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BUDGET 1999-2000

February 29, 2000

Debate rages: 'It'll be tough'; 'Sinha can't afford to irk people'
Assembly results in four states have pointed to an erosion in the support base of the BJP. So the BJP-led NDA coalition government may not risk antagonising people by slapping new taxes or raising the existing ones. But the Economic Survey points to a hard budget, say analysts.


5.9% growth for 1999-2000 projected: AFP.
Broad-based industrial recovery a good sign.
Need to look beyond knowledge-based industries stressed.
Outlook for stockmarket bright.
Cut in infrastructure sector's dependence on govt funds underlined.
Foodgrain shortfall is cause for concern.
Oil import payments shoot up in H1.
Modest divestment, tax collections flayed.
Poverty, employment levels: moderate.
WTO commitments stay, domestic sector to be protected.
Reactions: Weak capital formation rattles industry bodies.

BSE, NSE and Forex: Sensex vaults 114 points or 2.02 per cent to 5723; Nifty rises 17 points to 0.99 per cent; rupee down one paisa to US $ at 43.60.

February 28, 2000

Tata Tea to acquire Tetley for Rs 4.87 billion
Tata Tea will, through a 100 per cent subsidiary in the UK, make a formal offer for acquiring the entire shareholding of the Tetley group. The deal represents the largest cross-border acquisition of an international brand by an Indian company.

Inflation rate plunges to 20-week low
The inflation rate receded further by 0.19 per cent to 2.37 per cent for the week ended February 12 due to considerable decline in prices of manufactured products and primary articles.

February 26, 2000

Rail Bhavan to focus on tourism, trans-Asian role, hardselling freight services.
Falling freight causes concern to railways.
Reactions: Industry angry, common man happy
Railway Budget 2000-2001 highlights.

Stock markets to see trades from 11 am to 5:30 pm on Feb 29
Schedules for the Budget Day special sessions have been drawn up by stock exchanges like the NSE and BSE.

Sri Jayendra Saraswati, the JagadGuru of Kanchi Kamakoti PeethamKanchi swami underlines value-based banking for safer economy
"Banks should not only come forward to help in social service but influence their wealthy clients to do the same," said Sri Jayendra Saraswati, the Jagadguru Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham.

Insurance regulator to limit application time to 3 months for private companies
The July-Sept 2000 restriction for submitting applications would compel prospective players to come up with sound business plans, B K Chaturvedi, special secretary, insurance, said.

Suzuki assures India that Maruti is competition-fit
Price-sensitive and environment- and customer-friendly cars are being produced to retain the lead in the market, Osamu Suzuki told Heavy Industries Minister Manohar Joshi.

BSE, NSE and Forex: Sensex down 188 points or 3.23 per cent to 5623; Nifty down 35 points or 2 per cent to 1709; rupee up a tad to 43.60 to US $

February 25, 2000

Friendly tips for budget-happy FM
"The reservation of labour-intensive sectors to small-scale enterprises should be scrapped. This will give India a chance to provide stiff international competition in labour-intensive exports to countries such as China," say Harvard economists Nirupam Bajpai and Jeffrey D Sachs.


'India needs a crisis to reform. We cannot reform without a crisis'
"The economy is recovering and this in turn will itself mean more revenue for the government. So the government is not under pressure to raise taxes and I think raising taxes will be a big mistake," says Dr Subir Gokarn, chief economist, the National Council for Applied Economic Research.

'Budget is expected to create greater lending opportunities for banks'
"I expect a reduction in the surcharge on the corporate tax, tax on agricultural income and measures to induce increased savings and investments. All this would mean revitalisation of the corporate sector," says K P Padmakumar, chairman, Federal Bank and Private Sector Banks' Association.


Time to 'bite the bullet' nears for Sinha
2000 is not a crisis year like 1991. Yet, an impression that something cataclysmic is likely to happen, is being created. It could be part of an official strategy to make the public discount in advance possible unpalatable budgetary measures, says R C Murthy.


Auto industry expects excise relief in Budget
The government is considering reducing the excise duty on passenger cars and custom duty on auto components in a bid to make the industry globally competitive, officials hinted.

Deemed export units in private and public sectors may get same benefits
Deemed exports refer to transactions in which the goods supplied do not go out of the country. Some companies are involved in projects funded by multi-lateral financial agencies. The move will increase the number of such projects.

Insurance regulator to become operational by March 15
Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority chairman N Rangachary did not elaborate whether the government would fully constitute the authority in the very first instance.

Maruti to roll out new model every year
''You have proved that business is not only profit but brings with it a human responsibility. You truly are a corporate world citizen,'' the citation presented by the Maruti dealers to Osamu Suzuki said.

BSE, NSE and Forex: Sensex rebounds up 171 points or 2.94 per cent to 5811; Nifty up 43 points or 2.52 per cent at 1744; rupee steady at 43.61 to US $

February 24, 2000

Budget 2000 is shrouded in unprecedented secrecy!


HLL 99-00 net up 32 pc to Rs 10.69 billion
The HLL board recommended a final dividend of Rs 17 per share. Together with the interim dividend of Rs 12 per share, it makes a total dividend of Rs 29 per share. M S Banga will succeed Keki Dadiseth as HLL chairman.

CII urges Budget Man Sinha to simplify income tax system
The CII emphasised the need to tax the income of rich farmers and commercial operations in agriculture.

BSE, NSE and Forex: Sensex swings 400 points in intra-day trades, ends 244 points or 4.32 per cent lower at 5640; Nifty down 36 points or 2.07 per cent at 1701; rupee steady at 43.61 to US $

February 23, 2000

Budget Blues: Unkept promises litter Sinha's Budget 1999
Beneath the hype lie missed targets and lost causes. The target for divestment was Rs 100 billion. But how much of the government stake in PSUs has Sinha divested? Less than Rs 20 billion!

NSE posts highest turnover
The National Stock Exchange turnover of Rs 72.16 billion today exceeded the previous highest record of Rs 71.37 billion on January 5, 2000.


Scorching Summer 2000 looms over AP
AP Transmission Corporation has indicated that it would have to resort to power-cuts on domestic and industrial consumers in the coming two months to bridge the demand-supply gap. But the industry is in no mood to bear with any more power-cuts.

IFCI-IDBI merger ruled out
"Even if IDBI owns 100 per cent of IFCI, we still can be different. IFCI would maintain its separate identity by focussing on small and medium scale enterprises and IDBI on large corporates," IFCI chairman P V Narasimham said.

HDFC Bank, Telco in tie-up to push car sales
The strategic alliance would be formalised by way of an MoU to be signed in Bombay on February 23.

Sales soar but Maruti's market-share dips
During April 1999-January 2000, 508,934 vehicles were sold overall. MUL accounted for 323,058 cars (63.4 per cent). In the previous 10-month period, MUL's share was 80.99 per cent.

BSE, NSE and Forex: Sensex up 12 points or 0.20 per cent to 5884; Nifty down 14 points or 0.79 per cent to 1737; rupee steady at 43.61 to US $

February 22, 2000

With business confidence high, industry looks forward to a friendly budget
Industry is bullish that the industrial growth during the current fiscal year would be between 6 and 8 per cent. A higher fiscal deficit at 6 to 7 per cent of the GDP as against the budgeted target of just 4 per cent is also foreseen.

HLL board meet on Feb 23 to discuss share split
HLL will be the fourth company after Wipro, Zee Telefilms and Infosys Technologies to split its shares.

Power subsidy for farm sector hits AP industry hard
Industry consumes a fraction of the electricity used by the agri sector but offers the biggest chunk of revenues. Many industries find captive power plants a cheaper and better alternative to government power supply.

BSE, NSE and Forex: Sensex up 150 points or 2.62 per cent to 5872; Nifty up 28 points or 1.62 per cent to 1723; rupee steady at 43.61 to US $

February 19, 2000

Darkness at new millennium's dawn
A weak power industry slows down Naidu's AP.

Naidu's economic numbers could land one in jail or mental hospital, says Swiss minister
Naidu's target of a seven-fold increase in the gross state product in the next two decades is a bit too ambitious, Pascal Couchepin, Swiss Minister for Economy, said. "In the best of electoral speeches in Switzerland, we cannot make such promises or projections."

'Matiz will be the best selling car in the coming year'
"The lull is over, the passenger car market in India is growing at a rapid rate. Hence there will be place for all the players," says Young-Chang Kim, MD, Daewoo Motor India.

Moves afoot to slash number of drugs under price control
The budget is expected to announce the creation of an autonomous Drug Development Promotion Foundation with a corpus of Rs 500 million. This could be financed by the proposed Pharma R&D Support Fund.

RBI governor calls for toughest accounting practices
''Despite domestic and international problems and frequent elections, India has shown its capacity as a fast growing economy,'' Bimal Jalan said.

BSE, NSE and Forex: Sensex down 113 points or 1.93 per cent to 5722; Nifty down 19 points or 1.09 per cent to 1723; rupee steady at 43.61 to US $

February 18, 2000

NSE chief blames volatility on cash-flush corporates
The self-prediction and self-satisfaction among the brokers and the traditional investors are causing the bull run, particularly in the infotech scrips. Derivative trading could be introduced within a fortnight, said Dr R H Patil.

Duff and Phelps report supports second generation reforms
Economy Update said the decision to sell off 74 per cent of its equity stake in Modern Foods and 51 per cent in Indian Airlines was an indication of the Indian government's commitment to privatisation.

BSE, NSE and Forex: Sensex up 110 points or 1.92 per cent to 5835; Nifty up 37 points or 2.17 per cent to 1742; rupee down one paise to 43.61 to US $

February 17, 2000

Matiz to help Daewoo India to ride out of the red next year
The company hopes to record a turnover of Rs 31 billion in the next fiscal, up from the expected Rs 13 billion this fiscal.

Union minister Prabhu appears in court in financial scam case
He is facing a charge of duping several Goans to the extent of Rs 120 million as the former chairman of Western India Financial Services Limited.

Go for the old economic guard's jugular, Mr FM
"The annual budget presentation offers myriad opportunities to finance ministers to obfuscate core issues and to confuse the people. But by focussing upon core issues, citizens can judge whether the forthcoming budget is a truly millennium presentation," says Dilip Thakore.

BSE, NSE and Forex: Sensex sheds 79 points or 1.36 per cent to 5725; Nifty up 3 points or 0.17 per cent to 1705; rupee up two paise to Rs 43.60

February 16, 2000

New Millennium's Financial Hub
Chandrababu Naidu wants insurance regulator in Cyberabad

Govt okays mega bailout package for SAIL
Loans advanced from the Steel Development Fund amounting to Rs 50.73 billion and Rs 3.81 billion from the government have been waived off. "The loan waiver will ensure long term viablility of SAIL," said Arvind Pande, chairman.

ULFA's reign of extortions plucks joy out of tea biz
A survey revealed that people feel the tea industry in Assam should be nationalised so that the profits could be best utilised for the benefits of the Assamese.

Swadeshi budget will be counter-productive, says industry body
Any move to impose higher income tax surcharge, taxes on exports and withdraw incentives to trade and industry would give a serious blow to the Indian economy, the All India Association of Industries has said.

BSE, NSE and Forex: Sensex down 121 points or 2.04 per cent to 5804; Nifty down 40 points or 2.29 per cent to 1702; rupee steady at Rs 43.62

February 1-15, 2000