SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


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

No plan to hike import duty on steel: Govt 
New Delhi, July 8
Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh today said there is no case for a hike in import duty for steel products even as the industry has been demanding a 20 per cent increase from the present 5 per cent.

Plan panel to moderate growth target
New Delhi, July 8
The Planning Commission today began the mid-term review of its 11th Plan, which will result in moderating the average growth rate target for the five-year period (2007-12) in the economy, still reeling under the impact of the global financial meltdown.
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia along with other members of the commission at a meeting in New Delhi Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia along with other members of the commission at a meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday. A Tribune photograph

Crisil pegs India’s growth at 6-6.5%
New Delhi, July 8
Global economic slowdown is expected to pull down India's growth and the country is expected to grow between 6 and 6.5 per cent in the current fiscal, rating agency Crisil said.

Indian workers abroad unaffected by slowdown
New Delhi, July 8
Economic slowdown may have led to job losses and wage cuts in India but Indian workers abroad have largely remained unaffected due to this if one goes by a statement made in the Lok Sabha by Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi today.

Cellular infrastructure fails to match user base
Chandigarh, July 8
With the state governments failing to come up with a policy with regards to erection of telecom towers, cellular infrastructure in the region has failed to keep pace with the growing number of subscribers in the region. 


A model presents a creation by Lebanese designer Elie Saab as part of his autumn/winter 2009-2010 haute couture fashion show in Paris
A model presents a creation by Lebanese designer Elie Saab as part of his autumn/winter 2009-2010 haute couture fashion show in Paris on Wednesday. — Reuters



EARLIER STORIES



Models pose next to Hyundai Motor's first Hybrid Electric Vehicle, Elantra LPI Hybrid, at its launch in Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul, on Wednesday. South Korea's largest carmaker Hyundai Motor unveiled its first HEV powered by liquid petroleum gas and lithium polymer batteries.
Models pose next to Hyundai Motor's first Hybrid Electric Vehicle, Elantra LPI Hybrid, at its launch in Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul, on Wednesday. South Korea's largest carmaker Hyundai Motor unveiled its first HEV powered by liquid petroleum gas and lithium polymer batteries. — Reuters

NPAs: Bankers for extension of restructuring deadline 
Mumbai, July 8
Concerned over rising slippages in the industry, bankers today sought an extension of loan restructuring facility and said more measures are needed to push credit demand in the economy.

Priority Sector
Ludhiana banks lend Rs 5,203 cr in FY ’09

Ludhiana, July 8
During the performance review meeting of the banks in the district today, it was found that banks had disbursed an amount of Rs 5,203 crore against a target of Rs 4,892 crore under priority sector for the year 2008-09. It was a healthy sign for the banks in district that in deposits, advances, credit deposit ratio, priority sector advances etc, everything witnessed good percentage of increase.

Tata Steel’s expansion plans on track
New Delhi, July 8
Tata Steel today said the project to augment production capacity at its Jamshedpur steel plant to 10.5 million tonnes is "fully on" and would get completed as scheduled by 2010.

Regulator for coal sector likely
New Delhi, July 8
With the entry of private sector in coal mining, the government is mulling setting up of a regulatory body to ensure a level playing field for new entrants in the sector.

Tech Mahindra to up stake in Satyam
New Delhi, July 8
Mahindra Satyam today said it has approval from the Company Law Board to allot on preferential basis new shares to Tech Mahindra that would take the new owner's stake in the company to 43 per cent.

NHPC to hit market in August
New Delhi, July 8
Acting on the government's disinvestment plans, state-run NHPC will hit the market with its initial public offering of shares to mop up Rs 1,670 crore next month.





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No plan to hike import duty on steel: Govt 

New Delhi, July 8
Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh today said there is no case for a hike in import duty for steel products even as the industry has been demanding a 20 per cent increase from the present 5 per cent.

"There is no case for increasing import duty on steel products (as of now)," Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh told reporters on the sidelines of the Steel Summit here.

He, however, said the government was keeping a close vigil on the situation and would intervene in future if necessary.

"We are watching the situation very closely. If in future we think that the intervention from the government is necessary, we will think about it," he said.

Steel imports have declined by 5.3 per cent to 1.41 million tonnes, from 1.49 million tonnes in April-June period of this fiscal over the year-ago period. In June alone imports fell by 23 per cent, the minister added.

Steel exports went down by a steep 38 per cent to 0.64 million tonnes as against 1 million tonnes in the same period last year, Steel Secretary P K Rastogi added.

Stressing on value-addition on domestic iron ore in the country to boost domestic production, he said, "rather than exporting the iron ore — (vital input for steel making) —, we should utilise the iron ore in India."

Some countries who have rich iron ore deposits are importing it to conserve their own resources, he said. The domestic steel production rose by about 3.4 per cent to 13.98 million tonnes as against 13.5 million tonnes in the year-ago period.

The country's steel consumption also went up by 5.3 per cent to 12.83 million tonnes in the first quarter of the current fiscal over the year-ago period.

He said the Indian steel consumption will continue to grow at a pace varying between 6-8 per cent during the current financial year, supported by various fiscal, monetary and administrative measures.

While the government is mulling divestment of its stake in state-run entities, Singh, was non-committal on stake sale in steel PSUs like SAIL, NMDC, RINL. "Disinvestment will be decided later," he said.

With an aim to make four of its PSUs efficient and profitable, a government-appointed committee is studying the case for restructuring and merger of state-run MSTC, FSNL, KIOCL and HSCL. The study will be completed within two months.

Earlier, appealing the industry to maintain the price line at a level commensurate with the input prices, he said, "I expect the industry to maintain complete transparency on prices." — PTI 

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Plan panel to moderate growth target

New Delhi, July 8
The Planning Commission today began the mid-term review of its 11th Plan, which will result in moderating the average growth rate target for the five-year period (2007-12) in the economy, still reeling under the impact of the global financial meltdown.

"We will have to moderate the growth target ... it would not be possible to achieve the overall growth target of 9 per cent during 2007-12," a top Commission official told PTI.

The issues concerning growth and mid-term review of the 11th Plan came up for discussion at the first meeting of the newly constituted Planning Commission here.

"We hope that the mid-term review (document) of the 11th Plan would be produced before the next Budget is presented," Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told reporters after the meeting.

"We intend that whatever comes out of the mid-term review, whatever mid-course corrections may be needed, whatever consequences of re-prioritisation that has already taken place, ... get properly reflected in the next Budget," he added.

The 11th Plan had set an average economic growth target of 9 per cent for 2007-12. Although the economy during 2007-08 expanded by 9 per cent, growth plummeted to 6.7 per cent during 2008-09 on account of the impact of the global crisis. — PTI

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Crisil pegs India’s growth at 6-6.5%

New Delhi, July 8
Global economic slowdown is expected to pull down India's growth and the country is expected to grow between 6 and 6.5 per cent in the current fiscal, rating agency Crisil said.

"Monetary easing and fiscal stimulus by the government notwithstanding, the prevailing global economic slowdown is expected to pull down growth further in 2009-10...The economy is expected to grow at around 6-6.5 per cent in 2009-10," Crisil said in a report.

It further said the growth would slide in first half of 2009-10 and would post a mild recovery beginning in the third quarter.

"...As the global economies recover and the impact of monetary loosening on the economy kicks in, growth in India will pick up," it said.

Crisil expects the Indian economy to expand by 7.2 per cent in 2010-11.

After 2011-12, the economy should be on the 8 per cent growth path, it said.

To boost the economy, the government came out with three fiscal stimulus packages, one each in December last year, in January and in the interim Budget, giving incentives to various sectors and cutting taxes. However, India managed to grow at 6.7 per cent in 2008-09. —PTI 

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Indian workers abroad unaffected by slowdown
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 8
Economic slowdown may have led to job losses and wage cuts in India but Indian workers abroad have largely remained unaffected due to this if one goes by a statement made in the Lok Sabha by Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi today.

It’s only from the UAE that between 50,000 and 1,50,000 Indian workers have returned home as a result of the delay in execution of projects due to economic slowdown and recession, the minister told the House in a written reply.

The Indian mission in the UAE has also informed the government that most of the workers have returned home on leave without pay with the expectation that they would go back to work in the UAE once the situation improves.

Indian missions in other Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar have, however, informed the government that there has been no report of any large scale adverse impact on Indian workers because of the meltdown and recession though there has been report of some job losses.

Information received from Indian Missions in Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Brunei, Libya, Jordan, and Lebanon also indicate that there is no report of Indians affected by global recession there. The embassy says that there is negligible impact on Indian workers due to global recession. The mission in Indonesia has stated that there is no large scale impact of recession in Indonesia. The mission in Malaysia has informed that small number of Indian workers have returned to India due to slowdown of the Malaysian economy in the context of current global recession.

As regards professionals, the minister said they mostly emigrate to the western world. As per report received from Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, there is no report of the return of Indians because of recession and economic slowdown.

Reports received from the US indicate that the recession there has affected almost all sections of the people. However, Indians working in the US are mostly professionals and the extent of job losses by them is, therefore, slightly mitigated by their indispensability to the organisation.

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Cellular infrastructure fails to match user base
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
With the state governments failing to come up with a policy with regards to erection of telecom towers, cellular infrastructure in the region has failed to keep pace with the growing number of subscribers in the region. This has, however, not deterred the operators to add new subscribers.

It is learnt that around 1.5 lakh subscribers are added in the Punjab circle every month. Approximately, 1.75 lakh subscribers are added in the Haryana circle every month. But with the no significant increase in infrastructure (radio base stations or RBS) vis a vis the customer base, consumers continue to face the problem of call drops everywhere.

According to information available with The Tribune, the mobile phone subscriber base in Punjab has grown from 97.25 lakh in May 2008 to 115.54 lakh in May 2009. Similarly, the subscriber base in Haryana has grown from 47.84 lakh in May last year to 69.51 lakh in May 2009. However, the total number of RBS that have been installed by all four operators, Bharti Telecom, Idea Cellular, Vodafone Essar and BSNL, are just around 1,200, during the same period.

All cellphone operators, however, say that though the reason why they have not installed more towers is that the new towers being installed are of a higher frequency, which has more number of channels to slot phone calls. Responding to queries sent by The Tribune, officials in Bharti Telecom and Idea Cellular said the problem of call drops was not so severe in the Punjab circle, and was within the prescribed limit of three per cent set by the telecom regulator, TRAI.

The operators also said both Chandigarh Administration and Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) have imposed restrictions on the installation of towers in residential areas. As a result, for the past two years no operator has installed new mobile towers in urban areas here. Even Punjab has come up with a policy on setting up of new towers and other than the urban areas covered under the respective municipal bodies, they are not allowed to install new towers.

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NPAs: Bankers for extension of restructuring deadline 

Mumbai, July 8
Concerned over rising slippages in the industry, bankers today sought an extension of loan restructuring facility and said more measures are needed to push credit demand in the economy.

In a meeting with RBI Governor D Subbarao, ahead of the quarterly monetary policy end-July, bankers also sought relaxation in Non Performing Assets (NPA) norms in infrastructure lending and provisioning requirements in certain segments like housing.

Moreover, they informed the apex bank that credit demand continues to be subdued in the face of the economic downturn but flow is likely to pick up by September in line with the recovery in the economy.

"Though there are signs of improvement in economic activity, it is not showing in credit growth. We expect growth to pick up in the second quarter," SBI Chairman and Indian Banks Association Deputy Chairman O P Bhatt told reporters after the meeting.

Bhatt said the bankers have asked the apex bank to extend the deadline of loan restructuring facility to December from June.

Earlier this year, RBI had announced loan restructuring for certain sectors facing slowdown like real estate, up to June 30.

Sufficient liquidity in the system and low inflation has provided further room to soften interest rates, Bhatt said, adding that rates are likely to stabilise in the next six months.

IBA chief executive K Ramakrishnan said, bankers also requested the Reserve Bank to manage the government's massive borrowing programme in an orderly manner so as to avoid any upward pressure on interest rates.

Despite a slow recovery in economic activity, small- and-medium firms continue to be reluctant to avail credit in the backdrop of the financial downturn, he said.

"Bankers told (the RBI) that real demand is yet to pick up. MSMEs are hesitant to take credit from banks as they are not sure about a pick-up in business activities," Ramakrishnan, who attended the meeting, said.

Bankers also said there is a need to look into NPA norms in infrastructure lending as loans offered to infra projects, are termed as NPAs in the event of project delays.

Bankers, who attended the meeting include Canara Bank CMD, A C Mahajan, IDBI Bank chief, Yogesh Agarwal, ICICI Bank's managing director and CEO, Chanda Kochhar and Standard Chartered India head, Neeraj Swaroop. — PTI 

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Priority Sector
Ludhiana banks lend Rs 5,203 cr in FY ’09
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 8
During the performance review meeting of the banks in the district today, it was found that banks had disbursed an amount of Rs 5,203 crore against a target of Rs 4,892 crore under priority sector for the year 2008-09. It was a healthy sign for the banks in district that in deposits, advances, credit deposit ratio, priority sector advances etc, everything witnessed good percentage of increase.

Lead district manager, Jeet Singh of Punjab and Sind Bank here told The Tribune that banks were given a target of Rs 2,215 crore for the agricultural and allied sector but they achieved about Rs 2,255 crore, which means the performance of banks was 102 per cent. Similar was the case with Small Scale Industries, for which the target was Rs 1,637 crore but the achievement was Rs 2,004 crore with 122 per cent performance.

"Banks have done well in the year 2008-09. About 40 new branches have been added in the district during 2008-09. The total number of bank branches in the district is now 540", he said, adding that deposits in the banks had shown an increase of Rs 2,991 crore.

The banks had given average credit of Rs 135 to the beneficiaries against previous average of Rs 100 received from the depositor by the banks in the district. The credit deposit ratio was increased from 131 per cent to 135 per cent as on March 3, 2009.

Besides, the priority sector advances by the banks in Ludhiana have increased to Rs 9,336 crore against Rs 8,150 crore in 2008.

"Above all, the weaker section advances stood at Rs 1,066 crore as compared to Rs 650 crore in March 2008. But this improved performance was by limited nationalised banks. Almost all private banks have shown nil reporting in advances to the weaker section. Strong exception has been taken against this by the officials. We hope that private banks will improve in helping weaker section in future", he stated.

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Tata Steel’s expansion plans on track

New Delhi, July 8
Tata Steel today said the project to augment production capacity at its Jamshedpur steel plant to 10.5 million tonnes is "fully on" and would get completed as scheduled by 2010.

"The Jamehedpur expansion project is fully on and is on time," Tata Steel Managing Director B Muthuraman told reporters on the sidelines of the Assocham Steel Summit here.

Steel giant Tata Steel is working to enhance production capacity at Jamshedpur at an estimated investment of Rs 12,000 crore. At present, the company's plant has a capacity to produce 6.8 million tonnes of steel annually.

In addition to the existing plant, the company has also proposed setting up mega steel plants in Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The company says it wants the site condition to improve and iron ore blocks allocated quickly.

"We want to do the Orissa project quickly ... as the site condition improves and we get iron ore blocks. The same for Chhattisgarh," he said. While in Jharkhand it proposes to invest about Rs 42,000 crore for a 12 million-tonne-per-annum (MTPA) steel plant, in Orissa it intends to pump in nearly Rs 22,000 crore for a six MTPA unit. — PTI 

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Regulator for coal sector likely

New Delhi, July 8
With the entry of private sector in coal mining, the government is mulling setting up of a regulatory body to ensure a level playing field for new entrants in the sector.

"Appointment of an independent regulator for coal sector would result in more optimal development and conservation of coal resources, more effective regulation, adoption of best mining practices, rational pricing, better distribution and evolution of a more competitive market," Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said in a written reply in Lok Sabha.

He, however, did not specify any time frame for setting up such a body saying it involved enactment of legislation by Parliament. — PTI 

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Tech Mahindra to up stake in Satyam

New Delhi, July 8
Mahindra Satyam today said it has approval from the Company Law Board to allot on preferential basis new shares to Tech Mahindra that would take the new owner's stake in the company to 43 per cent.

"Following the allotment of the additional shares, the outstanding share capital of Satyam will be 117.54 crore equity shares (including equity shares underlying ADSs) and Venturbay (a unit of Tech Mahindra) will hold approximately 43 per cent of the outstanding share capital," Mahindra Satyam said today. — PTI

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NHPC to hit market in August

New Delhi, July 8
Acting on the government's disinvestment plans, state-run NHPC will hit the market with its initial public offering of shares to mop up Rs 1,670 crore next month.

"NHPC's IPO will come in August; the company has already started the roadshows for the same," Power Secretary H S Brahma told reporters here today.

The company's public offer will account for 10 per cent of its present equity, while the government will divest a five per cent stake of the 100 per cent it currently holds.

NHPC plans to issue fresh equity of Rs 1,670 crore through the IPO, and it plans to bring 167 crore shares of a face value of Rs 10 each, which would be offered at a premium to be decided through the book-building process. —PTI 

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BRIEFLY

Yes bank to raise $100 m
New Delhi:
Yes Bank on Wednesday said it would raise $100 million from bonds in the next three months to fund business growth and branch expansion. "We intend to raise $100 million between July to September for meeting our growth plan," Yes Bank MD Rana Kapoor told reporters here. The bank also plans to raise up to $200 million in the next 9 to 12 months in the form of Tier I capital. — PTI

Marico's Bangla arm plans IPO
Mumbai:
FMCG firm Marico's Bangladesh subsidiary Marico Bangladesh Ltd (MBL) plans to come out with its Rs 9-crore initial public offer (IPO) in the first-half of August, a senior company official said. "MBL has received the approval of the Bangladesh Securities & Exchange Commission for its IPO. We plan to issue 14,92,100 ordinary shares, or around 5 per cent, of MBL's equity to raise Rs 9-crore," Marico's chief (HR & Strategy) Milind Sarwate said. — PTI

IndusInd Bank net up four-fold
Mumbai:
Private sector lender IndusInd Bank on Wednesday said its net profit for the quarter ended June 2009 jumped four-folds at Rs 86.50 crore over the same quarter last year. Total income rose to Rs 801.58 for the quarter ended June 2009 against Rs 583.23 crore in the same period last year. — PTI

HDFC Bank bags award
Chandigarh:
HDFC Bank has been declared ‘Best Domestic Bank’ in India by Asiamoney, a leading financial magazine. This is the 3rd time the magazine has chosen the bank for the honour. — TNS

Lalit Srivastava
Chandigarh:
Lalit Srivastava, general manager, RBI has assumed charge of Banking Ombudsman (banking lokpal) for the states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and three districts of Haryana. — TNS

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