India still top destination for offshore outsourcing

Bangalore: India is still the world’s favourite destination for offshore outsourcing, but attractive cost structures in the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia and the rapid growth of the business in China are posing tough competition, reports PTI quoting a new study by Gartner Inc.

In the study, the IT research and advisory firm identified the top 30 countries around the world for globally sourced activities in 2010-11, rating them on the basis of 10 criteria.

Many organisations that choose to move IT services to lower-cost countries are daunted by the task of determining which country, or countries, would best suit their requirement. Gartner conducted an analysis of these countries to assess their capabilities and potential as offshore services locations, it said.

India retained its position as the most successful country among global offshore locations, as per the Gartner study. It scored well across all 10 criteria. While its cost-competitiveness is being challenged due to the rising rupee, this is compensated by its strength in other areas, as per Gartner's study.

“Clients continue to seek a portfolio of offshore countries and with India again experiencing increasing labour costs and attrition, this is creating opportunities for other offshore locations to target the services needs of more-mature Asian clients,” said Gartner Research vice-president Ian Marriott.

China improved its scores for “political and economic environment” from “good” to “very good”, and “culture compatibility” from “fair” to “good”.

Contributing to the increased rating for China is its rising global political and economic leverage, especially in the wake of the recent global economic crisis.

China experienced a steady positive growth rate, spurred by a $583.9 billion stimulus package, in 2009. The Shanghai 2010 World Expo has helped increase cultural awareness within China, which has helped the growth of the business in the country, according to the study.

Gartner’s scores for the Philippines remain largely unchanged, although its rating for “global and legal maturity” fell from “good” to “fair”.

Gartner continues to see foreign companies being attracted to the Philippine's young, experienced labour pool specialising in contact centres and finance and accounting (F&A) business process outsourcing (BPO), complemented by its good language and cultural compatibility with western economies.

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Personal finance Tuesday

Dhanlaxmi Bank ties up with Doha Bank for remittance services; Kotak Mahindra MF to convert Indo World Infrastructure Fund into open-ended scheme; Fidelity MF declares dividend under Tax Advantage Fund

Dhanlaxmi Bank ties up with Doha Bank for remittance services

Dhanlaxmi Bank has signed an agreement with Doha Bank, in Qatar for online remittance of funds.

Using this service, non-resident Indians (NRIs) customers will be able to transfer money from any of Doha Bank’s branches in Qatar or via its internet banking platform to designated beneficiaries accounts in any of Dhanlaxmi Bank’s 274 branches in India. NRIs will also be able to remit funds to beneficiaries having accounts with any other bank through NEFT/RTGS network in India.

With this arrangement, Dhanlaxmi Bank now expands its footprint in Qatar.The Bank has existing remittance arrangements with nine exchange houses spread across United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Oman.

Kotak Mahindra MF to convert Indo World Infrastructure Fund into open-ended scheme 
 
Kotak Mahindra Mutual Fund has declared the conversion of its scheme–Kotak Indo World Infrastructure Fund, a three year close-ended equity scheme into an open-ended equity scheme, with effect from 27 January 2011. There will be no changes in the fundamental features of the scheme except that the scheme will be converted from close-ended to open-ended scheme. The scheme will charge an exit load of 1% if exited within one year from the date of allotment of units. No exit load will be applicable after one year. The unitholders of the scheme who don’t want to convert their scheme into an open-ended scheme may redeem their units at applicable NAV or switch to other open-ended schemes of Kotak Mahindra Mutual Fund without paying any exit load between 25 December 2010 and 25 January 2011.

Fidelity MF declares dividend under Tax Advantage Fund

Fidelity Mutual Fund has declared dividend under its scheme–Fidelity Tax Advantage Fund. The quantum of dividend decided for distribution under the scheme is Rs1.50 per unit. The record date for distribution of dividend is 21 December 2010. Fidelity Tax Advantage Fund is an open-ended ELSS scheme. The investment objective of the fund is to generate long-term capital growth from a diversified portfolio of predominantly equity and equity-related securities.

The scheme is benchmarked against BSE-200 Index and is managed by Sandeep Kothari.

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Plan Panel to set ambitious growth targets for 12th Plan

New Delhi: If this year's preparations on India’s next Five-Year Plan (2012-17) provide any indication, the Planning Commission is likely to set ambitious targets for economic growth and infrastructure development for the period, reports PTI.

Clouded by the global economic meltdown that began in 2008, the current Plan (2007-12) needed a lot of scaling down of the targets and the mid-term review was quite straight about it.

Against this backdrop, the Plan panel kicked off the process of formulating the 12th Five-Year Plan, which may eventually see the official think-tank pegging the annual growth rate at 10%, up from 8.1% in the current Plan.

The Planning Commission started the process of preparing the Approach Paper in the second quarter this fiscal and it is expected to be ready by March 2011.

It is the key document on the basis of which the detailed Five-Year Plan is worked out. The 12th Plan will commence on 1 April 2012.

Unlike earlier years, this time the panel is seeking inputs from individuals as well—besides heavy-weight stakeholders—to make the process of Plan formulation more inclusive, for which it has set up a special website.

Before launching the preparatory work for the next Plan, the Commission came out in March with a Mid-Term Appraisal (MTA) of the 11th Plan.

The review took note of the impact of the global financial meltdown on the Indian economy and also the projections for growth. It scaled down the growth estimate from 9% to 8.1%.

The review was considered and approved by the National Development Council (NDC)—the highest policy making body in the country—headed by the prime minister and comprising key Union ministers and state chief ministers.

“The average rate of growth in the Plan period could be a little over 8% (8.1%). This would be below the original plan target of an average of 9% growth...

But it would be better than the 7.8% achieved in the Tenth Plan period,” the Commission said in the MTA.

It said the economy will expand by 8.5% in 2010-11 and rise to 9% in the terminal year of the 11th Plan.

It had set an average annual growth target of 9% for the 11th Plan—beginning with 8.5% in the first year and closing with 10% in 2011-12.

The MTA document said the economy exceeded expectations in 2007-08, with a growth rate of 9%, but the momentum was interrupted in 2008-09 because of the global financial crisis.

Following the global meltdown, the growth rate slipped to 6.7% in 2008-09 from over 9% in the preceding three years.

For the following year, the growth rate was pegged at 7.2%, despite poor contribution from the farm sector that was projected to shrink by 0.2%, the MTA said.

However, according to government data released later in May, the economy grew by 7.4% in 2009-10.

Buoyed by the recovery since the last meeting of the full Planning Commission on 1 September 2009, the document said, “The economy would be well-positioned for transition to a growth rate higher than 9% in the Twelfth Plan period.”

For achieving a high growth rate, the Commission suggested that the government focus on fiscal consolidation and maintaining an investor-supportive economic environment.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, too, had said in his budget speech, “The first challenge before us is to quickly revert to the high GDP growth path of 9% and then find the means to cross the double-digit growth barrier.”

The other important indication given by the Commission is its thrust on infrastructure development in the 12th Plan. The Commission, on many occasions, categorically pointed out that double-digit economic growth can only be achieved when investment in infrastructure is doubled.

It reiterated prime minister Manmohan Singh’s stress on the need to double investments in the infrastructure sector during the 12th Plan to $1 trillion from $500 billion in the current Five Year Plan.

“Preliminary exercises suggest that investment in infrastructure will have to expand to $1,000 billion in the 12th Five Year Plan. I urged the finance ministry and the Planning Commission to draw a plan of action for achieving this level of investment,” Mr Singh said in March this year.

In a foreword to a report on investment in infrastructure, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia also said the country needs an investment of over $1 trillion in the infrastructure sector during the next Five Year Plan.

“A preliminary assessment suggests that investment in infrastructure during the 12th Plan would need to be of the order of about Rs40.99 lakh crore ($1,025 billion) to achieve a share of 9.95% as a proportion of the GDP,” Mr Ahluwalia said.

The year gone by also left some stains on the Commission.

Addressing an infrastructure summit organised by the panel in July, road transport and highways minister Kamal Nath termed the Planning Commission an “armchair advisor”, oblivious to the ground realities.

That apart, in August, Left-leaning students of Presidency College hurled eggs and tomatoes at Mr Ahluwalia to protest against price rise as he was leaving a seminar, but missed their target. His wife, Isher Judge Ahluwalia, was also present at the seminar.

“They are students and they have every right to protest,” Mr Ahluwalia said after the incident.

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