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February 14-15, 1999

Pre-Budget market bears sexy Sensex
The filmi gyrations of India's premier stockmarket index are expected to continue. Animal instincts are likely to show up as a bull-bear face-off looms over the bourses.


Last chance for Sinha to right economic blunders
For 50 years, the neta-babu combine kept education in the footnotes of India's economic agenda. This year, the Finance Bill should provide for sale of PSUs lock, stock and barrel to raise resources for social infrastructure. Else, this will be the BJP's last Budget, writes Dilip Thakore.


Export aid, technology seen as key to sports goods industry's growth
Foreign companies' presence in India has brought about a shift in the focus of the industry from the traditional, low-value items to the modern technology items related to golf, skiing and winter sports equipment.


South Africa seeks agri-expertise from India
Narend Singh, minister for agriculture and housing of Kwa Zulu Natal, a state of South Africa, hopes to enlist support of Indian banks and financial institutions for schemes for developing and financing SA's rural sector.

UNDP okays Rs 100 m aid for hybrid rice project
The programme will harmonise strong research base, systematic production and effective transfers of technology for large-scale adoption of the now proven hybrid rice technology.

Remunerative prices better than subsidies for farm sector, says academic
Liberalisation has forced many agricultural labourers to seek employment elsewhere. To absorb this labour, the economy has to grow by four per cent per year, Dr Kirit Parikh said.


ASI to support corporate initiatives for heritage conservation
Indian companies are likely to fund the development of the environs of Kanheri caves and Bassein Fort in Bombay.

BSE and NSE Weekly Review: Scent of a pre-Budget rally: Sensex up 122 points, Nifty up 34 points

February 13, 1999

ISRO will earn $ 100 million leasing transponders
The Indian Space Research Organisation plans to get into serious money-making business when its biggest communication satellite, the INSAT 2E, is launched between April 2 and 7, from Kourou, French Guyana.


The end of manufacturing
We would have been better off had we focussed on our core competencies in the service and knowledge sectors or supported our genius in media and entertainment, instead of chasing silly dreams of making India an industrial giant, writes Pritish Nandy.


Mallya-Chhabria battle rages: Herbertsons may challenge Ganguli's BDA posting
The hearing by the Company Law Board on February 23 could be stormy.

Manage exchange rate risks to cut losses, not to make profits, Tarapore tells corporates
Corporates should assess strategic, operational and information technology issues as they progressively adopt the euro, the former deputy governor of the RBI told the round-table conference of chief financial officers.

RBI mulls computerised money markets for efficiency, transparency
The RBI is toying with the idea of providing terminals to the money market participants to enable them to tender bids in auctions and to provide other information on the central bank's announcements.


Bombay-Pune expressway acquires dimensions of reality, beauty
''You will not find it necessary to visit Switzerland,'' beams an official, as the hi-tech project assumes form amid the scenic Sahayadris.


'There's a no-cost opportunity to make projects eco-friendly. India must seize it'
Clean Development Mechanism is a new source of capital that is not based on rupees or dollars but on exchange of credit for reducing pollution. It is a win-win situation for the US businesses and the Indian economy, says Kathleen A McGinty.

BSE: Sensex 3337.49; up 24 points
NSE: Nifty 970.25, up ten points
Rs 42.44/45 vs $
Rs 47.74 vs euro
Rs 69.05 vs pound
Rs 37.10 vs yen (100)

February 12, 1999

Asian crisis won't affect liberalisation, India's growth rate will be 8 pc in future, PM tells G-15
India cannot remain complacent in spite of having weathered the economic odds, Vajpayee said. 'There is a great need for revamping the global financial architecture.'

Govt accords priority sector status to food processing units
The decision will enable the segment to avail of priority bank credit for new projects, expansion and modernisation.


G-8 Tokyo meet links N-NPT to lifting of sanctions
However, the taskforce is not expected to reach any decisions about the sanctions or other issues regarding India and Pakistan.


Infotech forces Kerala to revamp tourism industry
Freely available online information has increased the number of independent, individual tourists, frustrating agencies that conduct group tours. Kerala now plans to offer locals as guides, women as hosts, and tours to pepper plucking sessions.

Foreign companies seek to make the most of India Engg Trade Fair
The India Engineering Trade Fair 1999, the biennial show organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries, will open on Friday in New Delhi. A preview.

BSE: Sensex 3313.40; up five points!
NSE: Nifty 960.05, steady
Rs 42.46/47 vs $
Rs 48.05 vs euro
Rs 68.91 vs pound
Rs 37.33 vs yen (100)

February 11, 1999

Enron's Dabhol plant to light up Maharashtra by March-end
The company denied that it had violated human rights at the plant site. Promises made earlier to set up social infrastructure for the benefit of the locals will be fulfilled. Financial closure of the second phase will be done within 30 days.

India's voice likely to command attention; 'G-17' summit to debate economic crises and WTO
Prime Minister Vajpayee will hold bilateral talks with Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The summit will advocate development of joint projects and bilateral investment initiatives.


US Congress likely to enable Clinton to waive sanctions
''I think this Congress is focussed on the issue. There will be a majority on both sides who will be sympathetic and willing to ease the sanctions. How far the lawmakers would go, remains to be seen,'' a US official said.


GDP growth rate for '98-99 pegged at 5.8 pc
While a marginal fall is seen in industry and services, the farm sector is expected to fare better than last year. The fiscal deficit of the Centre in 1998-99 as percentage of GDP is expected to range between 5.6 to 5.8 per cent.

Bakht foresees industrial turnaround, hints at fresh reforms
The government is keen on enlargement of automatic approval to foreign investment, simplification of licensing procedures, review of the Exchange Controls Act and industrial legislation, and reforms in labour laws, the industry minister said.


Bombay HC adjourns hearing: Mallya, Chhabria groups fight for control over Herbertsons
A fresh date will now have to be obtained for the hearing after the chief justice appoints another judge.

Petroleum dealers demand hike in commission
In 1965, the dealers' commission was 8.3 per cent which had now come down to less than one per cent. 'The petroleum dealer is surviving on very low margins, very heavy expenses and high costs,' the Federation of All India Petroleum Traders said.

All's well that ends well: powermen stir in UP ends as govt, engineers patch up
The state government assured that employees' views will be considered while undertaking reforms in the power sector and that strikers won't be victimised.


Cut direct tax rates, tax farm income: FICCI
The government can earn high revenues and reduce fiscal deficit by enlarging the corporate tax-base. At present, only 3,500 companies pay 85 per cent of total excise duty amount collected by the government, Sudhir Jalan said.

Economist urges no-tax on equities sale, concessions to infrastructure investors
Scrap capital gains tax on the proceeds of corporate mergers, acquisitions and other forms of restructuring. Equity must rescue us from the perils of rising debt burden, Fredie Mehta said.

BSE: Sensex 3307.49; zooms up 100 points!
NSE: Nifty 959.45, up 34 points
Rs 42.43/44 vs $
Rs 48.04 vs euro
Rs 69.26 vs pound
Rs 36.77 vs yen (100)

February 10, 1999

Govt lifts ban on onion exports, sets ceiling of 25,000t p.m.
The exports would be allowed through an agency designated by the Union government.


The Indian consumer is a sucker!
The government's almost monopolistic presence in the service sector and the private sector's cunning price-cuts have ensured that consumer interest remains a figment of imagination. Unless there is free and fair competition in the market, the consumer will always remain a sucker. He will be the king with no clothes, writes Mahesh Nair.


'Even after buying gold, people have money. It will come out if Budget gives the right signals'
People feel uncertain about everything. Many things promised by the finance minister have not materialised. For example, the Companies Act has not been amended. Legal reforms are very important. Unless they are done, people cannot plan anything, says Dr U Shankar of the Madras School of Economics.


Indian studies chairs materialise as expats take million-$ initiatives
A few academics however feel the efforts should be focussed more on contemporary subjects than projecting 'India as an exotic and glorious land'. 'Whether it is Sikh history or Indian history in general, it will be mostly a right-wing agenda.'


UP recruits new engineers as SEB employees strike work
Uttar Pradesh is importing 3,000 mega-watts to complement the present generation in the state. The government said this would be sufficient to meet the daily requirements.

Patent and IPR body asks India to shore up legal sector
The World Intellectual Property Organisation has asked India to expedite setting up of the IPR Institute and start relevant courses in colleges. India should have more patent attorneys and advisers, it said.

World Bank lauds India's success in poverty alleviation, to launch new study
The study will revise the framework for poverty reduction in India, integrating new thinking with an analysis done in preparation for the World Development Report and with new and ongoing work in India.

BSE: Sensex 3207.71; recovers 25 points
NSE: Nifty 924.75, up 8 points
Rs 42.44/45 vs $
Rs 48.06 vs euro
Rs 69.55 vs pound
Rs 37.02 vs yen (100)

February 9, 1999

India, Trinidad and Tobago agree to lift double taxation, boost bilateral trade
India will help the Caribbean country in the development of small-scale industries. Technology transfers in water management, aqua-culture and cereal production will mark the co-operation in agricultural research, A B Vajpayee said in Port of Spain on the eve of G-15 summit.

Success in Bengal thickens Cong-Left bond, nation-wide strike against price rise planned
Political differences and affiliations have become redundant in view of the onslaughts of economic liberalisation. Workers will launch joint agitations, trade union leaders announced.


'Why should there be a government monopoly on procurement?'
Why should the tuition fees for the university students be less than the private school fees? Why should those who can afford enjoy subsidies like this? Why should everybody get rice at Rs 5 a kg? This is what you call undeserving subsidy, says Dr U Shankar, director of the Madras School of Economics.


'Saraswati mandirs will help tell the world what India truly is'
Indian entrepreneurs in the US are pooling in resources to fund Indian studies chairs in American universities.


Talks trip, power stir in UP a certainty
About 100,000 engineers of the electricity board will strike work against the power sector reforms allegedly imposed by the World Bank. Army has been pressed into service, just in case.

Packaged tea segment reels under excise duty, seeks relief in Budget
The eight per cent duty has affected consumers across all income strata, the Tea Packeters Association of India said in a petition to the ministry of finance.

Indian Oil Corp and Trinidad company in 50-50 venture for refinery operations
India will also help Trinidad in low-cost housing construction.

BSE: Sensex 3183.64; sheds 31 points
NSE: Nifty 916.50, down 20 points
Rs 42.45/46 vs $
Rs 47.73 vs euro
Rs 69.37 vs pound
Rs 37.34 vs yen (100)

February 7-8, 1999

Indian venture capitalist comes to Columbia's rescue
Nearly seven years after the idea was first mooted, and after several fund-raisers, America's first endowed professorship in Indian political economy is about to take off at Columbia University largely due to the $ 500,000 donation by a self-effacing Indian business executive.


Corporate India becomes price-conscious, ahoy!
Unless justified by discernible and well-advertised product or service value-addition, higher prices could lead to severe erosion of market share, under-utilised capacity and bankruptcy, writes
Dilip Thakore.


Debt wish: Rs 60 billion goes down in UP as annual interest!
The state administration siphons employees provident fund money to clear the huge Rs 160 billion salary bill, thanks to indiscriminate recruitments during the last decade. The debt burden is Rs 500 billion!


PM underscores fiscal discipline, consensus on subsidies
Exports, even while becoming positive in the last two months, continue to be sluggish, Vajpayee observed in the meeting with the Economic Advisory Council.

British official says euro has acquired vitality; London to be gateway for Indian investors
We will offer best possible climate for the investors and borrowers from India, British economic secretary to the treasury, Patricia Hewitt, said.

'Gimme better pay. Else... I'll work non-stop'
It's going to be a proper, perky protest. A Japanese-style 'strike' for the usual demands. Beginning Monday, 6,300 executives of public sector power behemoth NTPC will work non-stop for 48 hours.

GDR Weekly Review: Skindia index slips a tad to 608.61
BSE and NSE Weekly Review: Political developments dampen sentiment; Sensex down 100 points, Nifty down 30 points

February 6, 1999

After camaraderie with capitalists, Bengal to see strikes, protests
Trade unions cutting across party lines are joining forces to make the Monday strike against the price hike a success.

Export ban on onions will be lifted by Monday, Hegde assures Rane
The farmers in Nashik -- the onion bowl of Asia -- are protesting the export ban as they have been incurring heavy losses due to slump in prices caused by production glut.


The quest for middle ground
'We need only remind ourselves that our wallets are passports to the kind of society we want our children to inherit. The economic choices we make do not merely determine how rapidly money flows into and out of them. Ultimately, they also decide the public morality that future generations will live with,' says Ashwin Mahesh.


Eternal vigilance is the prize for fraud-less financial sector
Technology can make the difference, says Central Vigilance Commissioner N Vittal who has formulated a multi-pronged approach to root out corruption from banks, stock exchanges and financial institutions.


PM hints at increase in spending on social sector
Vajpayee told the Economic Advisory Council that poverty alleviation will remain at the centre of economic planning.

K C Pant swears by subsidies, gives national security an economic dimension
The more ambitious the goal, the harder the effort that is required. The country has to decide how ambitious the targets have to be, the new deputy chairman of the Planning Commission said.

BSE: Sensex 3215.35; sheds 21 points
NSE: Nifty 936.30, down three points
Rs 42.46/47 vs $
Rs 48.05 vs euro
Rs 69.71 vs pound
Rs 37.60 vs yen (100)

February 5, 1999

Conflicting reports mark FM advisor Guruswamy's exit
An official release from Yashwant Sinha's office said Guruswamy has been "sacked" as adviser for ''acting beyond his brief''. But he is said to have put in his papers on January 27 itself.

K C Pant appointed plan panel deputy chairman
Two more members are likely to be appointed to the Planning Commission shortly.


Government frees five bulk drugs from PSU clutches
The measure is expected to encourage setting up of indigenous facilities, boost production, reduce imports of the drugs and give a fillip to the domestic industry.

Reliance buys Gujarat Gas LPG division
The takeover will enable Reliance consolidate its position in the LPG market especially in Gujarat.

Recession gobbled up 30 pc of business, bemoans Goa tourism body
From 53,470 charter tourists in four months last year, the number went down to 53,352 this year. Only eight charters landed in October compared to 21 the previous season.

Manmohan Singh flays open-ended subsidies, says Development Council must debate expenses
Funds generated from the cutback on subsidies could be utilised for long-term empowerment of the people through investment in vital sectors, the former finance minister said.


'Budget must lower import duties on aircraft spares'
You have a very interesting economic relationship between the south and Saurashtra. There is a lot of travel between Coimbatore, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, says Gujarat Airways chairman Richard Koszarek.

BSE: Sensex 3236.42; sheds 41 points
NSE: Nifty 939.70, down 13 points
Rs 42.46/47 vs $
Rs 47.80 vs euro
Rs 69.48 vs pound
Rs 37.41 vs yen (100)

February 4, 1999

RBI report confirms dismal finances of states
The nature of expenditure is a cause of concern as the non-developmental expenditure could be 47.70 per cent of the revenue receipts as against 40.9 per cent in 1997-98, the article notes.

Finance minister Sinha sacks his adviser
An official release said Mohan Guruswamy was dismissed for "acting beyond his brief and trying to meddle in matters not authorised by the finance minister".

PM calls subsidies a drain on economy, calls for all-party meet to form policy
Direct and indirect subsidies amounting to Rs 1.4 trillion were being offered in the country at present. The Indian economy cannot stand such a big burden because the tax sources are very few, he said.


'The reform process went with great speed from '91 to '94. Since then, it's been politics'
'The BJP's performance has been zero. Whether they need more time, I don't know. Whether the fact that people who matter like the PM don't see eye to eye with some of the philosophies of the RSS family, whether that is the problem, I don't know,'
Rahul Bajaj tells Sunita Wadekar-Bhargava.


The Great Indian Power Heist
Small power projects are efficient and need to be encouraged. If poor consumers need to be subsidised, subsidies should come from state government budgets, not through the SEBs, says Bibek Debroy.


Basu government okays surplus land sale to revive sick units
The package for industrialisation of the state, to be finalised by a high-powered taskforce, is expected to help more than 10,000 defunct units.

New statistics put GDP growth rate for 97-98 at five per cent
The new series of national account statistics has 1993-94as the base year. Manufacturing, trade, hotels, communications, banking and insurance sectors are among the main contributors to the high growth rate.

BSE: Sensex 3277.57; recovers 40 points
NSE: Nifty 952.40, up 21 points
Rs 42.46/47 vs $
Rs 48.12 vs euro
Rs 69.43 vs pound
Rs 37.90 vs yen (100)

February 3, 1999

Railways seek world class image, hurtle toward business tie-ups with France and Japan
The two countries are likely to land part of the huge business related to increasing the capacity of railway track, its maintenance, modernisation, signalling, telecommunications, electrification, rolling stock and information technology.


'A country of 900 million people is not going to be pushed around'
'With 190 countries in the world, each is looking after its own interests. All I am saying is, I must look after my interest, which is not to say the industrialists' interest, the Indian industry's interest, but India's interest,' Rahul Bajaj in conversation with
Sunita Wadekar-Bhargava.


Budgets must be forward-looking. Are they?
The budget by its very nomenclature is to be forward looking. In the sense that it deals with spending over the following 12 months. In practice, the policy decisions announced in the Budget are being acted upon at the fag end of the year, points
out R C Murthy.


Greens, trade unions on a collision course over Grasim plant in Kerala
The trade union leaders are against the campaign for closure of the allegedly polluting plant. They have the support of various political parties and the Communist-led government, which is ideologically bound to protect the interest of the workers.

'Resurgent Punjab' to woo big business houses
A 'red carpet welcome' awaits industrial houses that wish to set up units in Punjab, Chief Minister Badal said.

Pune police grab Anubhav chief in Madras
Natesan is accused of cheating investors in several states of millions of rupees.

BSE: Sensex 3236.76; down 29 points
NSE: Nifty 931.20, down 9 points
Rs 42.49/50 vs $
Rs 48.03 vs euro
Rs 69.80 vs pound
Rs 37.54 vs yen (100)

February 1-2, 1999

Sinha calls for resilient global financial systems
Recent crises in various countries have highlighted the need for a new international financial architecture that will make globalisation a smooth and continuously forward moving process rather than an on-and-off recurrence, the finance minister told the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Opinion swells in support of government stance on patents
The new patent regime has in-built checks on unreasonable hikes in drug prices. It will also offer India an opportunity to exploit the commercial potential of its 25,000 crops, say experts.


What has Budget got to do with the common man?
Ever since liberalisation, budgets have brought the so-called common man nothing but inflation and unemployment. Unless the finance minister comes up with a radical new strategy for growth, his budgets will cut no ice, writes Jay Dubashi.

Fertiliser body warns govt against bringing back customs duty on machinery
The government must take a bold decsion to raise the urea prices by ten per cent every year in the next few years till the subsidy could be kept at manageable levels, the Fertiliser Association of India said.


Govt dithers on Goa's international airport plan, CM eyes naval facility to rope in tourists
Since the country's biggest Sea Bird naval base is coming up at Karwar, hardly 50 km away from Dabolim, Faleiro feels the defence ministry should shift Goa's entire naval operations to Sea Bird, making the Dabolim airport fully available for civilian purpose.

Eureka! Huge reserve of natural gas in desert state
An estimated investment of about Rs 63 billion to tap the reserve in the border district of Barmer could fetch Rajasthan an annual revenue of Rs 4.92 billion by way of ten per cent royalty and another 12 per cent sales tax.

BSE: Sensex 3265.91; down 50 points
NSE: Nifty 940.15, down 26 points
Rs 42.49/50 vs $
Rs 48.34 vs euro
Rs 69.83 vs pound
Rs 36.81 vs yen (100)

January 1999