Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Ecuador to hike taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, soft drinks

“The price of petroleum keeps dropping” and the government must make “certain adjustments”, Correa said during his weekly show on Saturday.
The president said recently that the plunge in oil prices had created a budget “hole” of about $800 million because officials had based their spending projections on an average oil price of $35 per barrel.
Petroleum, however, fell below $30 per barrel in trading this year, Correa said.
“The fiscal situation has gotten complicated” even though oil prices “have recovered” in recent weeks, the president said, adding that he hoped the upward trend would continue.
Tax reforms are needed, but the administration will not target past revenue sources, such as cooking gas, telephone service and electricity, that affect the public, Correa said.
“We’re going to raise (taxes) on cigarettes, alcoholic beverages and soft drinks … because, in addition, they have huge harmful effects on health,” the president said.
“We’re preparing the reforms,” Correa said without providing any additional details.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Jewellers’ strike caused Rs.70,000 crore loss: Association

The Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) said in a statement said here that the strike has caused “losses of Rs. 60,000-70,000 crore” to the industry.
The jewellers’ strike ended on Saturday night following a meeting between the associations and union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi regarding the 1 percent excise duty proposed on jewellery in the Union Budget 2016-17.
A three-member committee, headed by former chief economic adviser to the finance ministry, Ashok Lahiri, has been constituted to look into issues related to excise duty on jewellery and find a solution.
It would submit its report to the government within 60 days, the GJEPC said in a release on Sunday.
At a meeting of various jewellers’ associations with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah, Power Minister Piyush Goyal and others in New Delhi, it was decided that the committee would hold discussions with the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) and other stake-holders to evolve an amicable solution to the issue of excise duty.
Over 300,000 jewellery shops owing allegiance to more than 300 associations across India went on strike since the excise duty announcement on February 29.
They have also been opposing the government rule making permanent account number (PAN) card as a mandatory proof on purchases of Rs.2 lakh and above.
The size of the gems and jewellery industry, that is still an unorganised sector, is estimated to be in the range of between Rs.2.5-3 lakh crore.
The government move was prompted by the aim to bring the growing sector into the mainstream of economic activity by levying a tax.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Marketing, HR officials should coordinate to raise firm’s value

Customers and employees represent two critical stakeholders of a firm. In most organisations, customer-related activities are under the purview of marketing, while employee-related activities are under the purview of human resource.
The results of the study showed that the relative consistency with which a company treats its customers and employees could affect the company’s long-term value.
Improving consistency in employee and customer achievements can lead to a big change for a firm both financially and metaphorically.
Also, the customer — and employee — related achievements could have a positive impact on a firm’s valuation while the lapses can strengthen the negative impact.
Companies that have consistency in employee and customer achievements on average have 11 percent higher firm valuation than those having inconsistent outcomes.
“Our results imply that CEOs need to ensure that critical members of the C-suite coordinate their activities to maximize firm value,” the researchers maintained.
The findings also revealed that the effect of uniformity in customer and employee related activities are stronger for firms with a narrow than a broad business scope.
“We found these results to be much stronger for firms with a narrow than a broad business focus; that is, competing in fewer than more business segments,” said Yan “Anthea” Zhang, the Fayez Sarofim Vanguard professor of Management at the Rice Jones University in Texas, US.
To achieve this oneness, it is critical for firms to ensure that their marketing and human-resource departments act in unison, the researchers asserted.
The authors found evidence to support their theory using a dataset of 21,447 observations between 1994 and 2010 that represented 4,643 firms.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Reliance Life gets nod for $350 mn more equity from Nippon Life

Nippon Life will be investing an aggregate value of Rs.2,265 crore ($348 million) to acquire an additional 23 percent stake in Reliance Life to reach a 49 percent stake, a statement by the companies said.
“In line with the new shareholding structure, the name of the company will also be changed to Reliance Nippon Life Insurance Company, post increase in stake,” the statement added.
“The transaction pegs Reliance Life Insurance’s valuation at approximately Rs.10,000crore ($1.5 billion), amongst the highest valuation for any Life Insurance company in the country.”
Once the transaction goes through, Nippon Life would have invested a total of Rs.8,630crore ($1.3 billion) for acquiring the 49 percent each in Reliance Life Insurance and Reliance Capital Asset Management.
Nippon Life is an over-125 years old insurer and a Global Fortune 500 company that manages over $520 billion in assets — amongst the largest total assets in the world for any life insurer.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

InFocus launches affordable Android smartphone at Rs.4,299

BINGO 10 comes equipped with 5MP front and rear cameras with LED flash, 1GB RAM, 8 GB storage, and is powered by MediaTek Quad Core 1.3 GhZ processor, the company said in a statement.
“For most smartphone users, the wait to own a device with latest Android operating system (OS) could be eternal. As per Google’s report, till date, only 2.3 percent of the Android smartphone is on Marshmallow,” said Sachin Thapar, country head, InFocus India, in a statement.
The device, priced aggressively at Rs.4,299, is targeted at young users in the age group of 15 to 24.
“With InFocus Bingo 10, we want everyone to be able to get the taste of Marshmallow, which is still seen as a preserve of high-end smartphones. InFocus BINGO 10 is our endeavour to cater to the core needs of age group of 15-24 years and it perfectly complements their style quotient with attractive color frames and superior design quality,” Thapar added.
BINGO 10 also comes loaded with other exciting features like face recognition, beauty shot and photo enhancer. It will be available exclusively on Snapdeal from Monday onwards, the company said.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Philips, Smile Foundation launch Skill India programmes

Aligning the partnership with the government of India’s Skill India programme, both the partners have embarked on three programmes: Empowering Women, Skilling engineering students and Skill acquisition for support staff.
“Through the Skill India campaign, we would like to touch lives of more people by creating platforms for skilling themselves and getting employable,” said PIC chief executive M.R. Srinivas.
Under the Empowering Women programme, more than 250 women will be trained annually from urban slums at Smile Twin e-Learning Program (STeP) centres in Bengaluru and Delhi in basic finance, retail management, communication and other necessary skills.
“Smile saw an opportunity in the retail boom in India in 2006 and started STeP. The training has enabled several women to find jobs in F&B outlets like Pizza Hut, Coffee Day and Dominoes and Pantaloons, Westside, PVR, Big Bazaar and others,” said Vikram Singh Verma, COO, Smile Foundation.
Women centric STeP targets prospective candidates in the age group of 18-25 who dropped out of school, junior college and sometimes even graduates without the requisite skills needed for employment.
“An entrance exam is conducted to assess the candidates abilities and at what level they are to ascertain their training needs,” said Verma.
He added that nearly 20,000 women were trained since the STeP programme was started, employing about 16,000 with an average monthly salary of Rs.12,000.
PIC employees will visit engineering colleges on a voluntary basis under the Skilling engineering students programme to impart knowledge on big data analytics, digital healthcare and technical training with an aim to bridge the industry – academia employability gap.
And in the Skill acquisition for support staff programme, PIC support staff at its facilities will receive soft skills training along with additional skills to enable them to earn extra income.
PIC, manned by 3,000 employees in Bengaluru, develops innovative products and solutions at a global level while Smile Foundation founded in 2002 works with the underprivileged communities for their upliftment with grassroots level initiatives.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Godrej Properties raises $275 mn under fund management entity

The GFM has raised the capital along with Dutch pension fund asset manager APG Asset Management (APG) as the lead investor, the company informed the BSE in a regulatory filing.
“The new GRIP II platform in partnership with APG will help us attract high quality long-term equity investors to partner with us in our developments across India. This fits well with our strategy of deepening our presence across the country’s leading real estate markets while maintaining a capital light development strategy,” said Godrej Properties MD and CEO Pirojsha Godrej.
The GFM will advise GRIP II investors on investments into a residential development platform with GPL in India. GRIP II is a follow on to the $200 million residential development platform GPL had set up with an APG led investor consortium in 2012.
“In spite of a general slowdown in the asset class in the country over the last 3 years, our partnership projects have sold well, which is a testament to our partner’s execution capability and brand strength. We look forward to deepening the collaboration between our groups and supporting Godrej Fund Management,” said Sachin Doshi, managing director and head of private real estate investments, Asia Pacific at APG.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

PTC India extends Rs.1,100crore loans to power sector

“PTC India Financial Services Ltd. has sanctioned loans aggregating about Rs.1,100crore for providing financial assistance to power/infrastructure sector in India,” the company said in a stock exchange filing.
The loans include four projects for renewable sector and two for transmission of power.
“The company continues to expand and reinforce its presence in financing of clean energy projects and other emerging areas of power sector. This shall help consolidate PFS’ position as a leading institution financing renewable energy projects in India,” PFS chief executive Ashok Haldia said in the statement.
Last year, the International Finance Corp (IFC), the private financing arm of the World Bank, subscribed to $35 million worth of 10-year non-convertible debentures issued by PFS to boost long-term financing for renewable energy projects in India.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Apple launches cheaper 4-inch iPhone SE, 9.7-inch iPad Pro

The 64 GB version of the phone will come at $499 while the 16 GB model will cost you $399.
As powerful as iPhone 6S, the device will have a 64-bit A9 processor and M9 motion co-processor.
It will be available in sleek rose gold colour, the company announced during its special “spring lineup” at the packed auditorium at its Cupertino, California-based headquarters.
The iPhone SE will be available in 100 countries including India by the end of May and will go on full sale on March 31.
Apple also launched a new 9.7-inch iPad Pro which is touted as 40 percent less reflective than an iPad Air 2.
An ultimate “PC replacement”, iPad Pro can shoot 4K video, has a 5MP FaceTime camera and retina flash, The Verge reported.
The company also unveiled a new iOS 9.3 operating system. It includes a night mode that reduces blue light.
The company also dropped the price of it wearable watch to $299 (Rs.19,295).
Last year, Apple sold 30 million 4-inch iPhones.
Earlier during the event, Apple CEO Tim Cook, referring to the ongoing battle with the US government over encryption to unlock an iPhone used by an attacker in a mass shooting in San Bernadino last year, reiterated the company’s commitment to protect its users’ data and privacy.
“We have a responsibility to help you protect your data and your privacy. We will not shrink from this responsibility,” Cook told the gathering, taking a dig at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“We built the iPhone for you, our customers, and for many of us it is a deeply personal device,” he added.
The company also revealed that it fully runs on renewable energy in 23 countries.
According to the Telegraph live coverage, Apple has built a machine called Liam that can deconstruct an iPhone into its components to recover high quality materials and reintroduce them into the supply chain.
“For example, the silver from the motherboard can be used in solar panels. Eventually, Apple wants to recycle the parts into new iPhones,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, said at the event.
“Take your old product into an Apple store or visit its website and post it to the company,” she added.
Apple is expected to appear in a federal court in California on March 22 to fight the order and has accused the US Department of Justice of trying to “smear” the company with “desperate” and “unsubstantiated” claims.
The US government has been fighting Apple over access to information on the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino killers, Rizwan Farook, in December.
Apple says the demands violate the company’s rights and has argued that the government is asking for a “back door” that could be exploited by the government and criminals.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Misleading ads: Consumer affairs department, industry bodies to team up

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard will be signed on Tuesday in the presence of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, official sources said on Monday.
Industry associations Assocham, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry will enter into a partnership on consumer advocacy, sources said.
The MoU will broadly cover the collaborative programmes on developing and implementing a self-regulated code of fair business practices, establishing a consumer affairs division within the industry body.
The move will ensure partnering with the the National Consumer Helpline and state consumer helplines for grievance redressal among other things.
A Joint Working Group will monitor the implementation of agenda, sources said.
The consumer affairs department will also celebrate the World Consumer Rights Day 2016 on Tuesday.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

India lags in social progress and tolerance

Despite its great significance, this measure of growth is unable to capture many aspects of life that are essential for the general well-being of the people. A high rate of growth for an economy may not necessarily relate to the societal progress, which could be indicated by factors such as access to clean drinking water and sanitation, availability of affordable housing, access to basic or higher education, health and wellness, level of crime, property rights, environmental quality and the like.
To account for such dimensions of wellbeing, the Human Development Index (HDI) was developed about 25 years ago and since then has been published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The index incorporates three key dimensions of human development – life expectancy, years of schooling and a decent standard of living measured by Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. One of the shortcomings of using this index as a measure of social progress is that it doesn’t include all the aspects of human well-being. Moreover, by incorporating income, it is unable to unveil any impact that societal progress may have on economic growth and vice versa.
Several other indices have been developed to measure well-being, for instance, Gross National Happiness, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Your Better Life Index and the Legatum Prosperity Index. However, none of these indices captures social progress comprehensively and thus it is important to design a more holistic measure of well-being.
In 2013, a Social Progress Index (SPI) was launched by the Social Progress Imperative (SPI), a nonprofit organisation, based in Washington. Its methodology was developed by Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School along with a few other advisory board members of the SPI. Its conceptual framework is based on the seminal work of Amartya Sen on the role of capabilities and on the role of institutions in economic and social performance.
The index has so far been the most comprehensive way of measuring a country’s social progress and is also independent of any economic indicator, thus giving an opportunity to examine the relationship between social progress and economic growth.
Social progress has been defined as the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential.
Thus, the social progress index has three dimensions – basic human needs (nutrition and basic medical care, air, water and sanitation, shelter and personal safety), foundations of well-being (access to basic knowledge, access to information and communication, health and wellness, and ecosystem sustainability) and opportunity (personal rights, access to higher education, personal freedom and inclusion).
The 2015 Social Progress Index for the world which includes 133 countries with complete data and 28 countries with partial data scores 61 on a scale of 100. While the world performs best in terms of nutrition and basic medical care (87.47) and water and sanitation (68.57) in basic human needs, access to advanced education (46.24), personal rights (43.10) and tolerance and inclusion (42.36) remain the areas of concern.
Top three countries in terms of social progress are Norway (88.36), Sweden (88.06) and Switzerland (87.97). The US has been ranked 16 on social progress despite of its higher per capita GDP than most of the higher social progress countries. This is due to its weak performance in ecosystem sustainability and health and wellness.
Similarly, countries such as the UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia have been ranked low on social progress compared to their level of economic progress.
India has been ranked 101 with a low score of 53.06. It faces challenges in all the aspects of social progress except for nutrition and basic medical care and access to basic knowledge. One of the areas where India is severely lagging is tolerance and inclusion, which is driven by culture, norms and policies. Thus, for lower middle income countries like India, economic prosperity alongside institutional changes could bring about greater social progress and thereby, inclusive growth.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Karbonn Quattro L50 HD 4G: Seamless 4G experience coming your way

Domestic handset maker Karbonn Mobiles launched the device in January for Rs.7,990 and then updated its user interface to Kandy to offer a customised 4G experience for its users.
What works for the phone?
The looks. A soft plastic body and coffee colour makes the smartphone look stunning. A golden metallic finish frame outlines the in-demand 5-inch high definition IPS full lamination display that comes with a resolution of 720 pixels by 1280 pixels.
The right bumper has the lock button and the left one has the volume buttons. However, the device lacks an integrated camera button.
The device is powered by a 1.3GHz Quad core processor and 2GB RAM, making it run applications without any delay. It offers reasonable performance — not too fast and not too slow.
The 16GB internal memory (9.5GB for users) offers ample space for apps. The dual-SIM phone also has a memory card (32GB) slot. The Quattro L50 offers fast and snag-free net browsing and app navigation experience with 4G/LTE support with talk time of over four hours on 4G.
The 2,600mAhz battery lasts for almost a day with normal usage including “data on” for nearly 10 hours and two hours of video playback.
The 13-megapixel autofocus rear camera with flash has a f/2 aperture and PDAF sensor and it kind of auto-corrects the photo before user clicks it. Good performance in low-light conditions.
The 5-megapixel front camera works quite good and captures movement impressively. For example, I took a photo while revolving on a chair. The background was captured in motion-blurred effect but the subject (me) was clear.
It also has a manual camera mode and comes pre-loaded with beauty, night shot, sport, panorama modes and nine filters.
The lightweight smartphone has Kandy — Karbonn’s UI that is specially developed to bring user friendly, stable and secure 4G experience to customers on Quattro L50 HD.
Kandy runs on Android 5.1 lollipop and has cut down multiple menus offering an integrated PCM wherein users can access the dialer, contacts, logs and messages within a single menu with one swipe.
With Quattro’s Kandy UI, users can also customise the entire look and feel of the device by choosing from a diverse range of themes, icons and colours to reflect their personal style and preference.
What I found most interesting on the phone was the “smart somatosensory” feature.
It has a “smart answer” for receiving an incoming call by placing phone on ear; a “smart call” that automatically calls a contact (when open) when near the ear; “flip silent” to put the phone in silent mode by just flipping and “prevent misoperation” option to prevent misoperation while phone is in pocket.
The sound from the speaker was clear and I did not experience heating of the smartphone.
Apart from a number of pre-installed apps such as Saavn, Flipkart, Clean Master and Snapdeal, it is loaded with games like Spiderman and Asphalt Nitro.
What doesn’t work?
Customers looking for an original Android platform in a low-cost phones may skip this device; even the Kandy UI makes the phone quite simple to operate.
Photo processing could have been better. The device takes a few seconds to complete the processing. An integrated camera button could have been a good addition.
Verdict: At this price, a very good deal. The device is not for high-end games but can run average graphic games smoothly. I rate this as one of the best “Made in India” smartphones in the low-cost price category.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Notification on tea estates’ take over issued

All the six gardens are located in West Bengal. The notice issued on Monday said the EoI were invited for taking over management of six tea estates individually from interested tea companies-firms/ cooperative societies to “run the gardens in a successful manner as per the provisions of various acts and rules applicable to the tea plantations”.
The notice solicited proposals for taking over the management of the six tea estates “who have failed to comply with the obligations under the Tea Act, 1953 as also the relevant provisions in terms of timely payment of workers dues regarding provident fund, gratuity, ration and other fringe benefits/obligatory dues”.
The Board would also host a bidders’ meeting on March 28 and the last date of submission of EoI is April 12. The Board will open all the responses on the same day.
“The initial tenure of the management control shall be five years which may be extended as per provisions of Tea Act, 1953. At no point of time the management control of the tea estates shall exceed 11 years,” the notice said.
As a pre-qualification criteria, the notice said the annual turnover of the applicant should not be less than Rs.5 crore and the applicant should have sufficient working capital of not less than Rs.2 crore.
The applicant should have experience of not less than ten years in running or managing tea estates having not less than 500 workers for individual gardens, it said.
When contacted, company non-executive chairman G.P Goenka said: “I don’t know and I have no idea. I am in Mumbai.”
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Sony introduces new range of professional laser projectors

The projectors aim to cater to professional users who require higher level of brightness and resolution, with enhanced versatility and affordability for business, academic, large venue or entertainment use, the statement added.
The new products include three 3LCD laser models (VPL-FHZ65, VPL-FHZ60 and VPL-FHZ57).
The new laser models deliver brightness of 6,000 lumens (VPL-FHZ65), 5,000 lumens (VPL-FHZ60) and 4,100 lumens (VPL-FHZ57). The other two are lamp models.
The new laser models are designed to deliver enhanced picture quality with new features such as “reality creation” and “contrast enhancer,” both technologies already in use by Sony’s home theatre projection systems for high-end consumer entertainment, the statement added.
The new projectors also offer colour space adjustment and colour correction features for more accurate colour reproduction. A laser light source means there is no lamp that needs to slowly warm up or cool down, no lamp to limit tilt angle and no compromise between high brightness and high resolution.
Smartly designed, the new laser models’ “quick turn on/off” requires only approximately seven seconds for the brightness to ramp up after turning on, the statement said.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Start-up funding being explored for oil, gas sector

“PSUs (public sector undertakings), in consultations with the petroleum ministry, are planning the creation of a start-up fund for the oil and gas industry,” Pradhan said at the Indian Oil Corp’s second gas conclave here.
Making the case for start-ups in the hydrocarbons sector, he cited the example of the telecom sector and of industrialists like Ratan Tata who are investing in new enterprises.
Speaking to reporters later, Pradhan said the time had come to change the marketing strategy from liquid fuels to gas and encourage new business models in the sector to promote innovation and create infrastructure.
“PSUs are working on setting up a venture capital fund to encourage start-ups to develop new business models, marketing plan, technology and innovation into hydrocarbons. They should invest and join as partners for start-ups,” he said.
“Indian intellectual capacity is contributing immensely to the global oil and gas economy. We would like the Indian energy market too to benefit from that capacity.
“Any start-up needing hand-holding can seek support from the fund. Public sector companies will independently evaluate the commercial viability of the project and take a decision on their equity participation,” he added.
Pradhan said his ministry has advised public sector oil and gas companies to create a corpus that would be utilised to invest in new businesses with an innovative business model and bring efficiency.
Declaring that use of natural gas would contribute towards half of realising the target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of reducing oil imports by 10 percent by 2022, Pradhan said replacing oil by gas in this manner would contribute much towards India meeting its carbon emission commitments under COP 21.
“Gas is the future of the Indian economy,” he said, noting that in a state like Gujarat, which has been focusing on renewable energy, gas accounts for a quarter of the state’s energy basket.
“Small industry in Gujarat is supplied with domestic gas. We want to enhance our alternative energy basket, and it won’t take much time for the gas market and prices to stabilise,” he added.
In this connection, Pradhan informed the audience that the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board will on Wednesday open the bids received for building a new gas pipeline on the east coast running from Contai in West Bengal via Dattapulia to Paradip on Odisha’s coast.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Modi wants monitoring of loans given to self-help groups

Three crore households have so far been linked to SHGs under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana that targets poverty alleviation through sustainable livelihood, NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog officials told the prime minister.
“He asked for due monitoring of the loans given to SHGs, using Aadhaar. He emphasised that loans must reach the intended beneficiaries, for this scheme to be successful,” an official said.
The NITI Aayog officials on Monday gave a presentation to the prime minister on the progress of the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana and the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
Official figures indicate that an average of 91 km of rural roads have been built daily in the financial year 2015-16, resulting in addition of 30,500 km to rural road length. As a result, 6,500 habitations were connected.
“The prime minister was told about the use of innovative best practices in the PMGSY, including the use of geographic information system and space imagery for planning and monitoring, as well as citizen grievance redressal through app ‘Meri Sadak’,” the official said.
“The prime minister has directed for stringent quality monitoring of the roads built under the scheme. He said quality checks should be made at the material procurement, construction and maintenance stages,” he added.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business

Edelweiss to acquire JP Morgan’s Indian assets

“Given the complementary business advantages and the significant business that JPMAM has built, this acquisition is a natural win for both Edelweiss and JP Morgan,” said Edelweiss Group chief executive Rashesh Shah in a statement about the deal which is subject to regulatory approvals.
JPMAM’s assets under management (AUM) stand at Rs.7,081crore while the combined valued of JP Morgan and Edelweiss AUM amount to Rs.8,757 crore.
According to the statement, the acquisition will further bolster Edelweiss Group’s Rs.31,000crore global asset management businesses.
To ensure business continuity and further growth, EAML has expressed its commitment to absorb majority of JPMAM’s employees.
Source : IndianMediaBook - Business