New Delhi: Nearly two years after it received an import licence for the Indian market, Harley-Davidson Motor Co. has approached the foreign investment promotion board (FIPB), asking for permission to set up single brand retail outlets, according to a government official, who did not want to be named.
“Harley-Davidson continues to lay the groundwork for possible entry into the India market and is exploring options for doing so,” said Bob Klein, director, corporate communications at Harley Davidson. He did not elaborate.
Harley had been granted permission to import bikes in 2007 but the company decided against it as high import duties would make the bikes very expensive.
India’s ministry of shipping, road transport and highways had blocked attempts by Harley Davidson to set shop in India, saying the country did not have prescribed emission norms for motorcycles with an engine capacity exceeding 500cc. Since then several companies have imported bikes above 500cc range. Suzuki launched the 1300cc Hayabusa in November.
The FIPB will meet on 20 February to review Harley Davidson’s application.
—Samar Srivastava and Ranjan Misra
New passenger fee at Delhi airport
New Delhi: Passengers flying from the Capital’s Indira Gandhi International Airport will pay Rs200 on each ticket to destinations within India and Rs1,300 each on international routes starting 1 March, in addition to the Rs225 already levied on the use of the airport.
The new levy, which will be operational until 2012, is expected to fetch at least Rs1,827 crore for operator Delhi International Airport Pvt. Ltd (DIAL) without including taxes.
The decision comes two months after GMR Infrastructure Ltd-led consortium of DIAL told the civil aviation ministry that it may stop construction at the airport if such levies and incentives were not allowed as it was running short of funds, as reported by Mint earlier.
DIAL has been unable to raise funds to the extent planned earlier, the aviation ministry said in a statement on Monday, explaining there were no options but to introduce the new charge.
The new passenger fee, described as a development fee by the ministry and DIAL, will not be shared with the Union government as mandated in a May 2006 privatization agreement.
ONGC?disputes I-T notice for Rs6,000 cr payment
New Delhi: India’s biggest exploration company Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC) has disputed an income-tax (I-T) notice for the payment of Rs6,000 crore. “We have appealed to the income-tax tribunal in New Delhi on the tax notice”, D.K. Sarraf, ONGC’s finance director, said over the telephone on Monday. The dispute relates to eligibility for tax breaks. ONGC treats each oil well in a field as a separate entity while claiming the seven-year tax holiday.
‘Combined fiscal deficit may be 10% of GDP’
New Delhi: India may cut taxes and unveil further steps to stimulate the economy in its interim budget next week and the central bank is expected to take more steps soon after, a top policy adviser said on Monday.
Suresh Tendulkar, the chairman of the Prime Minister’s economic advisory council, said the combined fiscal deficit of the Union and state governments is expected to be 10% of gross domestic product during fiscal year 2008-09.
Asked if tax cuts could be announced in the interim budget on 16 February, he said: “That is likely. (Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh) Ahluwalia is meeting the industry people. So he may have something up his sleeve.”
Key officials to meet today, talk borrowing
New Delhi: The finance ministry and central bank officials will meet on Tuesday to discuss additional borrowings for the current fiscal year, economic affairs secretary Ashok Chawla said in New Delhi on Monday.
The stimulus is almost running into Rs1.5 trillion by way of excess expenditure and Rs50,000 crore by way of loss of revenue from direct and indirect taxes, Chawla said.
Zakir Hussain wins Grammy award
Los Angeles: While ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ picked up seven Bafta awards in a ceremony in London, the Indian presence was also felt at the Grammys with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain winning in the Contemporary World Music Album category for his collaborative album ‘Global Drum Project’.
Hussain worked with Mickey Hart of the rock band “Grateful Dead”, Nigerian percussionist Sikiru Adepoju and Puerto Rican jazz percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo for the album.
Sudhir Vyas may be new ambassador to Pakistan
Islamabad: Senior diplomat Sudhir Vyas is expected to take up the job of India’s high commissioner to Pakistan when incumbent Satyabrata Pal retires at the end of this month.
Vyas, currently India’s ambassador to Bhutan, is expected to take over in Islamabad at the end of February, when Pal retires, officials said.
It is believed that Vyas’ nomination has been cleared by Pakistan. He earlier served as deputy high commissioner in Islamabad. Vyas was expelled in 2003 by Pakistan in a tit-for-tat move after India threw out Jalil Abbas Jilani, then Pakistani deputy high commissioner in New Delhi, accusing him of funnelling funds for separatist activities in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan may file appeal against Khan’s release
Islamabad: Stung by growing international outcry questioning the release of rogue nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, the Pakistan government has said it is considering to file a fresh appeal against a court’s order declaring him a “free citizen”.
“The government reserves the right to file an appeal against the high court’s decision,” foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters on the sidelines of an international security conference in Munich on Sunday.
Qureshi said the release of Khan from effective house arrest was due to the Islamabad high court’s order and not an “executive decision”.
Bangladesh, India sign trade deals, talk terror
Dhaka: Bangladesh and India signed two deals on Monday to boost trade and discussed ways to prevent cross-border militant attacks, officials said.
The pacts on bilateral trade and investment were signed after meetings between foreign ministers Pranab Mukherjee of India and Dipu Moni of Bangladesh. Mukherjee, on a short visit to Dhaka, said the deals would reduce the South Asian neighbours’ trade gap, which has soared to around $3 billion (Rs14,580 crore) in favour of India.
Pakistan to file cases against 26/11 attackers
Islamabad:Pakistan will register cases against the perpetrators of 26 November terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the government said in a statement on Monday.
On the basis of the inquiry conducted by Pakistan’s investigating agency, a case will be registered and further investigation carried out.
India blames Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba for the 26-29 November attacks that killed at least 183 people. It presented Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s government with a dossier of evidence last month that it said proved the involvement of Pakistani nationals.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry last month confirmed that the lone surviving gunman of the attack, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, who is in Indian custody, is a Pakistani.
The investigation by the government’s Federal Investigation Agency has concluded that the Mumbai attacks were planned outside Pakistan, probably in some European country, without the involvement of Pakistan’s security agencies, AAJ television reported on Monday, without saying where it got the information from.
Pakistan may seek to question Kasab, the broadcaster said. It may also seek to charge the perpetrators in a Karachi court, AAJ said, without identifying them.
BEML wins Rs1,672 cr Metro Rail coach order
Mumbai: BEML Ltd said on Monday it has won a Rs1,672 crore order from Bangalore Metro Rail Corp. to supply 150 metro rail coaches by October 2010.
The maker of metro rail-cars and coaches is likely to get an additional order of 63 coaches for proposed metro lines in Bangalore, the company statement said.
Delhi BRT delivering its key objectives: expert
New Delhi: The bus rapid transit, or BRT, corridor in Delhi—which has been the cause for much controversy—is delivering its key objectives, including reducing delays by certain measures, said a transport engineer from a global transport research institute who reviewed the 5.8km pilot stretch in the Capital.
“The focus in Delhi should shift towards average person delay rather than vehicle delay,” said Dario Hidalgo, a transport engineer with EMBARQ, a US-based transport consultant.
The review reported an average speed increase from 12-13km per hour to 19km per hour for buses, reducing average travel time by 35%. Buses comprise just 2% of the vehicles at a major intersection along the corridor but transport 55% of the people.
SC prevents banks from trading in some debt
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has temporarily barred ICICI Bank Ltd, Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd and a local unit of Standard Chartered Plc. from trading in debt tied to so-called sick companies. The petitions of the banks challenging an earlier verdict by a state high court banning trading of such debt will be heard on 16 February.
In its 12 January ruling, the Gujarat high court had said the sale of the loans by the banks was illegal, and the banks that purchased the debt aren’t entitled to take part in court proceedings tied to those companies.
MF not in sight, Matrix AMC head quits
Mumbai: Ashutosh Bishnoi, who was hired to head Chennai-based Matrix Asset Management Co. Pvt. Ltd, has quit before the firm could launch its mutual fund business.
Matrix had got in-principle approval to start a mutual funds business from market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India in 2007. Bishnoi had joined the firm in September that year. “We had plans to launch quant (quantitative model)-based funds that were to be passively managed. But I don’t sight any market recovery at least for two years, and hence don’t think it’s the right time to come out with anything new,” Bishnoi said over the phone.
R. Mohan, a promoter at Matrix, said the firm would hire a replacement for Bishnoi.
Chhattisgarh’s BJP-led govt revives its rice scheme
New Delhi: In an apparent move to retain the momentum his party had in the recent concluded state elections for the upcoming parliamentary polls, Chhattisgarh’s Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP-led government on Monday presented a pro-poor stimulus package that revived its populist rice scheme.
Claiming that the populist measures in the Rs22,211 crore budget would help mitigate the impact of inflation, Chief Minister Raman Singh, who is also the finance minister announced that the rice scheme would provide rice at Re1 per kg to 700,000 families and at Rs2 per kg to about three million families.
Raman Singh-led BJP, which had campaigned heavily on its rice scheme for below poverty line or BPL families, returned to power in December. The budget also held out sops for small traders and small scale industries. Small traders having annual turnover of less that Rs100,000 have been exempted from professional tax, bio-fuel has been made tax free and small scale units have been given relaxation to file quaterly instead of monthly VAT returns.