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GDP growth at 7.9% in Q4FY16, full 2015-16 GDP growth at 7.6%, above forecasts
India's economic growth accelerated to 7.9% in the three months through March from a revised 7.2% in the previous quarter, government data showed on Tuesday. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast annual growth of 7.5 percent in the quarter. For the 2015/16 fiscal year ending in March, growth came in at 7.6%, in line with the official estimate. Growth was 7.2% in 2014/15. Economy finally grew 7.5% in the first quarter of 2015-16, as against 7.6% projected in advance estimates, while the second quarter saw the growth again falling to 7.6% as compared to 7.7%, and the third quarter at 7.2% as against 7.3%. "Momentum is building up faster than anticipated, and there is demand pick-up in the horizon. This definitely spells out a positive story that there will soon be a recovery in private sector capex," said Shubhada Rao, chief economist, YES Bank. India's upbeat outlook contrasts with neighbouring China, where growth slipped to 6.7% in the first quarter - the slowest posted by the world's second largest economy in seven years.
|802||At Rs 1.37 lakh crore, April fiscal deficit crosses 25% mark|
Fiscal deficit in April came in at Rs 1.37 lakh crore, which is 25.7% of the Budget estimate for 2016-17. By definition, the fiscal deficit is the gap between expenditure and revenue, which for the whole fiscal has been pegged at Rs 5.33 lakh crore. The deficit in April last fiscal was 23% of the Budget estimate. For 2016-17, the government has set a fiscal deficit target of 3.5%. According to data released by the Controller and Accounts General, total expenditure of the government in April read Rs 1.61 lakh crore, or 8.2% of the full-year estimate.
|803||Core sector growth accelerates to 8.5% in April|
Growth in the eight core sectors jumped to 8.5% in April due to sharp pick-up in refinery products and a commensurate rise in electricity generation. The index had grown by 6.4% in the previous month of March. According to the data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday, growth in the eight core industries - coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity - comprising nearly 38% of India's total industrial production had fallen by a marginal 0.2% in the same period of the previous year. Refinery products, which have steadily grown since December, 2015, witnessed a jump in production in April, rising by 17.9%. It had grown by 10.8% in March. The same trend has been seen for electricity generation, which continued to rise for the fifth straight month, rising 14.7%. In March, it had also risen by 11.3%. In March this year, fertiliser production jumped by 22.9% followed by cement at 11.9%. However natural gas continued to fall by the highest margin at 6.8% followed by crude oil at 2.3%. The same sectors had also dipped last month. Growth in cement and fertilizers have however slowed down considerably. While fertiliser generation rose by 7.8% in April, after posting a major growth of 22.9% in March, cement production also fell from 11.9% to 4.4%.
|804||India's per capita income rises 7.4% to Rs 93,293 in FY16|
The country's per capital income increased 7.4 per cent to Rs 93,293 in 2015-16 from Rs 86,879 in the previous financial year, official data showed on Tuesday. "The per capita income at current prices during 2015-16 is estimated to have attained a level of Rs 93,293, compared with the First Revised Estimate for the year 2014-15 of Rs 86,879 showing a rise of 7.4 per cent," the official statement said.
|805||Indian bonds, rupee gain on hike of foreign debt investment limits|
India's 10-year benchmark bond and the rupee gained on Wednesday after the central bank said it would allow foreign investors to buy up to 275 billion rupees ($4.14 billion) in additional sovereign debt next month as part of its plan to gradually raise debt investment limits. Gains also tracked higher regional markets following comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen calling for caution in raising U.S. interest rates. The 10-year bond yield was down 2 basis points at 7.49 percent at 0339 GMT, after earlier easing to a more than one-week low of 7.48 percent. The rupee INR=D2 strengthened to 66.4175/4200 to the dollar after gaining to as high as 66.37, its strongest level since Jan. 4.
With eyes set on next elections, Narendra Modi government steps up rural development work
With eyes set on the next general elections, the Narendra Modi government has advanced the deadlines of its rural development schemes for housing and roads from 2022 to 2019, by when it wants to connect 65,000 rural habitations through the PM Gram Sadak Yojana and construct 1 crore houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana — Gramin. The rural development ministry is now tasked with constructing 2.23 lakh km of roads by 2019, funds for which have been assured by the Centre, it is learnt. The allocation for the PM Gram Sadak Yojana has been upped from Rs 14,200 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 18,291 crore in 2015-16 and Rs 19,000 crore for the current financial year. Between 2014 and 2016, 18,488 habitations were connected after construction of 72,835 km of rural roads. For the Awaas Yojana though the challenge extends beyond financial resources to limited labour and material availability. In order to double the pace of construction of houses, the government is talking to the states to use local material, technology to meet any shortage In 2015-16, a total of 18.27 lakh houses were constructed under the rural housing scheme. The government will have to construct around 35 lakh houses a year to meet its 2019 target. The socio economic and caste census has been used to identify close to 3 crore beneficiaries under the scheme. The rural development ministry has already transferred Rs 23,000 crore out of the total allocation of Rs 38,500 crore to states under the National Employment Guarantee Scheme.
India's black economy shrinking, still exceeds Thailand and Argentina's GDP
Pegging India's 'black economy' at over Rs 30 lakh crore or about 20% of total GDP, a new study says it has been contracting gradually over the years but still remains bigger than the overall economic size of countries like Thailand and Argentina. Besides, a crackdown on black money has made the cost of capital costlier in the black economy with the lending rates having risen to as high as 34%, from about 24% a year ago, as per the study by Ambit Capital Research. The study said that the crackdown has had some "unintended consequences" in form of an increase in preference for cash in its physical form and a notable decline in the usage of formal banking channels with record low deposit growth — which may keep the GDP growth rate flat this year. The study said that the crackdown has had some "unintended consequences" in form of an increase in preference for cash in its physical form and a notable decline in the usage of formal banking channels with record low deposit growth — which may keep the GDP growth rate flat this year. It said the size of the India's black economy expanded rapidly over the 1970s and 1980s, but since then had been contracting at a gradual pace and is now estimated at around 20% of the country's GDP. The term 'black economy' typically refers to the economic activities outside formal banking channels and include cash transactions in high-value assets like gold and real estate. "Given that India's GDP in calender year 2016 is expected to be $2.3 trillion, the size of India's black economy is about $460 billion (over Rs 30 lakh crore), which is larger than the stated GDP of emerging markets like Thailand and Argentina," Ambit Capital Research said in a research note. Majority of this black money is locked up in physical assets such as real estate and gold, it added. Physical savings instruments have been historically preferred to financial savings instruments in India because purchase of physical assets can be funded using black money, while the purchase of financial assets can not be funded in such a manner due to a strong paper trail. While official figures regarding the quantum of black money flowing into real estate sector are not available, experts suggest that more than 30% of India's real estate sector is funded by black money. The report said that since the Modi government assumed power there has been a clear step-up in checks around gold transactions and it has become increasingly difficult to park unaccounted cash in the form of jewellery or bullion. Due to various measures taken by the government to tighten the noose around black money, there has been a clear drop in the prices of land and real estate and a decline in the appetite in gold, it said. The crackdown has, however, also resulted in increase in the preference for cash in physical form and notable decline in the usage of formal banking channels as evinced by the decline in bank deposits as well as usage of debit cards. "The combination of heightened interest rates in the black economy as well as the lack of liquidity in the banking system has led to the weighted average cost of debt capital in India rising by 30 bps over the last 12 months even as policy rates were cut by 100 bps," the report noted. "As banks are unwilling to lend to sub-investment grade creditors owing to their own NPA troubles, this credit demand has shifted entirely to informal channels of lending. This, in turn, has driven increase in lending rates in the black economy to as high as about 34 per cent per annum as per our primary data sources (against about 24 per cent a year ago)," it added.
Government looks to take share of water transport to 15% in 5 years
To ensure the success of 'Make in India' initiative, the government is committed to bring down the high logistics cost to 12 per cent and raise the share of waterways transportation to 15 per cent in the next five years, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said today. At present the country's logistics cost is 18 per cent while barely 3.5 per cent of goods are transported through waterways. " Make in India scheme will be a great success if we can bring down the high logistics cost from 18 per cent to at least 12 per cent. In China , it is 8 per cent. The government is making efforts in this direction as goods transportation through water costs barely 20 paise per km in comparison to Rs 1.5 a km through road and Re 1 per km through railways," Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Gadkari said.
|809||Govt banks on new PSU norms for higher non-tax revenue|
The Centre has released a new set of guidelines on capital restructuring of state-owned companies, which will make them more accountable on matters of dividends, buybacks and bonuses, and will help the government meet its non-tax revenue and capital receipts target for the year. The guidelines, applicable from April 1, make it mandatory for all central public sector enterprises (CPSEs) to pay a minimum annual dividend of 30 per cent of profit after tax, or five per cent of net worth, whichever is higher. If they cannot, they will have to explain to the ministry concerned if they are constrained by capacity to borrow or if the free cash is being put into capital spending and infrastructure.
|810||US firms pledge $45 billion investments on Modi visit|
Setting aside the regulatory concerns that businesses such as Apple, Walmart or Amazon have faced in India, American companies have promised to invest at least $45 billion (Rs 3 lakh crore) over the next two to three years. The commitment came at a roundtable interaction in Washington DC between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 20-odd chief executive officers on Tuesday night. Modi, who had wooed top Silicon Valley majors during his US trip last year, spent 90 minutes last night with CEOs representing companies in sectors spanning new economy to entertainment, energy to telecom, food to pharma. He told them investor confidence has returned as India is scripting a new growth story.
|811||Year’s first trillion-dollar bull market is nearing in India|
Traders are shrugging off the most expensive stock valuations since 2011, sending Indian shares back toward a bull market amid forecasts for the strongest monsoon in two decades and data showing the nation growing faster than all other major economies. Inflows may continue as the benefits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies emerge in corporate earnings reports, investors including Mark Mobius and BNP Paribas SA said. “Foreign investors are looking for growth; there aren’t many places to get it and that’s why India stands out,” Prashant Bhayani, chief investment officer for Asia at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, said in an interview in Singapore. “Valuations aren’t cheap relative to history but we expect earnings will start to pick up gradually from depressed levels. That’s going to provide a tailwind for the market. We are overweight on India.” Foreign investors have bought $1.5 billion of shares since April 1, the second-highest in Asia excluding Japan, after pouring $4.1 billion in March alone as global risk appetite revived and Modi took steps to boost rural demand and investment. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex has risen 16 percent from a low reached in February, putting India on course to become the first among markets valued at more than $1 trillion to crawl back from a bear market this year.
|812||Double taxpayer base to 100 mn, PM to taxmen|
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for nearly doubling of tax base to 10 crore assesses while addressing tax officers in the first ever Rajasva Gyan Sangam that kick-started on Thursday. Modi outlined a five-point charter for tax administrators – RAPID, which stands for Revenue, Accountability, Probity, Information and Digitisation to reform the taxation system in the country.
|813||GoI cracks whip on price rise|
MEASURES TAKEN TO ARREST INFLATION Sebi suspends futures trading in chana Centre imposes 20% export duty on sugar 25% export duty on wheat extended IB and Department of Revenue Intelligence to keep an eye on cartelisation Senior officials to scout for opportunities to grow pulses in Mozambique for Indian consumers States told to crackdown on those who are selling chana and urad at more than the prescribed price Shipping ministry told to expand vigil at ports
|814||India's March quarter CAD narrows to 0.1% of GDP|
India's current account deficit (CAD) declined sharply to $0.3 billion or 0.1 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter ended March for financial year 2015-16, against $7.1 billion (1.3 per cent of GDP), in the third quarter ended December 2015, on account of a lower trade gap. The CAD was $0.7 billion (0.1 per cent of the GDP) in the quarter ended March 2015 for FY15. For the entire FY16, CAD stood at $22.1 billion (1.1 per cent of the GDP) against $26.8 billion (1.8 per cent of GDP) for FY15, according to Reserve Bank of India data. Stating that CAD at 1.1 per cent of GDP was a "robust macro economic indicator", Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said efforts would continue on reforms. Aditi Nayar, senior economist, ICRA, said the CAD for FY16 was broadly in line with expectations. A fall in the services trade surplus and lower remittances eroded a significant portion of the savings arising from the narrowing of the merchandise trade deficit. The trade deficit in the fourth quarter of FY16 stood at $24.8 billion, compared with $31.6 billion in Q4 of FY15. The deficit was $130.1 billion for FY16, while for FY15 it stood at $144.9 billion.
|815||Good monsoon to push GDP growth to 8%|
Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das expressed hope that the likely passage of Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill in Parliament would further add to the business sentiment, fuelling growth. "We will certainly exceed 7.6 per cent growth. If the monsoon is good which we expect it will be because of the forecast and once the GST is passed, we can expect our GDP to touch 8 per cent in the current fiscal," he told PTI in an interview. In 2015-16, the country's economy grew 7.6 per cent and the Economic Survey in February had projected a growth rate of 7-7.75 per cent for the current fiscal while RBI had forecast 7.6 per cent for the current fiscal. He further said although the GST is likely to be rolled out from April 2017, its passage would significantly help in boosting sentiment and generating economic activity. "The moment GST is passed, the business environment will improve. This will give a huge boost to business sentiment and economy is all about real factors and sentiments.
Modi government bites FDI bullet, relaxes norms in civil aviation, defence, pharma
"Now most of the sectors would be under automatic approval route, except a small negative list. With these changes, India is now the most open economy in the world for FDI," an official statement from PMO said. Key changes include allowing 100% FDI under government approval route for trading, including through e-commerce, in respect of food products manufactured or produced in India and permitting up to 100 per cent FDI in defence sector. The other sectors that have benefitted include the broadcasting, pharmaceuticals, civil aviation, single brand retail among others.
|817||Government announces sweeping reforms to FDI rules|
India announced on Monday sweeping reforms to rules on foreign direct investment, opening up its defence and civil aviation sectors to complete outside ownership and clearing the way for Apple to open stores in the country. The new reform measures also relax restrictions on inbound investments in pharmaceuticals and single-brand retail. Defence contractors that have been reluctant to transfer technology to manufacture equipment in India would get the right to own local operations outright, with government approval, up from a cap of 49 percent previously. In other changes, India allowed 100 percent FDI in civil aviation, following on from last week's launch of a new policy that lowered barriers to entry for airlines that want to fly international routes. The government also allowed foreign companies to own up to 74 percent in 'brownfield' pharmaceuticals projects without prior government approval. India already allows 100 percent ownership of greenfield pharma businesses.
|818||Govt kick-starts commercial coal mining with states|
Taking the first step towards commercial mining and sale of coal in India, the ministry of coal has decided to allot mines to states that would sell the mined resource to interested industries. The Centre has identified 16 coal mines with an estimated annual capacity of 40 million tonnes. The mines have been divided for host states and non-host states. This would entail non-mine rich states owning a mine in another state and using it for commercial purposes. This is the first step to open coal mining beyond the monopoly of state-owned Coal India, the sole miner in India for 41 years. The government plans to evolve the mechanism of commercial mining by involving the states and then private miners, said Anil Swarup, secretary, ministry of coal. This move is likely to benefit mineral-rich states earn surplus revenue. These states were till now getting only royalty from private companies mining coal for captive use.
New textiles package targets 10 million fresh jobs, another $30 billion exports
India's cabinet on Wednesday approved a package for the textiles sector with measures such as tax sops and relaxation of labour laws, with a three-year target of 10 million more jobs, $30 billion additional exports and $11 billion fresh investment. Briefing reporters later, officials said the package includes full burden of provident fund on government, reduction in yearly working days for calculation of income tax rebate and additional subsidy for machinery under the amended technology upgradation fund scheme. Officials said the new package was mainly aimed at women empowerment since they constitute 70 per cent of the workforce in the garment industry. This apart, the measures are labour-friendly and will create jobs and economies of scale and boost exports, they said
No bumpy ride for startups as Narendra Modi government okays Rs 10,000 crore corpus; to generate 18 lakh jobs
The government today approved Rs 10,000 crore 'Fund of Funds for Startups' to support them with an aim to generate employment for 18 lakh persons. "The fund is expected to generate employment for 18 lakh persons on full deployment...A corpus of Rs 10,000 crore could potentially be the nucleus for catalysing Rs 60,000 crore of equity investment and twice as much debt investment," an official statement said. The decision was taken in the Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
GST Amendment passage the highlight of glorious monsoon parliament session
The contentious Constitution (122nd Amendment) (Goods and Services Tax) Bill was among the 14 Bills passed in a “glorious” Monsoon Session of Parliament that came to a close Friday. While the Lok Sabha passed 15 Bills during the session, the Upper House passed 14. “It was a glorious session,” exclaimed an elated Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, otherwise known as a reticent politician. About the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, which will pave the way for the new tax regime under the GST, Kumar said, “It is a historic tax reform. (Now) we have to take it forward.
|822||India's SBI says will gain $120 billion in assets from takeover of units|
State Bank of India (SBI) (SBI.NS), the nation's biggest lender by assets, will gain $120 billion in assets following its merger with associate banks and Bhartiya Mahila Bank, the lender said in a statement on Saturday. .......... Policymakers want to recapitalize and consolidate India's state-run banks so that they can extend fresh credit and help drive an investment-led recovery in Asia's third-largest economy that is currently getting a boost from state and private consumption. India's 27 public sector banks account for 70 percent of its banking sector assets, as well as the lion's share of the country's $120 billion in troubled loans. SBI said the merger would expand its assets by 36 percent to about $447 billion.
Toshiba JSW Ships its First “Made-in-India” Super-critical Steam Turbine Generator from Chennai Facility
Toshiba JSW Power Systems Pvt Ltd. (Toshiba JSW), today announced that the company marked a significant milestone in its endeavor to offer customers state-of-the-art power generations solutions with shipment of its first 'Made-in-India' steam turbine generator. The 800-megawatt steam turbine and generator (STG) for Unit 2 of the Kudgi Super-critical Thermal Power Station in Karnataka state is Toshiba's first large-scale generation system to be manufactured and assembled with locally procured parts and systems, and tested in India.
|824||China, India push up global steel output by 1.4% in July|
Global steel production rose by 1.4 per cent to 133.7 million tonnes (MT) last month helped by increased output in top producing countries like China, Japan and India, showed latest data by World Steel Association. According to the global industry body crude steel output for the 66 countries rose by 1.4 per cent in July 2016 compared to the same month last year. China’s crude steel production for July was 66.8 MT, an increase of 2.6 per cent compared to July 2015. Elsewhere in Asia, Japan produced 8.9 MT, an increase of 0.5 per cent compared to July 2015, World Steel said in a statement. India produced 8.1 MT of crude steel in July 2016, up 8.1 per cent compared to the same month last year, while South Korea’s crude steel production was 6.0 MT, up by 1.5 per cent during the same period, it added. The US, another major steel-making nation, produced 6.9 MT of steel in July 2016, a decrease of 2.2 per cent compared to July 2015.
|825||Centre takes up Brazil offer for ‘captive farming’ of pulses for India|
Brazil has offered to do "captive farming" of pulses to meet the growing demand in India. Responding to the offer, the consumer affairs ministry is now preparing a detailed proposal.Consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that the offer came when he met ministers from Brazil during his visit to the the country. "They are ready to grow pulses for us. We need to provide the required seed and they will do the cultivation after conducting tests of our seeds. Rather than going to different countries for pulses, we can depend on one," he said.Already New Delhi has signed an MoU with the Mozambique government to increase the import of pulses from the African nation."Our main effort is to increase domestic production so that we won't depend on other countries. We have assured to procure pulses at minimum support price that they will produce. Now we are buying at market rate," Paswan said.Latest CommentPaswan was on Government Junket to Watch the Olympics and Poked his nose into "Pulse Cultivation". Brown American
|826||Manufacturing growth outlook rises|
Expectations of growth in the manufacturing sector improved marginally in July-September, fuelled by hopes of higher exports, according to a survey by Ficci. The quarterly manufacturing survey by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) on Thursday revealed the proportion of respondents expecting higher growth during July-September rose marginally to 55 per cent from 53 per cent during the previous quarter. However, manufacturers are yet to regain confidence in growth prospects as was evident in January-March, when 60 per cent of respondents expected higher growth. The industrial sector accelerated to an eight-month high in June, growing by 2.1 per cent with the aid of electricity and mining. Manufacturing, which contributes 75 per cent to the Index of Industrial Production, grew 0.9 per cent during the month, slightly higher than 0.6 per cent in the previous month. The latest uptick in growth expectation, according to the survey, is primarily due to a slight improvement in the export outlook, with 41 per cent of respondents confident of higher exports, up from 36 per cent in the previous quarter. After rising for the first time in 18 months in June, merchandise exports shrank in July by 6.84 per cent on a decline in shipments of engineering goods and petroleum products.
|827||India to grant residency to rich foreigners|
India says it will grant residency to foreigners who make a substantial economic contribution to the country. It is part of the government's plan to attract more overseas investment. Investors must put $1.5m (£1.1m) into the nation's economy over 18 months or $3.75m over three years. They must also create jobs for at least 20 Indians each financial year. In return, they will get a 10-year visa, residency for their spouse and children, and be able to buy a home. Foreigners must currently re-register every year - creating a slew of paperwork - and usually need a sponsor. The scheme will reportedly not be available to Chinese and Pakistani citizens. India is ranked 130th in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business index. It is the fastest growing major economy in the world, but its young population means it needs to create about 10 million jobs a year to prevent unemployment increasing. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an overhaul of foreign ownership rules in another move to attract overseas investment. Airlines and some defence industries can now be 100% foreign owned. and for overseas retailers, rules were relaxed that required 30% of what they sold to be Indian-sourced.
|828||India's economic growth is still the envy of the world|
India's breakneck growth rate has slowed, but not enough to cost it the title of world's fastest growing big economy. Gross domestic product growth dipped to 7.1% in the quarter ended June, a disappointing performance but one that still trumps the 6.7% posted by China in its most recent quarter. The slowdown comes as unease mounts over the pace of economic reforms, leadership at the central bank, and intractable problems that politicians seem unable to tame: corruption, bureaucracy and onerous regulation. Economists have even called into question the validity of the country's GDP statistics, which have diverged from other indicators after government officials changed how the number is calculated. Shilan Shah, an economist at Capital Economics, estimated that growth was "almost certainly weaker" than official statistics indicate, and perhaps as slow as 5.5% or 6% in the quarter.
Projects worth Rs 20 lakh crore set to get green light from key PMO group
Investments worth Rs 20 lakh crore, more than 500 projects - that's what a key group in the PMO is focussing on. The Project Monitoring Group (PMG) that works under the Prime Minister's Office has cleared 276 projects, stalled due to various reasons and accounting for investment of nearly Rs 10 lakh crore, in the last two years. Another 258 projects, with investment of more than Rs 10 lakh crore, will be cleared soon. Roads, coal, power and railways comprise bulk of the projects while land and environment issues accounted for the majority of clearance hurdles. Roughly half the projects are public sector and the rest private plus PPP (public-private partnership).
|830||President's nod to Constitution Amendment Bill on GST|
President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday gave assent to the Constitution Amendment Bill on Goods and Services Tax (GST). The move, paved the way for setting up of the GST Council that will make recommendations on the model GST Bill, rates and other important aspects to roll out the new indirect tax regime targeted for April 1, 2017. Now, a mere procedural formality is left to put it on the official gazette to make the Bill an Act
|831||Indian residency can be yours for $1.5 million|
Want to live in India? You can, if you're willing to invest $1.5 million. The Indian government is launching a new program that rewards foreigners with a 10-year residency permit if they invest $1.5 million in the country over an 18-month period. Investors are also required to generate a minimum of 20 jobs for Indian residents per financial year. In return, investors will receive a multiple entry visa and the right to purchase a property. Family members will be able to work and study in India for the duration of the visa, which can be extended by another 10 years. Roughly 20 countries currently offer immigrant investor schemes. They include the United States, select countries in Europe and a smattering of island nations in the Caribbean.
India is likely to post its first current account surplus in nine years in the latest quarter
Forecasts given by investment houses' research notes and from analysts that Reuters spoke to showed expectations centering on a surplus of $4 billion, or 0.8 per cent of GDP, in April-June quarter. That compared with a deficit of $6.2 billion, equivalent to 1.2 per cent of GDP, in the same quarter a year ago. And, if the forecasts prove correct it will be the first surplus since January-March 2007, though India is unlikely to keep the surpluses coming. For the full year ending in March 2017, India is likely to post a deficit even lower than last year's 1.1 per cent of GDP, as foreign investment inflows remain steady - and that should be broadly supportive for the rupee.
|833||Prices of LED bulbs drop to Rs 38|
Prices of LED bulbs being distributed by state-run Energy Efficient Services Ltd (EESL) under a government programme have fallen to one-tenth of their rates two years ago. Production of LED lamps in the country has increased to about four crore per month from 10 lakh two years ago. LED bulbs consume 80% less energy than incandescentBSE 0.00 % bulbs and almost half of that used by CFLs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in his Independence Day speech said the government was distributing LED bulbs for Rs 50 a piece against the earlier price of Rs 350. The government expects to save 85 lakh Kwh electricity consumption every day or 15,000 onne of CO2 by replacing 77 crore conventional bulbs and CFLs with the LEDs and 3.5 crore street lights over three years.
|834||Cabinet likely to extend stock limits on pulses tomorrow|
The Cabinet is likely to consider tomorrow a proposal to extend stock holding limits on traders of pulses, edible oils and oilseeds for one more year to check hoarding and control price rise. The stock holding limits on traders of these commodities expired this month-end. “The Food Ministry’s proposal to extend stock holding limit on pulses, edible oils and oilseeds traders is on the agenda of the Cabinet meeting tomorrow,” a source said. The stock holding limits are imposed under the Essential Commodities Act in order to check hoarding and blackmarketing. The country is dependent on import of pulses and edible oils as the domestic production is lower than the demand
Competition from Indian industry bigger than imagined: Chinese daily
China should reduce production costs for manufacturers as competitive pressure from Indian industry is “much bigger” than Beijing had imagined, a state-run Chinese daily said today. “The competitive pressure on China’s manufacturing sector from India is perhaps much bigger than China imagined,” an article in the state-run Global Times said. Referring to reports that salaries in China have grown by 10.6 per cent since 2008, while India has seen a salary growth of just 0.2 per cent during the same period, it said. “India’s low labour cost advantage has rung an alarm for China’s manufacturing sector. Now it is time for China to map out concrete measures to reduce production costs for manufacturers. “In this regard, the Chinese economy has to reduce its reliance on real estate and strive to create a favourable investment environment for manufacturers,” it said. Already some Chinese smartphone vendors like Huawei plan to start manufacturing handsets in India because of cheaper labour costs, it said. “India’s low labour cost advantage forces China to make more efforts to maintain its competitive edge in the global manufacturing landscape.
|836||Finance ministry sets ball rolling for Budget overhaul|
The finance ministry has set in motion overhaul of the Budget exercise-- merger of the Rail Budget with the General Budget, advancing of dates of Budget presentation in Parliament and doing away with the distinction between plan and non-plan expenditure.
|837||China's Huawei to start India smartphone production in Oct|
Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] will start making smartphones in India next month, the company said on Friday, joining a wave of compatriots setting up plants in the world's third-biggest mobile market. The plant will be operated with the Indian arm of electronics manufacturer Flextronics International Ltd in the southern Indian city of Chennai, Huawei said. India is trying to attract manufacturing into the country as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Make in India" initiative. Huawei got the green light from the government in July to set up the manufacturing plant in India, 19 months after applying for a license. "We are convinced about the growth potential and future of India and we'll keep looking for opportunities to increase our presence here," Jay Chen, CEO, Huawei India said in a statement. India is the world's fastest growing smartphone market and an attractive country for phone makers given growth in China is stagnating. The number of smartphone users in India is expected to reach 990 million by 2020 from 798.4 million in 2015, according to a study by Cisco. But so far a lack of good suppliers and infrastructure have hampered efforts to manufacture phones in the country, forcing most of India's more than 100 different phone companies to import from China and Taiwan, though the Modi government is making efforts to make it easier for manufacturers. "The vendor ecosystem in India is not as strong as it is in China. A lot of things still need to be imported from China when it comes to things like electronic components, batteries, display or others, but I am sure as the market progresses, we will start to see true manufacturing happening here in India," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner.
|838||India isn't just growing fast, it's much more competitive|
India's economy is booming. It's also becoming much more competitive.The country has zoomed higher in a new ranking of global competitiveness by the World Economic Forum, marking the second consecutive year of massive gains following a long malaise. India was the most improved country in the 2016 ranking, moving up 16 places to 39th. It's a major improvement from two years ago when it languished in 71st position. WEF said that India has made progress across the board, especially in market efficiency, business sophistication and innovation. It has also made significant gains in human welfare: Infant mortality has fallen by half over the previous decade, and life expectancy has increased from 62 years to 68 years over the same period. Recent improvements have been supported by breakneck economic growth. In the latest quarter, gross domestic product expanded by 7.1%, a quick enough rate for India to keep its title as the world's fastest growing big economy. WEF analysts did take note of areas that need improvement. It praised efforts by the country's central bank to bring transparency to financial markets, but said more should be done to clean up commercial banks. The group warned that more reforms are needed if India is to "prosper in its next stage of development, when it will no longer be possible to base its competitiveness on low-cost, abundant labor."
One graph that shows India’s big leap in global competitiveness under PM Narendra Modi
The Global Competitiveness Index report 2016-17 released by the World Economic Forum shows India has made the biggest leap among all countries of the world this year. India is placed at the 39th position, which is 16 notches above the last year’s rank. Incidentally, in 2015-16 also India had jumped 16 positions in the Global Competitiveness Index. While Switzerland has topped the list for the record eighth time, it is closely followed by Singapore and the US. With a score of 4.52, India is also the second-most competitive among BRICS nations behind China, which is ranked 28th. Switzerland’s score is 5.81.
|840||Rupee Bonds See Biggest Surge in Foreign Holdings in Two Years|
Foreign holdings of Indian government and corporate notes jumped by the most in two years Wednesday, amid speculation the surge resulted from the inclusion of funds raised through masala bonds. Total ownership increased by 80.78 billion rupees ($1.2 billion), the biggest for any day since August 2014, according to data compiled by National Securities Depository Ltd. and Bloomberg. Of this, 74.49 billion rupees flowed into corporate securities, with the rest in sovereign and state-governments’ debt. Wednesday’s increase took this month’s inflows into rupee bonds to about 156 billion rupees, the most since January 2015. Total foreign holdings, at 3.50 trillion rupees, are now the highest since November 2015. Indian notes have rallied this quarter as the global hunt for yield, improved domestic liquidity and expectations of an interest-rate cut by the central bank spurred demand. Housing Development Finance Corp., India’s biggest mortgage lender, sold 30 billion rupees of three-year, one-month masala notes in July, becoming the first local issuer to tap the offshore rupee-debt market. About 120 billion rupees has been raised through such issuances, Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said on Tuesday. Sale of local-currency bonds overseas will be within the aggregate limit of foreign investment permitted in corporate debt, according to an April notice from the Reserve Bank of India.
Deadline for declaring undisclosed income expires; I-T dept collects Rs 65,000 crore countrywide
Deadline for declaring undisclosed income has expired. The Income-Tax department has collected black money worth more than Rs 65,000 crore from across the country. Andhra Pradesh has topped the list at Rs 13,000 crore. Andhra Pradesh has surprised taxmen by beating financial capital city Mumbai to become the state from where the maximum black money has been declared till now. "In the last few hours, an individual in Hyderabad came with a declaration of Rs 10,000 crore, taking the total amount of black money declared in Andhra Pradesh to Rs 13,000 crore", an official said. Till the afternoon, Mumbai was topping the list, but now stands second with a declared sum of Rs 8,500 crore black money. In fact, sources say two to three declarants till Friday evening came forward with a four-digit amount. Interestingly, Delhi and Gujarat are closely contesting for the number three position, as both states have recovered an amount of Rs 6,000 crore. As much as Rs 4,000 crore has been collected from Kolkata.
|842||India tax evasion amnesty uncovers hidden billions|
A tax evasion amnesty in India has prompted tens of thousands of people to declare more than $9.5bn (£7.3bn) in undeclared income and assets. Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the four-month window that ended on Friday brought in 64,275 declarations. All were offered immunity from prosecution in return for paying tax, a surcharge and a penalty. It is estimated that the government could raise nearly $4.5bn (£3.4bn) from the scheme. Undeclared income or "black money" is a huge issue in India. The government contacted about 700,000 suspected tax evaders earlier this year, urging them to declare hidden income and assets. They were told they would not be pursued by the authorities if they came clean and paid a penalty. Those who came forward included a group of street food owners in Mumbai who are said to have declared nearly $7.5m. The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says that despite the huge numbers, the amount declared is only a fraction of the country's undisclosed earnings. It does not account for money stashed in Swiss banks and overseas tax havens which some government investigators believe amounts to around $500bn, he says. During India's 2014 elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to crack down on corruption and black money. In a series of tweets on Saturday, he declared the amnesty "successful", saying it was "a great contribution towards transparency and growth of the economy". The government says the money raised will be spent on public welfare. Authorities have been under pressure to act following the release of the so-called Panama Papers in April that lifted the lid on how the rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth. About 500 Indians were among those named.
IMF raises India GDP growth projections to 7.6% for FY2017 and FY2018
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday raised projections for India’s economic growth by 0.2 percentage points to 7.6 per cent for 2016-17 and 2017-18. The projections came in at a time when the Fund said global economic growth will be subdued this year, following a slowdown in the US and Britain’s vote to exit the European Union. It, however, retained global economic growth at 3.1 per cent for 2016 and 3.4 per cent for 2017. In its World Economic Outlook, IMF also kept gross domestic product (GDP) expansion for China unchanged at 6.6 per cent in 2016, which would decelerate to 6.2 per cent in 2017. That way, India would keep its position of the fastest-growing large economy that it snatched from China in 2015-16. “India’s GDP will continue to expand at the fastest pace among major economies, with growth forecast at 7.6 per cent in 2016–17,” it said in its outlook released three days ahead of its annual meetings with the World Bank in Washington. The Fund cut growth rate of the US by 0.6 percentage points for 2016.
|844||Final black money tally may go up by Rs 10,000 cr|
“The total figures could go well beyond Rs 75,000 crore. A final report will be submitted by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) by next week,” an official said. Devaraj Reddy, president of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, said at least Rs 71,000 crore was declared under that Income Declaration Scheme (IDS). Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had given a figure of Rs 65,250 crore but said this was provisional. As many as 64,275 declarants disclosed black money but this figure could be revised upward, he had said. Central Board of Direct Taxes head Rani Singh Nair met regional heads on Tuesday and sources said IDS and its aftermath were discussed.
India extends steel floor prices to December 4 to curb cheap imports
India extended a floor price for imports of steel products for a further two months late on Tuesday as the government tries to protect the domestic industry from cheap overseas shipments, especially from China. The floor price, or the minimum import price, was introduced for six months in February, the first time the government had taken such a step in more than 15 years. It was extended from its initial expiry in August to October 4. The second extension, announced by the commerce and industry ministry on Tuesday, is a sign India is growing increasingly protectionist as it tries to support local players in the world's only major growing steel market.
Indirect tax mop up grows 26 per cent to Rs 4.08 lakh crore in April-September
Indirect tax collections during the first half of the current fiscal grew 25.9 per cent to Rs 4.08 lakh crore mainly on account of 46 per cent jump in excise duty mop up. The net indirect tax collection in the April-September period accounts for 52.5 per cent of the Budget 2016-17 estimates. A finance ministry statement said net tax collections of central excise jumped 46.3 per cent to Rs 1.83 lakh crore during April-September, as compared to Rs 1.25 lakh crore in the year-ago period. Net service tax mop up during April-September grew 22.1 per cent to Rs 1.16 lakh crore, compared to Rs 95,780 crore during the 6-month period of last fiscal.
|847||Niti Aayog studies Chinese coastal manufacturing zones|
Government think-tank Niti Aayog is studying China’s coastal manufacturing zones, a move that can help India develop its 7,500 km of coastline and help the country further strengthen its export potential. During the recently-concluded fourth round of India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue last week, Aayog has proposed closer interaction with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) for analysing the Communist nation’s “huge success” with coastal manufacturing zones (CMZs). “We want to study China’s experience with the coastal economic zones and port-led development in China where the cities were granted special status to open coastal cities. They enjoy special policies. Aayog wants to analyse them,” Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya told reporters here. “Aayog has proposed closer interaction with NDRC on understanding China’s huge success in developing such zones and analyse their experience.”
|848||IWAI plans to spend Rs 2,000 crore on Odisha waterways|
With the Centre set to float a tender for development of 36 waterways in the country, the Odisha government said the Inland Waterways Authority of India has plans to spend Rs 2,000 crore in the state in the first phase. “For the first phase of waterways development, the IWAI has proposed to spend Rs 2,000 crore in Odisha,” transport and commerce minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi said. The Centre through IWAI planned to develop the waterways from Jionkhali in West Bengal to Talcher in Odisha, a 588 kilometre stretch, the minister said adding that the detailed project report was being prepared by technical consultants. Of the 588 KM waterways, called East Coast Canal, which will integrate with the Brahmani river and Mahanadi delta rivers, work on a 201 KM stretch will be completed in the first phase.
|849||Centre to invest Rs 15,000 crore to expand Panipat refinery|
The central government will invest Rs 15,000 crore to increase the capacity of Panipat refinery from existing 15 million tonnes (MT) to 25 mt to create huge employment opportunities, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said here today. Also, an ethanol plant would be set up at a cost of Rs 500 crore by the Indian Oil Corporation in Panipat to generate alternative fuel from agricultural residue which would boost agriculture sector, the Petroleum Minister said.
|850||Govt issues more draft norms under Bankruptcy Code|
The government on Tuesday came out with another set of draft rules, including for liquidation of insolvent corporate persons, under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. As part of implementing the Code, the government has already constituted the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI), while the draft norms will be finalised after taking into consideration the views of the stakeholders. Notified by the government in May, the Code seeks to consolidate and amend laws relating to reorganisation as well as insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time-bound manner. The latest set of draft regulations relate to liquidation of insolvent corporate persons, insolvency resolution process for corporate persons and application to judicial authority. Views of stakeholders have been sought till October 31 on these draft norms, according to a public notice issued by the corporate affairs ministry. Last week, the ministry issued draft regulations pertaining to registration of insolvency professionals, agencies and model bye-laws. A working group of experts, set up by the ministry, has prepared these regulations.
|851||Inflation seen cooling to one-year low in September|
Inflation in India is expected to have cooled to a one-year low in September as good monsoon rains kept a lid on food prices, a Reuters poll showed, possibly giving more room to the central bank to cut rates again by the end of this year. The recently formed Reserve Bank of India Monetary Policy Committee, under new Governor Urjit Patel, cut rates by 25 basis points to 6.25 per cent in a surprise move earlier this month, after inflation hit a five-month low in August. The latest poll of over 30 economists showed retail inflation probably eased further last month to 4.80 per cent, the lowest since September 2015, from 5.05 per cent in August.
|852||India exports back in positive zone in September, imports down|
India's exports surprisingly got back to positive zone in September even though imports fell and helped in narrowing the trade deficit, government data showed Friday indicating a recovery in shipment amid a tumultuous global economic situation.In September, exports grew 4.6 per cent to $22.88 billion while imports declined 2.5 per cent fell 2.5 per cent to $31.22 billion resulting in narrowing of the trade gap to $8.34 billion as compared with $10.18 billion a year ago. During April-September or H1 of FY17, exports were down 1.7 per cent at $131.4 billion while imports were down 13.8 per cent at $174.4 billion leaving a trade deficit of $43 billion as compared to $68.55 billion.The September data comes as a surprise as exports fell 0.3 per cent in August and 6.8 per cent in July, reversing the growth registered in June, as global demand slackened and economic uncertainties increased after Brexit referendum.India's exports turned positive in June growing 1.3 per cent to $22.57 billion after remaining in the red for 18 months, buoyed by higher shipments of agri commodities, pharmaceuticals and engineering goods. Exports have been falling since December 2014 due to weak global demand and slide in oil prices.In September, non-petroleum exports rose 5.4 per cent to $19.28 billion. Non-petroleum exports during H1 were up 0.47 per cent to $117.31 billion.In September, oil imports rose 3.1 per cent to $6.89 billion while non-oil imports fell 4 per cent to $24.33 billion.During H1, oil imports were down 18.6 per cent to $39.2 billion while non-oil imports declined 12.3 per cent to $135.11 billion.Modest global oil prices have helped India rein the oil import bill even though the petroleum exports also suffered. With a steeper fall in imports and shrinking of trade deficit, chances have brightened the current account deficit could be narrowed to close to zero or even end up in surplus in Q2.
Modi govt's clampdown on black money curbing gold appetite in India, say bankers
India's crackdown on undisclosed foreign assets and income is curbing demand for gold in the world's second-biggest consumer, while rising real interest rates and better returns from other financial markets are also hurting purchases, a banker said. Although consumption should pick up from now until the end of the financial year, when India buys more for gifting during festivals and weddings, weak demand so far has dragged on the global gold price that has shed nearly 9 percent from a two-year high in July to $1,258 an ounce on Tuesday. "There is a crackdown on black money in India and many people who were looking at gold as an investment for unaccounted income are no longer investing in gold at all," Shekhar Bhandari, executive vice-president of Kotak Mahindra Bank, told Reuters on the fringes of an industry meet. Unofficial estimates suggest funds illegally deposited in banks outside the country to avoid tax, known as "black money" in India, account for about 10-30 percent of the country's gold demand, said Bhandari. A tax evasion amnesty scheme, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that closed in September disclosed nearly $10 billion in undeclared income. India's gold demand has also been hit by higher returns from other asset classes, Bhandari said, with returns on equities and bonds at 12-13 percent dwarfing gold's 0.9 percent in terms of rupees since 2013. Rising real interest rate due to declining inflation is dimming gold's draw as well.
|854||Reforms cut risk, drive up highway construction: CRISIL|
Thanks to a healthy growth in traffic and reforms allowing developers to divest 100 per cent equity in projects two years after completion of construction, high-risk road projects in the sector came down by 13 per cent in FY16, compared to the previous year, an analysis showed. According to the analysis -– done by CRISIL on 85 under-construction and 104 operational build-operate-transfer (BOT) and annuity projects awarded by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), spanning 16,600 km -– refinancing of debt by low-cost, longer-tenure loans played a big role in credit improvement of these projects. The risks pertain to completion of under-construction projects and the debt-servicing ability of operational ones. The pace of construction also improved from an average 4.3 km a day in FY15 to six km in FY16. Of the 104 operational projects, there was an 18 per cent reduction in both length (to 2,700 km) and outstanding debt (to Rs 19,650 crore) of high-risk operational BOT projects, compared with FY15. Consequently, 65 per cent of the operational portfolio had a debt service coverage ratio of 1x, compared with 55 per cent a year ago.
To restore credibility of GDP, inflation and IIP data, Modi government sets up five committees
The government has begun a mammoth exercise to overhaul the system of collecting key statistics on inflation, industrial production, consumption and employment to restore the credibility of official economic data, which took a severe beating after a new series of national accounts was released last year. In a wholesale clean-up attempt, five committees have been set up to review data for GDP estimates, provide for mechanisms to ensure “data integrity” and come up with industry-wise ..
|856||ICICI, Axis, StanChart get back $2.5 bn of Essar loans|
Within days of Essar Group signing a mega USD 12.9-billion asset sale in its oil business, three top lenders — ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and StanChart — have got back an estimated USD 2.5 billion as part of the first payment for their debt exposure to the Ruias-led conglomerate. The two Indian lenders — which together had an exposure of USD 1.5 billion — will get back nearly half of their money or about USD 770 million in cash while further USD 750 million of debt will get transferred to Rosneft-led consortium and Essar’s ports and other businesses, as per the terms agreed upon by them. Out of the total cash component, nearly USD 350 million was paid in cash to the two Indian banks last night, which together with interest payout of about USD 100 million takes their total collection from Essar to about USD 450 million, banking sources said. Between the two Indian lenders, ICICI Bank’s share is nearly three-fourths while that of Axis Bank is about one-fourth — in the total exposure as well as repayments. In the case of StanChart, whose total exposure was much higher at over USD 3.3 billion, the bank has decided to opt for a larger cash component of about USD 2.1 billion for repayment of its loans. Sources said StanChart got back the entire cash component at one go last night while nearly USD 400 million of its debt will get transferred to ports and other businesses of the Essar Group. Besides, it has decided to write off nearly USD 850 million of its exposure.
|857||Banks eye ‘resolution’ of Rs 1.5 lakh cr worth stressed assets|
Enthused by speedy recovery of loans worth USD 2.5 billion by three lenders including ICICI Bank within days of mega USD 13-billion Essar deal, banks are now looking at resolution of stressed assets totalling Rs 1.25-1.50 lakh crore (nearly USD 20 billion) in coming months. Having broadly completed the first two stages of ‘recognising’ the stressed assets and of ‘reserving’ or provisioning for such loans in their accounts, the banks are now betting big on ‘resolution’ part of what is being billed by some top bankers as ‘3Rs’ formula to recover their dues. With the Essar deal coming in as a major catalyst, the banks are prioritising the resolution process by focussing on helping in sale of businesses by corporate borrowers and by converting debt into equity at operating profit-generating companies, according to some top bankers.
|858||Cabinet gives in-principle nod to biggest divestment drive|
The Union Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday gave an "in-principle" approval to strategic sales and disinvestment in a number of state-owned companies, kick-starting the process of valuing these entities and finding interested buyers. The public sector undertakings (PSUs) include loss-making and profit-making entities as well as assets such as factories and plants. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the decision during a media briefing after the Cabinet meeting. He, however, declined to reveal the names of the companies, saying these will now be approved by the Cabinet on a case-by-case basis after valuing them, finding prospective buyers and possible methods of sale.
Infrastructure sector growth at 3-month high of 5 per cent in September
Infrastructure sector recorded a growth rate of 5 per cent in September — the highest in three months — on account of healthy performance by cement, steel and refinery products. The growth rate of the eight infrastructure sectors — coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizers, steel, cement and electricity — in September 2015 was 3.7 per cent. The core sectors, which contribute 38 per cent to the total industrial production, had expanded by 3.2 per cent in August. As per the official data released today, the cumulative growth of the sector during April-September period of the fiscal was 4.6 per cent against 2.6 per cent in the same period last fiscal. Production of cement, steel and refinery products grew by 5.5 per cent, 16.3 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively in September this year. Growth in fertilizer and electricity generation fell to 2 per cent and 2.2 per cent in September 2016, from 18.3 per cent and 11.4 per cent respectively in September 2015.
|860||GSTN to borrow Rs 800 crore to meet GST infra building cost|
GSTN, the company that is building the world’s biggest and most complex tax system, will borrow Rs 800 crore from banks to fund infrastructure costs to support Goods and Services Tax rollout from April 1 next year. The Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), a not-for-profit, non-government, private limited company promoted by the central and state governments, is borrowing Rs 250 crore for working capital needs and another Rs 550 crore as long-term loan from domestic lenders, its chairman Navin Kumar told PTI here. The government of India has 24.5 per cent stake in GSTN and the state government an equal share. The remaining 51 per cent is with private financial institutions.
|861||Number of income tax payers soars|
Thanks to the increased transparency through digitisation and also efforts to get hold of the tax evaders, the number of income taxpayers seems to be finally growing in a significant manner after hovering around 3 crore for quite some time. According to the latest income tax data released by the Central Board of Direct Taxes for FY13 (AY14) and FY14 (AY15), the number of income tax returns filed between FY12 and FY14 has increased by about 79 lakh to cross 3.91 crore
India built 2,979 km of highways in quarter; govt optimistic on achieving target
India built 2,979 km of highways during the April-September in the current fiscal year, or 16.5 km a day, up 21.7% over the corresponding period a year ago, thanks to a renewed focus on conventional government-funded engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) projects and a recent pick-up in the newly designed hybrid annuity model that greatly mitigates risk to private developers. Though construction is still far slower than needed to meet the target of 15,000 km (41 km a day) for all of 2015-16, government sources were still optimistic of meeting the target. The pace of construction, from about 20 km a day in April-July, fell largely due to the monsoon that slowed down activities on the ground. The sources said the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) constructed 985 km of roads during the first six months of the year while 1,994 km of highways were built by the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH), which carries out the task mostly through the state public works departments. “Construction work got affected due to heavy monsoon that lasted for nearly four months. Now the work will pick up. We will try our best to achieve the target,” NHAI chairman Raghav Chandra told FE. NHAI has been entrusted with the task of building 8,000 km of the targeted 15,000 km highways to be constructed in the current fiscal and the remaining has been proposed to be done by MoRTH.
|863||Export credit breaks trend to show sharp rise|
After several months of sluggish growth, export credit by banks has risen significantly. The outstanding gross export bank credit saw a 27.9 per cent increase as of August 2016 on a year-on-year basis, against 19.2 per cent in September 2015, data from Reserve Bank of India show. After a sustained period of negative growth, export credit has been witnessing a positive growth for the past six months. Exporters attribute this recovery to better exports in geographies such as the European Union, along with the reintroduction of interest equalisation scheme, which was earlier known as interest subvention.
|864||Centre unveils faster-maturing pulses variety|
The central government unveiled a new, early maturing variety of arhar (red gram). It apparently gives a yield of 20 quintals, the same as many existing varieties but maturing in 120 days, instead of the usual 170-180 days. Called PUSA Arhar-16, it might even be issued for commercial use in January itself, so that farmers could plant by the next kharif season. The new variety gives an average yield of 20 quintals, which though is same as many existing varieties, but more crucially take lesser time to mature making it suitable for northern plains. It would give farmers ample time to grow potato, mustard or wheat in the rabi season thereby making this arhar variety suitable for northern plains. An early release by next January bypassing he mandatory three years multi-field testing parameters would enable the country achieve self-sufficiency in pulses by in the next 3-4 years.
|865||The GST revolution is right on track|
As far as the supposed complexity of the four rate structure, I'm completely puzzled by this criticism. And I say this not as a newspaper columnist, but as an entrepreneur and a businessperson who has dealt with these issues personally for the last two decades while running Value Research. Here's what I think--it absolutely does not matter whether GST has one rate or four or ten. Those who think that 'one country one tax' meant 'one country one tax rate' probably do not have a first hand understanding of where the pain points lie for businesses. The magic of GST comes from having the same tax system across the country, and across all services and (almost) all goods. Was there anyone out there who was naive enough to think that food staples could ever be taxed at same rate as a stay in a luxury hotel? Let's leave behind this illusory deficiency and go back to how real problems will get solved for businesses. The huge promise and potential of GST rests on the core deliverable: No matter where in the country you buy your inputs and no matter where you sell your outputs, there will be a single tax chain where each stage will be offsettable against the last. And, all this will happen through a single, transparent, digital interface to which all governments and all businesses in the country will be connected. At the end of the day this is the only thing that matters. I'm constantly surprised at how anyone can not understand the scale of the revolution that this will be. And now back to the other side of the story--the whole messy legacy that is symbolised by the states' fight to retain the right to bribery. They'll probably win a share of the spoils at this stage, but GST is still a step forward in the right direction. The reason is simple--corruption in indirect taxation is essentially a collusion between the business and the tax system. The digital web of interconnected offsets that GST will establish will make it progressively more difficult to avoid taxes, and whittle away at the reasons to ask for and give bribes. It won't happen overnight--and will obviously be mightily resisted by everyone who has a stake in this--but it will start happening. Not just that, but there will surely be a hidden bonus in the form of higher direct taxes since it will be increasingly more difficult to understate income when expenses and revenue are visible in the GST system. You might have seen a little cooling in the GST fervour as the details have come out, but make no mistake, this is a revolution and the sooner it starts, the better it is.
|866||India rises to second spot on global business optimism index|
India improved its ranking by one spot in a global index of business optimism, with policy reforms and Goods and Services tax (GST) expected to become a reality soon, says a survey. According to the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report, India was ranked second on the optimism index during the third quarter (July-September 2016). Indonesia took the top spot, with the Philippines coming in third. India was ranked third during the April-June period after being on top for two consecutive quarters. “The improvement in the optimism ranking in the recent past clearly reflects that the reform agenda of the government and its efforts on improving the climate for doing business are having an impact,” Grant Thornton India LLP Partner – India Leadership Team Harish H V said.
Rs 500, 1000 scrapped, ATMs closed today: Highlights of PM’s speech
The current notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 will no longer be valid from November 8 midnight, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in a televised address to the nation. Instead, notes of Rs 2000 and a newly designed Rs 500 are being introduced. Here are highlights from his speech: - From midnight, notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 will cease to be legal tender. - Citizens will have 50 days -- between November 10 and December 30 -- to give in notes of Rs 1000 and 500 at post offices and banks. - Those unable to submit all their old currency notes within the deadline, will be able to do so at the Reserve Bank of India up till March 31, 2017 by providing a declaration. - ATMs will not function on November 9, and on November 10 in some places. - For 72 hours, until the midnight of November 11, government hospitals, government-authorised consumer stores like milk booths and ticketing counters, will continue to accept the old Rs 1000 and 500 notes. - RBI’s proposal for new Rs 2000 note has been accepted. - All banks will remain closed on November 9 for public work.
|868||Inflation falls to 14-month low of 4.2% in October|
Inflation fell in November on both the consumer price index (CPI) and the wholesale price index (WPI), giving room to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)-chaired panel to cut the policy rate further to improve the growth rate. While CPI inflation was down to 4.2% in October, the lowest in the new series launched since November 2014, against 4.31% in the September, the WPI rate of price rise declined to a four-month low of 3.39% compared to 3.57%, official data released on Tuesday showed. The inflation on both the indices decreased as the rate of price in food items declined. It fell to 3.32% in October from 3.88% in the previous month in terms of retail price index and to 4.34% from 5.75% in terms of WPI. It is widely expected that the monetary policy committee would cut the policy rate as shrinkage of cash following demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes is likely to further bring down inflation. It is also expected to deal a blow to economic activities. For this as well, a cut in the interest rates might become relevant.
|869||Incremental stress on bank books coming down, says RBI official|
Small signs of moderation in asset quality pressure on banks are becoming visible, going by the dip in the amount of loans that got added to the pool of gross non-performing assets (GNPAs) in the quarter ended September. This addition moderated to about Rs 40,000 crore, from Rs 47,000 crore in the June quarter, first of the current financial year, according to a review of results for 37 listed banks (from both the public and private sectors).
|870||Surge in iron ore output|
Domestic iron ore output has grown 25 per cent in the first half of 2016 following the Centre's focus on stepping up mineral production and lowering import. According to market analysts, the move can put pressure on domestic prices with international rates remaining steady at around $50 per tonne. According to mines ministry data, iron ore production in the first half of the year stood at 84 million tonnes (mt) compared with 66.85mt in the same period a year ago. "While domestic production has increased, imports have gone down. Exports have also increased,"
|871||SBI cuts deposit rates below 7%|
SBI chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya had said last week that since banks have got more than R3.25 lakh crore in deposits following the de-monetisation drive, sooner or later banks will cut deposit rates.Moreover, banks need to reduce their deposit rates in order to pass on the benefits of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) rate cuts, amounting to 175 bps since January 2015, to borrowers. This means that while borrowers can avail of cheaper loans, fixed deposits will turn progressively unattractive for savers.
|872||GDP growth rises to 7.3% in Q2 (July-September)|
GDP rose 7.3% in the quarter ended September, higher than the 7.1% in the previous one, as consumption improved but investment slumped, data from the Central Statistics Office showed on Wednesday. With core economic activity almost at a halt after the demonetisation of high denomination currency since November 8, the first half’s slowing is expected to increase in the rest of the financial year, putting at risk the government’s earlier forecast of 7-7.75% for 2016-17. “Both GDP and GVA (gross value added) growth decelerated in Q2 (September quarter), relative to Q2 of FY16. The initial data for Q2 imparts a further downside to our GDP and GVA growth forecasts of 7.5% and 7.3% for FY17, which we had revised downward after demonetisation,” said Aditi Nayar, principal economist at rating agency Icra. Growth in the third quarter (October-December) is expected to be the weakest in years, with spending hit due to unavailability of enough replacement currency. Demonetisation could also affect advance estimates for 2016-17, on which Budget assumptions would be made. Growth in GVA - aggregate of agriculture, industry and services - declined to 7.1% in Q2, against 7.3% in Q1. This shows that GDP growth in Q2 was also contributed to by a sharp contraction in subsidies provided by the government, compared to those given in the first quarter. Manufacturing, a focus area of the government, slowed in Q2 to 7.1%, as against 9.1% in the previous quarter. Industrial activity is expected to be subdued in the next quarter, due to the cash crunch. Industry as a whole (including mining, manufacturing and electricity) grew by 5.1%, from 6% in the same period last year. As for investment activity, gross fixed capital formation fell by 5.6%, from a decline of 3.1% in the previous quarter. Lending rates are expected to be cut over the next few weeks, as banks are flush with deposits after the old currency ban. They’ve seen deposits of Rs 8 lakh crore since November 8. Consumption was the bright spot in the data. Private final consumption expenditure grew 7.5%, as against 6.7% in the previous quarter. The higher salaries on account of the Pay Commission implementation from September and an early festival season might have boosted demand during the quarter-end.
|873||Q2 agricultural growth fastest in 2 years|
Agricultural growth as measured in Gross Value Added (GVA) at constant prices was the highest in two years this July-September quarter, second (Q2) of four in this financial year. The rate of rise was 3.3 per cent, on the back of a record kharif harvest, aided by a good monsoon. Production of foodgrains in this year's kharif rose by 8.9 per cent as compared to a decline of 3.2 per cent during the earlier one. In absolute numbers, the kharif grain production in 2016 has been estimated at a record 135.03 million tonnes (mt), with bumper rice and pulses production. Pulses output in the kharif si estimated at nine mt.
|874||Infra sector growth jumps to 6-month high of 6.6% in Oct|
Infrastructure sector recorded a growth rate of 6.6% in October — the highest in last six months — on the back of impressive performance by steel and refinery products. However, the growth rate of power generation, fertiliser production and cement output fell considerably on year-on-year (Y-O-Y) basis. Coal production continued to fall for the third straight month. The growth rate of eight infrastructure sectors — coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity — was 3.8% in October 2015. It was 5% in September 2016. Core sector growth The core sectors, which contribute 38% to the total industrial production, expanded by 4.9% in April-October compared to 2.8% growth in the similar period of previous
Gold in your lockers? Government not to tax jewellery from disclosed, exempted income
Jewellery and gold in all its form purchased out of disclosed income or legally inherited from ancestors is not chargeable to tax under the amended I-T law, said Finance Ministry on Thursday. Giving a major relief to the people who were anticipating that jewellery would be covered under the amended law after demonetisation of high value currency notes, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) announced that the Gold purchased from various sources including disclosed income, income exempted from tax, agricultural income or reasonable household savings not to be taxed. Besides, the ancestral Gold jewelleries or those who have been acquired from explained sources are also not falling under the ambit of tax, announced the ministry. “The jewellery or gold purchased out of disclosed income or out of exempted income like agricultural income or out of reasonable household savings or legally inherited which has been acquired out of explained sources is neither chargeable to tax under the existing provisions nor under the proposed amended provisions,” the CBDT said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8 announced the ban on Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes to combat corruption and black money from the Indian economy. As India is the world’s second-biggest gold buyer, and it is estimated that one-third of its annual demand of up to 1,000 tonnes is paid for in black money – untaxed funds held in secret by citizens in cash that don’t appear in any official accounts, the ministry were reportedly monitoring gold deposits of people after the ambitious demonetisation step. However, the ministry clearified that Gold purchased out of purchased out of disclosed income or exempted income or reasonable household savings will not be chargeable to tax. The ministry further notified that that I-T department would not seize gold jewellery to extent of 500 grams per married lady, 250 grams per unmarried lady and 100 grams per male member of the family besides the above relaxation. Also, legitimate holding of jewellery up to any extent is fully protected, said CBDT. Earlier, the government rooted out anticipation that it might be imposing some kind of restrictions on gold holding by individuals that was hovering around after the reports that many people had converted their black money into gold after the move.
|876||Fresh bonds to soak up cash|
The government today sharply raised the ceiling on the market stabilisation scheme (MSS) to Rs 6 lakh crore from Rs 30,000 crore to mop up additional liquidity from the banking system following demonetisation. MSS, launched in 2004, is an instrument that allows the Reserve Bank to manage liquidity through the issue of both bills and dated securities. However, these securities are not issued to meet government's expenditure. Since the government announced the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 8, the banking system has been awash with liquidity arising out of the huge deposits from the public. Latest reports say that deposits of Rs 10 lakh crore have come into the system, and more deposits are expected to flow in the coming days ahead of the December-30 deadline. The announcement of MSS should come as a huge relief to the banking system following the hike in CRR last week. This was because while they were paying interest on these deposits, it did not yield any return when parked with the RBI as CRR since there is no interest payment on such balances. It is expected that consequent to the announcement of MSS, the central bank will reverse the CRR hike.
Kashmiri Parties Want To Block Union Govt From Helping These Refugees In Jammu.
Opposition and separatist parties in the state of Jammu and Kashmir have come together to oppose BJP-PDP government’s decision to issue Domicile Certificate to West Pakistan Refugees (WPRs) living in the state. Syed Ali Geelani, the ringmaster of the Hurriyat crowd, has red-flagged the decision, saying that it is against the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and a ploy to change the demographics of the state. Other factions of the separatist camp and mainstream political parties stand with him on the issue. But who are these ‘West Pakistan Refugees’ and what is their story? We explain below. In the wake of Pakistani aggression in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947, over 5,764 families, who migrated from the then West Pakistan to escape communal persecution, are residing mainly in the Jammu Division of the state. They have steadily grown into substantive numbers. According to Home Ministry data, 31,619 Displaced Persons of Pakistani-occupied Jammu and Kashmir have settled in the Jammu region of the state. Most of these refugees, 85 per cent by some estimates, live in inhuman conditions and often suffer discrimination. Though the Central government has undertaken programmes to rehabilitate these families, the hostile and communal atmosphere created by the separatist and Islamist organisations in the state has made life worse for them. The union government has taken various measures aimed at improving the living condition of these families. Special provisions have been made to facilitate admission to their wards in professional and other educational institutions, bank loans without mortgage for taking up self-employment/business activities, and vocational training for youth.
|878||Registration fee for Pakistan Hindus as Indian citizens reduced|
The registration fees for Hindus and other minority community people from three neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, as Indian citizens have been drastically reduced to as low as Rs 100 from Rs 15,000. In a gazette notification, the Home Ministry said the new rules will be applicable to minority communities- Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians- from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and living in India on Long Term Visa.
|879||NDA 'betters' UPA's 10-year record in sanctioning houses for poor|
The NDA government on Tuesday created a record of sanctioning nearly 13.47 lakh houses for the poor in the past oneand-a-half years, which is more than what the UPA had approved during its two consecutive terms under two different schemes. According to housing ministry officials, 13,43,326 houses were sanctioned for the poor during UPA-I and II under JNNURM and Rajiv Awas Yojna. While central assistance of only Rs 17,405 crore was committed during the previous 10 years, till Tuesday the NDA government approved central aid of Rs 21,337 crore, officials added.
Modi revives three-decade-old plan to build India’s first passenger jet, a 14-seat aircraft, called Saras
India is reviving a three-decade-old plan to build its first passenger aircraft as the South Asian country struggles to join an exclusive club of Asian nations that have advanced far ahead in creating their own home-made jets. The development of the twin-turboprop plane suffered a setback in 2009 when a test flight ended in a fiery crash, killing all three crew on board. (PTI) The development of the twin-turboprop plane suffered a setback in 2009 when a test flight ended in a fiery crash, killing all three crew on board. India is reviving a three-decade-old plan to build its first passenger aircraft as the South Asian country struggles to join an exclusive club of Asian nations that have advanced far ahead in creating their own home-made jets. A 14-seat aircraft, called Saras, is undergoing preliminary tests, Jitendra Jadhav, director of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research at state-controlled National Aerospace Laboratories, said in an interview in Bengaluru on Wednesday. The development of the twin-turboprop plane suffered a setback in 2009 when a test flight ended in a fiery crash, killing all three crew on board.
|881||More medical devices may see price regulation|
It took a little over a year for the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to cap the prices of cardiac stents, which were sold at highly inflated rates by hospitals. Now the lens is on another 14 medical devices that could see a price regulation in the coming months. Here’s more…
|882||The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016|
The Bill amends the Enemy Property Act, 1968, to vest all rights, titles and interests over enemy property in the Custodian. The Bill declares transfer of enemy property by the enemy, conducted under the Act, to be void. This applies retrospectively to transfers that have occurred before or after 1968. The Bill prohibits civil courts and other authorities from entertaining disputes related to enemy property.
|883||PRICES OF CANCER DRUGS SLASHED BY UP TO 86%|
In a major relief for cancer patients, the drug pricing regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has slashed the prices of some cancer drugs by upto 86 per cent. The price of a drug called Iressa, which is manufactured by Astrazeneca Pharma India Limited and is used for the treatment of lung cancer, was around Rs 29,259, which has now been slashed to Rs 3,977. The price of another expensive drug for targeted cancer therapy Biceltis, manufactured by Emcure Pharmaceuticals, which is an antibody used to target cancer cells, has been reduced by over Rs 10,000. Price of chemotherapy drugs like Doceaqualip, manufactured by Intas Pharacetucals ltd, has been reduced by 37 per cent – from Rs 16,890 to Rs 10,560. The price of Dr Reddy’s tablet Levin used to treat blood cancer has been cut by 25 per cent.
|884||Highlights of Maternity Benefits (Amendment) Bill 2016|
Here are the important takeaways from the landmark Bill: >> Women working in the organised sector will now be entitled to paid maternity leave of 26 weeks, up from 12 weeks. Once the Bill is law, it will benefit about 1.8 million women. >> The Bill also provides for maternity leave of 12 weeks to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months as well as to commissioning mothers (defined as a biological mother) who uses her egg to have a surrogate child. In such cases, 12-week period of maternity leave will be calculated from the date the child is handed over to the adoptive or commissioning mother. >> It also makes it mandatory for every establishment with more than 50 employees to provide creche facilities within a prescribed distance. The woman will be allowed four visits to the creche in a day. This will include her interval for rest. >> The new law will apply to all establishments employing 10 or more people and the entitlement will be for only up to first two children. For third child, the entitlement will be for only 12 weeks. >> The Bill has a a provision under which an employer can permit a woman to work from home, if the nature of work assigned permits her to do so. This option can be availed of, after the period of maternity leave, for a duration that is mutually decided by the employer and the woman.>> The amendments would ensure that full maternal care is provided during the full bloom period and will encourage more women to join the workforce in organised sector.
|885||The Big Picture - The Modi brand is here to stay - Chander Mohan|
The man is bigger than his party. This is the crux of the results of five assembly elections in India, especially the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) that sends 80 MPs to Parliament. After these polls, there is no denying that Narendra Modi’s popularity overshadows not only the opposition but also his own party, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
As promised by @narendramodi ji, the long economic blockade in Manipur will be lifted from tonight. Today's tripartite talk was successful.
|887||87 lakh job cards removed from MNREGA list (ET)|
In its bid to check the "misuse" of funds under MNREGA, the Rural Development Ministry has removed as many as 87 lakh job cards from the beneficiaries list, Union Minister Ram Kripal Yadav said today. "The Rural Development Ministry had started a cleansing drive to check whether funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) were reaching the genuine beneficiaries, and in that drive it was found that about 87 lakh job cards were duplicate or fake or the beneficiaries had died," he said. About 63 per cent of 12.49 crore job cards issued under the MNREGA Act have so far been verified, the minister said It was found that the cards were made in the name of the beneficiaries who did not exist, Yadav said, adding that the work was allocated and amount released to such dubious claimants The flagship programme of NREGA is a demand-driven employment scheme. Not less than 100 days of employment is provided to registered workers upon receipt of their demand.
National Waterway 1, linking Haldia, Sahibganj, Varanasi, likely to be ready by 2018
With the development of national waterways being an integral part of the Centre’s plan to upgrade transport infrastructure in the country, work is afoot on National Waterway-1 (NW-1) linking Haldia to Allahabad. The projects on the river Ganga will boost the economies of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.U nder the National Waterways Act of 2016, the government has committed to developing 111 designated national waterways. Of these, NWs-1, 2, & 3 are partially operational. The national waterways would not only reduce logistics costs, but also lessen congestion on the road and rail networks, having a multiplier effect on the Indian economy. Work on NW-1 had been pending since 1990 due to hurdles posed by siltation. The shipping ministry has finally pushed the development of the Haldia-Varanasi stretch (1620 km) with projects for construction of multi-modal terminals at Varanasi, Haldia and Sahibganj, strengthening of the river navigation system, conservancy works, and development of information systems and night navigation facilities, besides construction of a navigational lock at Farakka.
How Yogi Adityanath becoming CM will bring affordable power for all in Uttar Pradesh (Financial Express)
With the newly-elected Yogi Adityanath government in saddle in Uttar Pradesh, the state is finally on the threshold of signing up on the Centre’s ambitious scheme 24×7 ‘Power for All’. Come April 14, Uttar Pradesh, which is the only state to have not signed up for the scheme yet, will formally become a signatory to the scheme that will ensure affordable and quality power to all. The 24×7 Power for All is a joint initiative of the central and state governments with the objective of providing round-the-clock electricity to all households, industry, commercial businesses and any other electricity consuming entities within four years. In a tweet on Thursday, energy minister Shrikant Sharma said he has directed officials of the UPPCL to provide power to every household and farm without any discrimination and to remove bottlenecks in the intra-state power transmission network so as to meet the power demand during summer months.
|890||80,000 gram panchayats now have broadband: Govt|
The government today said 80,000 gram panchayats in the country have been provided with broadband connectivity under BharatNet programme and the rest of the targeted 1 lakh villages will be given the facility by this month end. Communications Minister Manoj Sinha said in the Rajya Sabha that under phase-I of the plan, a total of one lakh gram panchayats were to be provided with broadband connectivity under BharatNet by March end this year. The government finally intends to provide such broadband connectivity to 2.5 lakh gram panchayats across the country. "For providing internet-based services to citizens in rural areas, WiFi hotspots are proposed to be set up in all Gram Panchayats in the country, leveraging the infrastructure of BharatNet, in the phase II of the BharatNet scheduled to be completed by December 2018," he said in his written reply.
|891||Isro will allow companies to obtain lithium-ion battery tech|
The government has asked Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) to allow manufacturers interested in producing indigenous lithium-ion batteries, including those from private sector, to obtain the technology for its mass production. Isro will now come up with a framework to make this process smooth. The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre under Isro has developed indigenous technology to manufacture such high-power batteries for automobiles and e-vehicles and their feasibility tests in vehicles have been successful. Over half a dozen major automobile companies, battery manufacturers and public sector undertakings have already approached Isro. Mahindra Renault, Hyundai, Nissan, Tata Motors, High Energy Batteries, BHEL and Indian Oil have shown interest in producing the indigenous lithium-ion batteries.
|892||How Narendra Modi government got it right on Kerosene subsidies|
A sharp 20% cut in supplies of subsidised kerosene by the government in the first eleven months of FY17—this is more than double the previous high of 9% in FY13—along with an increase in prices by a similar amount, though desirable from the point of view of subsidy reduction, is probably political suicide. Yet, to the extent the results of the last set of assembly elections, including in the populous and poor Uttar Pradesh, can be seen as a verdict on the central government’s policies on subsidy control, the BJP’s moves seem to have passed the political test too. Possibly because, from day one, the Union government’s stated policy on subsidy reduction has been gradual as well as one based on the availability of alternative energy sources—any reduction in kerosene supplies, the government was clear, was to be linked to more availability of either LPG or electricity for the poor. In the first eleven months of FY17, thanks to an all-out push to acquire new cooking gas customers in rural India—those that used either kerosene or wood-chulhas were the target customers of the Ujjwala scheme that has already given free LPG to 2 crore families in rural areas—LPG consumption in the country rose by more than 11%. While kerosene supplies fell from 6.3 million tonnes in the first 11 months of FY16 to 5 million tonnes in the same period of FY17, those of LPG rose to 19.7 million tonnes from 17.8 million tonnes.
Visa, MasterCard lobby government to ensure they don’t lose out to homegrown apps like UPI, BHIM
isa and MasterCard are said to be lobbying the government to make sure that they don’t lose out amid India’s digital payments push, which is being forged through homegrown applications such as the Unified Payment Interface (UPI), Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) and now Aadhaar Pay, also known as the BHIM-Aadhaar interface. The card companies are highlighting avenues such as QR codes and contactless payments as part of a bouquet of options to stay relevant in a cashless economy apart from the traditional avenues such as debit and credit cards. The government wants to reduce the use of cash to help track all transactions, ensure taxes are paid and root out black money. At stake for the card companies is a business worth Rs 6,000 crore with significant growth potential, given that only 5% of India is cashless. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Aadhaar Pay, supported by 27 banks and 715,000 merchants, on Friday. BHIM was launched in December last year, weeks after demonetisation was announced on November 8 and has already registered 19 million downloads. Top government officials across central ministries told ET that the card companies are concerned about missing potential business, especially because of the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS), given that the unique ID covers close to 99% of the adult population and over 40 crore bank accounts are already linked to Aadhaar. The biometric-based system will allow the authentication of payments through fingerprint readers, for instance, cutting out the card companies completely. Senior executives of the card companies have in the last two months been making their case to departments, including the Niti Aayog and the finance ministry, meeting ministers and top bureaucrats. It’s not clear whether they’ve been getting a sympathetic hearing. “We are not in the process of protecting the revenue of private players,” said a senior Niti Aayog official. :mrgreen: “The government will continue to provide alternate and cheaper options to end users to enable them to board our digital payment drive.”
Use of kerosene, diesel falls, LPG consumption rises on clean energy drive
India’s fossil fuel consumption trend is suggesting a shift away from inefficient and highly polluting use of hydrocarbons, as a result of efforts to move towards a less-carbon-intensive economy. Consumption of kerosene, used primarily for lighting and cooking purposes in rural areas, has dropped by a sharp 21% in 2016-17 from a year ago to 5.3 million tonnes, aided by greater use of cleaner liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking and coverage of more villages under the rural electrification programme, as per data from Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, an arm of the oil ministry. In the same period, consumption of LPG jumped 9.8% to 21.5 million tonnes, supported by a nationwide drive to boost consumption of clean cooking fuel. In 2016-17, state-owned fuel retailers Indian Oil Corp. (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp. and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. issued a total 3.25 crore new connections, the highest number of connections given in any year ever. The number included the 2 crore connections given under the “LPG-for poor women” scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.
PM Narendra Modi may step in to resolve wrangling on NITI Aayog's proposed National Energy Policy (ET)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to intervene to resolve an inter-ministerial wrangling over NITI Aayog's proposed National Energy Policy to roll out the long-overdue power sector reforms. Different stakeholder ministries, including those of power, coal, and new and renewable energy, have failed to come to a consensus on some points of the proposed policies, including freeing coal from price control, despite several rounds of consultations, said a senior government official who is aware of the deliberations on the matter. “National Energy Policy is pending with PMO (prime minister’s office),” the official told ET. “The top office is now planning to convene a high-level meeting of all concerned ministers and secretaries to be chaired by the PM himself to suggest way forward to the policy,” the official said. The first draft of the policy, framed by the Aayog after intense consultations over last one and a half year, was ready for seeking public comments by March. But that has been held back after concerned ministries raised objections with the PMO over certain proposals. Coal ministry, for example, expressed reservations over the proposal to free up the commodity from any price control. Such a move would divest the ministry of its power to control coal prices and help maximise profit for Coal India. However, NITI Aayog has largely stood by its reforms agenda. National Energy Policy has proposed comprehensive reforms to free sectors such as coal, electricity and fertilisers from subsidies and price controls, helping to produce more power by making electricity generation projects commercially viable for private companies.
PM Modi cracks down on 'lal batti' culture, govt bans use of red beacon by VIPs from May 1
In a major move towards ending the VIP culture in India, the Union Cabinet today banned the use of red beacon on vehicles attached to dignitaries, including the President, Prime Minister, and central and state ministers. In a major move towards ending VIP culture in India, the Union Cabinet today banned the use of red beacon on vehicles attached to dignitaries, including the central and state ministers and other VVIPs. The decision taken by the Cabinet will be implemented from May 1. Five categories would be allowed to use it – the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and the Speaker of Lok Sabha. In effect, the ban applies to Union ministers, chief ministers, state cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and judges of the High Court and Supreme Court. The Cabinet also announced that the use of red beacon will be allowed on vehicles attached to emergency services, like ambulance and police. This move is directly in line with the Prime Minister’s vision of a transparent government, where no leaders enjoy additional benefits. Last week, it was reported that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has called a meeting to discuss whether the red beacon should be discarded or restricted to certain dignitaries.
|897||Government to take suggestions on policy matter via twitter now|
One of the key features in Narendra Modi’s governance model is peoples’ participation in policy making and nation building. After the Modi government took the reins, it founded the portal MyGov.In for crowd-sourcing of ideas by citizens on the matters of governance and development. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, on various occasions, has used Twitter as a means for grievance redressal of citizens. From rescuing 168 Indians trapped in Iraq by promptly acting on a video tweeted to her to helping an Indian citizen who lost her passport and money in Berlin, Swaraj has done what no other Foreign Minister has ever done in the past. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu is yet another example of using twitter as a medium of governance. The citizens are directly registering their complaints regarding safety, cleanliness, quality of food with the Railway Minister’s personal Twitter handle and the Ministry’s official handle. The Railway Ministry is quick in taking actions and addressing the grievances of the people. In the run up to Budget 2017, Finance Ministry asked Twitterati to give suggestions on what should be the focus of the Budget. In a nutshell, from Swaraj to Prabhu to Arun Jaitley, Modi’s Ministers are smartly turning Twitter into a tool of governance. In the recent past, various Union Ministers have participated in ‘Talkathon Sessions’ where they answered questions related to governance matters posted on Twitter in a real time basis. The latest initiative of peoples’ participation in policy and governance has come from Ministry of Commerce. The Ministry is again using Twitter and other social media platforms as means to that end. According to this report, the Commerce Ministry will soon accept public suggestions and provide clarifications related to policy making on Twitter. Citizens can make the suggestions under the hashtag #mociseva.
Modi’s push to make Indian kitchens safer sees nation overtake Japan for LPG imports
India toppled Japan as the world’s second-largest importer of liquefied petroleum gas as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pledge to provide cooking gas cylinders to the poor and wean them off polluting fuels drove up consumption. In May last year Modi’s government embarked on a drive to provide free cooking gas connections to women from extremely poor households, aimed at reducing the use of polluting fuels such as wood and dried cow dung that, according to the World Health Organization, causes 1.3 million premature deaths in India every year. This push led to a record distribution of 32.5 million new cooking gas connections during the year. “It’s a game changer,” said Ong Han Wee, who heads the LPG team at Singapore-based Facts Global Energy. “Never in history we have seen such huge LPG usage in India. LPG will remain (the) main cooking fuel for India over next two decades.” India aims to increase LPG usage to cover 80 percent of its households by March 2019, against 72.8 percent as on April 1. Japan, meanwhile, is cutting back on LPG as cooking fuel and is moving to cheaper alternatives such as natural gas, according to Ong.
|899||Measures taken to control Ground Water Depletion|
Circulation of a Model Bill, by this Ministry, to all the States/UTs to enable them to enact suitable ground water legislation for its regulation and development which includes provision of rain water harvesting. So far, 15 States/UTs have adopted and implemented the ground water legislation on the lines of Model bill. • Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has prepared a conceptual document entitled “Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Ground Water in India” during 2013, involving ground water scientists/experts. The Master Plan envisages construction of 1.11 crore rain water harvesting and artificial recharge structures in the Country at an estimated cost of Rs.79,178 crores to harness 85 BCM (Billion Cubic Metre) of water. The augmented ground water resources will enhance the availability of water for drinking, domestic, industrial and irrigation purpose. The Master Plan has been circulated to all State Governments for implementation.
Neem works its magic on urea PM Modi government’s mandatory coating policy brings down sale of fertilisers, despite record farm production
Krishnan, nevertheless, concedes that “we cannot, as of now, establish whether or how much consumption has gone up”. Moreover, even the purported mismatch between sale and consumption cannot account for the extent of drop in the former. The nearly two-mt drop in urea sales is particularly striking. The agriculture ministry’s data on annual urea consumption show this to have hovered between 30 mt and 30.6 mt from 2012-13 to 2015-16. Assuming no major discrepancy between sales and consumption, the latter may end up at around 28 mt for this fiscal, a level last seen in 2010-11. G Ravi Prasad, president (corporate affairs and strategic projects) at Coromandel International Ltd, the market leader in complexes and single super phosphate, attributes the decline in sales of urea to the Centre’s decision to make 100 per cent neem-coating mandatory for both domestically manufactured and imported material. Coating of urea with neem oil — at 350 ppm or 400 ml for every tonne — has stopped the illegal diversion of the country’s most widely-consumed fertiliser for non-agricultural applications. Being heavily subsidised and, hence, cheap, urea is used as a binder by plywood/particle board makers and for sizing (smoothening) of textiles. It is also a common adulterant in milk. But, Prasad reckons illegal diversion of urea for non-farm purposes to be not more than 0.5 mt. He links the balance 1.5-mt reduction in urea consumption this year to the other big “magic” that neem oil coating has done. When urea is applied to the soil, it is first hydrolysed or broken by water into ammonium ions (NH4+), followed by oxidation to nitrite (NO2-) and, then, nitrate (NO3-) forms. This nitrification process is what makes the nitrogen, which is 46 per cent in urea, available to the crops. In normal urea, however, the conversion to nitrate happens very rapidly. As a result, up to two-thirds of the nitrogen is lost either through underground percolation (‘leaching’) of nitrates or ‘volatilisation’ (escaping into atmosphere). Neem oil basically acts as a ‘nitrification inhibitor’ when coated on urea. By slowing down urea hydrolysis and nitrification, it allows a more gradual release of nitrogen, which can be used by the plant. “Neem-coating increases nitrogen use efficiency. Also, since the urea action is prolonged, the plants stay greener for a longer time. Farmers apply urea when they notice the leaves turning yellowish. But if the crop here is retaining greenness for an extended period, they would reduce the frequency of application. Instead of three bags for an acre of paddy or wheat, they might be using only two now”, Prasad points out.