Calcutta Chamber of Commerce: the oldest chamber of commerce in IndiaCalcutta Chamber of Commerce: the oldest chamber of commerce in India

A look at the year gone by 2011-12  
  September 04 2012, The Bengal Club
Talk & Interactive Session on

The session was addressed by Shri Mayank Sharma, Assistant Commissioner, Service Tax, Kolkata, Shri Madhukar N Hiregange, Senior Chartered Accountant, Bangalore & Chairman, Indirect Tax Committee, ICAI, New Delhi and Shri Arun Agarwal, Senior Chartered Accountant.

Shri Mayank Sharma in his speech remarked that a new service tax regime, based on a negative list of exempted services, has come into effect from July 2012. All services - except the 38 activities put on the negative list - will come under the tax at the increased rate of 12 per cent, as announced in the Union budget. As of now, service tax is being levied on 119 services based on a positive list. The switch-over to a negative list-based approach is aimed at aligning the indirect taxation system to the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, which is sought to be introduced to unify the levies of the Centre and the States into a composite system.

Shri Madhukar N Hiregange was of opinion that the implementation of a negative list removes any non-considered biases caused by the present system which plays favorites by taxing some services and leaving others out of the tax net albeit at the cost of small/ medium / unorganized service providers. This change from “selective” basis to “comprehensive” basis is normally observed when developing countries become developed. The onus of compliance has shifted from the revenue proving a classification and consequent liability to the tax payer proving how exemption is available. Considering the level of education and unorganized sector involved in providing services, this may lead to widespread non compliance and consequent corruption increase. He also added in India we have one of the most cumbersome and complicated law coupled with large scale corruption and therefore this was quite premature.

He further said that the new scheme of taxation for works contract is going to ease the complexities as all types of works contract is brought into one umbrella. However practically there may be lot of challenges which the businessmen have to face to align the existing practices to the new scheme considering various business propositions. The lack of clarity in classification would also lead to more complex and irresolvable issues cropping up.

Shri Arun Agarwal indicated in his speech that one silent feature of the new regime which will cause horrible experience to industry is reverse charge mechanism. By virtue of this mechanism Govt. has assumed power to shift responsibility of payment of tax on service receiver fully or partially. Under this mechanism full service tax is to be paid by Service Receiver in case of services provided or agreed to be provided by an insurance agent, Goods Transport, Sponsorship Service, Arbitral Tribunal, Advocate or firm of Advocate, services by Government or local authority by way of support services, services by any person who is located in a non-taxable territory and received by any person located in the taxable territory and services by way of renting of a motor vehicle designed to carry passengers on abated value to any person who is not engaged in the similar line of business and by Director of a company to company. A situation may arise in which service provider may be availing exemption and not charging service tax due to him but as a receiver of service, Industry will have to discharge tax to the extent as applicable to service receiver.

  August 18 2012, The Park Hotel
Special Session on

Dr. David Iddon, Well-known Motivational Speaker addressed the gathering.

In his presentation Dr. David Iddon concluded that the workplace is changing. Today, most successful businesses understand that people want to work with companies not necessarily for companies. The direction and control traditionally provided by hierarchy must now come from within the individual. For your human resources to maximize their potential, and therefore their contribution to the organization, a high level of interpersonal awareness and the ability to work with and through others is essential. It is equally important for a company’s employees, managers, and teams to develop an atmosphere of trust and become self-managing.

The principles for success include a series of personal assessments, class discussions, exercises and simulations through which participants learn how to: i) Understand different individual motivational types, ii) Increase leadership skills, iii) Sharpen communication skills, iv) Improve problem-solving skills, v) Develop conflict management skills.

  August 11 2012, The Park Hotel
Panel Discussion on

The panel discussion was addressed by Shri D. S. Rawat, Secretary General, ASSOCHAM, Shri Subramanian Sharma, Director, Greenback Forex Services Pvt. Ltd, Shri Sameer Kaul, Global Marketing Manager & Head, Citi Private Bank, Shri P. K. Shah, Director, Nipha Exports (P) Ltd.

Shri D. S. Rawat in his keynote address said, "last November, ASSOCHAM had prepared a paper on the Rupee Exchange Rate when we predicted that the rupee should depreciate to a level of 54 to the dollar. It looked very deep depreciation then, which looks we will be fortunate to hold on to now."

"In doing this exercise, the ASSOCHAM study had examined a number of key variables which have a bearing on the exchange rate. We looked into the trends in imports, exports, trade deficit and their possible trends. We identified that oil imports and import of gold - which was then largely unnoticed - were rising phenomenally fast. In fact, gold import trends were showing that on this count alone, the country will spend no less than $60 billion last fiscal. Oil imports were also rising extremely fast and we ended last financial year with oil imports of $145 billion dollars. Along with the surging imports, our exports had started getting affected. While earlier in the last fiscal exports had grown by as much as 40% in a month, these were tapering off as crisis was getting a firmer hold on Europe. Exports had been affected and the last figures show that in June exports shrank by over 5%. As a result trade deficit is rising fast. We ended last year with a trade deficit of $145 billion. Few countries in the world can boast of GDP of that size. Clearly such wildly rising trade deficit is unsustainable. To meet the trade deficit, we have been depending on capital receipts and using these to pay for our imports. Even that is proving to be inadequate and we are now drawing from our foreign exchange reserves to meet the import bill."

ASSOCHAM study on global impact examined in details the trends in FIIs flows on a day to day basis and the exchange rate movement for the last one year. We found strong correlation between FII inflows and outflows with the movement of the rupee exchange rate. This is emerging to be the immediate cause of the increasing frequency of oscillation in the exchange rate. We from ASSOCHAM are suggesting that the RBI should have a small tolling fund earmarked for trading in foreign exchange synchronized with the entry and exit of the FIIs. RBI should buy from the market when FIIs are coming in and sell when they are exiting. This should cushion the rupee.

Shri Subramanian Sharma remarked that the fall in rupee can be largely attributed to the speculations prevailing in the markets. Due to a sharp increase in the dollar rates, importers suddenly started gasping for dollars in order to hedge their position, which led to an increased demand for dollars. On the other hand exporters kept on holding their dollar reserves, speculating that the rupee will fall further in future. This interplay between the two forces further fuelled the demand for dollars while sequestering its supply from the market. This further led to the fall in rupee.

Shri Sameer Kaul was of view that there has been shift of FII’s (Foreign institutional investors) from the Indian markets during the current financial year 2011. FII’s leads to a high inflow of dollars into the Indian market. As per a recent report, the share of India’s FII in the developing markets has decreased considerably from 19.2 % in 2010 to 3.8% in the year 2011. As FII’s are taking their investments out of the Indian markets, it has led to an increased demand for dollars, further leading to a spiraling rupee. There are multiple reasons which are responsible for the fluctuation in the value of the currency. The volatility in the oil prices and the uncertainty in Europe have resulted in a situation where many agents are putting their surplus in America which is considered a safe haven at present. The reduction in exports and increase in imports, and the fiscal deficit has increased as also current account deficit which also have played their part."

According to Shri P. K. Shah, when a currency depreciates, the exporters rejoice because they get more of the local currency for every unit of foreign currency though the quantum of trade remains unchanged. But this time, many exporters were caught off guard. For one, there is little dollar supply in the market as most exporters seem to have covered themselves in the Rs 45-46 range. Sudden changes in the position of the rupee do not really matter much. Exporters these days resort to hedging against such risks (of volatility). Besides, the buyers overseas also renegotiate and push rates down.

  July 5 2012, Taj Bengal
Closing Ceremony of

Hon'ble Union Home Minister Shri P. Chidambaram graced the occasion as Chief Guest.

The Union Home Minister stated that, "2011-12 was a very difficult year, with the growth rate dipping to 6.7%. But I think we’ve identified the reasons for the slowdown. The PM will address these causes and the rebound will start in 2012-13. We'll soon be back to an 8% plus growth rate". He added that India was one of the few countries which had recovered quickly after the international financial crisis, saying the UPA-I had an average growth rate of 8.5%. "In the first few years of UPA-II, in 2009-10 and 2010-11, we had 8.4% growth. But then the world was hit by the Eurozone crisis". Preventive action is being taken and attempts are being made to bring back investor confidence. Further, the "will to save" by the people will see the economy "bounce back on the high growth path in the next two years", he added.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram further remarked that paucity of funds will not come in the way of development of "financially stressed" West Bengal. The state which has been overburdened with the "legacy of the past government" will see 180% jumps in the outlay of the 12th plan period. According to him, if spent wisely, the proposed allocation in the 12th plan period can bring significant changes in the lives of the people of West Bengal. "In the 11th plan period total expenditure was Rs.48,213 crore. In the 12th plan period the projected outlay is Rs.1.36 lakh crore". Similarly, West Bengal will also be the highest recipient under the "Bringing Green Revolution to The East" scheme. It is expected to receive nearly Rs. 269 crore under this scheme. The minister added, "We have a wise Prime Minister who is in charge of the finance ministry now and we have a practical Chief Minister... they can bring relief to the state".

Shri P. Chidambaram presented 180th Anniversary - Outstanding Achiever's Award to Ms. Chiki Sarkar, Publisher, Penguin Book India. Hon'ble Minister also released the Book on "Ancient Indian Trade & Culture with South East Asia".

  June 16 2012, The Park Hotel
Talk & Interactive Session on

The Interactive Session was addressed by Shri Vibhor Tandon, AVP - Business Development - East & Shri Chittaranjan Rege, VP--Product Knowledge Management.

Shri Vibhor Tandon remarked that Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited operates as an independent association that facilitates online trading, clearing, and settlement operations of commodities futures transactions in India. Having started operations in November 2003, today, MCX holds a market share of above 80% of the Indian commodity futures market. The Exchange has more than 2,155 registered members operating through over 2,96,900 including CTCL trading terminals spread over 1,575 cities and towns pan India. MCX was the 3rd largest commodity futures exchange in the world, in terms of the number of contracts traded in CY 2011. MCX offers above 40 commodities across various segments such as bullion, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, energy, and a number of agri-commodities on its platform.

Shri Chittaranjan Rege explained, ‘Metals and Energy segments are the key contributors to our success and these have enabled us to become the 6th largest exchange within 10 years of commencement of our operations. We have decided to provide special status to metals and energy segments with an aim to move up further in the global chart. The Exchange introduces standardized commodity futures contracts on its Platform. These contracts in futures exchanges provide an anonymous trading environment for ideal price discovery. The Exchange is the world's largest exchange in Silver and Gold, second largest in Natural Gas and the third largest in Crude Oil with respect to the number of futures contracts traded. The Exchange’s platform enables anonymous trades, leading to efficient price discovery. Moreover, for globally-traded commodities, MCX’s platform enables domestic participants to trade in Indian currency.

  June 12 2012, Oberoi Grand
Special Session on

The meeting was attended by Shri Partha Chatterjee, Hon’ble Minister for Commerce & Industries, Dr. Manas Ranjan Bhuniya, Hon’ble Minister for MSMEs, Bureaucrats, Industry Representatives from the City Chambers of commerce.

In his speech, Industry & Commerce Minister, Shri Partha Chatterjee told Chambers representatives that the State Government has done its bit to sort out land problems. Now it is the investors’ turn to set up industry. The Minister said, “If there is problem with land, also please give us proposals. Let us analyze how many projects cannot be implemented because of land. Don’t delay projects on speculations over land. We have land in our hand, let investors buy it. Land will not be a question for investment. I will request the investors to come directly to the government with the proposal, we will solve it”. He said the state in the last one year has received Rs.1.03 lakh crore investment proposals from 176 units. The minister said these units have land. “They have got the land, that’s why they have lease agreement”.

The Minister further said, “Before the beginning of the interaction, I want to make clear two things. The State Government under no circumstances would acquire land for industry. At the same time we would not allow SEZ status for anyone”. “That around 7,500 acres of closed industries land are available in the state and the industrialists should consider setting up units there”. “Land for industry should be used for industry only, we have said land holders can lease out land in the industrial projects but they have to seek for permission from the state government”. He added that 14Y Act will be supplemented by rule change, which in the long run will facilitate investors.

Chamber of Commerce Chiefs have agreed to aid and advice the minister on issues relating to industry and investment. The minister was meeting 10 Chambers of Commerce chiefs and four bilateral Chambers to discuss the course of industrialization in the state.

  May 30 2012, The Park Hotel
Award Function of Prabha Khaitan Puraskar

His Excellency Shri M. K. Narayanan graced the occasion as Chief Guest. The award was presented to Ms. Vidya Balan.

Governor Shri M K Narayanan, who handed Vidya Balan the award, said, “I’ve also been present earlier for the Prabha Khaitan Award. However, this year I feel doubly privileged. I come from a small town called Ottapalam in Palakkad district of Kerala. It was known for producing civil servants, politicians and various other professionals. Now there is a new star from Ottapalam, Vidya and so I am even more proud now”. In a lighter mood, the Governor said, “I usually don’t watch films, but I watched Kahaani twice. For all my years of service at the helm of the Intelligence Bureau, Vidya made me out to be a terrorist in her film”.

Actress Vidya Balan, who got the Prabha Khaitan Award said “West Bengal and Kolkata is like my second home. From my first film Bhalo Theko till Kahaani, Kolkata has always been very welcoming. Even in Bhool Bhulaiyya, I was possessed by Manjulika, who was a Bengali. I’m greedy for the love I’ve got here whenever I step out of Calcutta airport. My passion for the Bengali language, films, culture has only grown over time,” she said. The actress thanked the governor and said, “We both hail from Kerala and belong to the state of West Bengal”.

  March 30 2012, The Park Hotel
Special Session on UNION BUDGET 2012-13

The session was addressed by Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister of India.

The Finance Minister in his speech did stress: “When I say I will have to peg the subsidy burden, in terms of percentage, at two per cent of GDP, I mean it.” He continued to stress that the amount the government is having to shell out on fertilizer, diesel, and food subsidies is growing very fast. “Certain subsidies in our system are inevitable, like food. Yes, we should provide food subsidies. But at the same time in other areas, we shall have to peg it, and link it to the capacity of capabilities of paying.”

The Finance Minister asserted that “ Next Year I will introduce DTC fully after examining the recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee. These recommendations were made available on March 9 and therefore I could not act on it ---”. Some of the aspects such as advanced pricing agreement mechanism and GARR, which are bodily lifted from the DTC, will be examined in the context of recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee.

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee blamed recent electoral setbacks and pressures of coalition politics for the inability of the UPA coalition to push through with the proposed economic reforms and initiatives, including the implementation of the Goods and Service tax (GST). “To implement GST, we need support of at least 15 of the 22 provincial governments. Congress lacks a 2/3rd majority in both Houses of Parliament, The Finance Minister said owing to lack of requisite numbers in Parliament, he had no option but to take cognizance of suggestions from all his political opponents and factor in the same while deciding on his budgetary proposals.

Finance minister further said there is “no other way” but to amend the Income Tax Act with retrospective effect to bring into the net Vodfone-type cross-border deals. “I am posing a very few straight questions to you. We shall have to decide whether you want India to be a no-tax country or India will be a country where there will be taxation,” “Transactions of assets located in India, whether it should be taxed or not. If the answer is that it has to be taxed, then whether it will have to be taxed in India or at the sources of the company concerned... there comes the question of how it will be protected by the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement or Tax Exchanging Information Agreement. Except these, there is no other way,”. The minister added that ‘the Supreme Court ruling held that Vodafone wasn’t liable to pay tax on the deal, following which the government has proposed to amend the tax laws retrospectively to bring in the net such deals. The legal remedy lay in bringing clarificatory amendments and make clear the intention of the legislature’.

  March 18 2012, Taj Bengal
Panel Discussion & Interactive Session on

The Panelists were Shri T. S. Bhattacharya, Former MD, SBI & Advisor, Ernst & Young, Dr. Abhijit Sen, Senior Chartered Accountant & Former President, BCCI, Shri Gaurav Swarup, Chairman, FICCI, ERC, Shri Pallav Gupta, Co-Chairman National Council of Direct Taxation, ASSOCHAM & Head - Tax, ITC Ltd., Shri Amitav Kothari, Senior Chartered Accountant.

Dr. Abhijit Sen remarked that the proposal to set up a Rs.5,000-crore India Opportunities Venture Fund with SIDBI to enhance availability of equity to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector is a welcome step. ‘The two additional tax breaks extended by the budget are: one, if your annual income is below Rs 10 lakh, you can invest up to Rs 50,000 in stocks through Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme. Two, you can claim a tax deduction of up to Rs 5,000 for preventive health check-ups. The enhanced new tax slabs and exemption limit that would help you save some more money! But you may end up spending more on your bills due to the hike in service taxes and excise duties.’

Shri Gaurav Swarup strongly came out against retrospective amendments, saying such measures created uncertainty for the industry and sent out negative signals about India as an investment destination and a relook at the provision was required. Regardless of however compelling the reasons, retrospective amendments in laws, which have stood the test of legality, do little for confidence building and are a dampener for investors both foreign and local.

Shri T. S. Bhattacharya pointed out that the Union Budget has doubled customs duty on gold bars of not less than 995 fineness, from 2 per cent to 4 per cent on the value of import. Apart from the increase in duty, unbranded gold jewellery has also been covered under central excise of 1 per cent. In addition, there has been a tax deduction at source proposed for cash purchase of jewellery above Rs.2 lakh. Steps were taken primarily to dissuade the Indian customer from buying gold to reduce the gold import bill. ‘The measures would not help in dissuading the Indian consumer from buying gold jewellery, but would only end up increasing the price of gold and gold jewellery in India.’

Shri Pallav Gupta was of opinion that the tax proposals do walk a very a tight rope in balancing the measures augmenting tax collection and yet do not encourage incentive to pay tax. The most notable proposal affecting cross border investment is seemingly the usurpation of the Vodafone Supreme Court tax case. The cumulative tax proposal with regard to amendments proposed in Section 9 and in the definition of ‘capital asset’ and ‘transfer’ and its perceived impact in general anti avoidance reguation (GAAR) proposal thus suggest that the Vodafone tax case has been a significant influencing factor in formulating Budget 2012. In addition, there is lot of risks hidden in the budget.

Shri Amitav Kothari asserted that it is not a breakthrough or a reformist budget, although the finance minister has given some relief to individual taxpayers, there are no goodies for the corporate sector except for the proposal of the cascading effect of tax on dividend being eliminated. In fact the amendments and clarifications provided in Finance Bill No 31 have burden the corporate sector to rethink and restructure their midway cross border transactions, which were decided after the Vodafone judgment.

  February 16 2012, The Conclave
Interactive Session on

The session was addressed by Shri Rakesh Dewan, Managing Director, Star Academy Pvt. Ltd. & well-known Management Guru.

Are we all living up to the desired expectations? How can one realize ones full potential for being happy, fulfilled and successful, and managing life’s challenges? Responding to these questions and directed at catalyzing an internal transformation in the people and to empower them with mindsets that facilitates team play, learning and positivity, Rakesh Dewan documented the nuances of one's mind as being positioned around one’s self esteem in such a way that if it is low key, then one has the mind of a loser and if vice versa, no doubt the person is an achiever. “Self esteem is the experience of being able to handle life’s challenges and feeling worthy of happiness. Only three per cent of our brain is in active engagement. Learning how to tap the balance 97 per cent opens unlimited possibilities”.

Shri Dewan remarked two out of three people suffer from low self esteem and operates far below their potential. And, this is generally applicable to every group regardless of culture, gender or age. “Dream with a deadline; affirmations with visualization are the best way to build self-esteem; every No brings you closer to a Yes; obstacles are the things we look at when we lose focus of our goals; if you fail to plan you are planning to fail; if you have to do something, do it now, ask questions”.

  February 06 2012, The Park Hotel
Interactive Session on

Shri Veerappa Moily, Hon’ble Minister of Corporate Affairs, Govt. of India was the Chief Guest.

Expressing confidence that the new companies bill will be passed in parliament’s budget session, Shri M. Veerappa Maily said that the Companies Bill 2011 seeks to update the 50 year old Companies Act, 1956, and the laws related to raising money from the public, insider trading, term for independent directors and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Companies will have to disclose the expenditure made under CSR (corporate social responsibility) head. However, he emphasized, that only reporting of CSR expenditure is mandatory and not its implementation.

The Companies Bill, he said, has also streamlined the details of merger & acquisition (M & A) dispute resolution, and provides for class action suits. The Companies Bill is not a byproduct of the Satyam scam but a few things like CSR, independent directors, one-person company and serious fraud investigation were created because of the Satyam scam. Regarding M & A, the minister said a unique provision has been made in the Companies Bill. Earlier, it all depended on the RoC or the Company Law Board, but now it is all laid down. There is an approach of an autopilot in terms of the management of the affairs of the company. No proper authority was with RoC. But now, RoC has proper authority and one can directly go to Company Law Board.

The Minister added that, “We have set a stricter role for the auditor including rotation of auditors. Auditors have some accountability and they need to work on that,”.

  January 14 2012, The Park Hotel
Panel Discussion & Interactive Session on

Dr. Manas Ranjan Bhunia, Hon’ble Minister for Micro and Small Scale Enterprises, Textiles, Irrigation and Water Ways, Government of West Bengal was the Chief Guest. The Panelists were Shri Kishore Biyani, Founder and Group CEO, Future Group and Shri Pradeep Dhoot, President, Videocon Industries Limited.

While stating that FDI in multi brand retail would help the key beneficiaries, farmers and consumers, Dr. Manas Ranjan Bhunia said that “The UPA Government will not do anything which will be harmful for the farmers’ community. Multi brand FDI is still a debatable subject. The government has prepared a note taking into account the interest of different stakes holders. It is in a study process. Within a short time this debate will end and we can reach to a conclusive and comprehensive opinion which will show us real path how to solve this debate and how to give a positive path in so far as multi brand FDI in retail is concerned. The Central Government is categorical that consensus opinion should be generated. We should act to reach a consensus”.

Shri Kishore Biyani, Father of Indian Retail remarked that allowing healthy FDI in the retail sector would not only lead to a substantial surge in the country’s GDP and overall economic development, but would also help in integrating the Indian retail market with that of the global retail market in addition to providing not just employment but a better paying employment. Allowing FDI in multi brand retail can bring about Supply Chain Improvement, Investment in Technology, Manpower and Skill development, growth in market size and Benefits to govemment through greater GDP, tax income and employment generation. Moreover, foreign chains will be able to help in improving the quality of modern retail in a big way.

Shri P. D. Dhoot was of opinion that the enormous opportunity offered by India’s retail sector is evident - it accounts for 22 per cent of India’s GDP and it is the second largest employer in the country, next only to agriculture. Indian retail sector is likely to benefit from the FDI policy in the long run, as foreign entities will pump in investment into supply chains, increase operating efficiency, and improve its financial health. However, the resultant increase in competition will enhance the bargaining power of consumers, thereby lowering prices. He however suggested that the government must also consult the people of industry, Chambers of Commerce, Associations as to what caveats they should have while implementing FDI in multi brand. FDI is not a social issue. For the country it will definitely be a great boon if FDI comes.

  December 07 2011, The Park Hotel
Talk & Interactive Session on

The session was addressed by Shri M.R. Nayak, Executive Director, Allahabad Bank, Shri Abraham Chacko, Executive Director, The Federal Bank Limited & Shri Vincent Valladares, Managing Director, Head of Mid-Market Enterprises, Citi Bank.

Mr. M.R. Nayak, Executive Director, Allahabad Bank said our economy has shown remarkable resilience to both external and domestic shocks and successfully withstood the ripple effects of the global turmoil. Credit markets have, historically, played a crucial role in sustaining growth through efficient intermediation of funds between savers and investors. He remarked that “Credit growth outlook for bank will be 25% year on year. We have already had a growth of about 25% for the last five years. We want to concentrate on SME and agricultural lending which is the backbone of the bank with a large number of rural and semi-urban branches are looking at this lending. He is of opinion that “More than the interest rate, the biggest challenge for the Reserve Bank, corporates and banks is volatility in the foreign exchange. It’s a major cause of concern across all sectors”.

Mr. Abraham Chacko said Federal Bank would work towards improving its net non-performing assets. The Private lender is also planning to higher 1000 officers next year. The bank has a comfortable net interest margin at 3.75%. It wants to bring down net NPA from 0.59% to 0.5%. The Assets based of the bank is around Rs.35000 crores. And large part of it is secured by housing loans, gold loans and other securities. Home loans and gold loans together account for Rs.9000 crore of the total assets base. The lenders as recently recruited 1500 probationary officers and will hire another 1000 in the next year. It plans to have 1000 branches across the country by December 2012 from 825 at present. The bank has around 980 ATMs. The Federal Bank is expected a growth of over 20% in its SME lending that contribute nearly 28% to its total lending port folio. The Bank also anticipated a credit growth of 18 to 20% across all sectors. The bank is planning to open an offshore banking unit in Dubai soon.

Talking on the opportunities in the overseas market, Mr. Vincent Valladares, MD, Head of Mid-Market Enterprises, Citi said there are opportunities in the international market. Around 30 to 40% customers in its portfolio want to go international. And these are all medium size companies.

  November 25 2011, The Park Hotel.
Panel Discussion & Interactive Session on

The Panelists were Shri Om Puri, Eminent Actor, Shri Gautam Ghosh, Well-known Film Director, Smt Rituparna Sengupta, Distinguished Actress & Shri Ken Ghosh, Renowned Film Director and Screen Writer.

Shri Om Puri said that he finds it ridiculous that stars walk away with the biggest share of a project’s budget. “The share which they are given is ridiculous. If a star can make a film hit, then why is it that some of their films flop? It happens with everyone whether it is Shahrukh Khan or Salman Khan,”. Pointing out that films are always a result of team work with everyone including directors, cameramen and technicians involved with its success, he said that recently the SRK starer much hyped film ''Ra.One'' failed to live up to the expectations only because of a weak script. “It had the biggest stars in it. And technically it was a superb film. But it still didn’t catch the imagination of the nation. It had a weak script,” he said adding that Hollywood producers always give first priority to the script.

Smt. Rituparna Sengupta remarked that India has a National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) which finances some films. A few film makers, who would find it hard to obtain finance from the regular sources, have been financed by the NFDC. However, NFDC cannot be considered to play a central role in the film industry. It however goes to the NFDC’s credit that, without it, some of India’s best film makers wouldn't have got a break in the industry.

Filmmaker Shri Ken Ghosh who also joined the discussion admitted that he was also unhappy with the trend of paying film stars more than script writers. He believed that for any film, the success factor is majorly the script and the content but not the star power. He added that “today there are many more avenues of revenue that have opened up for films. In addition to the India theatrical business which is growing every month as more multiplexes are built and more single screens convert to digital projection, the overseas theatrical business is also growing with newer markets internationally being tapped and more and more foreigners falling in love with our genre of cinema”.

Acclaimed film director Goutam Ghose said West Bengal should ensure that a treaty is signed between India and Bangladesh for regular cultural exchanges. He pointed out that Bengali film industry is by and large secular with no religious divide among Hindus, who live in West Bengal, and Bengali Muslims who live in Bangladesh. “The cultural borders between India and Bangladesh should be opened. We cannot open the political borders but we can do it culturally”. His last film ‘Moner Manush’, had opened to 130 theatres, which is a record for Bengali films. “This was possible as it was released both in India and Bangladesh”. To market ‘Moner Manush’ released last year, Ghose said the producers met those into the movie piracy business in both India and Bangladesh and convinced them not to make pirated CDs for six months after the film’s release. “As a result, we could control piracy for six months while other films were available even on the internet even before two weeks of release,” he said.


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