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March 2011 Economic Issues

Foreign exchange reserves rise $1.67 billion to $303.51 billion

India's foreign exchange reserves rose by $1.67 billion to $303.51 billion during the week ended March 17, helped by a healthy increase in foreign currency assets.

Manmohan to chair meeting to clear draft manufacturing policy

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would chair a high-level committee meeting to discuss and clear the draft of the new mega ‘Manufacturing Policy' which is likely to be unveiled before March 31.

Free trade pact with four European nations this year

India and the Europe Free Trade Association (EFTA) are likely to conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) entailing a comprehensive bilateral trade and investment agreement by this year after fast-tracking of the negotiations between the two groups.

“The EFTA comprising Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein are likely to firm up an FTA this year.

The Central Government on 24 March constituted the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) under the chairmanship of former Justice B. N. Srikrishna to rewrite and harmonise financial sector legislations, rules and regulations. 

Apart from Justice Srikrishna as the head, other members of the 11-member commission include former PFRDA Chairman D. Swarup, former Axis Bank chief P. J. Nayak and PMEAC member M. Govinda Rao.

Nippon Life Insurance Company on 14 March signed a ‘definitive agreement' to acquire a 26 per cent stake in Reliance Life Insurance, one of India's largest private life insurers.

CPCL bags TPM Excellence award

The Manali refinery of Chennai Petroleum Corporation (CPCL) has received the Total Plant Maintenance (TPM) Excellene award, Category A from Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance (JIIPM).

The Central Government said it would create a Rs.2, 500-crore corpus for technology modernisation of the micro, small and medium units by next year. 

At present, only textiles sector is availing these benefits under the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) wherein the units get 5 per cent subsidy on loans, for upgrading technology, from the government. The MSMEs account for 45 per cent of the country's manufacturing output and 40 per cent of exports. The sector employs 50 million people in 26 million units producing over 6,000 products.

CMMI Level 5 assessment for TCS

Tata Consultancy Services has been assessed enterprise-wide at the highest maturity Level 5 of the Capability Maturity Model Integration for CMMI-DEV (Development) and CMMI-SVC (Services) models.

Maruti Suzuki India on 15 March rolled out ten millionth car

The historic ten-millionth car, a metallic breeze blue coloured WagonR VXi (Chassis No 243899) rolled out from the company's Gurgaon plant. With this landmark achievement, Maruti Suzuki becomes the only Indian car company that makes its entry into the select club of automobile manufacturers across the globe which has crossed this milestone.

New Business Head for Ingersoll Rand

Ingersoll Rand has appointed Parminder Singh Sandhu as Business Head and General Manager for security technologies business in India. According to a release, Mr. Parminder will develop and promote Ingersoll Rand's Security Technologies. Mr. Parminder joins Ingersoll Rand from Shell Lubricants.

Andhra Pradesh tops the list of functional Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the country. 

This was stated by Union minister of state for commerce and industry Jyotiraditya Scindia in the Rajya Sabha. AP has 32 operational SEZs, followed by Tamil Nadu (22) and Karnataka (20) of the 130 SEZs in the country whose collective exports stand at Rs 2.2 lakh crore. Scindia said the total physical exports from the SEZs in the first three quarters of the current financial year 2010-11 was to the tune of Rs 2,23,132 crore.

The Centre on 22 March introduced a Constitution Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha to facilitate implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), a tax regime that would subsume levies such as excise, service tax and sales tax. The Bill, introduced by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, seeks to amend the Constitution with a view to conferring simultaneous powers on the Centre and the States to levy taxes on goods and services. It will also subsume State VAT/sales tax, entertainment tax (unless levied by the local bodies), luxury tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling as also tax on advertisements, cesses and surcharges levied by States.

IDCO and IL&FS Water signed MOA

IDCO has entered into a memorandum of agreement with IL&FS Water. Under the agreement, IDCO will facilitate IL&FS Water to set up desalination plant in Dhamara and Paradeep Industrial area for supply of industrial and domestic water

The home-grown Tata brand has been ranked as the first Indian brand to be in the top 50 club of global brands as per the latest Brand Finance's Global 500 2007 report. The group has operations in more than 80 countries across six continents, and its companies export products and services to 85 countries. The total revenue of Tata companies stood at $67.4 billion in 2009-10, with 57 per cent of this coming from business outside India.

Jet Airways joins hands with i-mint

Jet Airways joined hands with i-mint (Loyalty Solutions & Research Pvt. Ltd.), India's largest coalition loyalty programme, to offer benefits to its loyalty programme members and Jet Airways customers. 

ICSI signs MoU with United Stock Exchange

The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) and United Stock Exchange (USE) have signed a memorandum of understanding for exchange of information, consultation and cooperation.

Inflation inches up to 8.31 % in February

Inflation inches up to 8.31 % in February from 8.23 per cent in the previous month

Industrial growth decelerates to 3.7 per cent in January
Industrial growth turned sluggish in January this year to post a meagre increase of 3.7 per cent as compared to a robust expansion of 16.8 per cent achieved during the same month in 2010. 

The sectors mainly responsible for the tepid overall growth, as measured by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), were manufacturing and mining which witnessed significant deceleration in output.

AMD launches fastest graphics card

AMD has announced the launch of its fastest graphics card, AMD Radeon HD 6990. Designed for the power gamer, the card includes AMD's second generation, Microsoft DirectX 11-capable architecture, advanced image quality features for the best looking games and AMD PowerTune intelligent technology to enable higher clock speeds and faster gaming. 

MSD launches rotavirus vaccine

Multinational pharmaceutical drug company MSD, the fully owned subsidiary of Merck & Co,launched a diarrhoea-prevention vaccine RotaTeq for infants and children in India.

RotaTeq is a pentavalent rotavirus vaccine that helps in preventing rotavirus gastroenteritis, a leading cause of severe and life threatening diarrhoea in young children.

Spectranet partners Aircel

Spectranet has partnered Aircel to offer high-speed Internet access to the latter's customers on Wi-Fi. The company also announced plans to invest Rs.500 crore over the next five years to expand its services across 50,000 hot-spots and reach over 50-lakh households across the country.

Centre to infuse Rs.1,740 crore in Oriental Bank

The Central Government will infuse Rs.1,740 crore in Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) as recapitalisation package to shore up the bank's equity capital.

The bank at its board meeting held on March 5 has approved raising capital by offering or issuing up to 4.12 crore shares of Rs.10 each for cash at a issue price of Rs.422.11 a share aggregating up to Rs.1,740 crore to the government.

Centre notifies USE as recognised stock exchange

Newest stock exchange for currency derivatives United Stock Exchange (USE) declared the Central Government had notified it as a recognised stock exchange where trading would not be deemed as speculative transactions. 

CLP India to develop two new wind farms

CLP India, belonging to CLP Group of Hong Kong, a foreign power player in India, announced that it will develop two new wind farms — one in Rajasthan and the other in Andhra Pradesh. 

The 102.4 MW Sipla Wind Farm will be located at Jaisalmer District (Rajasthan) and the 50.4 MW Narmada Wind Farm at Nallakonda (Andhra Pradesh). With these two projects, CLP's wind portfolio will grow to 638.8 MW

India-China Consumption Fund

Mirae Asset Global Investments (India) Pvt. Ltd., has launched Mirae Asset India-China Consumption Fund, an open-ended equity-oriented scheme. 

The scheme will focus on sectors/companies benefiting from consumption-led demand that is driving the world's fastest growing economies, India and China. The new fund will open on March 9 and close on March 23.

India, Brazil working to achieve $10 b bilateral trade

India and Brazil decided to forge stronger trade and economic ties and decided to work towards achieving a bilateral trade target of $10 billion in the next few years against $7.73 billion in 2010.

This was agreed at a meeting between Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and visiting External Relations Minister of Brazil Antonio Patriota

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on March 7 constituted a working group under the Chairmanship of Usha Thorat, Director, Centre for Advanced Financial Research and Learning (CAFRAL), to examine a range of emerging issues pertaining to regulation of the NBFCs (non-banking financial companies) sector. 

While examining a range of emerging issues pertaining to the regulation of the sector, the working group will focus on the definition and classification of NBFCs, addressing regulatory gaps and regulatory arbitrage, maintaining standards of governance in the sector and appropriate approach to NBFC supervision.

UNIDO : India among top 10 global manufacturers

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) concluded that India has emerged as one of the top ten manufacturers of the world in 2010, driven mainly by its strong economic growth.

MTS appoints Dubovsko as President & CEO

Telecom company MTS (Mobile TeleSystems OJSC) announced the appointment of Andrei Dubovskov as President and Chief Executive Officer of the company.

"Danfoss" gets green product award

The refrigeration and air conditioning division of Danfoss, a leader in energy-efficient solutions, has received the Green Product Award at Acrex 2011 exhibition for its environment-friendly micro channel heat exchanger (MCHE). The exhibition was held recently in New Delhi.

Finnish Firm Neste Oil on March 8 opened the world's biggest renewable diesel plant in Singapore , taking advantage of massive palm oil production in nearby Malaysia and Indonesia. 

Clean diesel produced from the euro 550 million ($769 million) plant using feedstock such as palm oil and animal fat will be marketed in Europe, Canada and the U.S., which already have legislation in place supporting biofuels. 

With an annual capacity of 800,000 tonnes, the Singapore facility is the biggest renewable diesel plant in the world. The plant produces Neste Oil's patented NExBTL renewable diesel.

The Essar Group will take over Zimbabwe's state-owned Zisco Steel in a $750-million deal to revive production at the defunct firm that was once one of Africa's largest producers.

Amrutanjan buys Siva Soft Drinks for Rs. 26 crore

“Amrutanjan Health Care has entered into an agreement with Siva's Soft Drink Pvt. Ltd, Chennai, to acquire their soft drink and fruit based beverages business along with the brand ‘Fruitnik' for a total consideration of Rs.26.20 crore.”

The Bombay Stock Exchange plans to launch its small and medium enterprises exchange platform by the second-half of 2011 after getting approval from the capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India.

The Centre has decided to set up a six-member committee headed by T.V. Mohandas Pai of Infosys to study and recommend the criteria for selecting private partners for the setting up of 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology.

India and ASEAN set $70 b trade target

India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are committed to achieving a trade target of $70 billion by 2012, up 40 per cent from $50 billion in 2010

Ascend and India Telecom to merge tower business

Ascend Telecom Infrastructure (Ascend) and India Telecom Infra (ITIL) have agreed to merge their telecom tower businesses. 

Tata Motors on 1 March showcased concept small car ‘Pixel', based on the Rs.1 lakh car Nano, for the European market at the ongoing 81st Geneva Motor Show.

Corporation Bank has won Indian Banks Association (IBA) award

The Corporation Bank has won three awards for 2010 for its use of technology in online banking, financial inclusion and training and e-learning initiatives. The awards had been instituted by the Indian Banks Association (IBA).



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