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News that you may have missed this fortnight

It is the right time to completely deregulate fuel prices and limit petroleum subsidies to targeted users of kerosene.

The Coming Up government has more than doubled the import duty on gold ore bars and ores and increased the tax on refined gold. The Coming Up government has more than doubled the import duty on gold ore bars and ores and increased the tax on refined gold.
Going for gold: The Coming Up government has more than doubled the import duty on gold ore bars and ores and increased the tax on refined gold. The hike is aimed at curbing demand and reining in the record current account deficit. India's gold imports total about 800 tonnes a year. With an estimated 10 million weddings in the country every year, gold prices are likely to stay bullish.

Anand Sharma
The Coming Up government has more than doubled the import duty on gold ore bars and ores and increased the tax on refined gold.
CORPORATE
The ripple effects of approval for foreign investment in multibrand retail are still being felt. The Foreign Investment Promotion Board has cleared Swedish furniture maker IKEA's revised proposal, which will allow it to set up retail stores with cafes and also sell more products. However, the Supreme Court dampened things by seeking the government's response on safeguards in place to protect small traders. Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said that "all institutions should respect the constitutional demarcation between the executive, legislature and judiciary".

  • Lenders of Suzlon Energy, led by State Bank of India, have approved its proposal to recast Rs 9,500 crore of debt. They have given the Tulsi Tanti-promoted wind turbine maker a two-year moratorium on principal and term-debt interest payments. They have also approved a fresh working capital loan of Rs 1,800 crore.
  • Get ready to shell out more on your mobile phone bills. Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular have increased their call tariffs by nearly 100 per cent. Other operators may follow suit. While Bharti Airtel has doubled call rates to Rs 2 per minute, Idea has hiked rates from 1.2 paise per second to two paise per second.

Tata Motors is wooing Indian buyers in a big way. The company has started assembling the Jaguar XF at its new facility in Chakan, near Pune, to take on the BMW 5 series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Until now, the Jaguar XF was imported from the UK. This will be the second Jaguar Land Rover model to be assembled in India.

Azim Premji
Azim Premji
Wipro Chairman Azim Premji has voiced his support for higher taxes on India's super rich. Also see: businesstoday.in/rich-tax and businesstoday.in/datar-tax.

  • When it comes to expectations of an improvement in the global economy this year and revenue prospects of their own businesses in the longer term, Indian CEOs are optimistic, according to the latest annual global CEO survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a consultancy. The CEO confidence level is also very high in India in terms of hiring people for their companies.
  • Apple Inc, the world's largest technology company, missed Wall Street's revenue forecast for the third straight quarter after iPhone sales came in below expectations. Analysts fear that the company's dominance of the mobile industry is slipping. LG, a major supplier for Apple products, has been hit by the fall in demand.

ECONOMY
With the 2013/14 Budget around the corner, analysts are keeping tabs on what global ratings agencies have to say on the Indian economy. Moody's Investors Service has retained its "stable" outlook on India's sovereign rating, citing potential for growth, a robust domestic savings rate and a dynamic private sector. Moody's has cautioned that the high fiscal deficit could pull down growth in coming years. Standard & Poor's says India has a more than 50 per cent chance of a negative outlook getting confirmed.

For those monitoring corruption in public life, there is never a dull day. The latest politician set to join VIPs in Tihar Jail is former Haryana Chief Minister and Indian National Lok Dal leader Om Prakash Chautala.

Anyone taking up employment in the formal sector from March will have to get a unique ID before being able to enrol with the Employees' Provident Fund . The EPFO will rely on the Aadhaar card to issue individual account numbers to its members, independent of employers.

Emerging economies will lead growth in 2013 as the global economic outlook remains hamstrung by the Eurozone debt crisis and high unemployment in the US, according to Grant Thornton's International Business Report. Growth rates across Europe look weak over the next 12 months, with an expected expansion of 0.2 per cent in the Eurozone and 1.1 per cent in the UK.

Rs 2 trillion Loans restructured by Indian banks through the corporate debt restructuring route in December 2012. Ratings agencies are keeping a close eye on how Indian companies cope with the high cost of money and project delays.

55,716 The total number of employees hired by IT giants such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro and HCL Technologies in 2012, as compared to 108,117 in the previous year. As for attrition rates at tech companies, they are around five to 10 per cent lower than they were two to three years ago. Between 2008 and 2013, India's $100-billion IT industry has grown at nearly 14 per cent.

MARKETS
Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows declined to a nearly two-year low of $1.05 billion in November 2012, mainly due to global economic uncertainties. In November 2011, the country had attracted FDI worth $2.53 billion. Sectors that received large FDI inflows during the eight months of the current fiscal include services ($3.63 billion) and hotels and tourism ($3.13 billion). India received the maximum FDI from Mauritius ($7.2 billion).

Research firm CNI Research says a whopping Rs 61,000 crore of investor money is blocked due to suspension of companies for various reasons on bourses. Between 1992 and 2009, around 1,450 companies were suspended.
 
RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao
RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao
Coming Up
With inflation coming down, all eyes are on RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao. Expectations of a rate cut in the RBI's quarterly monetary policy review on January 29 are high. But Subbarao has cautioned that prices of consumer products and manufactured items are still rising.

The first of Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's global roadshows to woo investors took place in Hong Kong in January. Next stop: Frankfurt in Germany, and London at the end of the month.