RBI set to launch clean-note drive
Zero duty sop likely for many IT components
IFCI to extend rights date
Companies fish for managerial talent
WBIDC seeks outside help to manage finances

 
 
RBI SET TO LAUNCH CLEAN-NOTE DRIVE 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Salboni, Feb 12 
The menace of soiled currency notes may soon be a thing of the past. The Reserve Bank of India is determined to provide “good, clean notes and those with value” and will replace all soiled notes in the market.

Promising a ‘clean note’ policy RBI governor Bimal Jalan today said the government’s policy to replace soiled notes was yet to reach out to the public and the currency department of the central bank had undertaken a massive campaign in this regard.

Speaking to reporters after inaugurating the main press of Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran Ltd (BRBNML) here, Jalan said the RBI has appointed international consultancy firm Arthur Andersen to streamline the currency distribution system in the country. The agency will submit its report within six months.

The consultancy firm will suggest ways and means so that the ‘clean note’ policy can be implemented through commercial banks.

“Once the currency distribution system is streamlined, the problem of soiled notes can be mitigated to a large extent,” Jalan said.

According to the RBI governor, banks have been asked to stop stapling bundles of Rs 100 notes as it damages the notes further. The RBI has already stopped stapling new Rs 100 notes. On the shortage of currency, he said, the new press at Salboni and Mysore would add sufficient capacity and reduce the country’s dependence on imports.

The Salboni press, built at a cost of over Rs 1000 crore, currently prints denominations of Rs 10, Rs 50 and Rs 100. The machinery for the press had been supplied by Komori Corporation of Japan.

BRBNML managing director K.D. Savkur said RBI was making efforts to provide fresh notes to the public but the commercial banks were “not much forthcoming” in this regard. He asked the banks to play a more proactive role in issuing clean notes to the public.

RBI deputy governor Jagdish Capoor said India has suffered from shortage of currency in the past. With the help of the press at Salboni and Mysore, this problem could be overcome as there would be sufficient capacity now.

New Rs 500 notes

Stung by the recent fiasco regarding fake Rs 500 notes, the central bank has decided to issue a new series of notes with new security checks (the colour is likely to be orange similar to the one used in Rs 20 notes). On counterfeit notes, Jalan said though it is a minor nuisance, the enforcement directorate was looking into the matter.

Insurance norms

The RBI has set a six-month deadline to finalise the prudential norms permitting banks to enter the insurance sector. The central bank has already received feedback on the draft guidelines issued by it and will consider the objections and suggestions of the banks before finalising the regulations.

Jalan said RBI deputy governor S.P. Talwar will soon call the bank chiefs at a meeting to discuss the issue threadbare.

The draft has made it tough for banks to enter the insurance sector. It has fixed a minimum net worth of Rs 500 crore and a capital adequacy of 10 per cent. Besides it has set the NPA level one percentage point below the industry average of 7.5 per cent.    


 
 
ZERO DUTY SOP LIKELY FOR MANY IT COMPONENTS 
 
 
FROM JAYANTA ROY CHOWDHURY
 
New Delhi, Feb 12 
The government is planning to move a large number of components and capital goods used by the IT hardware industry to the zero import duty list in this year’s budget.

The reason behind this move is that India has already moved forward its target date for bringing down the import duty on IT finished goods to zero from January 1, 2005 to January 1, 2003. The date may be further brought forward after negotiations with US and west European countries.

A budget note on the issue says the benefit should be conceded in order to ensure the survival of the dwindling crop of IT hardware companies. “We will lose money by way of duty forgone by this measure. But if it is not done, then the flood of cheap imported hardware will kill the domestic industry totally,” finance ministry officials said.

Consequently, the revenue department in consultation with the Prime Minister’s Office and the newly- formed information technology ministry is working on the list of IT components that can be imported without the payment of any duty.

“This is likely to be huge as there are a number of small and micro components which are essential for manufacturing IT products,” officials said. Many of these are components which will be used to build printed circuit boards, semiconductors, hybrid micro-circuits, cathode tubes, LED displays, and electron guns.

As a corollary, the duty on intermediate products and finished goods will remain unchanged in this year’s budget. This will be done to give IT hardware industry as much breathing time as possible within which to adjust to the coming zero duty regime.

At the same time, as the entire IT hardware industry is import-intensive where prices and technology change at a fast pace, the commerce ministry has been asked to simplify procedures for import, licensing and inspection.

Also on the cards is a proposal by which IT companies may be allowed fiscal benefits of export incentives without any specified export obligations. That is to say instead of any specific stipulation to export X percentage of the output, IT units will get the financial benefits due to an export unit.

But this is still a controversial issue with several ministries including finance raising objections to it even though it has been cleared by the Prime Minister’s task force on IT.    


 
 
IFCI TO EXTEND RIGHTS DATE 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Feb 12 
IFCI Ltd has decided to extend the last date for its rights by a few more days because financial institutions have not taken a final decision on whether to subscribe to the issue or not.

The date has to be postponed because “boards of these institutions are still debating whether to subscribe to it or not. They had earlier put off a decision because they wanted to delay the funds infusion till the last minute. They have now once again deferred their decision seeking more time and therefore the need to extend the date a second time,” sources said.

The rights issue was expected to close on February 14 but would now close on February 19. Sources said that IFCI’s principal shareholder Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) has postponed its decision to subscribe to the rights issue. The board would have to give its final nod to this. IDBI’s decision on exercising the rights entitlement to a certain extent also hinges on the government putting in the agreed amount as preference capital.    


 
 
COMPANIES FISH FOR MANAGERIAL TALENT 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Feb 12 
Students of the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Delhi have several reasons to be jubilant this year — with big companies offering mega bucks.

Pre-placement offers at the institute have seen a 40 per cent increase this year, with companies queuing up to lure fresh minds with packages as high as Rs 6 lakh per annum. This compares favourably with the highest salary of Rs 4.25 lakh offered last year.

As against 29 companies last year, this time around there were some 56 companies including Infosys, Andersen Consulting, Arthur Andersen, Citibank, Standard Chartered, ANZ, HLL, Nestle, Coke, Pepsi, Britannia, Gillette, GE Caps, GE India, Crisil, Compaq, Asian Paints, BPL, Whirlpool, Volvo, Tata Administrative Services and HCL Technologies.

Only 40 offers were accepted and the rest had to be sent back because of 100 per cent placements within one-and-a-half days. An average of 1.5 jobs were offered per student, with an average salary of Rs 4.4 lakh.

As if reflecting the market trend, a larger number of FMCG companies visited the institute this year.

While some 12 companies represented the segment last year, this year their strength increased to 22, of which only 16 offers were accepted. Infotech companies fared better, with 12 of the 14 offers being accepted.

The number of banks in the pre-placement ring also increased from 14 last year to 17 this year. Of this, 13 met with acceptance.

Consultants improved their presence to six, from two last year.

However, offers from consumer durable companies decreased drastically from 14 last year to 5 this year, of which three were accepted.    


 
 
WBIDC SEEKS OUTSIDE HELP TO MANAGE FINANCES 
 
 
BY RENU M R KAKKAR
 
Calcutta, Feb 12 
The West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) is making a concerted effort to transform itself into a professionally-run corporate enterprise. In addition to McKinsey which is streamlining the corporation’s business operations, WBIDC has appointed leading credit rating agency Icra, to overhaul its finances.

Its mandate is to take a fresh look at the corporation and help it chart out a vision on achieving professional management.

Top state government sources said Icra was formulating prudential norms on balance sheet management with the WBIDC top brass.

Icra officials confirmed that they were providing advisory services to the corporation and that a final report is expected to be put in by March.

The agency is currently making a sectoral analysis of WBIDC’s business operations in the last two decades.

Sources added that two of the blue chip projects in which WBIDC has a significant equity investment — Rs 460 crore in Haldia Petrochemicals and Rs 34 crore in Mitsubishi Chemicals — will reach fruition soon. Both these investments are likely to ensure an at least 12 per cent return over the next two years with tax benefits.

Icra has been roped in to ensure that WBIDC’s finances are streamlined by the time returns on these investments start flowing in.

Other state industrial corporations, such as the Karnataka SIDC, have grown piggyback on blue-chip investments and not on the marginal growth of smaller projects in their states.

Icra is also reviewing WBIDC’s equity exposure in other corporates, to ascertain the dividends accruing from them. Its debt portfolios are also under scrutiny to ascertain how the loan profiles have moved. The corporation’s loan disbursals are projected to top Rs 50 crore by next year.

However, WBIDC officials are loathe to provide details on Icra’s role.

“The report will be solely for the corporation’s internal use and will not be made public. Icra is streamlining financial management at the WBIDC to gear it up to run like a professional corporate enterprise,” they said.    

 

FRONT PAGE / NATIONAL / EDITORIAL / BUSINESS / THE EAST / SPORTS
ABOUT US /FEEDBACK / ARCHIVE 
 
Maintained by Web Development Company