Indian pharma industry to gain from proposed GCC-India FTA

R Seetharaman, the Group CEO of Doha Bank, said the signing of a free trade agreement will help Indian pharmaceutical and chemical companies to export their products to the lucrative GCC region, comprising Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE

Dubai: The Indian pharmaceuticals and chemicals industry will be among the biggest beneficiaries of a free trade agreement between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and India, reports PTI quoting a leading banker in the region.

R Seetharaman, the Group CEO of Doha Bank, said Indian pharmaceutical and chemical companies will be able to export their products to the lucrative GCC region, comprising Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Mr Seetharaman was speaking at a session organised as part of the second World Tamil Conference, which was held in Dubai.

“GCC-India trade exceeded $80 billion during the three quarters ending December 2010 and can exceed $100 billion for the year 2010-11. It could exceed $130 billion by 2013-14,” Mr Seetharaman said while moderating a special session, titled, ‘Investment opportunities in India and GCC countries’, at the event.

“There are several potential sectors for investments by Indian entrepreneurs in the GCC, including information technology, telecommunications, education, healthcare services, tourism and the hotel industry, banking and financial services, oil, gas and petrochemicals, electricity, housing, road and rail networks,” he said.

“The GCC investment in India has significantly increased in the last two years and is now estimated at more than $125 billion,” he added.

Union minister of state for personnel, public grievances & pensions and the Prime Minister’s Office V Narayansamy was the special guest on the panel.

The panel members included Andhra Pradesh Department of Industries commissioner R Karikavalan, Tamil Nadu Industrial Guidance and Export Promotion Bureau executive vice-chairman, M Velmurgan, former UNIDO principal advisor to the director general V Jabamalai, Coimbatore-based Bhartiyar University professor and head - department of economics B Muniyandy and Bharatiyar University department of economics professor K Govindrajulu.

During the session, Mr Seetharaman gave his outlook on the Indian economy. He also extended the discussion to the investment trends in India on account of measures announced in the Union Budget, the latest banking regulations and the Indian textiles industry.

Mr Seetharaman also spoke about the recent Budget announcements of Tamil Nadu, the incentives for Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) and trends for FIIs in the Indian insurance industry.

He said: “The Tamil Nadu state Budget has a marginal revenue surplus of Rs173.87 crore for 2011-12 and revenue of Rs85,685 crore.”

On insurance companies, he said: “The big positive for the financial market is that FIIs will be allowed to invest in mutual fund schemes. Insurance IPO guidelines for life insurance companies are underway and foreign investors can also consider tapping these investments.”

He said, “Global pension funds are increasing exposure to the Indian IPO and secondary market. Pension funds of some notable entities such as American Airlines, British Petroleum, IBM and Unilever are registered in India.”


Food inflation eases to 9.32% for week ended 1st October

The fall in food inflation could be attributed to two factors—a moderation in the rate of price rise for some of the items on a week-on-week basis and the ‘high base effect’ in the corresponding year-ago period when it stood at 17.14%

New Delhi: Food inflation declined marginally, but was still high at 9.32% for the week ended 1st October as prices of major kitchen staples continued to pinch consumers’ pockets, reports PTI.

Food inflation, as measured on the basis of the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), stood at 9.41% in the previous week. The rate of price rise in food items stood at 17.14% in the corresponding week of 2010.

The fall in food inflation could be attributed to a moderation in the rate of price rise for some of the items on a week-on-week basis, even though they remained higher on an annual basis.

The fall could also be attributed to the high inflation rate of 17% in the corresponding year-ago period, a phenomenon dubbed the ‘high base effect’ in economic parlance.

As per data released by the government today, vegetable prices shot up by 13.01%, with prices of potatoes rising by 3.79% on an annual basis, during the week under review.

In addition, milk became 10.35% costlier and fruit prices rose by 12.19%. Protein-based items like eggs, meat and fish also became 9.92% more expensive on an annual basis. Cereals turned dearer by 5.41%, rice by 5.86% and pulses by 6.87% annually.

However, onion prices declined by 10.15% on an annual basis and wheat by 0.24%.

Overall, inflation in primary articles was recorded at 10.60% during the week ended 1st October, down from 10.84% in the previous week. Primary articles account for over 20% of wholesale price index inflation.

Inflation in non-food articles, which include fibres, oilseeds and minerals, stood at 9.59% during the week under review, compared to 10.77% in the previous week.


Chola Critical Healthline: Crowded market gets yet another critical-illness plan

Cholamandalam MS General Insurance’s product covers 10-12 critical illnesses, with no medical check-up until 55 years and lifetime renewal. But the premium is on the higher side

Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company has launched its ‘Critical Healthline’ policy, which provides for a lump-sum amount if an insured is diagnosed with any of the specified critical illnesses. The claim will be settled on the basis of critical-illness diagnosis proof and the necessary survival period. It does not require any proof of hospitalisation or treatment. The policy terminates with payment of critical illness benefit. It excludes critical illnesses arising due to pre-existing diseases (PED).

There are a number of such products available from various insurers currently in the market. The main advantage of this product is that no medical check-up is required up to 55 years, and it also comes bundled with lifetime renewal.
But there are a couple of major drawbacks in Cholamandalam’s product.

First, the premium is on the higher side compared to other critical illness products. Second, different survival periods have been specified for policy-benefit eligibility. For cancer of specified severity; a first heart attack; open-chest CABG (coronary artery bypass graft); kidney failure requiring regular dialysis; major organ or bone marrow transplant; surgery of the aorta and primary pulmonary arterial hypertension, the insured needs to survive for 30 days. In case of a stroke (resulting in permanent damage) and motor-neuron disease (with persistent symptoms), survival period has to be 90 days. For multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, survival period is stipulated to be180 days.  

The product offers entry up to 65 years (with no medical check-up until 55 yrs) and a lifetime renewal facility. The ‘standard’ plan covers 10 critical illnesses, and the ‘advanced’ plan covers 12 critical illnesses—plus ambulance charges up to Rs1,000. Customers can choose from the two plan options for a sum insured of up to Rs10 lakh.

Here’s the comparison with other (similar) products available in the market:

Critical illness products have gained importance due to these diseases striking a number of people at a lower age than before, thanks to stressful work schedules and sedentary lifestyles. These diseases include cancer and cardiac attacks, among others. Unlike developed countries, India does not offer free medical cover to citizens, and this is a huge problem for the elderly after their retirement. To add to these problems, rising healthcare costs and medical expenses (other than hospitalisation) which are not covered by a mediclaim policy have made these critical illness products important. Like premium paid for a medical policy, critical illness product premium is eligible for tax exemption up to Rs20,000 under Section 80(D) of the Income-Tax Act.



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