SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

GST critical for reforms: Pranab
New Delhi, June 11
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee at the pre-Budget meeting with state Finance Ministers in New Delhi on Thursday. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said today the immediate need was to give a boost to economic growth without widening the fiscal deficit. He was talking to state Finance Ministers here.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee at the pre-Budget meeting with state Finance Ministers in New Delhi on Thursday. A Tribune photo

Inflation slips to 0.13 pc
New Delhi, June 11
Inflation slipped to 0.13 per cent for the week ended May 30, the lowest ever in over three decade, a development that could hasten the process of rate cuts by the banks.

Mobile user base crosses 306 m
New Delhi, June 11
The GSM-based mobile operators in the country added 8.3 million subscribers in May taking the total subscriber base to 306.4 million.

L&T sells stake in UltraTech Cement
Mumbai, June 11
Engineering major Larsen & Toubro has sold entire stake of 11.49 per cent in Ultra Tech Cement through open market transaction for an estimated Rs 1,035.70 crore.






EARLIER STORIES




Nearly 1,000 Goodyear employees demonstrate in front of the company's headquarters in Rueil-Malmaison, a southern Paris suburb, on Thursday.
Nearly 1,000 Goodyear employees demonstrate in front of the company's headquarters in Rueil-Malmaison, a southern Paris suburb, on Thursday. They were protesting against 820 job cuts announced on May 26 by the tyre manufacturer at its plant in Amiens northern France. — AFP photo

People shop in Siam Paragon shoping mall in Bangkok.
People shop in Siam Paragon shoping mall in Bangkok. Confidence among Thai consumers fell to a seven-year low in May, reflecting pessimism over domestic political and economic uncertainties, a monthly survey showed on Thursday. — AFP photo

NPS fails to attract investors
Chandigarh, June 11
The New Pension System (NPS), launched by Pension Fund Regulatory Development Authority (PFRDA) on May 1, is yet to find favour with investors despite it being the only such scheme for workers in the private and unorganised sector.

Alarming rise in ‘identity
theft’ cases

Chandigarh, June 11
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is not the only one crying hoarse about her identity theft on a popular social networking site. With jobs becoming the most important asset in these turbulent economic times, corporates, too, are up against the growing breed of ‘identity thieves’ and ‘identity frauds’.

Reserve pool with reduced pay best way to cut costs: Satyam
Hyderabad, June 11
As a cost-cutting measure, the scam-hit
Satyam Computers today announced a
sabbatical policy for the Indian employees
allowing them to take time off from work
for a period of six months on a reduced
pay structure.

Biocon innovation cell at ISB
Bangalore, June 11
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, an entrepreneur and chief of biotechnology firm Biocon has announced setting up an innovation management cell in the Hyderabad- based Indian School of Business (ISB) to “promote innovation in business”.

 





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GST critical for reforms: Pranab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 11
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said today the immediate need was to give a boost to economic growth without widening the fiscal deficit. He was talking to state Finance Ministers here.

“The focus of the UPA government would be on infrastructure, agriculture and employment- generating sectors to protect growth and jobs,” the he said.

The economy grew 6.7 per cent in the financial year ended March 31, 2009, from a 9 per cent growth a year earlier, while fiscal deficit more than doubled to 6.2 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

While admitting that the crunch of finances was an issue, the FM said, the stimulus measures taken by the Central Government had a cost in terms of deterioration of Centre's fiscal deficit, which went up to 6.2 per cent of GDP in 2008/09.

“We have to deliberate on ways and means to bring back the economy to higher growth trajectory without fiscal profligacy,” he said.

“We have to resume the process of fiscal consolidation at the earliest. High levels of fiscal deficit are not sustainable in the medium to long term,” he stated.

Requesting the Chief Ministers and state Finance Ministers to resolve the pending issues expeditiously, Mukherjee said "as in the case of VAT, the Centre continues to play the role of a facilitator for GST (Goods and Services Tax) also".

The new tax system GST is expected to replace most indirect taxes at the central and state levels.

The Centre had earlier agreed to compensate the states for loss of revenue following the implementation of VAT and gradual reduction of CST rate.

“We also need to focus on the introduction of GST from April 1, 2010. This is a critical part of our economic reforms,” he stated.

Mukherjee further said as the states had agreed on eliminating double benefits under the VAT and Central Sales Tax (CST) compensation packages, Central government has issued relevant circulars.

Calling upon states to focus on "aam aadmi", he said “we have to ensure that the growth process is not only accelerated but also (made) inclusive, we need to give full attention to sectors like infrastructure, agriculture, employment generation etc.”

Recalling social sector initiatives taken by the central government to make growth more inclusive, Mukherjee said the Cabinet Secretary would be holding periodic video conferences with the chief secretaries to monitor the progress of the schemes.

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Inflation slips to 0.13 pc

New Delhi, June 11
Inflation slipped to 0.13 per cent for the week ended May 30, the lowest ever in
over three decade, a development that could hasten the process of rate cuts by
the banks.

While the wholesale price index stood at 0.48 per cent in the previous week, the rate of price rise was 9.32 per cent during the corresponding week a year ago.

Even though inflation declined during the week, the prices of essential food items like vegetables, eggs, pulses and spices became more expensive.

This is the 13th week in succession when inflation stood below one per cent. Analysts feel that inflation could slip into negative territory in the days to come.

"We may see inflation in the negative territory which may continue till October with the lowest inflation level at minus 1.5 per cent in July," said HDFC Bank economist Jyotinder Kaur. — PTI

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Mobile user base crosses 306 m

New Delhi, June 11
The GSM-based mobile operators in the country added 8.3 million subscribers in May taking the total subscriber base to 306.4 million.

As per the data released by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the total number of GSM subscriptions in India reached 306.4 million in May compared to a subscriber base of 298.1 million in April.

Bharti Airtel maintained its leadership position in the GSM space with a market share of 32.48 per cent.

Airtel hit the landmark of reaching 100 (99.5) million subscriber mark with the addition of 2.8 million subscribers in May.

By adding 2.5 million new GSM subscribers, Vodafone Essar took its subscriber base to a total of 74 million. In April, Vodafone had added 2.7 million subscribers.

Idea Cellular with 14.84 per cent market share has added 1.3 million subscribers taking its subscriber base to 45.4 million.

Among the public sector players, BSNL's total subscriber base touched 48.1 million subscribers as it added 4.5 lakh users in the month of May.

The subscriber addition in May dropped drastically for BSNL as in April the firm had added 1 million new users.

BSNL has a market share of 15.72 per cent. MTNL has managed to add 38,036
users, taking its subscriber base to 4.2 million. In April, MTNL had added 45,553
subscribers. — PTI

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L&T sells stake in UltraTech Cement

Mumbai, June 11
Engineering major Larsen & Toubro has sold entire stake of 11.49 per cent in Ultra Tech Cement through open market transaction for an estimated Rs 1,035.70 crore.

L&T has sold 1,43,03,294 shares, representing 11.49 per cent stake in the company, UltraTech Cement said in a disclosure to the Bombay Stock Exchange today.

Calculated on the basis of current market price of Ultra Tech Cement, the deal value comes to over Rs 1,035.70 crore.

Meanwhile, shares of UltraTech Cement reacted negatively to the development and plunged over five per cent in the morning trade on the BSE.

The company's scrip dipped to a low of Rs 724.10, down 5.12 per cent over the
previous close.

Besides, shares of L&T remained volatile in the early trade. After opening firm on the bourses, it slipped 2.79 per cent to witness a low of Rs 1,588.15 on the BSE.

A similar downward movement of the scrips were witnessed on the National Stock Exchange, where Ultra Tech Cement tanked 5.54 per cent to Rs 720.50 and L&T dipped to a low of Rs 1,586.10, down 2.62 per cent over last closing. — PTI

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NPS fails to attract investors
Sanjay Khurana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
The New Pension System (NPS), launched by Pension Fund Regulatory Development Authority (PFRDA) on May 1, is yet to find favour with investors despite it being the only such scheme for workers in the private and unorganised sector.

According to information, in the month of May, it could only garner 350 subscribers. The dismal performance may be due to lack of awareness among investors or due to unfavourable tax treatment vis-à-vis alternative schemes like the public provident fund or the employees provident fund.

Now, the PFRDA is working on measures to make the NPS more attractive. The
regulator has recommended to the Centre that NPS should be given the exempt-
exempt-exempt (EEE) status.

At present, NPS has exempt-exempt-tax (EET) status, which means that contributions and returns are tax-free, while withdrawals attract tax.

The NPS generated a return of 14.82 per cent last fiscal, the first one in which it operated, handling the corpus of civil service pensions, as against single-digit return of other pension and provident fund schemes.

The NPS corpus was more than Rs 4,000 crore before it was opened up for the unorganised and private sector employees.

The accounts are being managed by National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL), which has been appointed a central record-keeping agency for the scheme.

The PFRDA is also putting in place an online application system and e-payment facility for the Net-savvy investors.

According to sources, to increase liquidity of the scheme, there could also be Tier-II accounts by the end of this year, which would allow the investors to withdraw money at any point of time.

At present, the scheme is available only for Tier-I accounts, whereby withdrawals are not allowed till the age of 60.

A person in the age group of 18 to 55 can subscribe to this scheme from any of 285 Points of Presence (PoPs) across the country. These are run by 17 banks.

The subscribers have the option of picking up their choice of fund managers and also determine the ratio in which he or she would like to invest in equities and debt instruments. There is, however, a ceiling of 50 per cent investment in equities.

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Alarming rise in ‘identity theft’ cases
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is not the only one crying hoarse about her identity theft on a popular social networking site. With jobs becoming the most important asset in these turbulent economic times, corporates, too, are up against the growing breed of ‘identity thieves’ and ‘identity frauds’.

In order to present a better portfolio and get a nice job in the corporate sector,
a number of job seekers are either forging their identities or impersonating as
somebody else.

Increasingly, these job seekers first steal the identity proofs of the person (degrees,/date of birth certificates, relieving letters from previous employees), present these as part of their CVs and then seek jobs.

Ajay Trehan, CEO, AuthBridge, a credentials screening and risk management consultancy, informed TNS that post recession they have witnessed an alarming increase of 15 per cent in the cases of identity thefts.

“While conducting background checks for those seeking jobs in corporate houses, who are our clients, we are coming across several such cases of identity thefts. The phenomenon has become more pronounced during this quarter when jobs are getting scarce. Most of the cases detected by us have seen people impersonating as either a more successful sibling or friend, and mainly for seeking jobs in the IT and ITeS sector,” he said.

Trehan said the phenomenon was not just restricted stealing the identity of a close person, but fraudsters have found several ways to steal your identity — stealing wallets containing your identification, hacking emails, including bank and credit card statements, using your personal information shared on the net or by scamming you.

Also, cyber thieves appear to be ramping up their operations to take advantage of the economic downturn and steal a few identities, and then sell them, he added.

“Fudging of relieving letters issued to employees is also quite common. Many
fraudsters procure relieving letters of unsuspecting persons and fudge the names
so as to use them as their own documents,” he said.

Trehan suggested that in order to prevent this, one should always shred all bills, account statements etc., limit access to your computers by protecting it with password and safeguarding PAN card number and voter ID card number.

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Reserve pool with reduced pay best way
to cut costs: Satyam

Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 11
As a cost-cutting measure, the scam-hit Satyam Computers today announced a sabbatical policy for the Indian employees allowing them to take time off from work for a period of six months on a reduced pay structure.

Christened as “virtual pool” programme, it covers employees who have not been in the billable roles for the past three months.

Approximately 7,000 to 10,000 employees will come under the purview of the one-time policy offer decided at the company’s board meeting here today.

“The initiative aims to retain skilled resources while enabling the company to remain competitive. The employees will continue to retain their employment in the company,” a Satyam release said.

The employees identified to be part of “virtual pool” programme will get their basic pay, in addition to provident fund and medical insurance.

The employment status continues undisturbed and based on business requirements they will be recalled and reinstated on full pay and benefits, the release added.

The staff under virtual pool programme will continue to have access to upgrading their skills by utilising company’s learning programmes and mentoring resources.

The virtual pool programme is an innovative way of retaining the excellent human assets despite difficult global economic situation.

The recessionary climate that had seriously affected IT industry, in addition to the unprecedented set of events that Satyam faced recently, added to its pressures.

“The virtual pool programme is a unique way of retaining associates and developing them through training while ensuring the financial viability of the company,” said Kiran Karnik, chairman of Satyam Board.

The company CEO A S Murty said the virtual pool programme was a necessity under the present circumstances and provided a leeway for the company to make investments and recover the lost ground.

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Biocon innovation cell at ISB
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, June 11
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, an entrepreneur and chief of biotechnology firm Biocon has announced setting up an innovation management cell in the Hyderabad- based Indian School of Business (ISB) to “promote innovation in business”.

Addressing mediapersons here, Mazumdar said barring information technology and biotechnology industries, most of the other business models in India were replication of successful business models of the West.

“We have been simply imitating the developed countries. If we want to realise
the dream of becoming a future economic power house, we need to promote
innovation”, she said.

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BRIEFLY

Jet Airways to cancel plane order
New Delhi:
Working towards cutting excess capacity, Jet Airways is negotiating with aircraft manufacturer Boeing to cancel its order for a B777 jet, worth Rs 725 crore, scheduled for delivery in August. "The management is in talks with Boeing over cancelling/finding another buyer for the Boeing 777 (Capex at $145 million) that was due for delivery in August 2009," brokerage firm IDFC-SSKI said. — PTI

Nikon plans 100 Coolpix zones
New Delhi:
Nikon India, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan's camera and digital imaging products player Nikon Corporation, plans to open 100 shop-in-shops outlets for its 'Coolpix' compact camera range this year as part of its strategy to focus more on such retail format. The company, which on Thursday launched its first 'Coolpix Zone' in Delhi, targets a 10 per cent share of the estimated 10 lakh units compact camera market in India in 2009. — PTI

AP allocates 750 acres to NTPC-BHEL JV
Hyderabad:
The Andhra Pradesh government has approved allocation of 750 acres of land at nominal price of Rs 100 per acre for setting up a power equipment manufacturing unit jointly by NTPC and BHEL entailing an investment of Rs 6,000 crore. The state Cabinet, which met here on Thursday under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, approved the land allocation at Mannavaram village under Srikalahasthi mandal in Chitoor district. — PTI

JVC, Kenwood to merge home audio biz
Tokyo:
JVC Kenwood Holdings Inc. on Thursday said it would merge in July the home audio operations of its two wholly owned subsidiaries in the areas of development and production to cut costs and combat sluggish demand. Victor Co. of Japan, known as JVC, and Kenwood Corp. will sell their products separately under their respective brands. But JVC will take charge of all other operations, including product planning and marketing as they seek to stem losses in their home audio businesses. — PTI

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