SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
B U S I N E S S

3G Base price Rs 4,040 cr 
New Delhi, June 19
There is finally good news for private telecom operators, who have been waiting for the government to arrive at a consensus for the pricing of third generation (3G) spectrum.

Satyam calls back 400 employees from virtual pool
New Delhi, June 19
In relief to the Satyam employees, about 400 people who were asked to sit on the virtual bench have been called back into the company.

HSIIDC to spend  Rs 320 cr on infrastructure
Chandigarh, June 19
The Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) has decided to spend Rs 320 crore on development of industrial infrastructure during the current financial year. The corporation has reported a 39 per cent increase in its income and net profit during 2008-2009.

AI asks senior mgmt to forego July salary
New Delhi, June 19
Air India today requested its top management and senior officials to voluntarily forego their salary and productivity-linked incentives for July to help the cash-strapped and crisis-ridden airline.



EARLIER STORIES




This handout photo shows new iPhone 3GS by Apple. US telecom giant AT&T said the iPhones would be available from Friday at the company’s and all Apple stores in the US. A 16-gigabyte iPhone 3GS costs $199 while the 32-gigabyte model is priced at $299.
This handout photo shows new iPhone 3GS by Apple. US telecom giant AT&T said the iPhones would be available from Friday at the company’s and all Apple stores in the US. A 16-gigabyte iPhone 3GS costs $199 while the 32-gigabyte model is priced at $299. — AFP

Paramount places $1.5-b order for 10 aircraft
New Delhi, June 19
Aiming to launch international services, all-business class carrier Paramount Airways today placed a $1.5-billion (approximately Rs 7,200 crore) order for buying 10 Airbus A-321 aircraft, each of them costing over $90.3 million.

Sharma: India ready for give-and-take on Doha
Washington, June 19
In what could be seen as a softening of India's stand on restarting the Doha talks, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said New Delhi was ready for “give and take” without being “frozen in pre-negotiating position” in the interest of global trade.

Three new SEZs cleared
New Delhi, June 19
Though slowdown has hit exports from India resulting in stemming the SEZ rush, developers are still looking for approvals and seeking time to develop their projects.

Jute MSP hiked to Rs 1,375 per qtl
New Delhi, June 19
The government today increased by 10 per cent the minimum support price of jute to Rs 1,375 per quintal for 2009-10. The decision to hike jute’s minimum support price (MSP) for the TD-5 grade (ex-Assam) was taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) here.

Nath seeks more budgetary allocation for roads
New Delhi, June 19
With a large number of road development projects facing a resource crunch as well as cost overrun and delay in completion in many cases, the Road Transport and Highways Ministry is seeking to double its budgetary allocation for smooth functioning.





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3G Base price Rs 4,040 cr 
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 19
There is finally good news for private telecom operators, who have been waiting for the government to arrive at a consensus for the pricing of third generation (3G) spectrum.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today approved base price for auction of the 3G spectrum at Rs 4,040 crore following a joint meeting with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Telecom Minister A Raja - a decision which would please those in the corridors of the North Block.

Prime Minister’s intervention over the pricing came as the Finance Ministry and the Telecom Ministry could not reach a consensus over reserve price. The approval from the Prime Minister would allow the government to garner at least Rs 32,320 crore in revenue.

The pricing, however, is much above the Rs 2,020 crore being suggested by the Department of Telecom (DoT). It is what the Finance Ministry was demanding - doubling of the base price being suggested by the Telecom Ministry. The approval would also mean that the process of bidding would start soon and it could well be completed by the end of August.

There is, however, skepticism in the market over the base price. Experts are of the opinion that the base price had been pegged a little too high and could prove to be a deterrent for the telecom operators to come forward for the bidding.

The bidding, which was to have been carried out late last year, had been put off thrice earlier mainly due to the lack of interest shown by the telecom operators due to steep pricing and differences between various ministries involved over the base price.

A source close to the development said the issue would now go to empowered group of ministers (EGoM) for fine-tuning and hopefully the process for bidding and other details would soon get a nod.

Initially, six private operators, apart from state-owned MTNL and BSNL, would be allowed to offer 3G services that enable high-speed internet, videos and many other value-added services on mobile phone.

The government hopes to garner at least Rs 24,240 crore from six operators that would be chosen after the bids, MTNL and BSNL that have already launched their 3G services, would shell out another Rs 8,080 crore, pegging the government’s earning at least Rs 32,320 crore. After the issue is cleared by the EGoM, the Telecom Ministry will announce detailed programme for the auction which will include pre-bid conference in the next couple of weeks, source said.

Contenders for the 3G spectrum may include Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Communication, Tatas and a few other new private telecom operators. On the lines of 3G, the government will also auction spectrum for wireless broadband services known as WiMax.

There is also a difference of opinion between the two ministries over the pricing. While the Telecom Ministry had recommended pan-India reserve price of Rs 1,010 crore for wireless broadband services, the Ministry of Finance is again seeking to double the price it in this case too.

Delay in the 3G auction has also lead to a delay in the expansion plans of various incumbent telecom operators since the government has put on hold the implementation of the spectrum committee’s report till after the auction. The spectrum committee had suggested auction beyond 6.2 MHz for existing 2G services to determine its price. 

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Satyam calls back 400 employees from virtual pool

New Delhi, June 19
In relief to the Satyam employees, about 400 people who were asked to sit on the virtual bench have been called back into the company.

According to sources, nearly, 380 employees, who were on the virtual pool, were asked to join back the company.

Earlier, Tech Mahindra, the new owner of trouble-torn Satyam, had identified and put 8,000-10,000 surplus employees of the IT firm under a programme called - virtual pool - where in an employee is paid part of the salary and retained on job.

The move is aimed at cutting staff costs, while retaining talent.

Effective from this month, the programme is applicable on those based in India and allows the associates to take time off from work on a reduced pay structure while they continue to retain their employment. Under, the programme they were paid basic salary, provident fund and medical insurance.

However, Tech Mahindra CEO Vineet Nayyar had said they (employees on the virtual pool) could be called back when required as regular employees.

The news comes a week after the company announced the programme. “As we are getting new business, we are calling back nearly 380 employees from the virtual pool," the person added. — PTI 

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HSIIDC to spend  Rs 320 cr on infrastructure
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 19
The Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) has decided to spend Rs 320 crore on development of industrial infrastructure during the current financial year. The corporation has reported a 39 per cent increase in its income and net profit during 2008-2009.

This was disclosed by Rajeev Arora, managing director of the HSIIDC, after a meeting of the board of directors of the corporation that was held today under the chairmanship of ML Tayal.

The managing director also said the HSIIDC had chalked out a detailed plan for acquisition of land and development of industrial infrastructure during 2009-2010. The corporation intended to acquire additional 3,000 acre of land at a tentative expenditure of Rs 1,250 crore.

The corporation had major acquisition plans at various locations, including IMT, Rohtak (1,900 acres); industrial estate, Barhi (650 acres); IMT, Manakpur (305 acres) and industrial estate, Karnal (234 acres).

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AI asks senior mgmt to forego July salary

New Delhi, June 19
Air India today requested its top management and senior officials to voluntarily forego their salary and productivity-linked incentives for July to help the cash-strapped and crisis-ridden airline.

Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav requested all executives in the level of general managers and above to voluntarily forego salaries and incentives for July as a gesture to ease the liquidity crunch faced by the airline, an Air India spokesperson said.

The airline is facing a possible industrial unrest with employees threatening agitation in case their June salary is not given by this month-end.

Jadhav's request is applicable to all senior employees of Air India, its subsidiaries and those on deputation and on contract.

Meanwhile, the Air India management will hold talks in Delhi tomorrow with the employees union to resolve the dispute on the decision to defer payment of June salary by 15 days.

“The NACIL management has called us for a meeting in New Delhi tomorrow,” Aviation Industry Employees Guild general secretary George Abraham said today. — PTI 

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Paramount places $1.5-b order for 10 aircraft

New Delhi, June 19
Aiming to launch international services, all-business class carrier Paramount Airways today placed a $1.5-billion (approximately Rs 7,200 crore) order for buying 10 Airbus A-321 aircraft, each of them costing over $90.3 million.

"We signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Paramount Airways for confirmed orders for 10 A-321s with an option for 10 more,” Airbus vice-president (sales) Miranda Mills said. Paramount has signed the MoU with major European aircraft manufacturer Airbus on the sidelines of the ongoing Paris Airshow at Le Bourget in France.

The list price for each aircraft is $90.3 million, but airlines and manufacturers negotiate the final pricing. Paramount Managing director M Thiagarajan said the $1.5-billion deal would be funded by the European Central Bank.— PTI

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Sharma: India ready for give-and-take on Doha

Washington, June 19
In what could be seen as a softening of India's stand on restarting the Doha talks, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said New Delhi was ready for “give and take” without being “frozen in pre-negotiating position” in the interest of global trade.

After his wide-ranging talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk in the last two days, Sharma said here yesterday, harmonisation of country positions in the WTO can be achieved.

“That could only be done by give and take to find the middle route. That is what we intend to do. It is achievable,” he said. Sharma said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wanted the current round of talks to conclude successfully.

“That is the mandate I have from the Prime Minister, who feels that the present economic crisis - which the world is facing - should be a positive message for global trade barriers to be broken down further and global trade to move, which will help economies across the globe,” he said.

The Doha Round of talks, started in 2001, were stalled in July 2008 amid differences between the US and India, representing the developing world.

India had demanded adequate protection for farmers while the US sought market access for its farm produce in the developing countries.

“When political leaders discuss issues, they paint the larger canvass and are not bogged down by smaller details. If you have the larger picture in mind and you are committed to take it forward the details can always be filled,” he said. — PTI

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Three new SEZs cleared
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News service

New Delhi, June 19
Though slowdown has hit exports from India resulting in stemming the SEZ rush, developers are still looking for approvals and seeking time to develop their projects.

In the Board of Approval meeting held today, headed by Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar, formal approval was given to IT Sez of Shyam Steel Industries, and Genome Valley Biotech Sez in Andhra Pradesh.

The board also gave an in-principle nod to multi services SEZ of Limitless Properties in Tamil Nadu and approved realty major K Raheja Universal to withdraw their two special economic zones at Navi Mumbai. Earlier DLF had sought an exit option.

The Commerce Ministry has already given extension of time to 23 developers. Those given time include three projects of Satyam Computer Services, Cognizant Technology Solutions, L & T Phoenix Info Park, Suncity (Haryana) and Hyderabad Gems.

There has been an investment of around Rs 1,08,903 crore. The exports from these SEZs have surged from Rs 22,000 crore in 2005-06 to Rs 99,689 crore in 2008-09. 

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Jute MSP hiked to Rs 1,375 per qtl

New Delhi, June 19
The government today increased by 10 per cent the minimum support price of jute to Rs 1,375 per quintal for 2009-10. The decision to hike jute’s minimum support price (MSP) for the TD-5 grade (ex-Assam) was taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) here.

"The increase in the MSP is expected to encourage the farmers to step up investment in jute cultivation...," Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters after the CCEA meeting. The Jute Corporation of India (JCI) would continue to act as nodal agency to undertake price support operations and the losses, if any, will be fully reimbursed by the government.

Jute production is estimated at 95.31 lakh bales during the 2008-09 season, compared with 102.21 lakh bales in the previous season. One bale is 180 kgs.

The bulk of the jute production in the country comes from West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tripura. — PTI 

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Nath seeks more budgetary allocation for roads
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 19
With a large number of road development projects facing a resource crunch as well as cost overrun and delay in completion in many cases, the Road Transport and Highways Ministry is seeking to double its budgetary allocation for smooth functioning.

At the Transport Bhawan, Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath has already made his intentions clear of putting the road infrastructure development on the fast track. He is now seeking a four-fold increase in highway construction to 20 km per day, especially, of those roads that do not fall under the purview of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

The minister has apparently sought a Rs 6,000 crore budgetary support from Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as compared to Rs 3,350 crore available in the last budget.

Reports suggests Nath will also be pressing for including “innovative funding” schemes in the Budget for boosting the country’s roads infrastructure development.

Besides projects under the NHAI, the government also earmarks funds for constructing roads, undertaken by various state government agencies and municipal corporations. Nath in his first few days at the ministry had also suggested setting up a Road Finance Corporation with an initial corpus of Rs 500 crore to provide easy financing options for the sector. 

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