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Business & Economy

Cabinet approves 1% interest subvention on housing loans upto Rs.10 lakh

The Union Cabinet today approved the scheme of one per cent subvention on housing loans upto Rs 10 lakh and the allocation of a sum of Rs 1000 crore for the scheme.


This is in keeping with the proposal made by the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in his reply to the debate on the Finance Bill in the Lok Sabha on July 27 to stimulate lower and middle income housing.


He had proposed to provide support to borrowers by way of interest subvention of one per cent on all housing loans upto Rs 10 lakh to individuals, provided the cost of the house does not exceed Rs 20 lakh.


Mr Mukherjee said he was making the proposal because housing, particularly lower and middle income housing, deserved to be supported.


According to an official press release, the interest subvention will be made available on individual housing loans upto Rs.10 lakh for construction / purchase of a new house or extension of an existing house provided the cost of the construction/price of the new house/extension does not exceed Rs. 20 lakh.


The Scheme will be implemented through Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) and Housing Finance Companies (HFCs) registered with the National Housing Bank (NHB).


The first twelve instalments of all such loans sanctioned and disbursed during the period of twelve months from the date of publication of the scheme will be eligible for interest subvention.


Subsidy of one per cent will be computed for 12 months on disbursed amount and adjusted upfront in the principal outstanding irrespective of whether the loan is on fixed or floating rate basis.


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will be the designated the nodal agency for SCBs and National Housing Bank (NHB) will be designated the nodal agency for HFCs, it said.


In taking the decision, the Government had taken note of the deceleration in the sectoral flow of credit to the housing sector, attributable to the increase in the prices of houses, slackening of income growth and a rise in interest rates for housing loans.


The Government expects the cut in interest rates to reduce the Equated Monthly Instalments (EMIs) of borrowers and create additional demand for housing. This, in turn, is expected to stimulate demand in the construction industry as well as sectors such as steel and cement, which have employment potential and income multiplier effects.


An amount of Rs.1000 crore will be allocated in the Budget for the year 2009-10 for implementation of the scheme, the release said.


On a housing loan of Rs.10 lakh, the one per cent interest relief available will amount to Rs.10,000 per account. As such, the scheme of  Rs.1000 crore is expected to cover 10 lakh beneficiaries in one year.


The scheme will cover all States and Union Territories of the country, including rural and urban areas, the release added.


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India receives $ 3.516 billion in FDI in July

India received foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows of $ 3.516 billion in July this year, 56 per cent higher than the level of $ 2.247 billion recorded in the same month of 2008, Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said here today.

The FDI inflows in June this year were $ 2.582 billion, while it was $ 2.096 billion in May, Mr Sharma said.

He said the country had received FDI inflows of $ 10.52 billion in the first four months of this financial year (April-July), despite the economic slowdown around the world. The amount received in April-July last year was higher at $ 12.320 billion.

The major sectors which received FDI during this period are services, housing and real estate, construction, telecommunication and automobile industry.

Mauritius, the United States, Cyprus, Japan and Singapore are the major investing countries in this period.

According to official figures, FDI inflows have shown a consistently increasing trend since 2004-05, with the inflows for 2008-09 reach a record level of $ 27.31 billion. The amount will go up to $ 35.17 billion when reinvested earnings and other capital are taken into account.

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Cabinet approves formation of JV to promote foreign investment

The Union Cabinet today approved a proposal for the formation of a company, "Invest India" to promote foreign investments during the XIth Five Year Plan.

The company, to be set up under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956, will be a joint venture between the Government of India, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and State Governments.

It will be responsible for promoting foreign investments into the country in a more focused, comprehensive and structured manner, an official press release said.

It will also assist the Government in its efforts at projecting India as an attractive investment destination for foreign investors and help prospective investors in identifying and realising investment opportunities in the country, the release added.

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Inflation rate rises slightly to -0.12 %

Shopping in New Delhi
Shopping in New Delhi
The headline annual rate of inflation rose slightly to -0.12 per cent for the week ended August 29 as compared to -0.21 per cent for the previous week, an official statement said today, quoting provisional data.

The rate of inflation was 12.38 per cent during the corresponding week (ended August 30, 2008) of last year.

The official Wholesale Price Index for All Commodities (Base: 1993-94 = 100) for the week ended August 29 rose by 0.2 per cent to 241.1 (Provisional) from 240.7 (Provisional) for the previous week, it said.

The statement said the build-up of inflation in the financial year so far was 5.47 per cent as compared to a build-up of 6.48 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year.

The 52-week average inflation for the week ended August 29 was 3.99 per cent, it said.

The index for Primary Articles, a major group, which has a weight of 22.02 per cent in the WPI, rose by 0.3 per cent to 271.2 from 270.4 for the previous week, the provisional figures showed.

Within this category, the index for Food Articles rose by 0.4 per cent to 273.8 from 272.8 for the previous week due to higher prices of eggs (4%), fish-marine (2%) and moong, fruits & vegetables and milk (1% each). However, the prices of jowar, masur and gram (1% each) declined.

The index for Non-Food Articles rose by 0.2 per cent to 241.4 from 241.0 for the previous week due to higher prices of fodder (13%), castor seed (3%), raw rubber (2%) and rape & mustard seed (1%). However, the prices of linseed (6%), sunflower (4%), niger seed (3%) and gingelly seed (1%) declined.

There was no change in the index of another major category, Fuel, Power, Light and Lubricants (weight 14.23 %), which remained at its previous week's level of 343.3.

The index for Manufactured Products, which have a weight of 63.75 per cent in the WPI, rose by 0.2 per cent to 207.9 from 207.5 for the previous week.

Within this group, the index for Food Products declined by 0.2 per cent to 240.9 from 241.5 for the previous week due to lower prices of salt (4%) and sugar and cotton seed oil (1% each). However, the prices of soyabean oil (3%) and rice bran oil, ghee, groundnut oil and imported edible oil (1% each) moved up.

The index for Paper & Paper Products declined by 0.1 per cent to 204.0 from 204.2 for the previous week due to lower prices of printing paper white (1%).

The index for Chemicals & Chemical Products rose by 1.3 per cent to 229.4 from 226.4 for the previous week due to higher prices of household laundry soap (35%), synthetic detergent (17%), toilet soap and tooth paste (6% each) and carbon black (1%). However, the prices of synthetic resins (27%) declined.

The index for Non-Metallic Mineral Products declined by 0.4 per cent to 224.1 from 225.0 for the previous week due to lower prices of cement (1%).

The index for Basic Metals Alloys & Metal Products declined by 0.1 per cent to 255.4 from 255.6 for the previous week due to lower prices of ferro manganese (53%) and bolts & nuts (1%). However, the prices of lead ingots (6%), steel ingots (4%), aluminium ingots (2%) and zinc ingots (1%) moved up.

The index for Machinery & Machine Tools declined by 0.1 per cent to 172.2 from 172.3 for the previous week due to lower prices of dry cell and complete tractors (1% each).

The index for Transport Equipment & Parts rose by 0.1 per cent to 176.0 from 175.9 for the previous week due to higher prices of springs (8%). However, the prices of bicycles (1%) declined.

The statement said that the final WPI for the week ended July 4 stood at 237.5 as against 236.4 that was provisionally reported on July 16. Accordingly, the annual rate of inflation based on the final index stood at -0.75 per cent for the week ended July 4 instead as compared to -1.21 per cent (provisional) reported earlier, it added.

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MTNL, BSNL say no decision yet on buying stake in Kuwait's Zain

State-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) today clarified that they have not taken any view about participating in the consortium that is looking to buy a 46 per cent stake in Kuwaiti telecom firm Zain.

The two public sector telecom services providers were reacting to a report by Reuters that a consortium made up India's Vasavi Group, MTNL, BSNL and a Malaysian company would buy the stake in Zain.

A statement issued by the two companies said that no view had been taken regarding participation in the consortium.

"However, MTNL and BSNL are always on the lookout to explore all types of overseas business opportunities to expand their operations," the statement added.

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NELP-VIII blocks to be awarded within 4 months of bids: Deora

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora addressing the London Road Show to promote NELP-VIII and CBM-IV offers, at London.
Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora addressing the London Road Show to promote NELP-VIII and CBM-IV offers, at London.
Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora today assured exploration and production companies that the process of awarding blocks in the eighth round of the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP-VIII) and the fourth round of Coal Bed Methane (CBM-IV) would be completed within four months from the receipt of bids.

Speaking at a road show organised by the Government in London to promote the latest NELP and CBM rounds, Mr Deora said the bids were expected to be finalised for award by mid-December and the Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) were expected to be signed in another two months after that.

The bid closing date for NELP-VIII and CBM-IV is October 12. The Government is offering 70 exploration blocks under NELP-VIII, including 28 in deep water, 24 in shallow water and 18 onland. Ten of these are Type-S blocks with an area of 200 sq km or less. Ten blocks are on offer under CBM-IV.

Road shows have already been held for the rounds in Mumbai, Houston and Calgary in the past four weeks.

Mr Deora was accompanied to the event by a high-level delegation that included Mr. S Sundareshan, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Mr. D.N.Narasimha Raju, Joint Secretary, and Mr, V.K. Sibal, Director General, Directorate General of Hydrocarbons.

The minister told the potential investors that 2009 had so far been a remarkable year for the hydrocarbon sector in India with two historic milestones. The first was the coming on stream of gas from KG D6 block in the Krishna Godavari basin, discovered by Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). He said that with a peak production of 80 MMSCMD, which will double India's gas production, KG D6 was all set to change the gas scenario in the country.

The second event was the beginning of oil production from Barmer by Cairn India Limited. The find, with a plateau production of 175,000 barrels per day would add 20 per cent to the country's oil production, he said.

He said the two finds represented the coming of age of non-Government companies in India's E&P sector and were testimony to the grit and confidence of India's growing private sector.

Mr Deora said that the NELP, with almost 200 blocks already under operation, would change the oil and gas landscape of India.

He said the NELP and CBM were a national priority for India, given the fact that it still imports nearly 75 per cent of its oil requirements.

He said the past ten years of this policy had delivered results which had made countries around the world sit up and take notice of India as an emerging oil and gas destination.

"With a large underexplored area, the country offers an excellent investment opportunity at attractive terms which are comparable with the best in the world. So far, 71 hydrocarbon discoveries have been made under NELP and over 4.5 billion barrels of in-place reserves have been established. However, large unexplored areas in a country with 3.14 million sq kms of sedimentary area offer great potential to investors," he said.

The road show was attended by a large number of companies and organizations including 25 E&P companies and 30 service providers. The E&P companies which attended the event included the BG Group, BP, ENI, Cairn Energy, Premier Oil, Shell Upstream International, Nexen Inc, Foresight Ltd. and Hardy Exploration.

Mr Dominic Jermey, Managing Director (Sector Group),Trade & Investment Department, Government of UK, drew attention to initiatives taken by UK Trade & Investment Department to promote trade ties with India. He encouraged UK-based E&P companies and investors to consider the opportuntiy offered by the NELP-VIII and CBM-IV rounds.

Companies such as BG Group, BP, ONGC, Cairn Energy and RIL made presentations about their experiences in India, emphasising the strong fundentals of the E&P sector of the country. Ernst & Young made a presentation on the investment climate and the taxation regime in India.

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Govt. will revert to the path of fiscal consolidation: Mukherjee

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee addressing the annual Chief Commissioners/Directors General Conference, in New Delhi on September 08, 2009.
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee addressing the annual Chief Commissioners/Directors General Conference, in New Delhi on September 08, 2009.
Pointing out that the fiscal deficit was presently on the higher side, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said the Government was determined to revert to the path of fiscal consolidation at the earliest.

Inaugurating the two-day Annual Conference of Directors General and Chief Commissioners of Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax here, Mr Mukherjee said the meeting was taking place at a crucial time for the country.

He said that while there was a gradual thaw in the winter of the global economic crisis and the early green shoots of economic recovery could be seen, the situation was still far from normal.

He said India's exports to its major traditional markets in the developed economies had contracted in the last ten months. He said the Government had announced a slew of measures, including a reduction in indirect taxes, to put more money into the hands of consumers.

Mr Mukherjee said that, in this year's Budget, in tune with the Government's commitment towards inclusive growth, there had been larger outlays in social sectors like health, education and for improvement in rural and urban infrastructure.

The Minister said the deficient monsoon had raised the spectre of drought in many parts of the country.

"The Government has to be prepared to take all ameliorative measures which will also have significant financial implications," he said.

In this sombre backdrop, he stressed that the officers of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) had a crucial role to play in shoring up the economy.

He expressed satisfaction that the tax base of the indirect taxes had grown steadily and, as a share of the gross domestic product (GDP) had gone up from 9.2 per cent in 2003-04 to 12.6 per cent in 2007-08.

But, according to him, it was a matter of worry that indirect tax receipts during 2009-10 (upto July 2009) had shown a negative growth of 28 per cent as compared to the same period last year.

"No doubt, this trend reflects the overall slowdown of the economy and the effect of stimulus measures through reduction of Central Excise duty rate. But my expectation is that despite such limitations, the Central Board of Excise and Customs will adopt innovative and dynamic ways of meeting the revenue shortfall," he said.

Mr Mukherjee felt that the role of the Customs and Central Excise officers had to be redefined as the country rapidly integrated with the global economy. "They are as much
facilitators of trade as tax collectors," he pointed out.

He said that the CBEC was one of the largest contributors to the Central Government's revenues. He said that while Central Excise remained the bulwark of indirect tax collection, Service Tax was the new sunrise area for widening the tax base and improving revenue collection.

He said that the role of Customs as revenue generator had diminished but its role in facilitation of international trade continued to grow.

"We need to focus on continuous reduction in dwell time and transaction cost for export and import so that the Indian industry gains an extra edge to compete in the world market. Further, it not only has to meet its traditional challenges of combating smuggling and commercial fraud, but has to respond to new challenges in areas as diverse as environment protection, trans-border movement of goods having a bearing on national security and international negotiations in multilateral and bilateral fora, he said.

"Needless to say, such a multidimensional professional demand requires a paradigm shift in the way the Department functions," he said.

The Minister said he was happy about the large-scale use of Information Technology in the Department and the sue of modern gadgets like container scanners and baggage scanners at ports and airports to detect smuggling in a more non-intrusive way and on a real-time basis.

He said all not only reduced public interface but also provided more efficient and scientific basis for improving tax compliance and enforcement measures.

Mr Mukherjee said officers at all levels needed to be sensitised to the fact that they are facilitators and not just regulators.

"The tax payers need to be treated with dignity and dealt with in a fair and transparent manner," he emphasised.

He said the Department must also play its rightful role in enhancing border security to curb the menace of smuggling, particularly of fake Indian currency notes.

The Minister urged the Department to be well-prepared for the planned introduction of the dual Goods and Service Tax (GST) from April 1, 2010.

He also said that corrupt elements in the department should be dealt with sternly while making sure that the process of vigilance inquiry itself did not take the form of punishment.

He also pointed out that the CBEC was one of the biggest litigants in the courts and called for steps to reverse this trend, starting from the point of departmental adjudication.

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Import of sensitive items up 40.6 % in April-June

India's total imports of sensitive items in the period April-June this year were valued at Rs 13509 crore as compared to Rs 9608 crore in the corresponding period of last year, an increase of 40.6 per cent, an official statement said here today.

According to it, the gross imports of all commodities during the period this year was Rs 248171 crore as against Rs 334191 crore in the same period of 2008.

The import of sensitive items, thus, constituted 5.4 per cent of the gross imports this year as compared to 2.9 per cent last year, it said.

Imports of automobiles, products of small scale industries and alcoholic beverages have shown a decline at the broad group level during the period.

Imports of all other items -- edible oil, fruits & vegetables (including nuts), cotton & silk, rubber, spices, marble & granite, milk & milk products, tea & coffee and food grains have shown an increase during the period.

In the edible oil segment, the import has increased from Rs.2572.24 crore last year to Rs.5546.53 crore for the corresponding period of this year. The imports of both crude edible oil as well as refined oil have gone up by 108.2% and 168.2%, respectively, the statement said.

The increase in edible oil import is mainly due to substantial increase in import of crude palm oil and its fractions, it said.

Indonesia, China, Myanmar, United States of America, Malaysia, Ukraine, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Benin, Cote D’ Ivoire and Australia are among the countries from which import of sensitive items has gone up while there has been a decrease in the case of South Korea, Germany and Thailand, among others, the statement added.

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India to lend $ 10 billion to the IMF

IMF Logo
India will make available up to US$ 10 billion to shore up the resources of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an official statement said here today.

The country, which had to resort to IMF financing on a few occasions till the early nineties, will now be participating in an international effort to make resources available to the Fund for lending to countries in need.

However, this participation in IMF’s debt would not load the Government of India and not further stretch its resources, the statement said.

One of the important outcomes of the G-20 London Summit, held on April 2, was the agreement that IMF’s lendable resources through bilateral financing and the New Arrangements to Borrow (NAB) would be increased by US$ 500 billion in the near term.

The announcement by India made last night is part of this significant endeavour. The amount US$ 10 billion is broadly in proportion to India’s current quota share at the IMF, the statement said.

India’s announcement has been enabled by the recent decision of the IMF Executive Board, announcing a framework for the issuance of Notes to the official sector. The design of these Notes allows investments to be treated as international reserves. Thus the Reserve Bank of India could invest a portion of its foreign exchange reserves in these financial instruments.

Through this decision India will demonstrate its commitment to fulfill its responsibility as a significant partner in the global economic and financial framework.

India believes that the IMF is a quota-based institution and raising resources through bilateral financing and the expansion of the New Arrangements to Borrow are not a substitute for quota resources, but a temporary bridge to a quota increase.

"We fully expect that the next general quota review, which is now agreed to be concluded by January 2011, will result in the long overdue substantial re-balancing of quota and voting power in favour of emerging market economies and developing countries," the statement added.

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20.45 lakh tonne sugar quota released for September

Co-operative Sugar Mill, Nawanshahr.
Co-operative Sugar Mill, Nawanshahr.
The Central Government has made available 20.45 lakh tonnes of sugar for September, which it said was sufficient to meet the internal demand for the month.

The quantity includes 2.11 lakh tonnes of levy sugar, 14 lakh tonnes of normal quota of non-levy sugar, 1.34 lakh tonnes of dismantled buffer stock, 2 lakh tonnes of imported white sugar out of converted raw sugar and 1 lakh tonne of expected availability from imported white/refined sugar, an official press release said.

It said the Government had also decided that to introduce a system of fortnightly sale in respect of non-levy monthly sugar quota effective from September.

As such, sugar mills will be required to sell and dispatch their monthly non-levy quota on fortnightly basis in two equal instalments. The sugar mills would also be required to report actual sale and dispatch each fortnight, which should reach the Directorate of Sugar within seven days, that is by the 22nd of the month and 7th of the following month.

The release said the Government had also decided to reduce the validity period of the release orders for white/refined sugar processed out of imported raw sugar released under accelerated release mechanism from 3 months to 1 month.

Accordingly, the validity period of the August 2009 release order in respect of white/refined sugar processed out of imported raw sugar will stand reduced from the existing 31.10.2009 to 30.9.2009. Future releases of such sugar will also be issued with the validity period of 1 month.

The Central Government vide notification dated August 22 has imposed stockholding limits on large consumers of sugar. It provides that no person, establishment or industrial unit using or consuming more than ten quintals of sugar per month as a raw material for production or consumption or use, in any manner, shall keep in stock, at any time, sugar exceeding fifteen days of such use or consumption. The said notification is to come into effect after 21 days of its publication in the official Gazette, that is on September 12. The large consumer consumes over 60 per cent of non-levy sugar.

These measures will increase the availability of sugar for the household sector, the release said, adding that the availability of sugar for household sector during the festival season will be adequate.

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Ministerial meet affirms need to conclude Doha Round

Trade Ministers from more than 35 member-countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) who met here today unanimously affirmed the need to expeditiously conclude the Doha Round, particularly in the present critical global economic situation.

The meeting, which was chaired by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, agreed that there was a need to resume talks in Geneva to conclude the long under- negotiations Doha Development Round of WTO which began in 2001.

The development dimension and the need to address the concerns of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) was emphasized.

According to an official statement, the Ministers profusely appreciated the initiative taken by India in organizing the Ministerial meeting in the current difficult economic environment.

They also appreciated India bringing together practically all shades of opinion and interests at the WTO in an effort to bring about a broad-based consensus on the road ahead for the Doha Development Round.

In his opening remarks, Mr Sharma explained the background for calling the meeting and hoped the meeting could work out a roadmap for the multi-lateral engagement in the coming months. He urged the Ministers present to discuss the process required to reach the goal and to build a consensus on the way forward.

Mr Sharma observed that the Delhi meeting constituted a microcosm of the entire WTO membership, representing all shades of opinion and interests. He said this was the first occasion since July 2008 that such a meeting was taking place to give a determined push to the multilateral process.

Mr Sharma said the meeting was intended to build a broad-based consensus on how Ministers would like to see the process of negotiation fast-tracked. He said the focus would be process-related issues rather than specific issues in individual areas of the negotiations.

Initiating the discussions, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy observed that the conclusion of the Doha Round was an urgent requirement as per the signals emanating from world leaders.

However, he acknowledged that these signals had not created negotiating dynamics; hence the need to translate these signals into acceleration of work for conclusion of the Round.

The Chairs of the WTO negotiating groups on Agriculture, Non-Agricultural Market Access (industrial goods) and Services provided an overview of the status of negotiations in their respective areas and outlined their work plans in the ensuing months.

Later, the coordinators of various coalition groups and some member countries made their statements. These included the Cairns Group, G-20, G-33, Cotton-4, G-10, NAMA-11, African Group, African-Caribbean-Pacific Group (ACP), LDCs, Small and Vulnerable Economies (SVEs) and CARICOM (Caribbean Community).

In addition, statements were made by some Member countries in their individual capacity, including, the European Community, China, the United States, Brazil, South Korea, South Africa and Australia. The meeting will continue tomorrow.

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Direct tax collections register 4.12 % growth in Apr-Aug

Net direct tax collections during the first five months of the present fiscal, up to August, grew by 4.12 per cent to Rs 87,888 crore from Rs 84,409 crore in the period of the previous year, an official statement said today.

It said the growth in corporate taxes was 1.84 per cent (Rs 49,339 crore as against Rs.48,450 crore), while Personal Income Tax (including Securities Transaction Tax and residual Fringe Benefit Tax and Banking Cash Transaction Tax) grew at 7.40 per cent (Rs.38,491 crore as against Rs.35,840 crore).

The lower growth in net collection was mainly on account of higher tax refund outgo of 52.61 per cent at Rs.24,639 crore as against Rs.16,145 crore last fiscal, the statement said.

According to it, net collections during August remained positive at Rs.13,898 crore compared to Rs.12,761 crore during the same month last year, while recovery in Securities Transaction Tax (STT) continued with a growth of 7.13 per cent during April-August 2009 (Rs.2,924 crore as against Rs.2,730 crore) compared to the corresponding period last fiscal.

The second instalment of corporate advance tax and the first instalment of non-corporate advance income tax will become due on September 15. The advance tax liability for both categories of taxpayers, corporate and non-corporate, is 30 per cent of the estimated total tax liability for the financial year as reduced by the tax to be deducted / collected at source (TDS / TCS). Taxpayers are advised to correctly compute their tax liability and pay the advance tax instalment within the due date to avoid penal consequences, the statement added.

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Goa's Annual Plan finalised at Rs 2240 crore

Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat meeting Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to finalize 2009-10 annual plan of the state.
Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat meeting Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to finalize 2009-10 annual plan of the state.
The Annual Plan of Goa for 2009-10 was finalised at Rs 2240 crore at a meeting between Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and state Chief Minister Digambar Kamat here today.

The outlay includes additional Central assistance of Rs 40 crore for the National Games and other projects of special importance to the state.

Mr Ahluwalia said the state had been doing well on all fronts, including social sector. He said efforts should be made to have continued emphasis on inclusiveness of the development efforts and also to encourage private participation.

He said tourism-related infrastructure development should get priority as the state had immense potential to attract large numbers of tourists.

During the discussion, the Commission also emphasized the need to closely monitor the fiscal situation in order to avoid any slippage from the targets. It said the state government also needed to take all necessary steps to ensure that full advantage is taken of assistance available from the Government of India.

Mr Ahluwalia pointed out that state should work towards further improving infrastructure related to health and education and Planning Commission would support such effort. He said there is scope to have a museum of international standard which could become a tourist attraction.

He said the Commission was in the process of finalizing mid-term appraisal for the Eleventh Plan and would like to take notice of innovative initiatives of states which have helped in accelerating development process.

In his comments the Chief Minister said that the state government had been supporting private sector participation in both physical and social infrastructure. He pointed out that projects, including cruise terminal and minor ports, bus stands, inland waterways, convention centre and Panaji-Vasco Sea link, were being taken up in the public private partnership (PPP) mode.

He said infrastructure cess has been introduced on vehicles entering Goa and infrastructure development cess had also been imposed on transportation of iron ore and other minerals. Steps are also been taken to ensure equitable and inclusive growth. These include incentives for girls and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students, he added.

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Inflation rate rises slightly to -0.21 %

Shopping in New Delhi
Shopping in New Delhi
The headline annual rate of inflation rose slightly to -0.21 per cent for the week ended August 22 as compared to -0.95 per cent in the previous week, an official statement said today, quoting provisional data.

The rate of inflation was 12.76 per cent during the corresponding week, ended August 23, 2008, of the previous year.

The official Wholesale Price Index (WPI) for All Commodities (Base: 1993-94 = 100) for the week ended August 22 rose by 0.8 per cent to 240.7 (Provisional) from 238.8 (Provisional) for the previous week.

According to the statement, the build-up of inflation so far in the current financial year was 5.29 per cent as compared to a build-up of 6.40 per cent in the corresponding period of the previous year.

The 52-week average inflation for the week ended August 22 was 3.9 per cent, it said.

The index for Primary Articles, a major category which has a weight of 22.02 per cent in the WPI, rose by 0.7 per cent to 270.4 from 268.4 for the previous week, the provisional data showed.

Within this group, the index for Food Articles rose by 0.9 per cent to 272.8 from 270.3 for the previous week due to higher prices of fruits & vegetables (4%), jowar, urad and bajra (3% each), maize and arhar (2% each) and moong and tea (1% each). However, the prices of barley (3%) and coffee and ragi (1% each) declined.

The index for Non-Food Articles rose by 0.3 per cent to 241.0 from 240.3 for the previous week due to higher prices of sunflower (3%), raw silk (2%) and groundnut seed, castor seed and raw rubber (1% each). However, the prices of copra and fodder (1% each) declined.

The index for Minerals rose by 0.5 per cent to 564.4 from 561.7 for the previous week due to higher prices of barytes (34%) and iron ore (1%). However, the prices of steatite (7%) and felspar (3%) declined.

For the category of Fuel, Power, Light & Lubricants, which has a weight of 14.23 per cent in the WPI, the index rose by 1.5 percent to 343.3 from 338.2 for the previous week due to higher prices of aviation turbine fuel and electricity (5% each) and furnace oil (1%).

The index for another major category, Manufactured Products, which has a weight of 63.75 per cent in the WPI, rose by 0.5 percent to 207.5 from 206.4 for the previous week.

Within this category, the index for Food Products rose by 3.1 per cent to 241.5 from 234.2 for the previous week due to higher prices of rice bran oil (8%), sugar (7%), oil cakes (5%), imported edible oil (4%) and butter and ghee (1% each). However, the prices of gingelly oil (3%) declined.

The index for Textiles declined by 0.3 per cent to 143.2 from 143.6 for the previous week due to lower prices of texturised yarn and hessian cloth (3% each) and hessian & sacking bags (1%).

The index for Rubber & Plastic Products rose by 0.2 per cent to 169.6 from 169.2 for the previous week due to higher prices of plastic items (6 %), PVC fitting & accessories (3 %).

The index for Chemicals & Chemical Products declined by 0.7 per cent to 226.4 from 228.0 for the previous week due to lower prices of ammonium sulphate n_content (15%). However, the prices of PVC resins and purified terephthalic acid (pta) (4% each) moved up.

The index for Non-Metallic Mineral Products declined by 0.4 per cent to 225.0 from 225.9 for the previous week due to lower prices of cement (1%).

The index for Basic Metals Alloys & Metal Products rose by 0.2 per cent to 255.6 from 255.2 for the previous week due to higher prices of zinc (4%), pipes & tubes, foundry pig iron and basic pig iron (2% each) and steel sheets, plates & strips (1%). However, the prices of ms bars & rounds (3%), steel ingots, other iron steel, zinc ingots and lead ingots (1% each) declined.

The index for Machinery & Machine Tools rose by 0.3 per cent to 172.3 from 171.8 for the previous week due to higher prices of complete engines (3%).

According to the statement, the final WPI for the week ended June 27 stood at 235.8 as compared to the provisional number of 234.7 reported on July 10. Accordingly, the annual rate of inflation, based on the final index, stood at -1.09 per cent as against -1.55 per cent reported provisionally on that date.

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Report on the restructuring of four Steel PSUs submitted

The Members of the Committee on restructuring of Public Sector Undertakings under the Ministry of Steel, submitted its report to the Union Minister of Steel,Virbhadra Singh. The Minister of State for Steel A. Sai Prathap is also seen.
The Members of the Committee on restructuring of Public Sector Undertakings under the Ministry of Steel, submitted its report to the Union Minister of Steel,Virbhadra Singh. The Minister of State for Steel A. Sai Prathap is also seen.
A committee set up by the Ministry of Steel to make recommendations on the restructuring of our public sector units under it submitted its report to Union Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh here today.

The four companies are Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd (KIOCL), MSTC Ltd, Hindustan Steel Works Construction Ltd (HSCL) and Ferro Scrap Nigam Ltd (FSNL).

The committee headed by Mr P Ganesan, former Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of KIOCL, was asked to study the four PSUs in detail and suggest strategies to achieve sustainable profit and to make suitable recommendations for improving their financial position and viability.

It was also asked to make suitable recommendations for reorganisation of the companies to optimise their efficiency and profitability.

The others members of the committee were Mr K.L. Mehrotra, former CMD of Manganese Ore (India) Ltd, Mr L. Siddhartha Singh, Director, Ministry of Steel, and Mr Mukhmeet S. Bhatia, Director, Ministry of Steel.

An official press release said the committee made a detailed study, including field visits, of these four organisations. The committee deliberated on the business models, physical and financial performance over the years, capital structure, revival models and other related issues, the release added.

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Sharma meets trade ministers from several WTO member countries

Anand Sharma with Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean
Anand Sharma with Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean
Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma today held meetings with several of his counterparts from WTO member-countries ahead of a two-day informal ministerial meeting aimed at working out a roadmap for concluding the Doha negotiations by next year.

Among others, Mr Sharma met United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander, Thailand Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai, Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean and New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser.

Meanwhile, a preparatory meeting of senior officials from the invited WTO countries was held here today to discuss the contours and content of the Ministerial engagement and to decide on the issues to be presented to the Ministers. The meeting was chaired by Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar.

An official statement said that, as the objective of the Delhi Ministerial meeting is to develop convergence among major groups and members on issues relating to resumption and intensification of the Doha Round negotiations, the discussion was confined to process-related issues.
Anand Sharma with Thailand Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai
Anand Sharma with Thailand Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai

"The intention was to gauge whether a broad-based consensus could be arrived at on how Ministers would like to see the process of negotiation fast-tracked," it said.

A discussion paper circulated by India about ten days before the meeting on some of these process-related issues formed the basis of discussion.

On the basis of this paper, participants discussed the issue of timelines for completing modalities in Agriculture and Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations and for revised offers in Services; the sequence in which all areas being negotiated under the Doha Round are to be completed; the need to ensure commensurate progress in other areas, such as Rules, TRIPS, Trade and Environment and the evolution of a balanced outcome within an agreed timeframe; the modalities for intensification of work in negotiating groups and for official level meetings of WTO members in order to meet the 2010 timeline set by the global leadership.

The Doha Round is under negotiation since 2001 and the negotiation paused in July 2008 on some differences between developed and developing countries.
Anand Sharma with UK Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander.
Anand Sharma with UK Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander.

The statement said that, in the light of the importance and integrity of the multilateral process as a tried and tested process, participants also discussed the issue of the extent to which other forms of engagement - such as bilateral or plurilateral discussion - could serve to hasten the negotiating process without compromising on its inclusiveness and also how the multilateral process could subsume the understanding developed through bilateral processes.

The development mandate, which is the bedrock of the Doha Round was emphasised and it was stated that focus had to be maintained on development concerns in developing economies. In addition the special concerns relating to LDCs were also discussed, the statement added.

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Changes in Model Concession Agreement soon: Kamal Nath

Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Kamal Nath has assured investors that their concerns about certain irritants in the Model Concession Agreement (MCA) and Request for Qualification (RFQ) document would be resolved by the end of this month.

Addressing a road show for investors in London yesterday, Mr Kamal Nath said the Government was looking at the feasibility of taking a few mega projects---500 km in length with a total project cost of more than $ 1 billion each.

The event, "Building India: Road Infrastructure Summit" was jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), ICICI Securities, JM Financials, Confederation of British Industries and the Commonwealth Business Council.

Mr Kamal Nath also spoke about introducing smoother and investor-friendly processes, and said that the concerns with regard to MCA, related to termination clause, exit clause, conflict of interest and definition of the associates, earlier raised by various stakeholders, were under consideration at the highest level of the Government and shall be resolved very soon.

The Minister also assured them that other issues of concern like determination of realistic total project cost, faster dispute resolution mechanism, longer concession periods and change in Companies Law to make Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) more attractive, were being examined and a satisfactory resolution would be worked out soon.

Mr Kamal Nath said the road sector in India held great potential for investors. He said the Government planned to set a target of building 7000 km of roads per year, and would require an investment of about $ 70 billion in the next 3-4 years.

He said public-private partnership (PPP) would play an important role in the programme as about 60 per cent of the projects would be taken up in the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) mode.

He said investment of about $ 45 billion was expected from the private sector for these projects.

Later, at a luncheon meeting with CEOs and heads of prominent investment companies, the minister heard out investors who highlighted their concerns with regard to timely completion of land acquisition, finance and viability related issues, environmental and safety issues, as also the need for an independent regulator. He assured action on all the fronts.

The Minister also had a meeting with Lord Andrew Adonas, Transport Secretary, UK on Tuesday. Both the Ministers exchanged views on development of roads and road transport issues of common interest including licensing, fitness, and emission norms of transport vehicles. It was agreed that there is a need for more co-operation between both the countries in the sector.

To further this, a draft Memorandum of Understanding will be prepared. It was decided that a delegation of officials from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and other related organisation will visit UK for further discussions to finalize the MoU.

Mr Kamal Nath also participated in the Indian Highways Infrastructure Round Table organized by CII-UKIBC today.

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2.61 crore MSMEs in India 2006-07: Census

There were as many as 2.61 crore micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in India in 2006-07, as against the current projected figure of 1.3 crore, according to the quick results of the 4th All India Census of MSMEs.

This includes 0.15 crore registered units and 2.46 crore unregistered units, an official statement said, quoting the results of the 2006-07 census.

According to it, 28 per cent of the units are in the manufacturing sector and 72 per cent in services.

These units are largely in Apparel (14.03 %) followed by Food Products and Beverages (13.53%) and Maintenance of Personal and Household goods (9.25%). The MSME sector accounts for employment of 5.97 crore persons, of which, 0.95 crore are in registered units and 5.03 crore in the unregistered units, it said.

The data on registered units reveals that closure among MSMEs has decreased from the 39 per cent in 2001-02 to 21.64 per cent in 2006-07. Sickness in MSMEs has increased marginally from 13.98 per cent in 2001-02 to 14.47 per cent in 2006-07.

Sickness is found to be largely on account of lack of demand and shortage of working capital. The data also reveals that the per unit employment has increased from 4.48 in 2001-02 to 6.24 in 2006-07, per unit fixed investment from Rs.6.68 lakh to Rs.33.78 lakh and per unit gross output from Rs.14.78 lakh to Rs.46.13 lakh.

Once the survey of unregistered units is completed, information will become available in respect of gross output, investment, outstanding loans, sickness, exports, and so on, the statement said. This data will also include information on khadi and village industries and coir units.

This is the first census after change in definition of the sector and includes, for the first time, medium enterprises and services. For purposes of the census, an enterprise is defined as a unit with fixed premises and hence does not include hawkers, road side vendors, and such others.

The 3rd All-India Census of Small Scale Industries with reference year 2001-02 was completed in the year 2003. The 4th All-India Census of MSMEs was launched in May 2008 and its field work was completed in March 2009. This required collection of data for 24 lakh registered units and around 4 lakh unregistered units. The Census was done in cooperation with the State/Union Territory Governments.

Statistics pertaining to the sector play an important role for policy formulation on credit, marketing, technology, entrepreneur development and infrastructure development. The findings of the census will have utility for planners, administrators, academicians, industrialists, entrepreneurs and all other stakeholders in the promotion and development of MSMEs.

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BHEL augments solar photovoltaic manufacturing facility to 8 MW per annum

The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has enhanced the Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Module manufacturing facility at its Electronics Division, Bangalore, from 3 MW to 8 MW per annum.

The new state-of-the-art, upgraded unit was dedicated to the nation today by Minister for Heavy Industry and Public Enterprises Vilasrao Deshmukh.

The additional photovoltaic manufacturing facility has enabled BHEL to handle larger (156X156 mm) and thinner (200 mm) solar grade mono/multi-crystalline silicon wafers, for which process optimisation trials have been successfully completed, a BHEL press release said.

In another step forward in this direction, the joint venture (JV) between BHEL and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) for establishing a 250 MW PV production facility for processing Silicon Wafers, Solar Cells and PV Modules is under finalisation.

With this JV, BHEL and BEL are expected to assume a leading position in the area of Photovoltaics in the country, it added.

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Open Acreage Licensing Policy coming for E&P: Prasada

Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Jitin Prasada today said the Government was moving gradually towards the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) for oil and gas exploration and production from the current New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).

Inaugurating the 9th International Conference on National Data Repository (NDR) here, Mr Prasada said the OALP would enable bidders to bid for blocks on offer at any time of the year.

He said that the data for these blocks would be made available to the bidders through the NDR, which will play a much larger and more significant role in the exploration and production (E&P) scenario.

The NDR aims at gathering all the available geo-scientific data available in India under one roof so that it is available to all the agencies that require it.

Mr Prasada said the E&P business was technology-driven and needed huge investments and continuous knowledge upgradation.

"All of us are aware that the days of finding easy oil and gas are over. We are endowed with about 138 billion barrels of oil and oil equivalent of gas, but these yet to be found resources are believed to be located in the frontier, logistically difficult and geologically complex areas and deep and ultra deep waters. So, in order to search and exploit these resources, the exploitation technologies also need to be innovative," he said.

Mr Prasada said there were today more than 70 E&P companies working in India after the introduction of the NELP about ten years ago.

"The recent discoveries of oil and gas fields have been truly outstanding and reflect the relentless efforts put in by the Government of India, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons and the E&P companies operating in India. In addition to the conventional oil and gas, the government of India is also seriously pursuing options such as Coal Bed Methane, Gas Hydrates etc," he said.

He said the efforts of decades of exploration in India had resulted in enormous data generation, which was a valuable national asset, which had to be safeguarded and fruitfully utilised.

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Ranbaxy subsidiary to market Evista in Romania

Daiichi Sankyo Company Limited and Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited announced here today that Terapia S.A., a subsidiary of Ranbaxy in Romania, will market the osteoporosis medication, Evista, in Romania.

This is the first time in Europe that Daiichi Sankyo and Ranbaxy are leveraging synergies generated through the hybrid business model. The Japanese company had acquired a controlling stake in Ranbaxy, India's largest pharmaceutical company, last year.

"We are delighted to announce this latest of the many synergies we will realize through our cooperation with Ranbaxy. We continue to explore other collaborations with Ranbaxy that will help optimize our growth," Mr. Takashi Shoda, President & CEO of Daiichi Sankyo, said.

Mr. Atul Sobti, CEO and Managing Director of Ranbaxy, said, "The launch of Evista by Terapia Ranbaxy in Romania marks our first international endeavour as a global partnership. Terapia Ranbaxy is a strong player in Europe, and we will provide a unique platform to Daiichi Sankyo for the launch of Evista, and many more new products in the future."

With a population of 22 million people, Romania is Eastern Europe’s second biggest market after Poland. Annual turnover in the Romanian pharmaceutical market totals about US $ 2.5 billion, and the market is growing at around 20 percent a year, in local currency terms, a press release from Ranbaxy said.

Established in 1921, Terapia, now Terapia Ranbaxy, has a strong brand name and a consistent track record of growth and profitability. It is the largest generic pharmaceutical company and is one of the seven largest pharmaceutical companies in Romania.

In 2006, Daiichi Sankyo acquired the marketing and distribution rights for Evista, an osteoporosis treatment, in six European countries from Eli Lilly and Company. In 2008, Daiichi Sankyo acquired additional rights for the drug covering all remaining countries in Europe, with the exception of Greece.

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Quoprro Global wins Indian Embassy mandate in Greece

Indian ambassador to Greece Dilip Sinha (third from right), along with Bharat Jagasia, COO, Quoprro Global (second from left), along with officials from Quoprro Global and Indian embassy in Greece pose for a photograph after the signing of an exclusive three-year agreement.
Indian ambassador to Greece Dilip Sinha (third from right), along with Bharat Jagasia, COO, Quoprro Global (second from left), along with officials from Quoprro Global and Indian embassy in Greece pose for a photograph after the signing of an exclusive three-year agreement.
Quoprro Global Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Cox and Kings India Ltd, has won a mandate from the Indian Embassy in Athens, Greece, to accept visa applications from Greek nationals and third country nationals residing in Greece , applying for Indian visa in Greece.

The contract in this regard was signed in the presence of Mr Dilip Sinha, India's Ambassador to Greece and Bharat Jagasia, Chief Operating Officer, Quoprro Global at the Indian Embassy in Athens.

"We have signed a three-year exclusive agreement with the Embassy of India in Greece and this marks our foray into Europe," Mr Jagasia said.

Quoprro Global will also provide contact centre services and data entry support to the Indian Embassy.

Visa services will be provided in the following categories -- transfer visa, tourist visa, transit visa, business visa, student visa, conference visa and medical visa. These visas are valid for between six and 12 months.

The application centre will be located in Athens very close to the Indian embassy and Quoprro Global will also operate courier service for regions like Thessaloniki, the second largest city in the country, a press release from the company said.

Quoppro Global operates such a service for the Indian High Commission in Singapore, the release added.

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KPTL bags orders worth Rs 1400 crore

Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd (KPTL) today said it had recently secured orders worth approximately Rs. 1400 crore from the Maharashtra State Electricity Transmission Co. Ltd (MSETCL) and the North East Transmission Co. Ltd (NETCL) for transmission and sub-station projects.

The MSETCL order is for turnkey execution of 220 and 132 Kv transmission lines and sub-station end bays, to be executed over the next three years. The scope of work includes execution of about 2500 km of transmission lines and 137 sub-station end bays, spread over various zones of Maharashtra, a press release issued by the company said.

The contract from NETCL covers turnkey execution of 158 km of 400 Kv D/C Churaibari – Silcher – Khelerihat line in Meghalaya and Assam to be executed in 28 months.

The release said KPCL has orders worth more than Rs 6000 crore which have to be executed over the next two to three years.

"We are proud to be associated with MSETCL for the strategic alliance project. Our current order book is very healthy in terms of profitability and a right mix of domestic and overseas projects," Mr Manish Mohnot, Executive Director, KPTL, said.

KPTL is a turnkey player in design, fabrication, construction and erection of transmission lines and sub-station structures, the release added.

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India's exports fall by 28.4 % in July

India's exports fell by 28.4 per cent to $ 13.623 billion in July this year from the level of $ 19.036 billion achieved during the same month of last year, an official statement said here today.

This was the tenth straight month in which the country's exports had registered a fall, mainly due to the lower demand for developed countries because of the global economic downturn.

In June this year, India's exports had declined by 27.7 per cent from the figure for the same month of 2008.

In rupee terms, the exports were valued at Rs 66041 crore in July, 19 per cent lower than the level of Rs 81548 crore registered in the same month last year.

The cumulative value of exports for the period April- July, 2009 was $ 49.651 billion (Rs. 241735 crore) as against $ 75.289 billion (Rs. 315978 crore), a steep decline of 34.1 per cent in dollar terms and 23.5 per cent in rupee terms over the same period last year.

India’s imports during July were valued at $ 19.621 billion (Rs. 95118crore) representing a decrease of 37.1 per cent in dollar terms (minus 28.8 per cent in rupee terms) over the level of imports valued at $ 31.189 billion ( Rs. 133609 crore) in July, 2008.

The cumulative value of imports for the period April- July 2009 was $ 78.564 billion (Rs. 382422 crore) as against $ 116.382 billion (Rs. 488668 crore) in the same period of last year, registering a negative growth of 32.5 per cent in dollar terms and 21.7 per cent in rupee terms.

Oil imports during July, 2009 were valued at $ 5.638 billion which was 55.5 per cent lower than oil imports valued at $ 12.675 billion in the corresponding period last year.

Oil imports during April- July, 2009 were valued at $ 21.964 billion which was 48 per cent lower than the oil imports of $ 42.217 billion in the corresponding period of last year.

Non-oil imports during July, 2009 were estimated at $ 13.983 billion which was 24.5 per cent lower than non-oil imports of $ 18.514 billion in July, 2008. Non-oil imports during April- July, 2009 were valued at $ 56.600 billion which was 23.7 per cent lower than the level of such imports valued at $ 74.165 billion in April- July, 2008.

The trade deficit for April-July, 2009 was estimated at $ 28.913 billion which was lower than the deficit of $ 41.093 billion during April-July, 2008, the statement added.

The country's exports grew by about 30 per cent in the first six months of the last financial year, but have been declining ever since. Overall, exports grew by a very modest 3.4 per cent to $ 168.7 billion in 2008-09.

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Bachchan to be brand ambassador for Max Vijay

Amitabh Bachchan is now the brand ambassador for Max Vijay.
Amitabh Bachchan is now the brand ambassador for Max Vijay.
Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan will be the brand ambassador for Max Vijay, a brand which insurance company Max New York Life said it had launched with the savings and protection needs of the common people in mind.

"In a number of his earlier movies, Amitabh Bachchan became synonymous with the name Vijay, a people's hero who fought for the cause of the common man by standing up for their rights. His appointment as the brand ambassador for Max Vijay, is a rebirth of the old Vijay, who is today propagating the cause of small savings and financial inclusion for the underserved masses of the country," Mr Rajesh Sud, CEO & Managing Director, Max New York Life Insurance, said.

"We launched Max Vijay with a dream of providing financial inclusion to millions of underprivileged households across the country. Since the launch of Max Vijay in late 2008, our focus has been on testing the product in select markets and expanding distribution in a phased manner. I am pleased to announce that Max Vijay has already provided financial inclusion to over 65,000 households till date. The appointment of Mr. Bachchan marks our next phase of expansion and we believe that Max Vijay has the potential to touch the lives of over 10 million households in the next two years," he added.

According to a press release issued by the company, Max Vijay offers the benefit of stable investment returns along with insurance and savings, at low entry-level premiums of Rs. 1000, Rs. 1,500 and Rs. 2,500.

This is the first product in the history of life insurance where customers can submit subsequent premiums of amounts between Rs. 10 - Rs. 2,500 per day, as per their convenience, and the policy does not lapse as long as there is sufficient value in policy account to cover charges, even if no subsequent premiums are paid, it said.

Max New York Life is a joint venture between Max India Ltd., a multi-business corporate, and New York Life International, the international arm of New York Life, a Fortune 100 company.

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