of the mills," JSW Steel joint managing director M V S Seshagiri Rao told PTI.

The mills altogether employed 950 workers in 2007 when the Texas-based mills were bought at $810 million. The mills can produce 1.2 million tonnes of plates and 0.5 million tonnes of pipes annually and are currently running at only 10-15 per cent of their capacity.

"Almost all steel mills in the US are running at much lower production capacity due to the slump in steel demand on account of the economic crisis. We are running our mills at 10-15 per cent of their production capacity," he said.

Globally steel majors like ArcelorMittal and Corus have come out with programmes to cut their production capacity and jobs aimed at bringing down the operational cost amid slump in demand for their products.

Even as it has trimmed production and workforce in the US, JSW Steel said it will revive the output with the possible rise in demand for steel in the coming months.

"We are optimistic for things to improve in the coming quarters with the stimuli measures taken by the US administration. We will increase the capacity utilisation in line with the revival in steel demand," Rao said.

Citing the distressed US economy, the steel major has also deferred its plans to increase its pipe-making capacity by five lakh tonnes.

On Monday, the company said it has no intentions to sell its Texas-based mills to cut its mounting losses, amid the slump in steel demand. — PTI

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SEBI to pay first year peer review auditing fee

Kolkata, May 14
Market regulator SEBI said today it would pay the first year fee to auditors who will undertake peer review of accounts of the Sensex index tracker companies, a concept which was introduced to prevent recurrance of Satyam like frauds.

"SEBI will pay peer auditors fees for the first year and then we will review how this exercise will be funded. It seemed there is a conflict of interest if the companies pay for the peer review fees. So, we decided to pay to complete the process," SEBI chairman C B Bhave told reporters here.

As a confidence-building measure following disclosure of accounting fraud in Satyam, the market regulator introduced peer review of the accounts of companies which figure in the list of 50 NSE Nifty and 30 BSE Sensex companies.

Bhave said the regulator has received reports of several peer reviews of index tracker companies but declined to state the number.

Bhave accepted there had been some delays in selection of auditors by SEBI after verifying the conflict of interest with the concerned company.

He denied that there was any deadline for such peer review, but the process was taking longer than anticipated.

Bhave stated that he had heard of certain issues concerning peer review concept and wished to complete this process before it goes for a review.

Reacting on buyback of shares, SEBI said the regulator was aware of certain issues relating to announcement of open offers and deviation from actual action by the companies.

"There are difficulties in bringing changes in norms of buyback from the existing regulations and we are having a relook at the regulations," Bhave said.

Commenting on the SME exchange, Bhave said they have received applications expressing interest but they and the applicants are bothered on some issues to ensure that this attempt does not fail like a few in the past. — PTI 

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NTPC inks 8,500-cr loan pact

New Delhi, May 14
State-run power producer NTPC today said it has signed a loan agreement with State Bank of India for Rs 8,500 crore, which will be used for funding a basket of projects in pipeline.

The loan facility for NTPC to be provided by the SBI would have a tenure of 10 years and the interest rate is linked to State Bank Advance Rate. The loan shall be drawn over a period of three years and shall be used for a basket of NTPC projects in pipeline. NTPC's approved outlay for 2009-10 for capital schemes is Rs 17,700 crore. Apart from the above said amount, NTPC's joint ventures and subsidiaries are expected to incur capital expenditure of about Rs 6,825 crore in this fiscal. — PTI

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RIM wins domain dispute against Indian firm

New Delhi, May 14
Research In Motion (RIM), the maker of popular Blackberry smart phones, has clinched victory in an Internet domain name dispute against an Indian firm at the World Intellectual Property Right Organisation (WIPO).

The Canadian phone maker had challenged the registration of three domain names — blackbberry.com, blckberry.com, and bllackberry.com — by the MumbaiDomains, a Mumbai-based firm, at the WIPO, stating they were similar to its trademark Blackberry, and could be confused with it.

"Save for the addition/deletion of a single letter, the disputed domain names are visually and phonetically identical to the famous blackberry trademark, which also supports a finding of confusion," RIM had contended before the WIPO.

The Geneva-based WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center has ordered the transfer of all three domain names used by Mumbai-based firm to Research In Motion (RIM). All three disputed domain names are registered with eNom by MumbaiDomains. 
— PTI 

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Tata Power moves SC on Sasan coal

New Delhi, May 14
Tata Power today moved the Supreme Court challenging the government decision that allowed Reliance Power to divert surplus coal from the Sasan power project.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan refused to give any interim relief to Tata Power, which has sought to restrain the government from allowing Reliance Power to use the captive coal allocated to the Anil Ambani group firm for any purpose other than generating electricity for the Sasan ultra mega power project.

However, the Bench adjourned the matter till July.

Last month, the Delhi High Court had dismissed Tata Power's petition challenging the government's decision to allow Reliance Power to divert coal from the captive mines of the Sasan ultra mega power project for use elsewhere.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Siddharth Mridul dismissed the petition filed by Tata Power after observing that the company has no locus standi to file this petition and it was not maintainable. — PTI

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Sony posts loss of $1 billion

Tokyo/New Delhi, May 14
For the first time in 14 years, Japanese electronics major Sony Corp has reported an annual loss, as sliding sales and surging yen took a toll on its business.

Sony has posted a loss of 98.93 billion yen (about $1 billion) for the financial year ended March 31, 2009, whereas the entity had a profit of 369.43 billion yen in the comparable period, it said in a statement today.

The company swung into the red primarily on account of falling sales and a strong yen. For the fourth quarter ended March 31, Sony posted a loss of 165.14 billion yen. In the year-ago period, it had a profit of 29.04 billion yen.

Sony's Q4 sales and operating revenue plunged by 22 per cent at 1,524.06 billion yen. In the comparable period, the same stood at 1,952.83 billion yen. — PTI 

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BRIEFLY

Inflation eases to 0.48 pc
New Delhi:
After rising for three consecutive weeks, inflation fell to 0.48 per cent for the week ended May 2, even as essential food items like pulses, cereals and vegetables ruled high. For the ninth week in a row, inflation stood below the one per cent mark, prompting the RBI and banks to cut interest rates. — TNS

Samsung’s new notebooks
Bangalore:
South Korean consumer electronics major Samsung on Thursday expanded its portfolio in the notebook segment by introducing four new models under its existing N and advanced R series. The mini notebook range has four variants — N110, NC20, N120 and N310. The new range of mini notebooks and notebooks comes with features like LED backlit displays for brighter pictures and lower power consumption and powered USB, Samsung utility softwares, spill-proof keyboard, SRS surround sound solutions in select models. — PTI

UTI MF open to acquisition
New Delhi:
The country's fourth largest asset manager, UTI Asset Management Company, on Thursday said it was open to acquisition if some good opportunity is available. "We can do it ... we are not averse to acquisition," UTI AMC chairman and managing director U K Sinha said. — PTI

JS Sarma is TRAI chief
New Delhi:
TDSAT member J S Sarma on Thursday took over as chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), succeeding Nripendra Mishra. Before joining TRAI, Sarma was Member of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal and is a well-known expert in the field, the regulator said in a statement. 
— TNS

Seagate to cut 1,100 jobs
New York:
Hardware maker Seagate Technology will be laying off nearly 1,100 employees or about 2.5 per cent of the global workforce, as part of its restructuring efforts. The company expects to save as much as $72 million from the restructuring plan, which is expected to be completed by the end of July this year. — PTI

Godrej launches range of ACs
Chandigarh:
Godrej Appliances launched a new range of 5 star-rated EON air- conditioners here on Thursday. Ramesh Chembath, general manager, Godrej Appliances, who was here for the launch, said these air-conditioners would help save up to Rs 8,000 per year on electricity bills. — TNS

Selected
Chandigarh:
Mohit Chitkara, vice-president of Chitkara Education Trust, has been selected chairman of the Chandigarh chapter of CII — Young Indians. He succeeds Anupama Arya, who was the previous chairman of the CII —Young Indians Chandigarh chapter. — TNS

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