New electronic toll collection system by May 2012: Minister

A committee on electronic toll collection headed by UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani, which is developing the equipment, has recommended using Radio Frequency Identification technology for the system

The government today said that a new electronic toll collection system that will do away with the need for human tax collectors, and help plug revenue leakages will be put in place by May 2012, reports PTI.

A committee on electronic toll collection headed by Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chairman Nandan Nilekani, which is developing the equipment, has recommended using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for the system, road transport and highways minister Kamal Nath told reporters.

Radio Frequency transmits the identity (in the form of a unique serial number) of an object or person wirelessly, using radio waves.

The committee's report has been accepted by the government, Mr Nath said, adding, "It would be implemented in the next 18-20 months and with the new systems the government would be able to check revenue leakages in toll collection."

"The revenue leakage at present is 15% of the toll collection, which comes to about Rs300 crore," he said.

Out of the 71,000 km of National Highways in the country, only 8,500 km is under toll and the government is planning to increase it to 30,000 km in the next five years.

"We should be able to toll 30,000 km of National Highways in five years," Mr Nath said.

Electronic collection system (ETC) would allow cashless payment of highway tolls of vehicles passing through a toll plaza. Under the new system every vehicle will be fitted with an RFID (radio frequency identification) tag, which will cost Rs100 per unit.

Mr Nath said the government will hold talks with the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) to have inbuilt chips in vehicles.

"We will consult SIAM to have this chip on every vehicle produced," he said.

As per the current SIAM data over 1.2 crore vehicles were produced in the country on March 31, 2010.  Based on this estimate, the tags for ETC would cost about Rs120 crore.

UIDAI chairman Mr Nilekani said that the chip, which would be installed on the windscreens of the vehicles is rechargeable.

At present toll is collected manually at the toll plazas which results in increase in travel time for users.

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Hindustan Media IPO pricing appears competitive

Its bigger competitors Jagran Prakashan and DB Corp are trading at higher prices

Hindustan Media Ventures Ltd (HMVL), the publisher of Hindi daily ‘Hindustan’, is coming out with an initial public offer (IPO) on 5 July 2010. The company has fixed the price band at Rs162-Rs175 per share and plans to raise Rs270 crore through this IPO. Rating agency CRISIL has assigned ‘IPO Grade 4’ to the issue. The issue closes on 10 July 2010. HT Media Ltd will dilute up to 23% in its subsidiary HMVL post the IPO. HMVL’s businesses include Hindi daily ‘Hindustan’ and magazines ‘Nandan’ and ‘Kadambini’. It also has printing facilities and personnel transferred from HT Media on 1 December 2009.

Hindustan’ is the third-largest daily in India with a readership of 11,89,000 in the first quarter of 2010, according to the Indian Readership Survey (IRS). It has the largest readership in key Hindi-speaking markets of Bihar and Jharkhand, although these markets have lower purchasing power. The company expects that with 69% of the Indian population being rural, readership will increase further with increase in literacy levels.

HMVL’s price earning ratio (P/E) at the lower band of Rs162 stands at around 15.5 times its March 2011 expected EPS. Some of the listed newspaper businesses including its much bigger competitors Jagran Prakashan and DB Corp are trading at a slightly higher forward PE of 18-21.

HMVL’s five group companies—HT Digital Media Holdings Ltd, HT Burda Media Ltd, Firefly e-Ventures Ltd, HT Mobile Solutions Ltd and Metropolitan Media Company Private Ltd—have incurred a combined loss of Rs29.9 crore in FY2010.  With the IPO money, the company will purchase second-hand plant and machinery of Rs3.1 crore, will set up new publishing units costing Rs66 crore and will upgrade existing plant and machinery for Rs55 crore. HMVL’s advertising revenue was Rs104.2 crore in FY10 while its total income stood at Rs166.90 crore. It has a debt of Rs135 crore which was taken to take over the businesses from HT Media. The IPO money will be used to retire this debt. HMVL reported a net profit of Rs13.9 crore for the year ended March 2010.

There are 41 criminal proceedings pending against the company’s promoter HT Media and the employees and ex-employees, relating to defamation and obscenity charges under the Indian Penal Code and 109 outstanding litigations pertaining to income-tax, civil, and other categories. Edelweiss Capital Ltd and Kotak Mahindra Capital Company Ltd are the lead book running managers to the issue.

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Mutual fund assets slump 16% in June; Reliance MF sees 15% decline

The total assets under management of the 39 fund houses in the country plunged by Rs1.27 lakh crore or 16% in June. The largest fund house, Reliance MF, witnessed a drop of 15% in its AUM to Rs1.01 lakh crore

The mutual fund (MF) industry saw a sharp decline in its total assets in June—with over 36% plunge for some companies—as investors’ withdrawals offset gains from an upward move in the equity market, reports PTI.

The total assets under management (AUM) of the 39 fund houses in the country plunged by Rs1.27 lakh crore or 16% in June. The total AUM of the industry stood at Rs6,75,858 crore, as per data available with industry body Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI).

The largest fund house Reliance MF witnessed a drop of 15% in its AUM, while JM Financial and Axis MF appeared biggest losers at over 36%.

At the end of June, the AUM of Reliance MF dropped by nearly Rs18,000 crore to Rs1.01 lakh crore.

The AUM of the second-largest fund house, HDFC MF, declined 15% or over Rs15,000 crore, to Rs86,648 crore. ICICI Prudential MF saw its average assets plunging by 16% to Rs73,800 crore.

"June has seen a sharp withdrawal by banks. Corporates withdrew from schemes to meet the advance tax payment deadline.

Also, the bidding for third-generation (3G) and broadband and wireless access (BWA) spectrum brought in some liquidity crunch in the system," L&T MF CEO Sanjay Sinha said.

There have been large-scale withdrawals from MFs in recent months, which perhaps is leading to the decline in AUM despite an upward move in the stock market. In June itself, the Sensex rose by 4.5%.

"Inflows into MFs could improve in the second half of July, by which time the tight liquidity condition is expected to ease," Mr Sinha added.

The average AUM of UTI MF declined by over Rs14,000 crore or 18% to Rs64,446 crore.

Only a few fund houses, including Mirae Asset MF and Peerless MF, witnessed an increase in their AUM during the month.

Those, who saw a decline in their AUMs also include Fortis MF (32%), Taurus MF (20%) and Canara Robeco (20%) and SBI MF (7%).

The government generated a revenue of over Rs1 lakh crore through the auction of 3G and BWA, against an estimated Rs35,000 crore, resulting in a liquidity crunch in the system.

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