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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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B U S I N E S S

ATF prices hiked by 6 pc
New Delhi, June 30
For the fourth time in two months, state-run oil firms today hiked jet fuel or ATF price by more than 6 per cent on firming international oil prices.Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum raised aviation turbine fuel (ATF) price by Rs 2,306 to Rs 38,558 per kilolitre in Delhi effective midnight tonight, an IOC official said.

Agency to keep tabs on development schemes likely
New Delhi, June 30
The reelected UPA government is set to roll out the second round of its Bharat Nirman programme in its budget for fiscal 2010. The scheme, to be implemented over a period of four years, is aimed at beefing up the country’s infrastructure, especially in rural areas.

Madoff gets 150-yr jail
New York, June 30
Once a famous Wall Street investor and now an infamous scamster, 71-year-old Bernard L Madoff will spend the rest of his life behind bars, serving the maximum possible sentence of 150 years, more than double his age.



EARLIER STORIES



Cellebrum brings out cutting-edge products
Chandigarh, June 30
The recession notwithstanding, Parwanoo-based Cellebrum Technologies Ltd, an arm of the $500 million Spice group with interests in telecom solutions, office automation, IT and value-added services (VAS), is expanding its telecom VAS by developing innovative products like teaching English in Punjab, crop care awareness, power bills update and bill payments via mobile phones.The company has targeted to serve 50 million customers in the VAS space in the area of mobile communications, entertainment, infotainment and commerce.

Indian Oil to invest Rs 60k cr on expansion 
New Delhi, June 30
State-run Indian Oil Corp (IOC) plans an investment of over Rs 60,000 crore in raising its refining capacity to 80 million tons per annum by 2011-12 from 60.2 million tons at present, company's Director (Refineries) B N Bankapur said.

Fiscal deficit crosses 27 pc of target
New Delhi, June 30
Fiscal deficit of the Union Government shot up to Rs 90,758 crore for the first two months of the current fiscal, already 27.3 per cent of the Budget estimate.

Doing business easiest in Ludhiana: World Bank
New Delhi, June 30
Patna is ahead of Mumbai but second only to New Delhi in terms of ease of starting a business, according to a World Bank ranking announced today.

SBI launches two new home loan products 
Mumbai, June 30
The country's largest lender, State Bank of India, today launched two new home loan products — SBI Easy Home Loan and SBI Advantage Home Loan for buyers in the sub Rs 30-lakh and over Rs 30-lakh category, with processing fee for both waived till September 30.

UK economy contracts at fastest rate in 51 years
London, June 30
The British economy shrank by 2.4 per cent in the first quarter, the fastest rate of shrinkage in more than 50 years, according to official figures released Tuesday.

TRAI draft for mobile number portability
New Delhi, June 30
Telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today issued draft regulations for introduction of mobile number portability (MNP) in the country.The draft regulations describe the rights, obligations and duties of both telecom operators (donor and recipient) for the "porting" (changing) of mobile number, TRAI said in a statement. MNP allows a user to change his/her telecom operator without changing the mobile phone number.





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ATF prices hiked by 6 pc

New Delhi, June 30
For the fourth time in two months, state-run oil firms today hiked jet fuel or ATF price by more than 6 per cent on firming international oil prices.

Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum raised aviation turbine fuel (ATF) price by Rs 2,306 to Rs 38,558 per kilolitre in Delhi effective midnight tonight, an IOC official said.

The hike comes on back of over 12 per cent hike on June 15. ATF price on that day were raised by Rs 3,949 to Rs 36,252 per kilolitre in Delhi.

International crude oil prices have firmed to a seven-month high of $72 per barrel on hopes of demand revival in US.

The three state-run retailers had from June 1 raised jet fuel rate by an average of Rs 108 per kl, which came on the back of a 1.8 per cent hike in rates on May 16.

In Mumbai, home to the nation's busiest airport, the rate will go up from Rs 37,367 per kl to Rs 39,789 per kl. The rise in ATF price, which constitutes 40 per cent of airlines' operating cost, may further put pressure on cash-strapped domestic carriers.

No comments from any of the leading airlines were immediately available on the latest price hike. Jet fuel in Kolkata will be dearer at Rs 46,711 per kl from Rs 44,289 per kl, while in Chennai the price has been raised by Rs 2,500 per kl to Rs 42,524 per kl. — PTI 

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Agency to keep tabs on development schemes likely
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 30
The reelected UPA government is set to roll out the second round of its Bharat Nirman programme in its budget for fiscal 2010. The scheme, to be implemented over a period of four years, is aimed at beefing up the country’s infrastructure, especially in rural areas.

Sources close to those involved in drawing up the programme said it would entail increased spending but the emphasis this time would be on irrigation as rainfall is likely to be deficient this year.

The government is also expected to extend incentives to farmers who have repaid their loans without availing of the farm loan waiver scheme that the UPA announced towards the end its previous term. The sops are likely to come in the form of a loan rebate of 1-2 percent over the rate charged by banks, the sources said. This would be the government’s way of saying ‘thank you’ to people for voting it back to power, they added.

The programme’s second phase will most likely also have six components - irrigation, roads, water supply, housing, rural electrification and rural telecom connectivity.

The government has certainly not been able to meet the targets it had set for itself in the first phase and the focus will now be on how to implement the programme successfully. The PM has already expressed his displeasure to the respective ministries for not achieving the targets, especially those on electrification, roads and irrigation.

Funds earmarked for the Bharat Nirman programme are expected to be increased by about 30 percent over last year, the sources said.

The government is also likely to announce an infrastructure monitoring agency to manage the scheme’s three areas in which the performance has been sketchy.

The government’s other development schemes will continue and are likely to be allocated more funds in the budget. These include Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyaan, midday meal scheme, Rajiv Gandhi drinking water mission, total sanitation campaign, national rural health mission, integrated child development services, national rural employment guarantee scheme and Jawaharlal Nehru national urban renewal mission.

In her address to a joint session of Parliament the President had stated that, in order to ensure transparency and public accountability, independent monitoring and grievance redressal mechanisms would be set up at the district level.

Given the government’s poor fiscal health it can only redeploy funds to the various programmes that it had launched and see to it that they reach the actual beneficiary. The key to success will be keeping a close watch on the implementation of the schemes.

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Madoff gets 150-yr jail

New York, June 30
Once a famous Wall Street investor and now an infamous scamster, 71-year-old Bernard L Madoff will spend the rest of his life behind bars, serving the maximum possible sentence of 150 years, more than double his age.

The architect of a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme, Madoff's fraud saw hundreds of people worldwide losing money to the tune of an estimated $65 billion. Though his lawyers had sought for a lesser sentence of just 12 years, both victims of the fraud and the US government were convinced that Madoff deserved more for his frauds.

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment method whereby the old investors are paid with the money from newer ones, instead of real profits. It is traced to Charles Ponzi who used the same way to commit fraud in the US in the 1920s.

Thanks to the financial turmoil, Madoff's stunning scam came into the open, as investors started demanding money from their investments, late last year. Going by media reports, US District Court while handing out the 150 years sentence to Madoff, even termed the whole scam as "extraordinarily evil".

On March 12, Madoff pleaded guilty before the court to various charges, including securities, investment adviser, mail and wire frauds, money laundering and even false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Madoff's investment advisory company, Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities, came into existence in 1960 and down the lane, Madoff has catered to an array of high profile clients, including NGOs.

Last week, Marc Litt, an US Assistant Attorney in a memorandum to the court which was hearing Madoff's case, sought a 150 years sentence for Madoff. According to the memo, Madoff's Ponzi scheme spanned from as early as 1980s till he was arrested on December 11, 2008.

Even though much less in terms of reach and money involved, the US is coming to terms with another alleged $7 billion fraud authored by American billionaire Allen Stanford. The scam involved cheating thousands of investors and diverting billions of dollars into Stanford's accounts. — PTI 

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Cellebrum brings out cutting-edge products
Sanjay Khurana
Tribune News Service
Vinish Kathuria
Vinish Kathuria 

Chandigarh, June 30
The recession notwithstanding, Parwanoo-based Cellebrum Technologies Ltd, an arm of the $500 million Spice group with interests in telecom solutions, office automation, IT and value-added services (VAS), is expanding its telecom VAS by developing innovative products like teaching English in Punjab, crop care awareness, power bills update and bill payments via mobile phones.

The company has targeted to serve 50 million customers in the VAS space in the area of mobile communications, entertainment, infotainment and commerce.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Cellebrum Technologies COO Vinish Kathuria said, “The global slowdown has not impacted growth of value-added services in the telecom space, as the number of cellphone users in the country has soared to 400 million as on May, 2009. We enjoy a 15-20% market share in VAS and our target is to focus on the mobile entertainment domain.” He added the country’s Rs 7,000 crore VAS industry is growing by 20% annually.

Kathuria stated the company currently has 20 million subscribers and plans to raise this figure to 50 million in the next 18-24 months and 100 million over the next 4-5 years.

He said the firm was in talks with power utilities in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and UP to provide updates on electricity bills through SMS to mobile users. He added it is also active in the education sector. “We’re partnering with companies that have expertise in the e-learning space,” he said, adding Cellebrum had also launched ‘test and teach’ services for students preparing for GRE and GMAT.

Kathuria stated in the mobile Internet domain the firm is working with both national and international content providers as well as social networking companies to provide a ‘smart phone’ like experience on an average mobile.

He said Cellebrum has developed a new application called Mitr, a technology platform that allows same mobile application to multiple phones and on multiple operating systems. For this, he added, the company was working on innovative applications that would work on 3G and Wimax platforms.

The company’s product range includes mobile radio, social networking platform, content uploader, mobile advertising, background music, select caller list, voice mail system, international call back, and missed call alerts, among others. Kathuria said the company, in partnership with Bharat BPO and Indian Railways, had also launched a service by which cellular users can get information about the Railways’ schedule by sending an SMS ‘rail’ to 139.

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Indian Oil to invest Rs 60k cr on expansion 

New Delhi, June 30
State-run Indian Oil Corp (IOC) plans an investment of over Rs 60,000 crore in raising its refining capacity to 80 million tons per annum by 2011-12 from 60.2 million tons at present, company's Director (Refineries) B N Bankapur said.

IOC is investing Rs 29,777 crore in setting up a new 15 million tons a year refinery at Paradip in Orissa, he said at the inauguration of the company's Golden Jubilee Celebration at the Refineries Headquarters here today.

Besides, Panipat refinery capacity is being raised from 12 to 15 million tons per annum at a cost of Rs 1,007.83 crore. Another Rs 1,131 crore is being spent on a project to improve petrol quality at Panipat refinery.

Similar petrol quality improvement projects are being implemented at company's refineries at Barauni (Rs 1,492 crore), Guwahati (Rs 372 crore), Digboi (Rs 356 crore) and Mathura (Rs 348 crore) refineries, he said.

Residue upgradation and petrol/diesel quality improvement project at the Gujarat refinery would cost another Rs 5,882 crore, while diesel quality improvement and capacity expansion at the Haldia refinery from 6 to 7.5 million tons would be done at an investment of Rs 2,869 crore.

He said a Naphtha Cracker and Polymer complex adjacent to the Panipat refinery is being set up at Rs 14,439 crore investment.

At the time of independence, India had just one refinery in Digboi. Today IOC owns and operates 10 of India's 20 refineries.

From a fledging company with a net worth of just Rs 45 crore and sales value of Rs 78 crore in 1965 to achieving a sales turnover of Rs 2,85,337 crore, IOC has grown over 3,000 times, Bankapur said.

"Befitting IOC's golden jubilee celebrations, for the first time in the history of IOC, projects worth almost Rs 30,000 crore spread over all the refineries will be simultaneously commissioned this year," he said. — PTI 

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Fiscal deficit crosses 27 pc of target

New Delhi, June 30
Fiscal deficit of the Union Government shot up to Rs 90,758 crore for the first two months of the current fiscal, already 27.3 per cent of the Budget estimate.

The Budget estimate for the fiscal deficit in the year 2009-10 is Rs 3,32,835 crore. Last year 2008-09, the first two months of the fiscal had accounted for 54.9 per cent of the year's budget estimate.

Fiscal deficit, the difference between revenue, including borrowings, and expenditure, had touched 16 per cent of the target in the very first month (April) itself. The deficit for the month stood at Rs 54,100 crore. Fiscal deficit was projected to be 5.5 per cent of GDP in the interim budget for 2009-10. Revenue deficit rose to Rs 80,963 crore, which is 33.9 per cent of the full year's estimate of Rs 2,38,534 crore. — PTI 

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Doing business easiest in Ludhiana: World Bank

New Delhi, June 30
Patna is ahead of Mumbai but second only to New Delhi in terms of ease of starting a business, according to a World Bank ranking announced today.

Of the 17 cities figured in the World Bank and International Finance Corporation's "Doing Business In India 2009" report, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Bhubaneshwar are the other cities where it is easier to start a business.

Starting a business measures the necessary steps to enable a small or medium enterprise in general commercial or industrial activities to operate legally in 17 Indian cities, including permits, inscriptions, notifications and inspections.

The report further said doing business is the easiest in Ludhiana, followed by Hyderabad, Bhubaneshwar, Gurgaon, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Jaipur and Guwahati.

Of the 17 cities considered, Patna was ranked 14th, above Chennai, which stood at 15th position, while Kolkata was at the bottom of the list.

The report ranks the cities based on seven parameters — starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and closing a business.

However, the rankings do not take into account the macroeconomic conditions, infrastructure, workforce skills or security.

The report said that it is easier to start and operate business in India than it was three years ago in many large cities of the country.

It said starting a business is the fastest in Mumbai and Noida, while in cost terms, business start-up is least expensive in Patna.

It is easier to pay taxes in Ludhiana, Jaipur and Noida while it is difficult to do so in Chennai, Kolkata and Patna.

Paying taxes records all taxes and mandatory contributions that a medium-sized company must pay as well as measures the administration burden of paying taxes and contributions.

According to the report, it is the easiest to export and import goods from Bhubaneshwar while it is most difficult from Gurgaon.
The report also said that compared to economies world wide, cities in India lag most in the ease of closing a business and paying taxes.

In India, where more than 90 per cent of jobs are in the informal sector, regulatory reforms can help businesses operate efficiently in the formal sector, it said

"Reforms that cut red tape, clarify property rights, and streamline regulatory compliance, can yield big payoff for firms and workers," World Bank group financial and private sector development acting vice-president Penelope Brook said at a CII function. — PTI Top

 

SBI launches two new home loan products 

Mumbai, June 30
The country's largest lender, State Bank of India, today launched two new home loan products — SBI Easy Home Loan and SBI Advantage Home Loan for buyers in the sub Rs 30-lakh and over Rs 30-lakh category, with processing fee for both waived till September 30.

While SBI Easy Home is for loans up to Rs 30 lakh, SBI Advantage Home is for home buyers in the premium segment above Rs 30 lakh, a release here said.

In SBI Easy Home Loan, the interest rate charged on daily reducing balance would be 8 per cent per annum for the first year and 9 per cent per annum fixed for the second and third years.

From the fourth year onwards, the customer can choose between a floating rate of 2 per cent below the State Bank Advance Rate (SBAR) and a fixed rate of 1 per cent below SBAR with a five-year reset, the release said.

The indicative EMI per lakh for the first year would be Rs 836 and for the next two years Rs 898 for a loan tenure of 20 years.

SBAR is 11.75 per cent with effect from June 29.

SBI Advantage Home, targeted at premium home buyers (above Rs 30 lakh), will have an 8 per cent per annum fixed interest for the first year and 9.5 per cent per annum fixed for the second and third years, the release said.

Last week, the SBI reduced its benchmark lending rate by half a percentage point to 11.75 per cent.

The Benchmark Prime Lending Rate (BPLR) was revised down by 50 basis points effective June 29.

SBI last reduced the BPLR by 75 basis points with effect from January 1, 2009.

Following the decision of SBI, many other public sector lenders, including Allahabad Bank, too reduced BPLR by 50 basis points.

Union Bank of India and IDBI Bank also softened its Benchmark Prime Lending Rate by 0.25 per cent effective July 1. — PTI Top

 

UK economy contracts at fastest rate in 51 years

London, June 30
The British economy shrank by 2.4 per cent in the first quarter, the fastest rate of shrinkage in more than 50 years, according to official figures released Tuesday.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the contraction between January and March was the fastest since 1958.

The ONS said construction output was revised down from -2.4 per cent to -6.9 per cent in the first quarter. The services sector, accounting for more than two-thirds of the British economy, shrank by 1.6 per cent and industrial output was down -5.1.

The ONS said the British recession started earlier than first thought last year — it began during the second quarter of 2008 rather than during July to September, so that the recession has now been running for a whole year. IANSTop

 

TRAI draft for mobile number portability

New Delhi, June 30
Telecom regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) today issued draft regulations for introduction of mobile number portability (MNP) in the country.

The draft regulations describe the rights, obligations and duties of both telecom operators (donor and recipient) for the "porting" (changing) of mobile number, TRAI said in a statement. MNP allows a user to change his/her telecom operator without changing the mobile phone number.

The draft suggests that a mobile subscriber shall be eligible to make a request for "porting" (changing) his mobile number upon expiry of a period of 90 days from the date of activation of his present mobile connection. TRAI has sought comments from the stakeholders on these draft regulations by July 14. — PTI Top

 
BRIEFLY

GMR Infra withdraws $500-m QIP issue
Mumbai:
GMR Infrastructure on Tuesday withdrew its proposed $500-million (about Rs 2,500 crore) qualified institutional placement (QIP) issue due to unfavourable market conditions. The management committee of the board had earlier decided to allot shares on June 29 to qualified institutional buyers (QIBs) pursuant to the shareholders nod earlier this month for raising up to Rs 5,000 crore. — PTI
This picture shows logo of French pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis. Sanofi-Aventis said on Tuesday it was restructuring its research and development facilities in France, closing four sites and transferring their activities to
This picture shows logo of French pharmaceutical group Sanofi-Aventis. Sanofi-Aventis said on Tuesday it was restructuring its research and development facilities in France, closing four sites and transferring their activities to bigger centres.- AFP

Oil jumps above $73
Singapore:
Oil prices jumped above $73 a barrel on Tuesday in Asia as a weakening US dollar and attacks on oil installations in Nigeria helped push prices to eight-month highs. Benchmark crude for August delivery was up $1.05 to $72.54 a barrel by late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after trading as high as $73.38. — AP

CPI (IW) up one point
Shimla:
The Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers, CPI (IW), on which consumer price inflation is based, rose by one point at 151 points in May due to rise in prices of groundnut oil, poultry and fruit etc. The index recorded maximum increase of five points each in Warangal, Belgaum and Madurai centres, four each in Jharia, Godavarikhani, Ernakulam, Mariani Jorhat, Giridih and Labac- Silcher centres, three in 14 centres, two in 19 centres and 1 point in 17 centres. — PTI 

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