25 August | The Mint report

25 August | The Mint report

New Delhi: A new service tax audit report says three companies owe the government a total of Rs126 crore. The report says infrastructure firm Gammon India owes Rs67 crore as service tax on advances it took on contracts, while Tata Teleservices owes Rs43 crore and Reliance Telecom Infrastructure owes Rs16 crore. Service tax department officials say both telecom firms wrongly availed Cenvat credit on capital goods to build their telecom towers.

Royal Bank of Scotland or RBS has been trying to sell its non-core businesses. But its attempts to sell its assets in India, China, and Malaysia have been suspended indefinitely. RBS was in exclusive talks with Standard Chartered, but the two sides have not been able to agree on a valuation of assets. Edinburgh-based RBS has 31 branches in India and employs 10,000 people.

One Indian firm is looking to buy coalmines in Australia. International Coal Ventures Private Limited or ICVL is bidding for a concession in New South Wales that has reserves of about 330 million tones of coal. The move will bring ICVL, which was set up by five state-owned firms, in direct competition with Chinese companies. Demand for coal in India is projected to rise to two billion tones a year by 2031-32.

New channels and provocative reality shows may be changing the television business. Data from TAM Media Research shows Hindi language entertainment channels had a viewership of 26% percent between January and July. This is a steep rise from the roughly 22% viewership these channels got since 2006.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had words of caution for the country on Tuesday. He said it would take India longer to return to 9% growth, but added that the economy would grow at more than six percent this fiscal. Mukherjee also promised to continue economic reforms and suggested the government could allow repurchase agreements or repos in corporate bonds in the near future.

India and Myanmar are jostling for the mineral wealth that may lie under a portion of the Bay of Bengal. Myanmar has already written a letter to the UN complaining that India has violated an agreement between the two countries by unilaterally extending its maritime boundary. Countries use their maritime boundaries to extend the area in which they have exclusive rights over gas and mineral wealth. In May India staked claim to large areas of seabed in both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, a move that could conflict with similar claims by Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Markets made modest gains on Tuesday. The Sensex rose 60 points to close at 15,688, while the Nifty was up 17 points, ending trade at 4,659.