New Delhi: Jet Airways (India) Ltd on Wednesday confirmed a ‘Mint’ Page 1 story published on 17 June that its low-fare subsidiary, JetLite (India) Ltd, has been asked to appear before the government for non-payment of Rs100 crore in service tax.
In a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange, Jet Airways said: “The Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence is conducting an investigation into the alleged non-payment of service tax by Sahara Airlines Ltd.” Jet Airways had acquired Sahara Airlines from the Sahara group last year and rebranded it JetLite.
“The inquiry relates to a period(s) prior to the acquisition of Sahara Airlines Ltd by Jet Airways (India) Ltd on April 20, 2007,” the statement said, adding that the liability, if any, for the tax demands rests with the earlier owners of Sahara Airlines.
Kingfisher-Deccan merger gets HC nod
Mumbai: The Karnataka High Court has given the nod for the Kingfisher Airlines-Deccan Aviation merger, according to a spokesman for Kingfisher. “The judge has pronounced his order sanctioning the scheme, orally in the court, on Monday June 16,” he said. Deccan Aviation is in the process of merging the scheduled airline operations of unlisted Kingfisher Airlines, to create one of the biggest air carriers in the country and pave the way for the latter to fly overseas.
More domestic carriers may get to fly overseas
New Delhi: India’s aviation ministry has recommended that carriers, including Go Airlines (India) Pvt. Ltd, IndiGo and SpiceJet Ltd, should be allowed to fly overseas without having to complete five years of domestic services. This is part of the civil aviation policy that’s being considered by a panel of ministers, said Maushumi Chakravarty, a spokeswoman of the aviation ministry. The cabinet has to take a decision on this, she said.
India currently stipulates that local airlines must fly five years in the domestic market before getting a licence to start overseas services.
UBI plans to Raise $2 bn in overseas debt
Mumbai: State-run lender Union Bank of India plans to raise as much as $2 billion, or Rs8,580 crore, by selling medium-term notes to overseas investors. The bank has filed documents with the Singapore Stock Exchange for the planned sale, according to a statement sent to the Bombay Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The debt will be sold in phases, the bank said.
Andhra Bank to raise $125 million
Kolkata: State-run Andhra Bank plans to raise up to $125 million through foreign currency loans in a couple of weeks, its top official said on Wednesday. The bank is looking at a 20-22% growth in loans and deposits in 2008/09, chairman and managing director K. Ramakrishnan said on the sidelines of an industry conference. “We need to go to the market to meet obligations of high-cost deposits raised last year,” he said. The bank has available limit to raise up to $300 million through foreign currency loans, he said.
“At the moment we will broadly raise up to $125 million.”
The bank also plans to raise deposit rates by 50 basis points in line with inflationary pressures in the Indian economy. India’s most widely watched inflation measure, the wholesale price index, is already at a seven-year high of 8.75%. “Like other banks we need to take a call on deposit rates considering inflationary pressures.”
Centre drafting action plan on climate change
Bangalore: The Centre is formulating a national action plan to spell out measures to help adapt to the consequences of climate change, Shyam Saran, the Prime Minister’s special envoy, said at the Clean Air Summit on Wednesday. “Th plan will look at the science behind the phenomenon of climate change, the risks it poses to the country and to the achievement of its economic and social development objectives”, Saran said.
The plan, expected to be released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later this month, was formulated after deliberating with the academic institutions.
Inflation?forces foreign? workers in Gulf to leave
Dubai: Attracted by tax-free jobs and cheap living, foreign workers have long gravitated to wealthy Gulf Arab states to earn a better living, but rising costs are now forcing many to go home.
Inflation has soared to record or near-record levels across the Gulf Arab region, where migrants ranging from high-paid Western executives to low-wage Asian labourers have formed the backbone of oil-fuelled development since the 1970s.
Already pinched by rising rents and salaries, firms are finding it increasingly hard to recruit staff to countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Gulf trade hub where wages paid in the dollar-pegged dirham have eroded the value of remittances. “The cost of living in the UAE, particularly Abu Dhabi, has been rising steadily, led by soaring house rents... Salaries haven’t risen commensurately,” said Indian journalist Stanley Carvalho, who is ending a 10-year sojourn in the UAE this year to rejoin his family.
“Also, as in the case of most Indians, we are hit by the rising Indian rupee against the US dollar. Given the dirham’s peg to the dollar, our remittances to India are now lower by at least 8 to 10% in value. A double whammy so to speak,” he added.
‘Hong Kong, Singapore most?trade-friendly’
Geneva: Hong Kong and Singapore are the two economies most conducive to global trade, according to a ranking by the World Economic Forum (WEF) released on Wednesday.
WEF’s new Global Enabling Trade Index survey of 118 economies looked at 10 factors impacting trade, such as tariffs, customs administration efficiency and availability of transport and communications infrastructure.
The forum ranked Hong Kong No.1 thanks to its “very open market” as well as a “secure and open business environment.”
Singapore’s open business environment was also complemented by a “highly efficient and transparent border administration” and a well-developed transport and communications infrastructure.
The third and fourth places were taken by Sweden and Norway, respectively, while Canada was ranked fifth. The US came in at No. 14.
China fared even worse, ranked just 48th, while India ranked even further down the list, at 71st place, due to its market access, which is rated as “severely restricted.”
India urges major oil producers to hike output
New Delhi: Oil minister Murli Deora has urged oil producing nations to pump extra oil to bring stability to volatile markets ahead of a 22 June meeting of major consumers and producers called by top exporter Saudi Arabia. Although it is not yet clear whether Deora will attend the meeting in Jeddah, he asked Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi to approach other major producers over raising output, as current high prices would seriously impact growth, in the longer term, affecting both producers and consumers.
In a letter to al-Naimi, Deora said the recent Saudi decision to lift output would help supply side management and thus stabilize the oil market.
“I would sincerely like to thank you for the initiative taken and request you to advise other major oil producing countries also to raise their output to calm the market further and revitalize global economic growth,” he added.
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said over the weekend that Saudi Arabia was set to hike its oil output to 9.7 million bpd in July, indicating a total 550,000 bpd or 6% increase in supply since May.
Deora welcomed the Saudi move to raise output and “export it mainly to Asian markets where demand growth is currently the highest”.
India’s biggest private refiner, Reliance Industries, on Tuesday said it would buy 30% of the additional Saudi supply of 300,000 barrels per day in June and would buy the same percentage of extra oil offered by the kingdom in July.
Sugar firms focusing on byproducts
Mumbai: Indian sugar makers are pumping more money into non-sugar segments—ethanol and power—to push profits higher and sidestep the cyclicality of their core business, industry officials said. Sugar firms, which had reported losses in the financial year ended September 2007 due to a slump in sugar prices, are also shifting focus to take advantage of the demand for ethanol as a result of near record crude prices. “Sugar industry is cyclical in nature. So, we have to continuously look at ways to tackle that,” Gautam Watve, head of planning and strategy at Shree Renuka Sugars said. “By making ethanol and generating power we are only adding value to our byproducts, which is a very profitable business.”
By diversifying into related segments, sugar firms not only insulate themselves from price volatility, but also earn carbon credits and avail income tax benefits from power generation, said R. Sreesankar, head of research, at IL&FS Investmart Ltd. Reuters
Govt cuts prices of complex fertilizers
New Delhi: The government on Wednesday reduced prices of complex fertilizers by up to Rs 2,296 per tonne to encourage farmers to use them instead of regular urea and DAP so that soil fertility is maintained.
The Union Cabinet had taken a decision in this regard on 12 June . Complex fertilizers would now be available in the price range of Rs5,121-8,185 per tonne from Rs6,980-9,080 per tonne earlier—down by about Rs843-2,296 per tonne.
Complex fertilizers are those which have at least two nutrients, while regular fertilisers have only one nutrient nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potash (K) or sulphur(S). The Centre has also urged farmers not to resort to panic buying, as it would only help black marketeers. It is “closely monitoring the availability of of fertilizers in consultation with states”, thefertilizer ministry said. The Centre also launched a toll-free helpline, 1600-114400, to redress the grievances of farmers.
UN Security Council expansion row goes on
United Nations: India, backed by a large number of UN member states, has firmly rejected the suggestion that the 15-member Security Council be expanded only in the non-permanent category with a provision for review after 10 years, seeking increase in membership in both segments.
The member states have made known their strong opposition to the proposal contained in the report of the task force comprising representatives of Bangladesh, Chile, Djibouti and Portugal during a debate on the document in the Open Ended Working Group, or OEWG, on Tuesday. The task force was appointed by UN general assembly president Srgjan Kerim.
No plans to ‘encircle’ India, says China
Hong Kong: China has no plans to try and dominate the shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean, its ambassador to India said in Hong Kong on Wednesday. “We don’t have such an intention to establish a chain to encircle India,” said ambassador Zhang Yan at a lunch held by the Asia Society in Hong Kong. “It’s not in China’s interest to undertake this kind of strategic move. We see India as our partner,” he said, adding the speculation on a China policy of encirclement was “unfounded.”
“We at this stage don’t feel there is a need to send a navy ship to accompany our commercial ships in the area,” he said. Reuters
States sign up for centralized helpline no
New Delhi: In a bid to provide organised, integrated and accessible emergency services, many states across the country are signing up for the “108” number to deal with exigencies. First implemented in Andhra Pradesh, the new emergency number is used as the centralized helpline for medical, police and fire emergencies. Conceptualized by the Emergency Management and Research Institute, or EMRI, 108 will soon be in use in 10 other states, including Jammu and Kashmir. There are three states which are at present using 108 as the emergency toll free number—Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
EMRI has also signed an MoU with Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and MP. India lags far behind its western counterparts in terms of emergency services, the EMRI said, arguing for such a number to be brought in across the country.
Bartronics ties up with LG Electronics of US
Mumbai: Scanner and smart card maker Bartronics India Ltd said on Wednesday it has tied-up with LG Electronics of USA for their IRIS recognition technology and products. The deal allows Bartronics to use the technology in Europe, Africa, West Asia, India and Singapore.
Marriage registration plan before law panel
New Delhi: India’s Law Commission is considering a proposal to make registration mandatory for all marriages, including those among Muslims. The proposal, prepared by commission member Tahir Mahmood, suggests legislation to make marriage registration compulsory across communities.
Mahmood said if the commission approves this and the government accepts his suggestion, it would be a big step forward.
The proposal assumes significance in the light of the Supreme Court’s order last year on compulsory registration of marriages of Indian citizens belonging to all religions.
The court had directed the states and Union territories to frame the rules.The apex court had held that such compulsory registration would be a step in the right direction to prevent child marriage.
J&J, American Red Cross settle symbol dispute
New York: The American Red Cross and Johnson and Johnson (J&J), the health care conglomerate, announced on Tuesday that they had settled a longstanding dispute over the use of the Red Cross trademark. The two sides announced the settlement a month after Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the US district court in Manhattan threw out much of J&J’s trademark claim against the relief organization.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but according to a statement, it includes an agreement that both parties will continue to use the symbol—a Greek red cross on a white background. J&J sued the Red Cross last August, claiming that the organization’s decision to use the Red Cross symbol on products sold in stores was a violation of a longstanding arrangement.