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Business Proficiency Skills need of the hour for India’s growth: Frost & Sullivan-ISIL report

MUMBAI, Sept 25: A recent survey of students reveals that a majority of India’s graduates lack basic Business Proficiency Skills. However, students surveyed were keen on acquiring these skills and simultaneously Keen on increasing their employability.

The survey has been conducted by the renowned & noted research organisation, ‘Frost and Sullivan’ on behalf of ISIL-Indian School of Integrated Learning on Employability skills of graduates.

The surprising results show that over 40% of the students have given more importance to Employability skills over domain knowledge.

This research is an attempt to identify, describe and produce an analysis of the interacting factors which influence the learning choices of students and to develop associated solutions. This in turn has assisted ISIL in designing apt courses for job aspirants and will hence help them compete on the competitive global stage!

These programmes have been designed by ISIL’s international associate ‘Speak First’-UK has been helping people around the world to communicate more effectively in business.

Using the proven training methods of Speak First, ISIL will be offering the necessary employable skills to the students through their one-year Advanced Diploma Course and another four-month Certificate Course both in Business Proficiency Skills.

Students will be trained in topics such as effective communication, presentation skills, personal impact training, media skills, interviewing techniques, cultural awareness and many more soft skills solutions, which have already been tried and tested across the globe.
Today, when companies recruit employees, they look for more than technical expertise, skills or knowledge. This survey conducted by ‘Frost & Sullivan’ focuses on the need gap in the Business Proficiency Skills Training & Development amongst the students and the required skill set for employability.

The study is based on survey conducted around 1,000 students from three major cities--- Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru, across 20 educational institutions.

Rating on the chart of skills set lacked by students from these three different cities, Delhi students have considered domain knowledge and presentation skills more important. While Mumbai students have rated themselves less proficient on Communication and Decision skills. All skills are considered much more important by Bangalore students as compared to other centers.

Indians undoubtedly are very competent in their technical skills, but this does not suffice anymore to make them globally competitive. Hence, Indian companies today are emphasizing the importance of soft skills training.

Elaborating on the ‘Frost & Sullivan’ survey report, Mr Vijay Moza, Chairman of ISIL said, “The times ahead are very challenging as the global job market is undergoing dramatic changes. Thus the task becomes more daunting for entry-level professionals especially if they are found lacking in the basic skills necessary for employability. Companies today want candidates to be more proactive rather than reactive and want graduates who can use soft skills to facilitate innovative teamwork catalyzing the transformation of their organization. At ISIL we transform the people who in turn can transform their workplace,”

Amanda Vickers, Managing Director of ‘Speak First’ says, “Today majority of the companies look for fresh graduates who are trained up in industry culture and well-versed with soft skills and communication skills, along with the industry knowledge. This in turn also helps them save on time training their resources. India is a vibrant country brimming with potential. We are delighted to be involved with helping young minds develop much needed soft skills through our alliance with ISIL.”

“Our team of experience corporate trainers, professional mangers and behavioral specialists has been training the ISIL trainers with an international approach in imparting employability skills to their target audience,” added Amanda.

ISIL programmes will be conducted by experienced corporate trainers, professional managers and behavioral specialists. ISIL plans to impart these soft skill lessons to the young Indians at its four fully equipped training centers, enhanced with the wi-fi technology at its Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad centers.

PM to leave for US on Wed to attend G-20 Summit

NEW DELHI, Sept 22: India's Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, is scheduled to leave for US on a two-day visit when he will attend the G-20 summit in the US which will discuss the need tostrengthen rules governing financial markets and steps toquicken the global economic recovery from its worst crisis.

Accompanied by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and National Security Adviser M K Narayanan among others, the Prime Minister will be in Pittsburgh at the summit hosted by President Barack Obama on 24th-25th September.

Heads of governments of G-8 countries along with those of emerging economies like India, Brazil and South Africa representing 90 per cent of the global GDP, 80 per cent of world trade and two-thirds of humanity will discuss how to expedite the revival process amid signs of green shoots of recovery.

The summit, third of its kind since the financial crisis began last September, will review implementation of the measures decided at the previous summits -- Washington (2008) and London (April, 2009) -- where it was decided to pump in USD 1.1 trillion for revival of the emerging market economies.

Though the Summit is not a negotiating forum, the issue of climate change is expected to figure in a big way among the leaders as nations prepare themselves for the Copenhagen Summit sponsored by the UN in December this year.

India strongly favours differentiated responsibility placing more burden on the advanced countries for the carbon emissions over decades and fund technological innovations to help poor and emerging countries.

The basic groundwork for the Pittsburgh Summit was made at the meeting of the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors early this month in London which decided they will work to achieve high, stable and sustainable growth.

That would require orderly re-balancing in global trade, removal of domestic barriers and promotion of efficient functioning of global markets.

India is expected to utilise the opportunity to press for changes in the international financial architecture through reforms of the global financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank so that the voice of poor and emerging economies get heard.

The Prime Minister is also expected to voice the demand for reforms of international governance by seeking reforms of institutions like the United Nations Security Council so that countries like India can get a permanent seat in the powerful panel.

Obama has already made his plans clear when he said he would work with G-20 leaders to strengthen the rules governing financial markets and ensure that the global economic crisis that engulfed the world just a year ago does not happen again.

He said the world's leading economies had made progress in stabilising the global financial system but much work remained to create jobs and growth.

At the Summit, India will oppose all types of protectionism in trade and financial inflows to developing countries resisting any temptation to resort to barriers.

The summit is also likely to take a long-term view of the economy and review impact of the measures already adopted before proceeding cautiously about the future.

The gathering is expected to send a strong political message on the crucial issue of climate change negotiations in the Copenhagen summit under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Prime Minister will arrive on September 24 in Pittsburgh where he will attend a reception and dinner by Obama on the same day.

The next day, there will be a summit plenary and a lunch which will be attended by world leaders.

He will leave Pittsburgh on September 25. Singh will also be interacting with other heads of government and hold bilateral meeting with some of them.

India: G-20 not forum for deal

NEW DELHI, Sept 19: India has taken the position that G-20, an informal forum of the world’s largest economies born out of the financial markets crisis triggered in the US, cannot substitute the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCC) for clinching a deal on carbon emissions reduction.

At the G-20 summit in Pittsburg next week, New Delhi would push for immediate reforms in the international financial institutions such as IMF and World Bank, strong regulatory package to monitor financial markets and institutionalising the Financial Stability Board.

"G-20 cannot be negotiating conditionalities, funding and technology transfer issues relating to climate change. It cannot be a substitute to UNFCC," foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said on Saturday.

Ms Rao said the proposals of France and Germany on climate change should be discussed at UNFCC summit at Copenhagen in December 2009.

"We expect a rule-based, equitable regime on climate change" Ms Rao said. She urged the developed countries to be more ambitious on cutting carbon emissions. India has also pointed to the possible adverse impact on the toiling masses in developing countries in case a non-equitable climate change pact is thrust on them. At the recent London conclave of G-20 finance ministers, developed countries led by US and the European Union (read France and Germany) attempted to push for a "climate change deal" sans any binding commitment on technology transfer and funding arrangements.

The attempt was resisted by Brazil, Russia, China and India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is heading a high-level delegation to the US to participate in the Pittsburgh summit. His main aide would continue to be deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

TimesofMoney ties-up with IDBI Bank

MUMBAI, sept 16: TimesofMoney, a leading payment service provider has announced a tie-up with IDBI Bank to launch the bank’s remittance service - ‘India Remit’ for its customers in UK.

This association further strengthens the relationship between the two as it marks the second global remittance corridor set up from TimesofMoney after the same was launched for US. The bank will use TimesofMoney’s transaction processing capability to offer end-to-end online money transfer for its NRI customers in UK.

Under this arrangement, ‘India Remit’ will enable IDBI Bank’s customers in UK to directly transfer money online to any IDBI Bank in India. With this alliance IDBI Bank can offer a seamless, secure and quick money transfer service to its customers wherein they can directly transfer money from their bank account to the receivers account in India.

Speaking about this alliance, Mr. Avijit Nanda, President, TimesofMoney said “It is our constant endeavor to offer seamless & secure end-to-end online money transfer solutions to IDBI Bank’s customers. This tie-up strengthens our relationship with the bank as it marks yet another step to extend our convenient & secure money transfer solutions to the bank’s customers in UK & USA”.

Commenting on this alliance, Mr. O.V. Bundellu, Deputy Managing Director IDBI Bank said, “IDBI Bank is keen on providing its esteemed customers state of the art solution for their service needs. The tie-up with TimesofMoney is a significant step in this direction. The service will enable NRIs based in UK & USA to use the IDBI Bank’s network and enjoy benefits of account-to-account transfer to remit money online to beneficiary’s bank account held with any branch of any bank in India. The remittance service is extremely user friendly, and can be effected in fully secured manner from the comforts of home. IDBI Bank’s customers can avail this service by logging on to”.

Reuters Market Light to offer agri info in Gujarat

AHMEDABAD, Sept 16: Reuters Market Light (RML), part of the Thomson Reuters group, the leading global information company, today announced its expansion into Gujarat by teaming up with Biostadt India Limited (BIL) to take agri-information service to farmers across the state.

RML’s information service offers customized, timely and relevant agriculture related information. This includes updates on various crops, market prices, market geographies, climate/weather conditions forecast, and related news that farmers can use to make decisions that positively impact productivity and income.

The service is made available on mobile phones and the SMS service is available in Gujarati, Hindi and English amongst various other languages.

As part of the agreement with Biostadt, the RML service will be offered through multi divisions of the company including agrochemical, seed and its newly created Ingene Organics—which overall cover 1500 distributors and 20,000 retailers.

Biostadt has a very significant presence in rural markets across the country and is very well known company in the agro industry for providing a range of crop protection chemicals and Biologically derived concept products like Biozyme that improve crop productivity.

The tie-up will take RML’s agri-information service to millions of farmers across Gujarat. Biostadt, provides agricultural, human care and veterinary services to the farming community under one roof as “Biostadt Aastha Clinics”. It will market the RML card through its “Biostadt Aastha Rath”, promotional vans to advertise the products & services of Biostadt. The two companies will work together in educating the farming community on the benefits of the ethical and unbiased content provided by RML.

Commenting on the marketing leverage Biostadt can bring to the promotion of the RML service, Mr. Devendra Kumar Chopra CEO of Biostadt India Limited said, “With a qualified marketing team of about 250 agriculture graduates and post graduates experienced and trained to serve the farming community , Biostadt is well positioned to promote the benefits of RML to farmers.”

Commenting on the tie-up, Mr. Maanav Yashroy of Reuters Market Light said, “The agri service launched by RML in three states of Maharashtra, Punjab & Haryana has met with overwhelming response from more than 100000 farmers. Teaming up with Biostadt will add real momentum and help us scale up our footprint across Gujarat in a very rapid and systematic way. In the process of building this pioneering business, we have continuously improved the service based on customer feedback; however rural distribution and marketing present an obvious opportunity to bring in third parties with real leveraging power. The RML-BIL tie-up is a major step to reaching millions of farmers through the agri-input consumption route”.

Mr. Juzar S Khorakiwala, Chairman and Managing Director of Biostadt India Limited said, “In the entire agriculture value chain from farming to the table, the Indian farmer is the biggest entrepreneur. He has to deal with a huge amount of uncertainty such as weather, prices, input practices etc, coupled with lack of credit and financial resources. Under these circumstances the information service launched by RML providing customized, localized information service to the farmer on his mobile handset will prove in the long run to de-risk his activity which can only be a good thing in efforts to improve productivity and income”.

RML has also partnered with Agha Khan rural support program (AKRSP) to extend its services to the framers in the state of Gujarat

No 'black money' statistics exist: Swiss banks

New Delhi: Amid claims from various quarters that Indians have stashed away thousands of crores in secret bank accounts in Switzerland, the Swiss banks have asserted that any statistics about black money "simply do not exist".

Various political parties and other groups have been claiming that the black money stashed away in Swiss banks by Indians exceed one trillion dollars.

These statistics, which put Indians at the top in terms of deposits in Swiss banks, have often been quoted to global institutions and sometimes even to the Swiss National Bank, the central bank of the country.

Seeking to demolish the "myth" over these figures being "circulated as gospel truth", a top official at the Swiss Bankers' Association said to a news agency from Basel that there were no truth at all in such statistics.

"Anyone claiming to have such figures should be forced to identify their source and explain the methodology used to produce them," said the SBA's Head of International Communications, James Nason.

"We take all our statistics from Swiss National Bank and statistics about 'black money' simply do not exist," he added.

Nason said he was aware of such figures being quoted to a SBA report on bank deposits in the Swiss banks by people of various nationalities, which put Indians as the biggest depositors there, but asserted that there were no truth in it and it never published any such report.

"About 18 months ago some mischievous person launched a story on the Internet saying the Swiss Bankers Association had issued a report in 2006 showing the amount of so-called "black money" deposited in Switzerland by citizens of countries such as India, China, Russia and Ukraine and quoted figures in the billions.

"The figures were rapidly picked up in the Indian media and in Indian Opposition circles, and circulated as gospel truth. However, this story was a complete fabrication. The Swiss Bankers Association never published such a report," Nason noted.

These reports have said that Indians had over 1.4 trillion dollars in Swiss banks, followed by Russia (470 billion dollars), UK (390 billion report), Ukraine (100 billion dollar) and China (96 billion dollars) at end of 2006.

Nason clarified further that the Swiss National Bank gives out figures for value of securities held in custody accounts for domestic and foreign clients, but no break ups are given on the basis of nationality of foreign clients.

"The Swiss National Bank gives a figure for the value of securities (mainly bonds and shares) held in custody accounts. At the end of June 2009 the total value was 3,985 billion Swiss francs. This figure is for all clients -- Swiss and foreign institutional, commercial and private clients," Nason said.

"Of this, 2,237 billion Swiss francs (56 percent) was held on behalf of foreign institutional, commercial and private clients. Foreign private clients account for 694 billion Swiss francs (17.5 percent of the whole amount).

"The Swiss National Bank does not break these (value of securities) figures down according to the nationality of clients, so there is no way to see how much is owned by Indian institutional, commercial or private clients," Nason said.

Amid a furore over the issue of black money lying in Swiss banks, the Indian government said last month it would begin talks in December for re-negotiating a tax treaty with Switzerland so that it could seek details of the defaulters.

Recently, Switzerland's Vice President Doris Leuthard said during a visit to the country that the new Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty, once finalised, would enable India to seek details about black money deposited by Indians there.

IDEA partners with Reuters Market Light to launch a unique service for rural markets

‘Krishi Voucher’ to provide agri-information to the Farmer community in Maharashtra

(L to R) Rajat Mukherjee, Chief Corporate affairs officer, Idea Cellular with P. Laxminarayan, COO Maharashtra and Goa, Idea Cellular and Amit Mehra, MD, RMLPUNE, Sept 10: IDEA Cellular, one of the leading telecom operators in India has partnered with Reuters Market Light, part of Thomson Reuters, the leading global information company, to launch a unique product targeted at rural subscribers. ‘Krishi Voucher’, the innovative agricultural information service developed by Reuters Market Light, is now made available for the large farmer community on the IDEA network, in Maharashtra and Goa circle.

India in general and Maharashtra in particular, is heavily dependent on agriculture, which is the most important, and at times, the only source of livelihood for farmers. There is a need to address challenges faced by Farmers due to lack of timely, localized, reliable and relevant information on market prices, weather conditions, and other farming best practices.

Krishi Voucher is designed to equip farmers with decision critical information that is easy to access and actionable, thus helping them improve both production and marketing of their produce.

This information service, which offers agriculture related information on various crops, pricing, market geographies, and climate/weather conditions and forecast, will be available for over 8 million IDEA subscribers in the state.

Speaking at the launch, Mr. Amit Mehra, Managing Director, Reuters Market Light said, “This is a fantastic partnership to expand the unprecedented impact of RML on the farming community. We launched RML in 2007 in India as a business dedicated to address the pain points of farmers. In the process of building this pioneering business, we have continuously improved the service based on customer feedback; however, rural distribution and marketing remained a challenge. The IDEA-RML Krishi Voucher, among other advantages, will directly help address this challenge. I look forward to see this expand to many more states in the near future.”

According to Mr. Rajat Mukarji, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, IDEA Cellular, “Today, two out of every three new subscribers come from rural India. Our deep-rooted network and strong customer connect in rural India makes us as the preferred network to offer value added services to rural consumers. Maharashtra, as the oldest and largest circle of IDEA, with the deepest penetration in rural parts, and a subscriber base of over 8 million becomes a good starting point for the launch of the Krishi Voucher.”

Talking about the new product, Mr. P Laxminarayana, Chief Operating Officer – Maharashtra & Goa, IDEA Cellular Ltd, said, “IDEA has constantly innovated to offer world class products and services designed keeping in mind the daily communication needs of diverse customer segments. Reuters Market Light’s information service is an innovative, productive, and efficient risk management tool for the large farming community in Maharashtra. We are happy to partner with a leading agri-information provider, Reuters Market Light, to bring this unique offering for our subscribers in the region, many of whom are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.”

IDEA subscribers availing this service will get the following information updates:
• Market Prices and Arrivals in 3 markets for each of the 2 crops chosen by the farmer
• 24 hour local weather forecast relevant to the farmer’s Taluka
• Information on best practices of production for 2 crops
• News impacting agricultural marketing and production.

This service is available for a monthly subscription fee of Rs.75 only. The voucher is available at IDEA retail outlets, in Maharashtra & Goa.

Farmers can subscribe to the service by calling on a specially provided Toll Free Number – 58090 where they would be supported by Marathi speaking customer care representatives to register their preferences such as crops, markets and location. Daily updates will be provided on SMS in two languages - Marathi and English.

Canara Bank bags national awards

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, Aug 28: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave away two top awards to Canara Bank at a glittering function held here on Friday. Canara Bank Chairman and Managing Director A C Mahajan received the National Awards -2009 for excellent role in KVI sector in the South Zone from the Prime Minister.

The Canara Bank recived the awards in the following two categories:

1. Best Bank under PMEGP
2. Best Bank under ISEC Scheme

As a leader in the Indian Banking space, Canara Bank has, over the years, partnered the Country’s economic progress, extending its support to critical and productive segments of the economy.

The Bank will continue to benefit from and supplement India’s growth process in future.

Indian Govt eyes $200 bn export next fiscal; doles out sops

NEW DELHI, Aug 27: India extended tax holiday and duty refund for exporters, while allowing duty free capital goods import under its Foreign Trade Policy to insulate them from protectionism induced by recession abroad.

Unveiling the five-year policy, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma set a target of USD 200 billion worth exports for next fiscal, a feat that India failed to achieve in 2008-09 due to a slump in global demand in the face of financial crisis.

"India has not been affected to the same extent as other economies of the world, yet our exports have suffered a decline in the last 10 months due to a contraction in demand in the traditional markets. The protectionist measures being adopted by some of these countries have aggravated the problem," he said, presenting his first trade policy.

While exports for the April-June quarter contracted by 31 per cent, Sharma set a growth target of 15 per cent for FY'10.

"I would be hesitant to hazard a guess on the nature and extent of this recovery and the time the major economies will take to return to there pre-recession growth levels," he said, encouraging exporters to look beyond traditional markets like the US and western Europe.

Extension of income tax holiday for export units for one more year and continuance of duty refund scheme till December 2010 and enhanced assistance for the scheme for development of markets are among the measures in the FTP.

The aim of the policy, which would be reviewed after two years, would be to "arrest and reverse declining trend of exports," Sharma said.

Exports have been on a decline for the past 10 months. Exports in FY'09 amounted to USD 168 billion and the country hopes to maintain the same level this fiscal.

Expressing confidence that the country would be able to achieve a 25 per cent growth rate after two years, Sharma said, "By 2014, we expect to double India's exports of goods and services."

The long-term policy objective, he added, will be to double India's share in global trade by 2020.

India's share in global merchandise trade went up from 0.83 per cent in 2003 to 1.45 per cent in 2008.

"Announcing the FTP in this economic climate is indeed a daunting task. We cannot remain oblivious to declining demand in the developed world and we need to set in motion the strategies and policy measures which catalyse the growth of exports," he said.

The government, he added, would encourage exports through a "mix of measures including fiscal incentives, institutional changes, procedural rationalisation and efforts for enhance market access across the world and diversification of export markets.

The policy, Sharma said, would provide a special thrust to the employment-oriented sectors which have witnessed job losses in the wake of recession, especially in the fields of textiles, leather and handicrafts.

Don't come fishing for account details: Swiss banks to India

NEW DELHI, Aug 23: Swiss banks may have turned over client details to the US, but they have said India is not welcome there on a name-fishing expedition. "Swiss law and even OECD's Model Tax Convention do not permit fishing expeditions, in other words, the indiscriminate trawling through bank accounts in the hope of finding something interesting."

"This means that India cannot simply throw its telephone book at Switzerland and ask if any of these people have a bank account here," a top official at Swiss Bankers Association said from Basel.

The secrecy shield provided by Swiss banks have always been a big issue in India, including during the campaign for this year's general elections, and the government recently said that it has approached Switzerland seeking details about bank accounts held by Indians there.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee recently informed Parliament that the government was committed to unearthing black money within and outside the country.

"Swiss authorities, I am told, have agreed for negotiations (on the issue)... We have already taken it (the issue of black money) not only with Swiss authorities but other nations as well," Mukherjee said.

Last week, the US reached an agreement with Switzerland, under which top Swiss bank UBS AG turned over details of 4,450 secret accounts to the Internal Revenue Service.

Anand Sharma to unveil foreign trade policy on August 27

NEW DELHI, Aug 17: Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Monday met Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and discussed the finer details of the new five-year Foreign Trade Policy (FTP), to be unveiled on August 27.

Faced with a continued downslide in exports in the last nine months, the new FTP is expected to address the problems of exporters in view of severe recession in their traditional markets of the U.S. and the European Union. It is understood that the new FTP would give certain incentives to exporters to widen their global markets beyond the U.S., the EU and Japan and venture into new markets including those of Africa.

“We will be surely looking at market expansion because if the diversion and expansion of market is not there, we will not be able to respond to this challenge,” Mr. Sharma said after the meeting.

Mr. Sharma told reporters here that the government could extend support but would not be in a position to generate demand in the Western economies which were contracting. India’s exports are on a downslide since October last and the average contraction has been around 30 per cent over the past nine months. The country’s exports were about $169 billion in 2008-09.

However, Mr. Sharma indicated that the policy would outline the priority sectors as also sops, besides focussing on employment and labour intensive areas like textiles, leather, gems and jewellery, and handicrafts. These sectors are having a torrid time as their demand dried up significantly in the U.S. and the EU.

Mr. Sharma said the policy would ensure that labour-intensive sectors were given special consideration.

India signs free trade pact with ASEAN

BANGKOK, Aug 13: Ending months of uncertainty, India and the 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations on Thursday signed a crucial trade pact that will break duty barriers in the 1.7 billion consumer market in the region.

The pact on trade in goods under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) was signed by Indian commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma and ASEAN economic ministers after more than six years of intense negotiations.

The first phase of implementation is supposed to be over by January 1, 2010.

The pact, on which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has formed a GoM to allay domestic concerns, will eliminate duties on 4,000 items by 2016, covering 80 per cent of India's imports from the South-east Asian nations.

However, as many as 489 items have been kept out of the pact, keeping in view the concerns of vulnerable domestic industries and agricultural producers. The main areas of differences revolved around sensitive agricultural products, mainly in the plantation sector.

The agreement is "well balanced" and is in harmony with the India's Look East Policy, Sharma said.

Bilateral trade between ASEAN and India was of about USD 40 billion in 2007-08.

Draft Direct Taxes Code proposes moderate rates

NEW DELHI, Aug 12: The government on Wednesday proposed to tax income up to Rs. 10 lakh at 10 per cent, while under the existing regime this relief is limited to people with an income of Rs. 1.6 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh.

Income between Rs. 10 lakh and Rs. 25 lakh will be taxed at 20 per cent and earnings thereafter will attract a rate of 30 per cent, as per the draft of the new Direct Taxes Code that seeks to improve the efficiency and equity of the tax system by eliminating distortions in the structure, bringing about moderate levels of taxation and expanding the base.

Releasing the code that proposes to consolidate and amend the law relating to all direct taxes — income tax, dividend distribution tax, fringe benefit tax and wealth tax — and ultimately replace the Income Tax Act of 1961, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that if a reasonable discussion took place on the draft code, a Bill could be placed in the winter session of Parliament.

The draft code proposes a new, substantially liberalised tax rate for individual tax-payers. For example, in the case of every individual other than women and senior citizens, the code does not propose to levy any income tax on a total annual income of up to Rs.1.6 lakh.

The code proposes 10 per cent income tax if the total yearly income exceeds Rs. 1.6 lakh but does not exceed Rs.10 lakh. It proposes two other slabs: where the total income exceeds Rs.10 lakh but does not exceed Rs. 25 lakh and it proposes a tax of Rs. 84,000 plus 20 per cent of the amount by which the total income exceeds Rs.10 lakh; where the total income exceeds Rs. 25 lakh, it proposes Rs. 3.84 lakh plus tax at the rate of 30 per cent of the amount by which the total income exceeds Rs. 25 lakh.

Currently, the general income tax payer does not pay tax up to Rs. 1.6 lakh of income in a year. However, he pays 10 per cent tax on income between Rs. 1.6 lakh and Rs. 3 lakh, 20 per cent between Rs. 3 lakh and Rs. 5 lakh, and 30 per cent beyond Rs. 5 lakh.

“We expect to have better compliance and better collection of taxes. The attempt is to simplify the language to enable better comprehension and remove ambiguity to foster voluntary compliance,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

Exporters facing trade barriers in lucrative EU markets: FICCI

NEW DELHI, Aug 2: Indian exporters are facing non-tariff barriers like visa and consular issues in the lucrative European Union market in spite of growing bilateral trade with the 27-member economic bloc, a survey has said.

"In spite the growing bilateral trade volume, industry is unanimous in its opinion that there still exists a discrepancy between what is projected as an open and uniform regime and what is experienced by Indian companies during their real life interaction with the EU," the survey by FICCI said.

Exporters face cumbersome quality testing which increases the cost and time dimension of Indian companies, it said, adding that they are also facing the "adverse impact of huge amount of subsidies enjoyed by EU farmers through free seeds and fertilisers and a freight subsidy to producers."

In addition, many mid-sized pharmaceutical companies have been severely hit due to the recent seizure of shipments at transit ports located in the EU, the chamber added.

"The main impediment in the expansion of services to the EU were visa and consular issues, non-clarity of taxation and cross border transaction laws as applicable to Indian service providers," the survey said.

However, majority of the respondents also said EU is a very attractive market, owing to factors such as strategic location, wide consumer base, common visa regime.

Canara Bank now has 139 branches in Delhi, NCR

By Deepak Arora

NEW DELHI, July 31: Mr G.C Chaturvedi, Additional Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Finance Ministry inaugurated the Harinagar Branch of Canara Bank in Delhi on Friday. This is the 135th Branch of Delhi Circle.

Dr. K.P.Krishnan, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Finance Ministry and also Director of Canara Bank, inaugurated the 136th Branch of the Circle at Vasant Kunj here.

The Canara Bank also further upgraded their extension counters at three places in Delhi as full fledged branches.

Canara Bank Directors -- Ajay Mathur, S. K. Kohli, D. D. Rustagi and other distinguished guests were present in the functions.

N Seshadri, General Manager, Delhi Circle Office and other Senior Executives were also present on the occasion.

With the opening of these five branches, the Canara Bank network in Delhi-NCR has increased to 139 and across the country 2772.

Canara Bank pays Rs 240 crore dividend to Govt

By Deepak Arora

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee receiving dividend cheque from Canara Bank Chairman and Managing Director A C Mahajan. Also see is General Manager SheshadhariNEW DELHI, July 27: Bangalore-based public sector lender Canara Bank on Monday paid Rs 240 crore as dividend to the government for the year 2008-09.

The dividend cheque was presented by the bank Chairman and Managing Director A C Mahajan to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. Also present on the occasion was General Manager Sheshadhari.

The bank had declared 80 per cent dividend for 2008-09.

For the first quarter ended June 30, 2009, the bank reported near five-fold growth in net profit at Rs 555.33 crore.

The bank had a net profit of Rs 122.68 crore in the June quarter of last fiscal.

Total income rose 23 per cent to Rs 5,031.95 crore during June quarter from Rs 4,099.05 crore in the previous fiscal.

Canara Bank Chairman and Managing Director A C Maharaj having a discussion with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in New DelhiDuring the quarter, the bank's interest income rose 22.19 per cent to Rs 4,558.38 crore, while the interest expenditure was up 20.49 per cent at Rs 3,266.89 crore.

Speaking at the recent annual general meeting, Chairman Mahajan said the year 2008-09 was chracterised by high growth in business, profits and shareholder value. He said the Bank met all targets and put in place wide-ranging initiatives aimed at enhancing short term benefits while keeping the larger picture in focus.

Mr Mahajan said his endeavour has always been to optimise returns for all segments of stakeholders. With customer centricity, rapid up-scaling of information technology, re-engineering of business processes, effective use of human resources and significant expansion of the full range of priority sector activities, the Canara Bank is well poised to meet the challenge of change.

Budget boost to New Pension Scheme; subscribers soar to 1100

NEW DELHI, July 27: Tax concessions announced by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee have given a boost to the new pension system (NPS) with the number of subscribers rising to over 1,100 against 300 prior to the Budget.

"There has been a quantum jump in the number of subscribers after the Budget announcement. The number subscribers has increased to more than 1,100 from 200-300 prior to the Budget," a PFRDA official said.

The official also said that some public sector enterprises have shown interest in joining the NPS, which was opened to all citizens from May 1 this year.

"One or two public sector entities have approached us and they want their corpus to be managed by the NPS. However, discussions are at the preliminary stages and it would take a month or so for some clarity on the issue," the official added.

Earlier, the Indian Banks' Association has shown interest in the NPS for new bank recruits. Though no concrete decision has been taken so far.

In the Budget tabled in Parliament, the government said that self-employed persons subscribing to the NPS would be subjected to tax only at the time of withdrawal. Other subscribers are already under this kind of tax treatment.

The official added that the NPS has mopped up about Rs 1.2 crore till date.

The Budget also proposed to exempt the income of the pension trust from income tax and also the donor of dividend to the trust from dividend distribution tax.

It also said pension trusts will not have to pay Securities Transaction Tax (STT) if they invest in the securities market.

It also said the interim pension regulator will get Rs 8 crore to run an advertising campaign to familiarise people about the scheme.

Mahindra, Premji among top business leaders on BoT

NEW DELHI, July 19: Industry leaders, including Anand Mahindra, Azim Premji, Y C Deveshwar and Ramesh Chandra have been taken on the board of trade (BoT), which has been reconstituted with commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma heading it.

The new BoT, the top advisory body on external trade, will meet on August 4, ahead of the Foreign Trade Policy likely to unveiled next month.

The reconstituted BoT also includes Sanjay Kirloskar, Pawan Munjal, Habil Khorakiwala, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, K Satish Reddy and Onkar S Kanwar.

Incidentally, Wockhardt headed by Khorakiwala is reeling under heavy debt.

Secretaries in the departments of commerce and revenue and ministries of external affairs and textiles are also members of the board, which is expected to meets at least once every quarter.

BoT was earlier headed by noted industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla.
India’s exports are on the downslide since October 2008 as the country under the impact of global downturn.

IFFCO hails Govt move to shift from ‘product pricing regime’ to ‘nutrient-based subsidy regime’

By Deepak Arora

Dr U S AwashthiNEW DELHI, July 6: Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO) has welcomed the Government’s move to shift fertilizer subsidy from “product pricing regime” to “nutrient based subsidy regime” and give direct subsidy to the farmers.

Reacting to Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s Budget 2009, Dr. U.S.Awasthi, Managing Director, IFFCO, lauded the Government’s significant initiative to shift from “product pricing regime” to nutrient based subsidy regime” and provide direct subsidy to the farmers.

Dr Awasthi expressed his happiness that IFFCO’s concepts have found a place in Finance Minister’s Budget speech.

In the recent times, the fertiliser subsidy has captured almost every body’s attention. But IFFCO being farmers’ own society has been trying to draw attention of the all concerned to the depleting soil health and need to use restore the secondary and micro nutrient status of soil.

IFFCO has been advocating this cause and has presented papers on the status of different soils in the country.

IFFCO took the lead in this direction by making numerous presentation to Group of Ministers (GOM), Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Planning Commission, and had made it clear though print media.

Dr. Awasthi has, therefore, been emphasising time and again in the past that subsidy should be disbursed directly to the farmers instead of routing the same through the manufacturers.

He further said that this move would help in soil rejuvenation and increase farm yield, thereby brining smiles on the faces of the farmers. The change will certainly create a win-win situation for the industry as well as the farming community in the country.

Dr Awasthi, on behalf of IFFCO and its 40,000 member cooperative societies, thanked Government of India and assured full support to the Government to make this move a success.




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