New Delhi: Forecasting that the Indian defence market will grow to be worth $5-8 billion (about Rs20,000-32,000 crore) annually by next year, an industry body has asked that the newly set up Defence Offsets Facilitation Agency (Dofa) be empowered as a regulator for armament purchases.
An Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) study has recommended that Dofa be expanded to include eminent members from the industry, and that the government should hike foreign direct investment (FDI) ceiling in defence industry from 26% to 49%. It has also said, that Dofa would work as an “unbiased and stand-alone entity to conclude future defence deals”.
Dofa has been set up by the defence ministry to oversee offset packages in major defence deals. The new defence procurement policy makes 30% offset, or local sourcing, mandatory in all defence purchases of more than Rs300 crore. The suggestions by Assocham comes in the backdrop of India becoming the world’s largest arms importers, buying military hardware worth $6 billion to overtake traditional top buyers such as China and Saudi Arabia.
China seeks India’s support on Tibet
Beijing: China on Sunday sought India’s “understanding” and “support” on the Tibet issue as it tightened security on the eve of receiving the Olympic torch apprehending protests by the supporters of the Dalai Lama whom it accused of trying to “sabotage” the Games.
Chinese state councilor Dai Bingguo spoke to India’s National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan over phone and briefed him on the “violent crimes” in Lhasa and “expounded” China’s stance on and concerns over the Tibet issue.
“India will always stick to this position as it has been doing all along,” Narayanan was quoted as having told Dai by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Narayanan wished a “complete success” for the Beijing Olympics.
China had summoned Indian ambassador Nirupama Rao to Foreign Office past midnight recently to convey concerns over storming of its embassy in New Delhi by a group of Tibetans and had ignored India while taking foreign diplomats to riots-hit Lhasa.
Kerala in tight spot over tribals eviction
Kochi: With a little over a month remaining to evict thousands of tribal encroachers from the Harrisons Malayalam Plantations Ltd’s 16,000-acre estate at Chengara in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala is in a tight spot.
Although the government had informed the state’s high court that there would be a law and order problem over the eviction of tribals, who are agitating on land rights in the estate, the court ordered that eviction should be completed by 6 May.
Earlier attempts to evict encroachers failed as the tribals threatened to commit mass suicide if force was used to evict them.
Direct taxes collection may cross Rs3.1 trillion
New Delhi: With growth continuing in corporate and personal tax collections, the income tax department hopes to mop up Rs3.1 trillion at the close of the financial year that ends 31 March.
The department has already collected direct taxes worth Rs3 trillion for the first time. The final figures would be available by end of April as banks may take time to collate the figures.
The Reserve Bank of India has instructed banks to remain open till late hours on the last day of the financial year to accept tax receipts.
In India’s national budget, finance minister P. Chidambaram had raised the direct tax target to Rs3.05 trillion from an earlier estimate of around Rs2.8 trillion for fiscal 2007-08, while the indirect tax target was kept almost at the same level of Rs2.78 trillion.
Tax deducted at source (TDS) has grown by over 50% this year and is expected to contribute around 35% to the total, against 28-29% last fiscal year. The department is expecting to collect around Rs10,000 crore from TDS.
JN Port to double container cargo capacity
Mumbai: Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust’s (JNPT) board has cleared a Rs8,000 crore fourth container terminal project that will help it to double its capacity from 4 million TEUs to 8 million TEUs.
TEU, or 20-foot equivalent unit, is a unit of measurement equal to the space occupied by a standard 20-foot container.
“The board met on Saturday and cleared the fourth container terminal project. Now, it will go to the Centre for clearance,” a senior JNPT official said.
Once the Centre gives its green signal, JNPT would invite bids for the project. “The entire process will take three-four months.”
About two years ago, the port had called for expressions of interest (EoIs) for the fourth container terminal project and received responses from more than 40 companies.
New Star eyes venture with Tata, paper says
London: Britain’s New Star Asset Management has agreed to form a joint venture with India’s Tata group, the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ reported on Sunday.
New Star will aggregate the money for the new venture, which will be run by Tata’s main financial services subsidiary, the newspaper said.
New Star was not available for comment.
NHPC commissions Sikkim project
New Delhi: State-run National Hydroelectric Power Corp. Ltd (NHPC) has said it has commissioned all three units of the 510MW Teesta Stage-V hydroelectric project in Sikkim, which would generate 2,573 million units of energy annually.
Two of the three units of 170MW each will soon begin commercial operations, while the first unit is already functional, a company statement said. The cost of the project is about Rs2,650 crore and the provisional tariff approved by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission is Rs1.62 per unit.
The company has added 1,420MW of generation capacity in the past one year with the commissioning of 390MW Dul Hasti project in Jammu and Kashmir, 520MW Omkareshwar project in Madhya Pradesh, and Teesta-V. The project would benefit Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Sikkim.
Nokia’s ‘Made in India’ handsets top 125 million
Goa: Mobile phone supplier Nokia said on Sunday it has reached a production volume of 125 million in over two years of operations at its Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu plant and has decided to ramp up production capacity and increase headcount to more than 13,000 at its manufacturing facility from the current 8,000, an official said.
Having invested $210 million (Rs842 crore) in its manufacturing unit, it would invest another $75 million in 2008 to increase production. The company has termed the Indian plant as one of its best nine facilities worldwide.
“Quality and cost wise, India is perhaps the best factory. Nokia is exporting ‘Made in India’ cellphones to more than 50 countries,” Nokia India’s vice-president and managing director D. Shivakumar said. With annual turnover at $3.6 billion, India contributed nearly 7% to Nokia’s global revenue of $51 billion in 2007, Shivakumar said.
Based on the strength of the Indian mobile telephony market, which is adding 7 million new subscribers every month, Nokia saw its market share going up to 38% in 2007 from 36% in 2006 worldwide. India has become the second largest market for Nokia after China. The company entered India 12 years ago. It has three research and development centres and 1,10,000 points of sale across the country.
Exports may touch $200 billion by 2009: CII
New Delhi: India’s exports are expected to touch $200 billion (Rs8 trillion) by 2009, maintaining an annual growth of over 20% in 2004-09, but it would require government support through tax refunds, said a survey of CEOs conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
The CII survey on foreign trade policy said the government should continue tax refund schemes such as duty entitlement pass book (DEPB), export promotion capital goods, and duty-free import authorization in the fiscal that begins 1 April to sustain export growth.
“India will become a major player in the global market if the government ensures stability with no mid-term changes to the policy. This will enable long-term planning for exports,” the survey said, adding, exporters are looking for new export promotion schemes to be announced on 7 April.