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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

SC rejects plea of Mumbai SEZ
New Delhi, June 5
In a major setback to business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, the Supreme Court today dismissed a petition by Mumbai SEZ Ltd seeking a direction to the Maharashtra government to allow the company to go ahead with buying land for the project and a stay on the land acquisition process.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia Montek is dy chief of plan panel again
New Delhi, June 5
Montek Singh Ahluwalia today became the first deputy chairman of Planning Commission to retain the post after the government reconstituted the plan panel, which will also have three new members.

Decline in import of scrap
150 copper recycling units shut shop
Jammu, June 5
The Jammu region, which once emerged as the hub of copper recycling industry in India, has suffered a serious blow as more than 95 per cent of the units in the state have closed and others are on their way to closure due to the ‘drastic’ decline in the import of copper scrap.



EARLIER STORIES



GM India plans still on track, to be part of revamped entity
New Delhi, June 5
Notwithstanding the bankruptcy proceedings filed by US auto major General Motors Corp, GM India today assured its customers here the Indian venture was one of the key assets of the global entity and would remain part of the restructured company.

General Motors India officials pose with LPG variant of Chevrolet Spark at its launch in New Delhi on Friday. — Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui

Direct tax kitty swells by 17%
New Delhi, June 5
The Central Board of Direct Taxes today said the direct tax kitty has started looking up in May as it rose by 16.88 per cent to Rs 11,919 crore this fiscal from Rs 10,198 crore in the same month last year.

Vedanta to raise Rs 10,000-cr debt
New Delhi, June 5
Vedanta Aluminium, a subsidiary of metal and mining giant Vedanta Resources, is believed to be in talks with banks, including SBI, to raise Rs 10,000-crore debt for part-funding its project in Orissa.

Tech Mahindra makes changes in Satyam open offer
Mumbai, June 5
IT firm Tech Mahindra has extended the date for approaching the shareholders of Satyam Computer regarding its Rs 1,154-crore open offer for the purchase of a 20 per cent stake in the scam-hit firm, a move which comes days after market regulator SEBI cleared the open offer.

US jobless rate hits 26-yr high
Washington, June 5
US employers cut 345,000 jobs last month, the fewest since September and far less than forecast, according to a government report on Friday that was more evidence the economy's severe weakness was diminishing.

Steve Jobs may return to work
New York, June 5
Ending months of speculation about his health, IT giant Apple's iconic chief executive Steve Jobs may be back at the helm in June.

 





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SC rejects plea of Mumbai SEZ
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 5
In a major setback to business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, the Supreme Court today dismissed a petition by Mumbai SEZ Ltd (MSEZ) seeking a direction to the Maharashtra government to allow the company to go ahead with buying land for the project and a stay on the land acquisition process.

A vacation Bench, comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and Aftab Alam, however, sought the state government's response within three weeks to a plea by MSEZ for transfer of its petition, pending before the Bombay High Court, to the apex court.

Appearing for MSEZ, senior counsel PP Rao and Shanti Bhushan said the deadline for purchase of land for the proposed special economic zone at Raigarh was expiring in the next two days and that the apex court's intervention was necessary to save the Rs 600 crore investment already made in the project.

Pointing out that the two prayers of MSEZ were "contrary" to each other, the Bench said the petition was filed before the apex court only in May. "Were you not aware that the deadline was in June…The (Bombay) High Court rightly refused to stay the acquisition process" in its interim order.

The Bench also felt that the company had made a "vague averment without challenging the HC order."

Counsel Bhushan and Rao sought the court's permission to modify the prayer, stating that the company had deposited Rs 110 crore with the state government towards compensation for the project affected people. As many as 3,839 land owners who were in possession of 4,800 acres of land had accepted to sell their property as they found the offer price "very attractive." But the state authorities concerned were not giving their consent for the deal and as a result MSEZ would suffer "irreparable loss."

Counsel Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for some landowners, said the proposal to acquire 8,000 hectares was far in excess of the requirement. Further, the project had taken the consent of only 25 per cent of the landowners, whereas the consent of 75 per cent of them was necessary under law.

It was also argued that the judiciary could not intervene to prevent any deadline from lapsing. The high court had on May 22 asked MSEZ to move the apex court for expediting land acquisition as various public interest petitions were pending before it (SC).

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Montek is dy chief of plan panel again

New Delhi, June 5
Montek Singh Ahluwalia today became the first deputy chairman of Planning Commission to retain the post after the government reconstituted the plan panel, which will also have three new members.

The new entrants to the Commission are Saumitra Chaudhuri, former member of the PM's Economic Advisory Council, Narendra Jadhav, honorary vice-chancellor of Pune University, and Mihir Shah, Secretary of Samaj Pragati Sahayog.

Ahluwalia is the first deputy chairman to retain the post, although Gulzari Lal Nanda had served the post twice but by virtue of being the Minister of Planning in the Jawaharlal Nehru Government between 1953 and 1963.

The government has retained Abhijit Sen, Syeda Hameed and BK Chaturvedi as members in the reconstituted Commission, sources in the Prime Minister's Office said.

It has, however, let go Kirit Parikh, V L Chopra, B Mungekar and B N Yugandhar and sent them letters of appreciation for their services.

Ahluwalia would enjoy Cabinet rank, while the other members would be on par with Ministers of State.

Ahluwalia, along with with other members of the panel, had submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister on completion of the term of the last government.

When contacted, Chaudhuri said, "It's a sobering thought and a challenge for me".

Former ISRO chairman K Kasturirangan may also be named as member, though he did not figure in the initial list that came out today. Kasturirangan is now a member of the Rajya Sabha.

The Planning Commission, the key policy making body in the country that prepares the Five Year Plan, is headed by the Prime Minister.

The newly-constituted Planning Commission will also be providing inputs to the budget for 2009-10 which is likely to be tabled in Parliament during the first week of July.

The other important task before the new panel would be to undertake a mid-term review of the ambitious Eleventh Plan that aimed at raising the economic growth to 9 per cent during the plan period (2007-12). — PTI

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Decline in import of scrap
150 copper recycling units shut shop
Tejinder Singh Sodhi
Tribune News Service

Jammu, June 5
The Jammu region, which once emerged as the hub of copper recycling industry in India, has suffered a serious blow as more than 95 per cent of the units in the state have closed and others are on their way to closure due to the ‘drastic’ decline in the import of copper scrap.

The industry with the annual turnover of more than Rs 5,000 crore has suffered a serious blow due to the apathetic attitude of the state and central government towards promoting the small and medium enterprises.

“Government policies towards the SMEs are biased and it is not promoting the interests of the small and medium enterprises” says Sanjay Puri, chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir council of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

He further said, “India is a copper deficient country, but still it has imposed a duty of 9 per cent on the import of copper scrap, whereas there is no import duty on the finished copper products and because of this there is no copper scrap left with the units in Jammu.”

According to figures, in Jammu alone more than 150 copper units that were in the business of manufacturing of copper wires, melting of copper scrap, rolling mills, mills converting rods into wires, have shut their shop, rendering more than 10,000 people jobless.

Rajesh Jain, former chairman of the Federation of Industries Jammu, said, “Around 150 copper units in Jammu, Kathua, Samba and Udhampur have already been shut and others are also in the process of closure. Due to the closure of these units more than 10,000 people have been rendered jobless another 10,000 who were indirectly associated with the industry have also suffered.”

For the past 13 months, the government has taken no steps to revive the sick or closed units, but the unit holders and the employees are sitting idle in the hope that government would take some steps to revive the industry.

Puri says that the Government of India, in 2002, announced a special central excise package for the state which provided 100 per cent exemption on excise for units set up in the state for 10 years. And encouraged by this package, number of recycling units set up their business in Jammu and Kashmir.

He further disclosed that the central government modified the excise exemption policy last year, as the excise exemption benefit for copper- based units was reduced to 15 per cent of the excise duty.

State Minister for Industries and Commerce Surjit Singh Salathia said, “Our government will shortly formulate a policy to promote industry in the state, which can boost the state’s economy and address the problem of unemployment.”

He further said, “The revocation of the industrial incentive package is a blow for industry but we will take the issue with the central government”.

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GM India plans still on track, to be part of revamped entity
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 5
Notwithstanding the bankruptcy proceedings filed by US auto major General Motors Corp, GM India today assured its customers here the Indian venture was one of the key assets of the global entity and would remain part of the restructured company.

Country president & MD Karl Slym told reporters here the India operations would be part of the new GM that will only include the multinational’s prime assets. “We have invested over a billion dollars in the country and all our plans remain on track," he said on the sidelines of the launch of the firm’s LPG-powered variant of the Chevrolet Spark small car.

His assurance to Indian customers came in the form of a disclosure that GM India was just one step away from becoming a truly local manufacturer. This, he said, would happen with the yet to-be-launched Chevrolet Cruze, which is being built in India as opposed to the CKD (completely knocked down) units being assembled now.

"Our commitment to India and our customers remain strong. We are sure after about 60 days when the proceedings are over we will come out as a stronger entity," Slym said.

The company today launched the LPG variant of the Spark to coincide with the World Environment Day on Friday. It comes in two variants priced at Rs 352,586 and Rs 369,684 (ex-showroom) in Delhi.

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Direct tax kitty swells by 17%
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 5
The Central Board of Direct Taxes today said the direct tax kitty has started looking up in May as it rose by 16.88 per cent to Rs 11,919 crore this fiscal from Rs 10,198 crore in the same month last year.

However, the collection for April declined by 3.19 per cent to Rs 12,239 crore against Rs 12,642 crore a year ago.

Personal income tax collection also grew to Rs 15,559 crore, up about 6 per cent as compared to Rs 14,690 crore.

As per the official data released, the direct tax collection for the month of April and May rose by 5.77 per cent from Rs 22,840 crore in the same period last fiscal.

The industrial lull has shown in tax collection as in April and May, total corporate tax collection grew by 5.56 per cent to Rs 8,578 crore as compared to Rs 8,126 crore in the same months last year.

Lack of retail investor participation in the stock market and cutting down of perquisites provided by the corporates has led to a decline in Securities Transaction Tax and Fringe Benefit Tax collection, which declined by 24.75 per cent to Rs 7,995 crore in the April-May period this fiscal over the same period last year.

The government's direct tax kitty missed the revised Budget target of Rs 3.45 lakh crore for 2008-09 by Rs 6,000 crore.

The government, in the Interim Budget, had projected the direct tax kitty to grow to Rs 3.79 lakh crore this fiscal.

The statement said the refund outgo during the two-month period had improved with refunds to non-corporate taxpayers growing at 61.7 per cent at Rs 2,149 crore as compared to Rs 1,329 crore in the same period last year.

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Vedanta to raise Rs 10,000-cr debt

New Delhi, June 5
Vedanta Aluminium, a subsidiary of metal and mining giant Vedanta Resources, is believed to be in talks with banks, including SBI, to raise Rs 10,000-crore debt for part-funding its project in Orissa.

The company is in dialogue with a syndicate of banks, led by the country's largest lender, SBI, to arrange the debt, which would be used for expanding its aluminium production capacity in Orissa, a source close to the development said.

Even as Vedanta Aluminium Limited (VAL) has approached the banks for debt, its parent company Vedanta Resources would not stand as guarantor for the loan, he added. When asked if VAL is in the process of raising Rs 10,000-crore debt and has roped in SBI as the lead manager, Sterlite Industries Director Finance Tarun Jain refused to comment.

Sterlite Industries, the flagship company of the London Stock Exchange-listed Vedanta Resources, owns 30 per cent stake in VAL.

Vedanta Resources investment arm Twin Star Holding has a 45 per cent stake in the aluminium firm while the rest is with Welter Trading.

As part of its expansion, VAL will augment the capacity of its alumina refinery to five million tonnes per annum (MTPA) from the present 1.4 MTPA while that of aluminium smelter to 1.75 MTPA, from close to 0.7 MTPA.

NRI billionaire Anil Agarwal-promoted Vedanta Resources plans to pump in Rs 70,000 crore in India by 2011-12 for its aluminium, zinc, iron ore and copper projects. — PTI

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Tech Mahindra makes changes in Satyam open offer

Mumbai, June 5
IT firm Tech Mahindra has extended the date for approaching the shareholders of Satyam Computer regarding its Rs 1,154-crore open offer for the purchase of a 20 per cent stake in the scam-hit firm, a move which comes days after market regulator SEBI cleared the open offer.

In a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange, Satyam Computer said the last date by which letter of offer will be dispatched to the shareholders has been revised to June 9, from the earlier scheduled date of June 3.

Further, the last date of withdrawal by shareholders has also been revised to June 26, from the earlier June 27.

"Dates for all other activities of the schedule remains unchanged," the filing added.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had received the open offer for its consideration on May 6, and issued its 'observations' on May 27.

Through Venturbay Consultant, its acquisition vehicle for the Satyam Computer purchase, Tech Mahindra had announced an open offer on April 22 for buying an additional 20 per cent from the shareholders of the IT firm.

The open offer was made pursuant to Tech Mahindra buying a 31 per cent stake in Satyam for Rs 1,756 crore through the issue of preferential shares after an auction process conducted by the government-appointed board of Satyam. — PTI

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US jobless rate hits 26-yr high

Washington, June 5
US employers cut 345,000 jobs last month, the fewest since September and far less than forecast, according to a government report on Friday that was more evidence the economy's severe weakness was diminishing.

However, the Labor Department said the unemployment rate raced to 9.4 per cent, the highest since a matching rate in July 1983, from 8.9 per cent in April.

March and April's job losses were revised down to show a smaller declines of 652,000 and 504,000, respectively.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast non-farm payrolls dropping 520,000 in May. The unemployment rate had been forecast to rise to 9.2 percent.

While the job losses in May were spread across almost all sectors, the pace of layoffs was slower than in prior months. Payrolls in construction industries fell 59,000 after dropping 108,000 in April, likely as a result of the government's historic $787 billion stimulus package. — Reuters

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Steve Jobs may return to work

New York, June 5
Ending months of speculation about his health, IT giant Apple's iconic chief executive Steve Jobs may be back at the helm in June.

The Wall Street Journal quoting people familiar with Apple stated that "after months of uncertainty about Steve Jobs's health, the Apple Inc chief executive appears on track to return from medical leave this month".

The report said, Jobs's recovery "is coming along" and he is on schedule to return to work later this month.

While Jobs has been on sick leave, some Apple directors have gotten weekly updates about his medical condition from the CEO's physician, the daily said citing a person familiar with the matter.

Speculation has been rife whether Jobs would make an appearance at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference next week in San Francisco. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Oil close to $70 in Asian trade
Singapore:
Oil prices rose to within striking distance of $70 in Asian trade on Friday, buoyed by hopes of a recovery in the global economy which would boost energy demand. In afternoon trade New York's main futures contract, light sweet crude for July delivery, gained 53 cents to $69.34 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for delivery in July rose 40 cents to $69.11. — AFP

Time Technoplast enters into JV with Netherland firm
Mumbai:
Plastic processing company Time Technoplast on Friday said it has entered into an agreement with Netherland-based Schoeller Arca Systems for providing wide range of plastic made packaging and material handling solutions. The products would be made through the joint venture with an initial investment of 10 million euro and would be available in the Indian market before the end of this year, Time Technoplast said. — PTI

K’taka grants Rs 80-cr tax concession to Toyota
Bangalore:
The Karnataka Government on Friday extended tax concessions of up to Rs 80 crore for a three-year period to Toyota Kirloskar, which is expanding its manufacturing facility at Bidadi on city outskirts. Toyota Kirloskar, as part of its expansion plans to set up a small and compact car manufacturing unit, would invest about Rs 3,200 crore, creating 2,000 jobs, Home Minister V S Acharya told reporters after a Cabinet briefing here. — PTI

J&K Bank net up 32 pc
Srinagar:
Jammu & Kashmir Bank has reported 32 per cent jump in net profit at Rs 78.68 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31, 2009, on the back of high interest income and other earnings. Total income stood at Rs 866.63 crore in the latest quarter, while it had a total income Rs 724.82 crore in the year- ago period. The bank has recommended a dividend of 169 per cent to shareholders for 2008-09. — TNS

GMR Infra net up 6 pc
New Delhi:
GMR Infrastructure, part of the GMR Group, has posted a six per cent increase in net profit at Rs 53.24 crore in the fourth quarter ended March 31 as against Q4 of 2007-08. It recorded revenues of Rs 649.24 crore from the power business during the quarter, compared to Rs 622.53 crore in the year-ago period.— PTI

SBI in pact with ISB
Chandigarh:
The State Bank of India (SBI), in association with the Indian School of Business (ISB), has signed an MoU to set up a research cell on public sector leadership in India at the ISB campus, Hyderabad. The MoU was signed by Ajit Rangnekar, dean, ISB and R K Sharma, CGM of SBI, Hyderabad Circle , in the presence of O.P. Bhatt, chairman, SBI. — TNS

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