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September 30, 1998

SEBI panel moots new norms for credit rating agencies
The committee on draft regulations for credit rating agencies recommended that CRAs should not be disallowed to invest in the securities issued by their clients. They should frame their own norms for investments to prevent misuse of insider information.

Goa slams companies dealing in dangerous substances
Goa has identified at least nine major and several other small chemical industries which would be now compelled to disburse monetary relief to the victims of its hazardous substances.


Booze-boys make beeline for Kerala to ride bottle boom
The ban on arrack is a thing of the past. Keralites are spending more money on liquor than on food. So much so that the Communist-led state now has the highest per capita consumption of liquor. The government is about to go on a licence-granting binge in favour of new distelleries. Sales are soaring. Imports from other states are rising. But not everyone is applauding, least of all the Congress and the local distillers.


Mallya to rethink UB group role in Bangalore light rail project
The project was originally proposed to be taken up as a joint venture with the state government. But a feasibilty study had now become necessary with the government opting out of the project. Railways are said to be planning an alternative system.

'Hydrocarbon sector a potential area for investment in India'
Indian Oil chairman M A Pathan said oil industry in India has world class expertise in oil exploration and production, refining, transportation, marketing or research and development. Automation and information technology are also being given due importance in the industry. Plans are afoot to add 70 million metric tonnes per annum to the existing capacity during the next five years.

American Express forays into retail banking in India
The bank also announced a strategic alliance with the Hyderabad-based Karvy group for integrated financial services like retail distribution of financial products, corporate shareholder services, custodial and investor services.


Clear Cogentrix, Janata Dal urges Centre
Cos can access commodity exchanges for hedging
Bio bill for patents in next session of Parliament


Forex: Rs 42.45/46; rupee gains six paise

BSE: 3146.83; Sensex sheds 60 points

NSE: 908.40; Nifty loses 19 points

September 29, 1998

Restructured Grasim expected to take on L&T, ACC
Aditya Birla group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla said the restructuring scheme is cost effective, provides strong growth prospects, enhances earning per share and increases focus and synergies.

GAIL to float JV with BPCL, diversify into power, expand capacities
Gas Authority of India Limited plans to invest Rs 50 billion in developing and strengthening cross-country infrastructure for supply of natural gas. It has formed a consortium with Brown & Root, Shell and Cairn Energy for developing a project for gas imports from Myanmar and Bangladesh.


A maharajah's sorry plight
The vital prerequisite for the rejuvenation of the ailing maharajah of the Indian skies -- Air-India -- is the willingness of India's powerful politicians and bureaucrats to let go control of a milch cow airline which provides them savoury perquisites, writes Dilip Thakore.


Near-death of a death-house: Goa attempts to revive abattoir
With the manpower of around 100 people, the meat complex was earning around Rs 3 million per month by way of supplies to domestic and the Middle East markets. The Centre's new taxation policy that imposes service tax of Rs 1000 for every animal has pushed down the rate of slaughter from 150 animals to 15 animals a day.

Government to help farmers in export of perishables
The government believes the huge potential for export of flowers, fruits, vegetables and marine products from India needs to be tapped. Millions will be invested to set up high-tech cold storage and processing centres at leading airports.

Corporatise governmental organisations: Naidu; invest in human development: Heptullah
Naidu said a competitive economy would ensure that only the fittest of the PSUs survived. The UNDP's human resource index would be utilised for framing policies for education, health and other development programmes in Andhra Pradesh. Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson Najma Heptullah said developed countries spent more than $ 50 billion on cosmetics, perfumes and other luxury items while developing countries need $ 40 billion for human development infrastructure.


Govt to buy 6 aircraft, help regional airlines projects
Promote and exploit mineral sector, Centre tells states
STCI chief seeks changes in interest rate system


Forex: Rs 42.51/52; rupee loses two paise

BSE: 3206.92; Sensex sheds over 16 points

NSE: 927.90; Nifty slips seven points

September 27-28, 1998

Jaswant enunciates plan for New Economic Order at G-77 meet
Jaswant Singh's seven-point strategy notes that the challenge for G-77 and for any north-south dialogue is to ensure that more and more people are economically empowered and become at least basic consumers. Welfare gains as much as efficiency gains are sought to be made key global governance issues carrying with them environmental and social implications of profound import. He said they are crucial for the future of democracy.

A-I, IA disinvestment to be completed by 2000, assures minister
On divestment in Air-India and Pawan Hans Helicopter Limited, Ananth Kumar said the ministry had accepted the proposals of the Disinvestment Commission. The ministry had already called for global tenders for appointing consultants for disinvesting from Hotel Corporation of India which manages the Centaur Hotels.


Vajpayee government's Economic Advisory Council: Not a conclave of economists
The council is a solid phalanx of the establishment-minded. You can take a wager, it will defend the IMF-World Bank-WTO line till the nation's last breath. All this is a great pity, writes Ashok Mitra.


Tourism industry sees scope for Rs 200 billion investment
About 125,000 rooms of approved category are required to meet the needs. However, the country has only 65,000 rooms or only 50 per cent of the required numbers.

Pakistan pins hopes on October talks as economic bailout proves elusive
Foreign exchange reserves have slumped further to $ 697 million this week from $ 750 million early this month. These are barely enough to meet the country's import bill of one month. The government is seeking emergency funds to bridge the Balance of Payments gap.

Ensure smooth delivery of farm credit, RBI tells public sector banks
As per the R V Gupta Committee recommendations, many banks are experimenting with composite cash credit and new loan product with in-built savings module.

India's anti-dumping mechanism comes under fire
Small-scale Indian exporters with no lobbying power end up losing heavily whenever their products are subjected to anti-dumping duties abroad, lawyers bemoaned at a seminar in New Delhi.


Reliance Petro's target: Rs 250 b in annual revenues
SAARC forex conference in Hyderabad from Sept. 30
New book examines Asian currency turmoil


Weekly Review: : Sensex up 133 points; Nifty surges 33 points

September 26, 1998

FM to press for unhindered funds flow from IMF and WB
Yashwant Sinha will attend the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington. He said he will urge the bank not to be guided by 'political considerations' while allocating funds.

Full convertibility option still open, but 4 pc countervailing duty will stay: Sinha
The government will not go slow on the external commercial borrowings route to finance projects, the finance minister said. In fact, norms have been liberalised in the last six months and no guidelines had been changed.

New Bombay airport project plan gains momentum
A special aviation ministry team visited the Panvel site in New Bombay early this week. The techno-economic feasibility study has okayed the site. CIDCO says the land is in its possession, so there won't no any resettlement and rehabilitation issue.


'Risk profile of ISE companies will be the best, investors will be safe'
The Interconnected Stock Exchange, promoted by 15 regional stock exchanges, is gearing up for a November inauguration. Managing Director Joseph Massey explains why investors on the online, real-time ISE will be better off than those on the BSE and the NSE.


RCF to recast operations, hopeful of Indo-Oman JV
Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilisers is also considering a proposal from UCB Chemicals, Belgium, for setting up a joint venture at Thal for augmenting methyl amine production and its derivatives.

Mixed farming will make agriculture big business, says expert
Research has shown that mixed farming -- growing of crops combined with farming of animals -- would result in faster growing sectors of fruits, vegetables, spices, condiments, livestock husbandry and fishery.


Joshi talks of new B-school with Harvard ties
Marketing pundits to moot steps to beat recession


Forex: Rs 42.49/50; rupee gains two paise

BSE: 3223.57; Sensex sheds two points

NSE: 934.95; Nifty steady in mixed trading

September 25, 1998

Kalyan Singh girds UP for industrialisation
When the Uttar Pradesh chief minister tried to publicise his single window package among foreign envoys, he was told, curtly, that it is merely a gateway to more windows. He hopes his new time-bound policy for clearing project proposals will prove his commitment to swift industrialisation of UP.

India figures among the World Bank's top three borrowers
India has borrowed $ 2.14 billion this fiscal. Other countries in the top ten list are South Korea, China, Mexico, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Pakistan, Indonesia and Ethiopia.


Modelled to make Maruti curl up its tail
Sleek. Snazzy. Sporty. Even 'sexy'. New cars on the launch pad seem to be all that, and promise to turn monsoon-wet Indian roads into miles and miles of ecstasy. If Hyundai's Santro -- priced under Rs 300,000 -- is representative of the shape of things to come, then look out for a replica of the computer industry hitting the automobile industry soon. Next month will always be better and cheaper.


Bimal Jalan asks forex dealers to offer best service to NRIs
The RBI will decentralise the decision-making process in respect of foreign exchanges operations and give maximum responsibility and freedom to authorised dealers to meet their customer requirements, the central bank governor said.


Rs 340 million project to shore up Jakhau port
Rosa Power signs PPA with UPSEB


Forex: Rs 42.51/52; rupee up on CTBT rumours

BSE: 3225.30; Sensex spurts 90 points

NSE: 934.80; Nifty rises by 27 points

September 24, 1998

World Bank to loan Rs 150 billion to Uttar Pradesh
The loan would be utilised for schemes in the energy, irrigation and education sectors, besides development of roads in the state.

High-voltage war likely for Bombay suburban power market
Tata Electric chairman Homi Sethna said that 25 per cent of the total power supplied to BSES and BEST is at a subsidised rate of Rs 1.29 per unit. Under such a circumstance, it is for the consumers to decide whether they would directly take the subsidy advantage or depend on some parallel arrangement to avail it.

IMF urges India to curb inflation
The IMF commended New Delhi for tightening the money supply in response to the Asian crisis. ''Monetary policy would continue to bear a heavy burden in ensuring stability. It should be firmly focused on a low inflation objective,'' the IMF said, cautioning against ''a premature easing of the recently tightened monetary stance and further monetisation of the deficit''.


SEBI panel identifies 125 more scrips for demat trading, seeks to tighten norms
According to NSDL data, the total value of shares dematerialised has grown by 18.5 per cent from around Rs 400 billion as on July 15, 1998 to Rs 474 billion as on today.

Government borrowing is a hurdle to infrastructure finance, says Tarapore
Unless the government borrowing from capital markets is reined in, there is little scope for developing a genuinely active market in non-government paper, said the former RBI deputy governor.

World tourism market in 2020 put at $ 2000 b; India to grab share using IT
Union tourism secretary Madan Prasad Bezbaruah said India's export incentive policy is discriminatory against the tourism industry that was second best after textiles in foreign exchange earnings. To meet the worldwide growth, India will have to invest Rs 450 billion in the next five years.


'Pakistan is sitting on a debt bomb'
Asian crisis may stain steel's record this year
Nicholas Piramal in JV with Boots for health products


Forex: Rs 42.54/55; rupee down five paise

BSE: 3135.42; Sensex climbs 40 points

NSE: 907.75; Nifty gains ten points

September 23, 1998

VSNL signs MoU to invest $ 50 million in global-scale project
The $ 600 million safe cable system project, expected to be commissioned in the year 2000, would open up a new digital connectivity highway between India, the Far East and the entire African continent.

And now, instant houses: Delhi, Arunachal to go in for Australian co's 210-minute projects
Australia's Rapid Building Systems, in collaboration with Project and Equipment Corporation of the Union government, is planning to construct houses using hollow blocks made of gypsum and fibre glass. The low-cost structures are said to last 50 years.

'Lawless cable TV market cause for monopolistic tendencies and worse'
While the ground distributors condemn the recent murders of top cable TV industry executives, a UNESCO report notes that the opening up of the Indian audio-visual market has been conditioned to a large degree by the anarchic proliferation of cable and satellite TV.


Software saga: soaring exports promise bright future
Market watchers are bullish that by the time the boom in the export market dies down, demand in the domestic market will have matured.


Pallone makes a move towards easing economic sanctions
Democrat Congressman and co-chairman of congressional caucus on India and Indian-Americans has called on congressional conferees to approve a measure that will empower President Clinton to ease nuclear-related sanctions.

New airport at Aizawl to be operational soon
According to Mizoram Chief Minister Lalthanhawla, the new Lengpui airport can accommodate wide-bodied aircraft. It will promote the local economy, tourism and exports. The cargo facilities and export processing zones at the airport are expected to act as a business hub not only for Mizoram but for the entire north-eastern region.

Uncertainty engulfs Wadhawan port as Australian company goes off radar
A local body has identified the site as ecologically fragile, but the Maharashtra government maintains that ports are exempted from the coastal regulation zone notification. The only problem was obtaining the no objection certificate from the environment committee.


Karnataka clears Rs 11 billion projects
Naidu persuades IBM to set up institute in AP


Forex: Rs 42.49/50; rupee holds steady

BSE: 3095.25; Sensex climbs 14 points

NSE: 897.25; Nifty steady in mixed trading

September 22, 1998

Grasim and Indian Rayon boards approve plan for single cement division
'This move is the group's first step in its vision for the next millennium. We hope to grow each company in revenues and earnings through a focused leadership in the areas in which we operate, evaluating businesses against stringent value creation parameters,' the AV Birla group chairman Kumaramangalam Birla said.

UK trade official sees in India 'a model of stability', says foreign investments will flow in
According to the chairman of the British Overseas Trade Board, Sir Martin Laing, Britain would take up India's case against the European Union on the issue of imposing non-tariff barriers. 'These disputes have to be resolved through the WTO, but Britain is a friend of India, it is part of the EU, and it is committed to free trade, and for these reasons it has spoken on behalf of New Delhi.'

RBI's balance sheet is a topsy-turvy world of inverted values, says ex-deputy governor
At a seminar in Bombay, S S Tarapore said, 'While the growth of a corporate enterprise and rise in profits reflect strength, quite often these parameters in the RBI balance sheet are reflections of weaknesses in the economy.'


The great infotech boom -- II
Blind faith in the IT sector will not translate into more profits even if the soaring share prices seem to be telling another story.


Raasi's new brass 'unearths' free mines transfer to Sri Vishnu
When B V Raju controlled the management of Raasi Cement, the company allegedly transferred over 100 acres of its mines to Sri Vishnu Cement Limited in November 1997, without any monetary considerations. This was done well after the Raasi board had decided to divest its holding in Sri Vishnu.

Euro is coming, gear up, forex dealers told
Asian businessmen and investors like banks stand to benefit from the Euro. The creation of unified and liquid European capital market will make it easier for Indian investors like banks to diversify their holdings, says the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

SEBI chief reassures NRIs that India is a safe place to invest
D R Mehta outlined plans to help companies raise funds through the book-building route. He said about 125 scrips would soon be added to the list of 125 companies whose shares could be traded in by institutional investors only in the demateralised form.

Parliament members rally in support of Tata airline project
The standing committee on transport and tourism, under the chairmanship of Vijay Kumar Malhotra, had a two-day meeting in New Delhi recently where a group of MPs extended unanimous support to the Tata airline proposal stating that its should be cleared.


FICCI demands changes in Money Bill
Assocham calls for buyback ordinance
ONGC resumes production at Hazira


Forex: Rs 42.49/50; rupee down two paise

BSE: 3080.91; Sensex sheds ten points

NSE: 897.70; Nifty down four points

September 19-21, 1998

Christians demand ban on Christian Brothers
Resentment against the brandy is all the more acute because of a recent proposal in Delhi state to remove churches from the list of religious places on the grounds that wine is consumed in them during the Holy Sacrament.

More commodities to have futures
A bill to amend the Forward Contracts (Regulation) Act will be introduced in the next session of Parliament, says Food Minister Surjit Singh Barnala.


Forex: Rupee holds steady; 42.5150/5250

BSE: 3090.72; Sensex falls further

NSE: 901.65; Nifty down by 8 points

September 18, 1998

Moves afoot to restructure Planning Commission; Jaswant speaks out against capital account convertibility
One of the elements of the restructuring is that the Finance Commission should have closer interaction with the Planning Commission and that its deputy chairman should have a greater say in the operations of the Finance Commission. The restructuring will take two to three years.

Naidu seeks to hardsell Andhra Inc to US investors
The Andhra Pradesh chief minister, now on a tour of the United States, is trying to hardsell the state to potential investors. AP accounted for more than 20 per cent of all the proposed investments in India between 1991 and 1998. Some 70 per cent of the projects in the state were large in size. Its intellectual output too was equally strong. The state accounted for 25 per cent of India's software professionals, he told several gatherings.

India to comply with WTO rulings in patent cases
The Cabinet approved the proposal that India's ambassador and permanent representative to the WTO be advised to inform the Dispute Settlement Body of its readiness to comply and fulfil its obligations. The decision is expected to have far-reaching implications for the agricultural, pharmaceutical and chemical sectors.


The great infotech boom
No doubt, the demand for information technology shares is soaring. But is the lure of these stocks enough to pull back the small investor into the market ? If not, then who is lapping up these stocks?


Stricter sanctions will cause payments problems, cautions UNCTAD
The UNCTAD's annual report also notes that the currencies of India and Pakistan depreciated around ten per cent in the latter half of 1997. Unlike in southeast Asia, the economies of the sub-region remain less closely integrated with the global economy because of a gradual approach to trade liberalisation, financial deregulation and privatisation.

Case of cheating Pune investors filed against Maneckshaw
A few investors of Asia Pacific Investment Trust Limited who were not paid any interest on their deposits, have charged company's chairman Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw with misusing his position, reputation and authority to cheat them.


Forex: Rs 42.48/49; rupee down five paise

BSE: 3121.30; Sensex slides 17 points

NSE: 910.10; Nifty down four points

September 17, 1998

FM's goals: single-digit inflation, 5.5 pc fiscal deficit, fully autonomous RBI
As the economic editors played listeners, the finance minister waxed eloquent: he predicted an upturn in industrial demand in the next three months as a result of the steps taken by the government. Disinvestment target of Rs 50 billion will be met and may even be crossed.


'We welcome the PMO's support in project implementation'
'While several people say foreign equity should be zero in the insurance sector, the finance ministry's view has been that it should be a significant minority stake. Now that is something on which a genuine political decision has to be made, and until it is made, little more can happen.' An exclusive interview with advisor to the ministry of finance Dr Shankar Acharya.


Repeal ULCRA, demands BJP's economic panel
Urban Affairs Minister Ram Jethmalani has also sought the cooperation of members of Parliament in allowing foreign direct investment in the housing sector apart from their approval of the new housing policy.


Forex: Rs 42.47/48; rupee edges up two paisee

BSE: 3138.66; Sensex slides 23 points

NSE: 914.80; Nifty down six points

September 16, 1998

IDFC devises new infrastructure finance scheme for banks
The scheme aims at evolving the risk profile of projects and then to allocate the risks to those best able to assume them that will determine the extent to which some specific issues arising in the complex field of infrastructure financing will be addressed.

World Bank to extend loan for rural women project
The project's aim is to empower poor rural women through self- help groups that seek to increase control over resources, develop income generating scheme, improve management and technical skills, and gain access to credit and social services.

HC issues notices to government, VSP and SAIL in import licence scam
The public interest petition alleges that VSP, SAIL and MSTC had indulged in large-scale favouritism in the sale and disposal of duty-free import licences for steel of about Rs 10 billion, that they had also made attempts to cover up their acts.

Paddy disease destroys crop, spreads panic in Punjab
State government officials said the disease was a matter of concern as the affected areas are in the basmati producing belt of the country. These areas include the Dhariwal and Fatehgarh Churian blocks of Gurdaspur district and Majitha block of Amritsar. Visiting agricultural experts failed to identify the disease.


Reforms are being continued, feels PV
CMs' panel to streamline ST reforms and NBFCs


Forex: Rs 42.49/50; rupee down two paise

BSE: 3162.18; Sensex slides five points

NSE: 920.80; Nifty makes marginal gain