Domestic freight availability on the road to recovery
While larger road freight operators have already witnessed a 10% growth in freight availability over September 2008, the road logistics segment is expected to witness a positive change in domestic freight availability in the coming months.
 
The commercial vehicle segment was showing a negative demand from October 2008 to June 2009. “The commercial vehicle demand has also witnessed a positive increase on a year-on-year basis from the month of August 2009. With an improvement in the supply side information and in the demand side information, we see a positive change in the freight availability,” said Manoj Mohta, Head, CRISIL Research.
 
While, the capacity utilisation for road operators till September 2008 was as high as 70% -75%, it fell to around 50%-55% between September 2008 to April 2009. “At present, there is a sense of improvement, with the freight availability already improved to 60%-65%, an improvement of 5%-10%, in case of the larger operators. There is a sense of recovery in the domestic demand. However, those operators who are focused on the exim side still face a pressure,” he added.
 
As per CRISIL officials, a positive change has already been witnessed in the spot rates. “The spot rates are indicating an upturn, in some cases the spot rates are higher than the contractual rates,” informed Mr Mohta.
 
 

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Neptune Group to invest Rs10 billion in new office complex
 
Mumbai-based realty company Neptune Group has said that it would invest about Rs10 billion in its upcoming office complex spread over two million sq ft at Kurla, a Mumbai suburb.
 
“Neptune has bought about 17 acres from KEC International Ltd and we will commence the project in the next three months,” said Nayan Bheda, chairman and managing director, Neptune Group.
 
Neptune Group is a Mumbai-based property developer. Its latest project will be one of the city’s largest high-end commercial office complexes.
 
According to Bheda, the firm has roped in renowned architects Foster and Partners of London to design the project. The unique feature of the building is that it is a green building and daylight will be available at each and every corner of the structure, he added. The building will be a multi-rise facility, varying from three floors to seven floors.
 
Foster and Partners have designed a number of major projects around the world, including the London City Hall, the Hong Kong International Airport and the Beijing Capital International Airport.
 
This high-end office space will be leased out to multinational companies and other corporates. The average lease/rent will be Rs 200 per sq ft. According to market sources, the company is also likely to raise money from the capital markets.
 
Among the Neptune Group’s other projects, the Neptune Magnet mall at Bhandup in Mumbai covering one million sq ft will be operational in six months. The group’s proposed IT Park in Thane will be operational within three months.
 

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India Post to offer core banking services by 2011
 
From just delivering letters and money orders to offering small saving schemes like National Savings Certificate (NSC), Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) and monthly income schemes (MIS), India Post is gearing up to get additional business. The postal department will start offering core banking solutions across all 500 head post offices by 2011.
 
Mumbai-based NV Sutar, assistant post master general (savings bank) said, “The government has issued directives to the Department of Posts to implement core banking facilities in every post office in the country. The implementation of core banking facilities will be carried out in three phases across all head post offices.”
 
“With this, the customers investing in small savings schemes would be able to access their accounts from any place and branch. All post offices will be interlinked through a central server and we are processing the scanned data and signature verification on a war footing,” Sutar added.
 
There are over 200 million savings accounts across all the post offices in India. The core banking service will enable people living in far-flung places get access to banking services anywhere through these post offices, he said.
 
Till now small saving deposit schemes of post offices were restricted to the welfare programme of the government. Now the Indian postal department is also looking at offering insurance in rural areas. It also plans to offer debit cards to its account holders. So far the postal department has distributed the debit cards in some parts of the country which would be extended to other post offices by end of next fiscal, Sutar said.
-Vidyut Kumar Ta  [email protected]
 

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