Govt may provide duty sops to domestic power equipment cos

The problem of domestic manufacturers, including BHEL and L&T, is accentuated by 14% cost advantage due to zero-duty imports


The government may consider duty concessions on power equipment to create a greater level playing field for domestic manufacturers who have been hit hard by cheap Chinese imports at zero duty, reports PTI.


An empowered government committee would meet by the month end to examine the option of duty concessions to domestic power equipment manufacturers, sources in the know said.The problem of domestic manufacturers, including BHEL and Larsen and Toubro (L&T), is accentuated by 14% cost advantage due to nil duty imports.


BHEL has been demanding imposition of anti-dumping duty on Chinese equipment.According to sources, pressure is building on the government to act fast to safeguard the interests of the Indian industry, especially with respect to Chinese equipment suppliers who have a clear 14% advantage over domestic manufacturers.


Over and above this clear 14% advantage, Chinese companies also fare better price-wise due to a grossly undervalued yuan.While considering a note submitted by the ministry of power (MoP) on modifications to the Mega Power Policy, the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) in August 2009 had decided that a committee be set up under the Planning Commission, with the Department of Heavy Industry (DHI), MoP and the Department of Revenue (DoR) as members, to suggest options and modalities to take care of the disadvantages suffered by the domestic power sector firms.


However, the power ministry is of the view that any such options cannot be implemented before the start of the next Plan period (April, 2012), as the orders for equipment during the current Plan period (2007-12) have already been placed and these modalities may hamper the capacity addition programme.


The power ministry says that in case measures to create a more level playing field for domestic manufacturers are not immediately notified, not only will the disadvantages faced by domestic manufacturers be perpetuated, but the development of domestic manufacturing capacities would also be seriously impeded, and new investors may withdraw further investments.


One of the recommendations made by the CoS in its report of February 2010 is that the extent of disadvantage that needs to be bridged is about 14% and that this can be achieved by a 10% customs duty and 4% Special Additional Duty (SAD).



Art attack: International art fund managers shy away from Indian market

The Fine Art Fund Group, which invests in art on a global scale, says that the Indian art market still needs to stabilise from the speculative prices witnessed during 2007-08

The global economy is returning to normalcy and is showing signs of recovery. Investors are now showing interest in the global art market. However, according to international art fund managers, the Indian art market still needs to stabilise from the speculative prices witnessed during 2007-08.

Philip Hoffman, CEO and founder of the Fine Art Fund Group, believes that the Indian art market has gone through a lot of speculation and needs to stabilise further. “We believe that this market saw a great deal of speculative purchasing in 2007-2008 and we would like to see the market stabilise before we enter for investment purposes. Nevertheless, we do believe that there are excellent works of modern and contemporary Indian artists that will come up for sale, both privately and at auctions and we will be closely following this market.”

The UK-based Fine Art Fund Group is one among the few asset managers who are active in the art market arena, offering access to a wide range of sectors in the global art market.

After launching funds for the Chinese and the Middle East art markets, the group had planned an Indian fund launch.

During 2007-2008, when the Indian art market was enjoying a golden period, there were speculations that the Fine Art Fund Group was planning an Indian fund. However, since then, the company has held back its plans to enter the Indian art market.

What held back this group from entering the Indian market? “In light of the changes in the market in general and in the Indian art market specifically, we decided to postpone the launch of the Indian Fine Art Fund for the present until we receive further significant interest from investors,” said Mr Hoffman.

While the group is still wary about launching an India-based fund, it has performed well in its existing global funds. The group’s first fund named ‘Fine Art Fund I’ reached the end of the designated investment period and the first cash distribution to investors was made in the final quarter of 2009. The Fine Art Fund was the first fund of its type to invest in art as a worldwide asset class and continues to be the only one to do so on this scale.

The company claims an average annualised return on assets sold at 34% and cash-on-cash returns at 55.88% on this first fund. The group has also stated that the fund is well-guarded against the current instability in the art market as it will no longer be purchasing artworks, but will be divesting all holdings over the next four to nine years. “Given the luxury of this extended time-frame, we are in a very strong position to wait until all areas of the market have stabilised, in order to maximise our intended returns,” says one of the company’s releases.

The second fund named the ‘Fine Art Fund II’ was launched in July 2006.The minimum investment was $250,000 in this 10-year close-ended fund, with a target return of over 10%, with capital returns after the fourth year. According to company officials, this fund had its final close in December 2008 and currently has an average annualised return on assets sold of 29%. The key factors of both these funds have been a diverse portfolio across five segments and a long period.

The fund’s portfolio construction has been in a diverse pattern with 30% to 35% in old masters; 10% to 20% in impressionists; 15% to 20% in modern art; 30% to 40% in contemporary art (1960- 1985) and 5% to 10% in contemporary art (1985- 2010).


Food inflation rises to 16.44% on higher prices of fruits, vegetables

The fuel price index rose 12.33% from the previous week's annual rise of 12.69%

Food inflation rose to 16.44% for the week ended May 1, mainly due to high prices of fruits and vegetables, reports PTI.

Inflation rose by 0.40% from 16.04% in the previous week.On a weekly basis, potato turned expensive by 5.95%, tea by 5%, fruits and vegetables by 2% while urad, arhar, masur, condiments and spices by 1% each.

On an annual basis, pulses turned costlier by 32.49% and fruits by 15.51%.

Food inflation had crossed 20% in December last year.Among non-food articles, sugarcane prices rose by 50% during the reporting week, while raw cotton prices rose by 2%.

The food price index rose 16.44% in the year to May 1, while the fuel price index rose 12.33%, according to government data released on Thursday.

The latest fuel prices compared with the previous week's annual rise of 12.69%.

The primary articles index was up 16.76% in the 12 months to May 1, compared with the previous week's annual reading of 13.93%.


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