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August 2017 Economic Affairs

  • India's top five cities by start-up deals
    Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka and the Silicon Valley of India, has attracted the largest number of venture-backed start-up deals compared to any other city in the country over the past five years. Accounting for 30 per cent of the start-up funding deals in the country, Bengaluru justified its position as India’s start-up hub, but only barely. The National Capital Region, having more unicorns than Bengaluru, was at its heels with 29 per cent share, according to a CB Insights Report on Asia Tech Investments. Mumbai came third with 20 per cent share of deals. 

  • FDI jumps 37% to 10.4 billion USD during April-June 2017
    Foreign direct investment, FDI, into the country grew by 37 per cent to 10.4 billion US Dollar during the first quarter of the current fiscal. According to the figures of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, DIPP, India had received around eight billion FDI US Dollar during the same period last year. 

    The main sectors which attracted the highest foreign inflows include services, telecom, trading, computer hardware and software and automobile. 

    Bulk of the FDI came in from Singapore, Mauritius, the Netherlands and Japan. The government has announced several steps to attract foreign inflows. The measures include liberalisation of FDI policy and improvement in business climate. 

    Foreign investments are considered crucial for India, which needs around one trillion US Dollar for overhauling its infrastructure sector such as ports, airports and highways to boost growth. 

    A strong inflow of foreign investments will help improve the country’s balance of payments situation and strengthen the rupee value against other global currencies, especially the US dollar. 

  • ONGC board approves HPCL takeover of 51.11% stake
    The board of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp, ONGC, has given 'in-principle' approval to acquire government's 51.11 per cent stake in Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd. 

    The ONGC board at its meeting in New Delhi on 21st August constituted a committee of directors to examine various aspects of the acquisition and to provide its recommendations to the board of directors. 

    The government last month had approved sale of its 51.11 per cent stake in oil refiner HPCL to India's largest oil producer ONGC. The deal will be completed within a year. 

    The government had also constituted a committee - headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan and road minister Nitin Gadkari to work out the modalities of the sale. Jaitley had in his Budget for 2017-18 talked about creating an integrated oil behemoth. 

  • NITI Aayog forms six CEO groups to give inputs to PM
    NITI Aayog has formed six groups of CEOs to suggest implementable ideas and changes. The groups will divide some 200 CEOs who will make presentations to the Union Cabinet and the Prime Minister. 

    The groups will also be attached to individual ministries to suggest inputs. An official aware of the sessions said. The CEOs will focus on job creation, income enhancement, tech disruption, ease of doing business and governance. They have been divided into the groups themed – New India by 2022, Make in India, Cities of Tomorrow, World Class Infrastructure, Doubling Farmers Income, and Fixing Finance. 

    As the government’s principal policy ideating think tank, the NITI Aayog will identify the action points from the inputs given by industrialists. Under the group themed New India by 2022, the CEOs will brainstorm on economy, social capital and gender parity. The group themed Make in India will focus on topics such as Industry 4.0, MSMEs and value chains, exports, logistics, FDI and FII. The Cities of Tomorrow group will brainstorm on smart urbanisation, sustainable planning, city governance, growth clusters and public transportation. 

  • Aadhaar-PAN linkage to continue: UIDAI CEO
    Linking of Permanent Acount Number, PAN with biometric identifier Aadhaar will continue as previously directed and so will be the quoting of the 12-digit Aadhaar number for availing various government subsidies. According to UIDAI CEO Ajay Bushan Pandey, t he Aadhaar Act, which entails its quoting for services ranging from getting subsidised cooking gas to opening bank account and obtaining a new phone number, had been drafted keeping in mind privacy as a fundamental right. judgement has not said anything about the Aadhaar Act so the Aadhaar Act is a valid Act passed by the Parliament (and) is the law of the land

    The UIDAI CEO Ajay Bushan Pandey added that Aadhaar Act protects privacy of people as a fundamental right and its provisions provide for safeguarding of personal data and how such data can be used. 

    He noted that core biometric can never be shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever, except in particular circumstances which too has to be cleared by a committee headed by cabinet secretary. 

  • Finance Minster unveils NITI Aayog's 3-year Action Agenda
    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 24th August unveiled NITI Aayog's three Year Action Agenda which is an integral part of the 15 year Vision Document of India. according to Jaitley: 

    The action agenda has the potential to trigger much more economic activity and development than what the country has at present. 

    The document can be a good govt textbook which will be useful in the economic planning of the country. 

    NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya said the major impediment in job creation is that entrepreneurs of the country do not invest in labour intensive activities. Mr Panagariya said the document has been divided into seven parts including how to double farmers' income and civil services reforms among others. 

  • Union Cabinet renames SAMPADA Scheme as PMKSY
    The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the renaming of the new Central Sector Scheme- SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) as "Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY)" for the period of 2016-20 coterminous with the 14th Finance Commission cycle. The new scheme was approved by the Central Government in the month of May. The objective of PMKSY is to supplement agriculture, modernize processing and decrease Agri-Waste. 

  • Govt sets up task force on artificial intelligence
    Government has constituted a task force on Artificial Intelligence for the country's Economic Transformation. The 18-member panel, headed by Dr. V. Kamakoti of IIT Madras, will comprise of experts, academics, researchers and industry leaders. It will explore the possibilities to leverage Artificial Intelligence for development across various fields. 

    The task force will submit concrete and implementable recommendations for government, industry and research institutions. Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, with rapid development in the fields of information technology and hardware, the world is about to witness a fourth industrial revolution

  • Govt bans gold import at zero duty from South Korea
    The director general of foreign trade (DGFT) on 25th August notified the withdrawal of the zero-duty import facility for gold, silver, and their coins and articles. The facility was being misused for importing duty-free gold from South Korea from July. 

    Now with immediate effect, such import has been banned by the government. The DGFT issued the notification withdrawing the facility given under a free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea signed in 2009 regarding gold, silver and their articles. 

    The notification is timely because it was a case of blatant misuse of the facility, violating the spirit of the free trade agreement. Ninety per cent of the import is said to have been done by the top five importers. Importers also kept changing items of import or declarations under different customs codes. 

    As a result of the duty-free imports, the Indian bullion market was quoting at a huge discount of $20 per ounce (Rs 425 per 10 gram), resulting in virtually halting duty-paid import and paralysing the organised trade. 

  • RBI appoints Committee to Link Home Loan Rates to Repo Rate
    Reserve Bank of India appointed committee on Household Finance suggested that banks link their home loan rates to the RBI's repo rate, the rate at which it lends to banks. 

    In the past three years, the central bank has reduced the policy rate by 200 basis points, but the weighted average lending rates have fallen by 145 basis points. 

  • Arun Jaitley inaugurates manufacture of light combat helicopter at HAL
    After the Defence Acquisition Council approved procurement of 15 Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the PSU is set to start manufacturing of the helicopters at its Helicopter Division in Bengaluru. On 26th August, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley will inaugurate the LCH production facility

    The basic version of LCH has been cleared by CEMILAC, a military certification agency. HAL designed the twin engine LCH of 5.8 tonne class featuring narrow fuselage and tandem configuration for pilot and co-pilot/weapon system operator. 

    The helicopter has indigenous state-of-the-art technologies, including anti-resonance vibration isolation system, crash-worthy landing gear, smart glass cockpit, armour protection and stealth features from visual, radar and infra-red signatures. It is equipped with a 20mm turret gun, 70 mm rocket and airto- air missile. 

    The helicopter can carry out operational roles under extreme weather conditions at different altitudes from sea level, hot weather desert, cold weather and Himalayan altitudes. 

    The LCH has demonstrated capability to land and take off from Siachen Range with considerable load, fuel and weapons, according to an official from the Ministry of Defence. 

  • Under-employment severe in India: NITI
    Making a case for promoting highly productive and well-paid jobs, NITI Aayog has said that not unemployment but a “severe under-employment” is the main problem facing the country. 

    The government think-tank, in its three-year Action Agenda, released in the third week of August, 2017, has said that a focus on the domestic market through an import-substitution strategy would give rise to a group of relatively small firms behind a high wall of protection. The more serious problem, instead, is severe underemployment, the Aayog said in the Action Agenda. 

    The Aayog recommended the creation of a handful of Coastal Employment Zones, which may attract multinational firms in labour-intensive sectors from China to India. Making a case for reforming labour laws, the Aayog noted that recently fixed-term employment has been introduced in the textiles and apparel industry. 

  • Niti Aayog favours simultaneous LS, assembly polls from 2024
    The Niti Aayog has favoured conducting synchronised two-phase Lok Sabha and assembly elections from 2024 in "national interest".

    All elections in India should happen in a free, fair and synchronised manner to ensure minimum "campaign mode" disruption to governance, the government think tank said in its report released recently. 

    To implement this in the national interest, a focused group of stakeholders comprising constitutional and subject matter experts, think tanks, government officials and representatives of various political parties should be formed to work out appropriate implementation related details, the report said. 

    This may include drafting appropriate Constitution and statutory amendments, agreeing on a workable framework to facilitate transition to simultaneous elections, developing a stakeholder communication plan and various operational details

    It has made the Election Commission the nodal agency to look into the suggestion and set a "timeline" of March 2018 for this purpose. 

    The recommendation of the Aayog assumes significance as former President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have pitched for simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly polls. 

    Mukherjee in his speech on the eve of this year's Republic Day had favoured holding Lok Sabha and assembly elections together. 

    The time is also ripe for a constructive debate on electoral reforms and a return to the practice of the early decades after Independence when elections to the Lok Sabha and state assemblies were held simultaneously. 

    Elections are held all the time and continuous polls lead to a lot of expenditure, he had said replying to the debate in the Lok Sabha on the Motion of Thanks to the former president's address.Modi had said that more than Rs 1,100 crore was spent on the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and the expenditure had shot up to Rs 4,000 crore in 2014. 

    Over a crore government employees, including a large number of teachers, are involved in the electoral process. Thus, the continuous exercise causes maximum harm to the education sector, he had said. 

    Security forces also have to be diverted for the electoral work even as the country's enemy keeps plotting against the nation and terrorism remains a strong threat, Modi had said. 

  • Govt notifies changes in Banking Regulation Act
    The government has notified the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Act under which it can authorise the RBI to issue directions to banks to initiate insolvency resolution process to recover bad loans. The banking sector is saddled with non-performing assets (NPAs) of over Rs 8 lakh crore, of which Rs 6 lakh crore is with public sector banks (PSBs). 

    Earlier this month, Parliament had approved the Act, which replaced an ordinance in this regard. The government in May had promulgated an ordinance authorising the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to issue directions to banks to initiate insolvency resolution process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. 

    Following the ordinance, the RBI had identified 12 accounts each having more than Rs 5,000 crore of outstanding loans and accounting for 25 per cent of total NPAs of banks for immediate referral for resolution under the bankruptcy law. 

    The loan defaulters identified by the RBI include, Essar Steel, Bhushan Steel, ABG Shipyard, Electrosteel and Alok Industries. 

    Under the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Act, 2017, the RBI can issue directions to banks for resolution of stressed assets. 

    The RBI can specify authorities or committees to advise banks on resolution of stressed assets. The members on the committees will be appointed or approved by the RBI. 

  • Govt imposes anti-dumping duty on tempered glass from China for 5 years
    The Centre has imposed anti-dumping duty on tempered glass, used for protecting mobile phone screens, from China for five years to protect the domestic industry from below-cost imports. The revenue department has issued a notification imposing anti-dumping duty in the range of $52.85-136.21 per tonne on tempered glass imports from China. 

    The duty has been imposed on 'textured toughened (Tempered) Glass with a minimum of 90.5 per cent transmission having thickness not exceeding 4.2 mm (including tolerance of 0.2 mm) and where at least one dimension exceeds 1500 mm, whether coated or uncoated. India imposes anti-dumping duty to protect domestic industry from an increase in cheap price imports. India's imports from China marginally dipped to $61.28 billion in 2016-17 as against $61.7 in the previous fiscal. 

  • NITI Aayog to launch Mentor India Campaign
    NITI Aayog will launch the Mentor India Campaign, a strategic nation building initiative to engage leaders who can guide and mentor students at Atal Tinkering Labs. More than 900 such labs have been established across the country as a part of the Atal Innovation Mission and by the end of the year 2000 such labs will be in place. 

    An official release said, CEO NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant will unveil the online nationwide initiative in the national capital on 23rd August. Atal Tinkering Labs are non-prescriptive by nature, and mentors are expected to be enablers rather than instructors. 

    NITI Aayog is looking for leaders who can spend anywhere between one to two hours every week in one or more such labs to enable students experience, learn and practice future skills such as design and computational thinking. 

    Atal Tinkering Labs are dedicated works spaces where students from Class 6th to Class 12th learn innovation skills and develop ideas that will go on to transform India. NITI Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission is among one of the flagship programs of the Government to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country to set up the Atal Tinkering Labs across the country. 

  • Canada opens doors to Indian banana, mango, pomegranate
    Canada has opened its markets to Indian fruits and vegetables such as banana, mango, pomegranate, custard apple and okra (bhendi). 

    The Agricultural and Processed Foods Exports Development Authority (APEDA), in an advisory to exporters here, conveyed Canada’s decision on opening its doors to Indian vegetables and fruits, asking them to tap the North American market. 

    The shipments will be subject to general phyto-sanitary import requirement and inspection by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. 

    The decision could help revive India’s sagging agri and processed food exports to Canada, which came down to Rs. 838 crore in 2016-17 from around Rs. 1,046 crore in 2014-15. Fresh vegetable exports to Canada account for Rs. 36 crore, while fresh fruit shipments, including grapes, stood at Rs. 13.7 crore in 2016-17. 

  • Cabinet approves framework of consolidation of public sectors banks
    Cabinet has also approved framework of consolidation of public sectors banks. The decision is aimed at creating strong and competitive banks in public sector to meet the credit needs of a growing economy, absorb shocks and have capacity to raise resources without depending unduly on the State exchequer. 

    The decision about creating strong and competitive banks could be solely based on commercial consideration. According to the Finance Minister Aruin Jaitley, the final scheme will be notified by the Central government in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India. 

  • Govt notifies new Rs 200 notes
    The government on 23rd August gave its go ahead to the RBI to issue 200 rupee notes that will ease pressure on lower-denomination currency bills. Finance Ministry, in a notification, said that on the recommendations of the Central Board of Directors of the RBI, government has notified bank notes of 200 rupees. 

    The new 200 rupee notes are likely to be in circulation shortly. This is the fourth new note to be announced since November when 1000 and 500 rupee notes were demonetised. The introduction of the new notes is expected to ease the problems faced by people due to high-value 2,000 rupee notes. 

  • Telangana government to conduct land survey
    Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on 23rd August charted a course of action for the successful conduct of the comprehensive land survey across the State, beginning September 15. 

    The survey will be conducted over a period of three-and-half months and would be completed by December 31. 

    The extensive survey is required to find a permanent solution to land disputes, simplify registration process, transparency in land records maintenance and successful implementation of the agriculture capital scheme

    The modalities for the survey were finalised based on the recommendations of the Raghunandan Rao Committee appointed by the government to look into the issue. Finalising the schedule for the land survey and formation of farmers’ societies

    Village level farmers’ societies comprising all farmers will be constituted from September 1 to 9, and simultaneously, farmers’ coordination committees comprising 11 members would also be formed. 

  • BHEL lowered boiler price to benefit Megha Engineering: CAG
    The Comptroller and Auditor General of India, in its recent report on ‘Competitiveness of BHEL in emerging markets’, has rapped the public sector engineering giant for lowering prices for its boiler and turbine, without due authorisation, benefiting Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd (MEIL). 

    The observation relates to a transaction that took place in 2013, when the Hyderabad-based MEIL won a contract to set up a power plant for SPEC Power Pvt Ltd. Megha, in turn, signed up to buy the boiler and turbine machines from BHEL. 

    In April, BHEL agreed to sell a boiler and turbine for Rs. 1,473 crore, whereas in December that year, it lowered the price to Rs. 1,108 crore. 

    Such a downward revision of prices is not illegal, but in this case it violated BHEL’s own internal rule, which said that price revisions should be authorised by both the Chairman and Managing Director and Director — Finance of BHEL. The required authorisation was “not found on record”, the CAG observed. 

    The government of India, which responded to audit comments of CAG on behalf of BHEL, had said that MEIL had obtained an offer from a Chinese manufacturer and BHEL had to match it. To this, the CAG said: “There was no mention of competition from Chinese firm in the price approval note dated November 16, 2013. Thus, the reduction in price was made against non-existent competition.” 

    The CAG’s performance audit report comes at a time when BHEL’s financial performance is down. Against its target of Rs. 1,00,000 crore of turnover for 2016-17, it achieved Rs. 28,871 crore. Net profit, at Rs.455 crore, was 1.5 per cent of sales — down from a healthy 14 per cent in 2011-12. 

    Though the power sector in general has been in a decline mode in the last five years, BHEL’s poor performance goes deeper. The CAG, for example, noted that most customers make the final payment after BHEL completes ‘performance guarantee tests’. 

    The auditor also pointed to other management failures such as BHEL not doing enough to stay competitive in the market. 

    As a consequence, BHEL lost market share to private players, mostly the Chinese. Between 2012 and 2016, it lost orders worth Rs. 17,097 crore due to pricing, delivery and technical reasons, and got itself disqualified in tenders worth another Rs. 6,000 crore. 

  • Rs. 3 lakh cr back in banking system post note ban: Prime Minister Narendra Modi
    Promising to lead the country on a new track of economic progress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government would intensify the fight against black money and corruption. 

    In his fourth Independence Day address, which focussed on the steps taken by the government to free the country from corruption, Modi asserted that initiatives such as demonetisation had curbed black money generation. He said the note ban had led to the return of Rs. 3 lakh crore to the banking system. Of this, as much as Rs. 2 lakh crore is under scrutiny ( of the Income-Tax Department), he said. 

    Also, demonetisation has led to a spurt in the number of income-tax filers with 56 lakh new filers coming in during April-August 2016-17 against 22 lakh in the previous period

    In his address the Prime Minister said that his government has taken every initiative to implement the benami prohibition law and till date over Rs. 800 crore of benami properties have been taken over by the state. 

    Focussing on the government’s drive against black money, Modi said that stringent action has been taken against shell companies by shutting down 1.75 lakh dormant/shell outfits recently. 

    Lauding farmers for record foodgrain and pulses production, despite adverse weather conditions in 2016-17, he said the government had encouraged them by procuring a record 1.6 million tonnes of pulses (at support prices). “In India procurement of pulses was not traditional (policy) and what government did was historic,” Modi said. 

    On the revamped crop insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), launched in 2016, Modi said that over 10 million new farmers have enrolled under the scheme. “Three years ago 3.25 crore farmers had crop insurance and now 5.75 crore farmers are covered,” he said. 

  • Cabinet approves raising of over 9000 cr through NABARD 
    The Union Cabinet has approved raising extra budgetary resources up to 9,020 crore rupees for Long Term Irrigation Fund in 2017-18. According to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the amount will be raised by NABARD through Bonds. The Fund seeks to make loans from NABARD attractive for states by ensuring lending rate of 6 per cent per annum. 

    The loans are for implementation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme works of 99 ongoing prioritised irrigation projects under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana. 

    The completion of projects will generate immediate wage and other employment opportunities during the construction phase. 

    The utilisation of irrigation potential of 76 lakh hectares is expected to transform the agriculture sector in the region resulting in more employment opportunities. 

  • CCEA approved closure of DVPT Corporation
    The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, CCEA has approved the closure of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Forest and Plantation Development Corporation Limited, ANIFPDCL a Central Government Undertaking in Port Blair and discharging the liabilities of all the employees. 

    The closure will help to stop unproductive loans to ANIFPDCL from Government of India and will enable a more productive utilization of assets. 

    It will be achieved by offering Voluntary Retirement Scheme, Voluntary Separation Scheme package to willing employees and by retrenchment under Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 of those not opting for VRS or VSS including settlement of other liabilities. At present, there are 836 employees on the rolls of the Corporation. 

  • CCEA approved DIPAM for strategic disinvestment 
    The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, CCEA has approved the proposal of Department of Investment and public Asset Management, DIPAM for the strategic disinvestment. The approval will help in speedy completion of strategic disinvestment transactions. 

    The department will set up an alternative mechanism comprising of the Finance Minister, Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Minister of Administrative Department, to decide on the matters relating to terms and conditions of the sale from the stage of inviting of Express of Interests till inviting of financial bid. 

    It will also empower the Core Group of Secretaries to take policy decisions with regard to procedural issues and to consider deviations as necessary from time to time for effective implementation of decisions of CCEA. 

  • United States and Japan vow to boost defence cooperation with India
    The United States of America and Japan agreed to advance their multilateral security and defense cooperation with countries like India, South Korea, and Australia, amidst China's growing assertiveness in the Asia Pacific region. During the meeting, the ministers underscored the importance of cooperating to promote a rules-based international order, taking note of the United States continued the commitment to maintain a strong presence in the region and Japan initiatives demonstrated by its “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy. 

  • Central Government targets to raise farm household income to Rs 2 lakh by 2022-23
    The Centre’s earlier declared aim of doubling farmer household income by 2022-23 would need additional public and private investment of Rs 6.4 lakh crore, at current prices. 

    The figure has been estimated in an initial report of the official committee on the subject. Average income of a farmer household was estimated at Rs 96,703 in 2015-16; this is supposed to rise, by government effort, to Rs 2,19,724 (at current prices) by 2022-23. 

    The initial report details seven main factors in this regard. Better crop and livestock productivity are among these, as are better prices in real terms received by farmers. The first four volumes of the 14-part report were made public on 14th August. 

    The targeted 127 per cent increase in income will lead to the share of farm income in total farmer household income rising from 60.2 per cent in 2015-16 to 69.2 per cent in 2022-23. 

    At constant prices, the average income of a farmer household is targeted to be increased to Rs 1,56,154, from Rs 96,703. Income at current prices is calculated by assuming an average yearly inflation rate of five per cent. 

    The Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income is headed by Ashok Dalwai, chief executive of the National Rainfed Area Authority. The income estimates are of the panel. 

    In total income, 69 per cent would come from core farm activities. For the targeted 10.4 per cent annual increase in farmers’ income from 2015-16 to 2022-23, the draft report said an additional private investment of Rs 1,31,840 crore is required at 2011-12 prices, besides public investment of Rs 5,08,080 crore. 

    This requirement for private investment varies across states, from Rs 126 crore to Rs 14,665 crore. That of public investment varies from Rs 400 crore to Rs 94,600 crore. 

  • Retail inflation rises to 2.36% in July
    Retail inflation rose to 2.36 per cent in July this year, chiefly driven by hardening prices in sugar and confectionery items, pan, tobacco, and intoxicants. Retail inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, had stood at 1.46 per cent in June. 

    Data released by the Central Statistics Office showed showed that retail inflation in sugar and confectionery items rose to 8.27 per cent in July, while inflation in pan, tobacco and intoxicants was 6.39 per cent. 

    But food inflation saw deflationary pressure, or a fall in prices, at minus 0.29 per cent in July. Retail inflation in pulses and products was minus 24.75 per cent in July, and in vegetables it was minus 3.57 per cent. 

  • India is now the hottest destination in the retail space
    India has topped the Global Retail Development Index in 2017, overtaking China. During the first six months of the year, there were 70 new brands which marked their presence in Mumbai, Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru. 

    According to CBRE’s India Retail MarketView Report – H1, 2017, seven new global brands entered the country and investments into the segment by firms/wealth funds touched $200 million. 

    Additionally, several retail developments were completed across select cities, resulting in around 1.5 million sq.ft. of fresh supply entering the market. During the first half of the year, demand for quality retail space remained robust with a majority of this supply concentrated in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi- NCR. 

    During the first half of the year, a number of international brands already present in the country expanded their presence. Several hypermarkets too were in expansionary mode, including Big Bazaar, which opened new stores in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai. 

  • RBI to shortly issue new Rs 50 currency note
    RBI will shortly issue new banknotes of Rs 50 denomination in the Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series. A RBI press release has informed that the base colour of the new notes will be fluorescent blue and its dimension will be 66 mm x 135 mm. 

    It will have a motif of Hampi with Chariot on the reverse, depicting the country’s cultural heritage along with the Swachh Bharat logo, year of printing, numeral 50 in devnagiri and the language panel. 

    The banknote will bear the signature of RBI Governor Dr. Urjit R. Patel on the front side along with the guarantee and promise clause and the RBI emblem. RBI has clarified that all banknotes in 50 rupee denomination issued in the earlier series will continue to be legal tender. 

  • Union Government Bans Export of Gold Items Above 22-Carat Purity
    The Union Government banned exports of Gold jewellery, medallions and other articles above 22- carat purity in a bid to check round-tripping of the precious metal. According to the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), certain provisions of the foreign trade policy (2015-20) are amended to allow export of gold jewellery and articles containing gold of 8 carats and above up to a maximum limit of 22 carats only from domestic tariff area and export-oriented units, electronics hardware technology parks, software technology parks and bio technology parks. 

  • Govt forms action plan for easy execution of trade facilitation agreement
    The government has formulated a detailed action plan with timelines for smooth implementation of WTO's trade facilitation agreement (TFA). 

    For the implementation of the pact, the government has last year set up Cabinet Secretary-headed National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF). 

    The official said recommendations made by four working groups on legislative changes, time release study, outreach programme and infrastructure augmentation are included in the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (2017-20). 

    Implementation of the plan, which also includes suggestions of the private sector, has been divided into short term (0-6 months), medium term (6-18 months) and long term (18-36 months). 

    The short term action plan includes augmentation of storage infrastructure for perishable goods and clearance of such goods within 12 hours of landing for import and 8 hours for export. 

  • GST Council authorises Centre to hike cess on SUVs, luxury cars from 15% to 25%
    GST Council has authorised Centre to hike cess on SUVs, luxury and large cars to 25 percent from 15 percent. According to the Finance Ministry, GST Council in its meeting considered the issue that total tax incidence on motor vehicles after GST has come down. 

    It recommended that Central Government may move legislative amendments to increase maximum ceiling of cess on motor vehicles to 25 percent from present 15 percent. However, the decision on when to raise the actual cess leviable on the motor vehicles will be taken by the GST Council in due course. 

  • India has 43% of global IoT market: Survey
    Indian information technology (IT) services companies now own about two-fifth of the global Internet of Things (IoT) market. In all, about 43 per cent or $1.5 billion of the global $3.5 bn market, says a report by research and strategy consultancy Zinnov Zones. 

    The share in Western Europe and North America is 27 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively. The report listed TCS, Wipro, Infosys, HCL, Tech Mahindra, Persistent, Genpact and L&T Technologies among the global leading innovators and market leaders in IoT. Companies were classified into nurture, breakout, execution and leadership zones, based on various competencies. 

    The rankings were also based on which companies chose to respond to the survey queries within the mandated time frame. 

    Managed IoT services are expected to see the fastest growth, at a compounded annual rate (CAGR) of 23.5 per cent. The three top Indian IT service firms -- TCS, Infosys and Wipro -- garner less than 20 per cent of their revenue from digital technology-based services, including IoT. The report says 76 per cent of total IoT revenue is generated by the top 20 of its service providers globally. Growth of Asian markets is likely to lessen over the next five years, with an expected CAGR of 17 per cent; the North American market is expected to show 21 per cent. 

  • Agriculture sector received FDI worth Rs 355 cr in April-May: Govt
    India's farm sector received foreign direct investment (FDI) worth Rs 354.77 crore during April-May this year, Parliament was informed on 8th August. The data in this regard was placed before the Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Agriculture S S Ahluwalia. 

    As per the data, the country had received total 515.49 crore FDI in the agriculture sector during the 2016-17 fiscal, as against Rs 553.14 crore in the previous year. In 2014-15, the FDI in the farm sector stood at Rs 365.31 crore. 

  • Iron ore worth Rs 1,900 crore illegally extracted in Goa: CAG
    The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has pointed out that overall Rs 1,900 crore worth illegal extraction of iron ore was reported in the State between 2009-16 in violation of the mining plan and environment clearances (ECs). 

    The performance audit on systems and controls in collection of minerals receipts has revealed a number of system and compliance deficiencies, the CAG report which was tabled on the floor of the House on 8th August mentioned. CAG has said the audit team checked 38 cases to ascertain whether the environment clearances limit has been observed by lessee during the period from 2009-16. The mining industry in Goa had faced ban due to Supreme Court order in September 2012, which was later lifted in April 2014. 

    The actual extraction of iron ore began only in November 2015. The CAG report which audits various departments and their performance till March 2016 has castigated State Directorate of Mines and Geology (DMG) for not taking action to recover the penalties under MMDR Act, 1957 for excess extraction over the limits. 

    The audit report also states that the DMG failed to detect the suppression of closing stock iron ore which resulted in short collection of royalty of 35.53 crore. 

  • Amazon India, Telangana Handloom dept ink pact to train weavers and artisans
    Amazon India has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Telangana Department of Handloom and Textiles, to educate, train and enable weavers and artisans to directly sell their products to Amazon customers across the country. 

    According to a statement issued by the e—commerce giant, with over 17,000 handlooms in the state, this association will further help elevate popular handloom products from clusters such as are Pochampally, Warangal, Gadwal, Narayanpet and Siddipet which have a tremendous potential and demand in urban areas. 

    Amazon India will not only provide an online marketplace for marketing but will also engage with weavers and artisans across the state to train them on making the products more attractive, appealing and marketable across the online domain. 

    The partnership also intends to empower and generate livelihood opportunities and income for the artisans and boost their economy, Amazon said. 

    Gopal Pillai, Director and GM, Seller Services, Amazon India, said through the collaboration with the Telangana government involving training, marketing, selling and delivery of various handloom products, the company will truly aim to transform the lives of these weavers and artisans. 

  • Indian cities to grow the fastest in Asia
    Delhi will have the fastest growth of any city in Asia, with the economy to be almost 50 per cent larger in 2021 than it was at the end of last year. 

    Indian cities are set to expand the most across the region, with growth speeding up from the past five years, according to a new study from Oxford Economics, which ranked Asia’s 30 largest cities. With financial and business services projected to be the fastest growing sector in India, Delhi’s dominance in this industry will lead to higher growth and higher incomes. 

    Consumer companies such as Japan’s Muji are also betting on that change. Parent company Ryohin Keikaku Co sees India becoming its second largest international market, after China. And’s Indian unit is seeking approval to invest in a food supply chain and take advantage of government moves to ease rules on foreign retailers. 

    China’s expansion will slow, although the largest five cities will still be recording growth rates of 6 per cent or more. 

    There will be a slight slowdown across the region amid moderating import demand from China, with growth expected to average 4.2 per cent per year over the five years to 2021, down from 4.5 per cent in 2012-2016. 

    Even so, that’s still much faster than the developed economies and cities in the region — and that’s a big opportunity for companies. 

  • Parliament adopts resolution on hike in basic customs duty
    Parliament on 9th August adopted a statutory resolution on increase in basic customs duty (BCD) to 10 per cent on import of mobile phones, printers and ink cartridges. The resolution was moved in the Rajya Sabha by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 9th August. The Lok Sabha on 8th August had adopted the resolution on hike in the BCD. 

    The government through a notification dated June 30 had increased the basic customs duty from ‘nil’ to 10 per cent on various kinds of printers, facsimile machines, certain types of ink cartridges, telephones for cellular networks or for other wireless networks, base stations, and other items. The increased duty became applicable from July 1. 

  • Parliament passes Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017
    Parliament has passed the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2017 with the Rajya Sabha approving it on 10th August. The Lok Sabha has already passed it. according to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the wilful defaulters will not be spared and prosecution s are being launched against them. The government’s decision has shaken the defaulters and they have started rushing to banks to resolve the issue. The Non-Performing Assets, NPAs in the banks stand at 6.41 lakh crore in the public sector banks while total stressed assets are at 8.02 lakh crore. 

    Every account figuring in HSBC, Liechtenstein and Panama is being investigated and the Government in touch with concerned countries in this regard. The Minister also said that infrastructures in Debt Recovery Tribunal, National Company Law Tribunal is being expanded to deal with stressed assets. 

    The bill seeks to amend the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 to insert provisions for handling cases related to stressed assets of banks. Stressed assets are loans where the borrower has defaulted in repayment or where the loan has been restructured. 

    The bill will replace the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 which was promulgated on 4th of May this year. The legislation will enable the Central government to authorize the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to direct banking companies to resolve specific stressed assets by initiating insolvency resolution process. 

    The RBI has also been empowered to issue other directions for resolution, and appoint or approve appointment, authorities or committees to advise banking companies for resolution of stressed assets. 

  • Govt fixes target of installing 60 giga watt wind power capacity by 2022
    Government has fixed an ambitious target of installing 60 giga watt (GW) wind power capacity in the country by 2022. According to the Power Minister Piyush Goyal the current wind power installed capacity in the country is over 32.5 GW. The Minister said till 2016-17 the wind power was being procured through Feed in Tariff determined by respective State Electricity Regulators. 

    Annual wind power capacity addition of around 5500 megawatt is required to meet wind capacity target of 60 GW by 2022. 

  • Economic Survey Volume II admits achieving 7.5% growth target for this fiscal as tough
    The Economic Survey Volume two for the year 2016-17 was tabled on 11th August in Parliament. It said achieving the high end of the 6.75-7.5 per cent growth projected previously will be difficult due to appreciation of rupee, farm loan waivers and transitionary challenges from implementing GST. 

    The survey, however, noticed a rekindled optimism on structural reforms in Indian economy riding on various factors such as launch of the GST; Positive impacts of demonetization; decision in principle to privatize Air India; further rationalization of energy subsidies and Actions to address the Twin Balance Sheet (TBS) challenge. 

    The document also adds that a growing confidence that macro-economic stability has become entrenched is evident because of a series of government and RBI actions and because of structural changes in the oil market have reduced the risk of sustained price increases. 

    However the Survey cautions that anxiety reigns because a series of deflationary impulses are weighing on an economy, yet to gather its full momentum and still away from its potential. 

    These include….
    Stressed farm revenues, as non-cereal food prices have declined; farm loan waivers and the fiscal tightening they will entail; and declining profitability in the power and telecommunication sectors. 

    The Survey notes that the oil market is very different now than a few years ago in a way that imparts a downward bias to oil prices, or at least has capped the upside risks to oil prices. 

    The Survey said Farm loan waivers could reduce aggregate demand by as much as 0.7 percent of GDP, imparting a significant deflationary shock to an economy. 

    It also said spurt in New Tax Payers and Reported Income After Demonetization; 5.4 lakh New Tax Payers Post-Demonetization. Demonetization’s impact on the informal economy increased demand for social insurance, particularly in less developed states. 

    For the first time, the government presented a second or a mid-year economic survey for the year 2016-17 highlighting the new factors that the economy faces since the last such exercise in February

  • Govt launches portal e-Rashtriya Kisan Agri Mandi
    The government launched a portal e-Rashtriya Kisan Agri Mandi (e-RaKAM) which will provide a platform to sell agricultural produce. e-RaKAM is a first of its kind initiative that leverages technology to connect farmers of the smallest villages to the biggest markets of the world through internet. 

    Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Union Minister of Steel Chaudhary Birender Singh jointly launched the portal in New Delhi on 2nd August. 

    e-RaKAM is a digital initiative bringing together the farmers, PSUs, civil supplies and buyers on a single platform to ease the selling and buying process of agricultural products. 

    Under this initiative, e-RaKAM centres are being developed in a phased manner throughout the country to facilitate farmers for online sale of their produce. The farmers will be paid through e-Payment directly into their bank accounts. 

  • India is more attractive to FDIs as compared to other emerging markets: Report
    India along with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam is more attractive to FDIs as compared to other emerging markets. A report by Japan's financial services major, Nomura, dubbed India and these ASEAN countries as Asia's tiger cubs. 

    It said FDI inflows to these nations will increase from around 100 billion US Dollars per year now to around 240 billion dollars by 2025. The report said, sources of FDI to these countries are also witnessing a significant shift with more inflows expected from countries as China and Japan. 

    The report also said, rising labour costs in China and an ageing population in Northeast Asia have dis-incentivised FDI and they are in search of new destinations and India and the ASEAN-5 are well placed to emerge as that destination. 

  • Telangana govt inks pact with Microsoft
    The Telangana government has signed an agreement with Microsoft India to adopt cloud-based analytics solution for Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram, a healthcare screening programme for children. 

    It will also use Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare (MINE), the artificial intelligence platform with multiple stakeholders, for eye screening. 

    In November 2016, the government launched a pilot to test the technology to get insights into health conditions covered under the RBSK programme. The government is now planning to scale this up to cover more children in the state. 

  • Telangana notifies rules under RERA
    The State government has notified comprehensive set of guidelines governing the real estate sector for effective implementation of the Central Act - Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016. 

    The government has notified the Telangana State Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Rules, 2017 covering all aspects of the real estate sector right from defining the projects to the role that should be played by the real estate agents. 

    The rules will be applicable to all real estate projects whose building permissions are approved on or after January 1, 2017 by the urban development authorities, town and country planning departments, municipal corporations, municipalities and nagar panchayats in addition to the projects notified by the Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation. 

    The government announced the constitution of a Real Estate Regulatory Authority with chairman and members with a fixed tenure as also the Telangana State Real Estate Appellate Tribunal along with the notification of the new rules governing the sector. 

    The prices for different categories of projects have also been fixed. It will be mandatory for the promoters to pay a registration fee for a sum calculated on the basis of whether the project is a group housing project, mixed development (residential and commercial), commercial project and plotted development project. 

    Accordingly, the fee would be Rs. 5 per sq.m for projects whose land proposed to be developed was below 1,000 sq.m and Rs. 10 per sq.m for projects whose development exceeds 1,000 sq.m, not exceeding Rs. 5 lakh. 

    In case of mixed development projects, the fee would be Rs. 10 per sq.m for projects below 1,000 sq.m and Rs. 15 per sq.m for those above 1,000 sq.m, not exceeding Rs. 7 lakh. The fee in respect of the commercial projects would be Rs. 20 a sq.m for below 1,000 sq.m and Rs. 25 per sq.m for those exceeding the limit subject to a maximum of Rs. 10 lakh. For the plotted development projects, the fee would be Rs. 5 sq.m not exceeding Rs. 2 lakh. 

    Specifications were also given for the ongoing projects that did not receive the completion certificate (occupation certificate) by the date of commencement of the new regulations. 

    Accordingly, the promoter should make an application for registering the project with the concerned authority and deposit 70 per cent of the amounts realised from allotees which had not been used in the construction of the project or land cost of the project in a separate account. 

  • Aadhaar required for registration of death from 1st October
    Aadhaar number will be now required for the purpose of establishing the identity of the deceased for death registration from 1st October this year. In a notification, Registrar General of India (RGI) said, the use of Aadhaar for the applicants of Death Certificate will result in ensuring accuracy of the details provided by the relatives and dependents. 

    It will provide an effective method to prevent identity fraud and also help recording the identity of the deceased person. Besides, it will obviate the need for producing multiple documents to prove the identity of the deceased person. 

    The RGI has directed concerned departments of States and UTs to ensure compliance of the order and send a confirmation to this effect by 1st of September this year. 

    The provisions will come into effect immediately for residents of all States except Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Meghalaya for which a date will be notified separately. 

    An Applicant who is not aware of the Aadhaar number or EID of the deceased will be required to provide a certificate that the deceased person does not possess Aadhaar number and it should be duly informed and also prescribed that any false declaration given by the applicant in this regard will be treated as an offence. 

  • Second AGRI-UDAAN Program Launched in New Delhi
    The Union Government launched the 2nd AGRI-UDAAN Program in New Delhi. The program focuses on catalyzing scale-up stage food and agribusiness start-ups through rigorous mentoring, industry networking and investor pitching. The 6-month program is a unique platform for scale up stage innovators, entrepreneurs and startups in the Food and Agribusiness sectors. 

  • Andhra Pradesh gets its first digital Anganwadi centre at Nerellavalasa
    The first digital Anganwadi centre in Andhra Pradesh was opened on 5th August at Nerellavalasa village in Bheemunipatnam constituency. Inaugurating the centre and also the pre-school digital classroom set up with Rs 3 lakh with the assistance of North America Telugu Association (TANA). 

    Funds to the tune of Rs 2 crore are being provided for construction of 7,000 Anganwadi centres and pre-school digital classrooms, besides developing burial grounds by TANA. 

  • Mughalsarai to be renamed as Deen Dayal Upadhyay Railway Station
    The Union Government approved Uttar Pradesh Government’s proposal to rename the Mughalsarai railway station after the Jan Sangh leader as Deen Dayal Upadhyaya (DDU) station. It comes as the part of the state government’s attempt to revive the legacy of Upadhyaya who died in 1968. 

    The proposal pointed to the mysterious death of Upadhyaya at the Mughalsarai station as one of the primary reasons to rename the station. 

  • Supreme Court orders Ketan Parekh to pay up Rs 50 cr in 2 months
    The Supreme Court has directed Panther Fincap and Management Services, owned by former stockbroker Ketan Parekh, to deposit Rs 50 crore by September 11 or else, face detention in civil prison. 

    The firm was fighting an order of the Bombay High Court, in favour of Bank of India, ordering civil arrest of Parekh in the 2001 circular trading fraud case. Bank of India claims Parekh owes the lender Rs 1,700 crore in damages, including interest. 

    The original amount due to the bank in 2001, when the case started, was Rs 130 crore. The bank subsequently termed Parekh a wilful defaulter. 

    In an order dated July 17, the SC said Panther Fincap must pay up the sum to prevent detention. Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Navin Sinha ruled the petitioner must deposit Rs 50 crore “within a period of eight weeks from 30th July, failing which the order of detention in civil prison will be given effect to”. 

    Bank of India had initiated recovery proceedings against Parekh in the debt recovery tribunal (DRT) in 2001 and had obtained the order of arrest and detention in civil prison. However, Parekh challenged the order in the DRT, debt recovery appellate tribunal as well as in the Bombay High Court. 

    All the courts had ordered his civil arrest, against which Parekh moved to the SC. The first hearing in the apex court was held by a vacation Bench on June 1, staying the high court order till the next hearing on June 7. On that day, the court granted two weeks’ time to file a counter affidavit. 

    Ketan Parekh was convicted earlier for his alleged involvement in stock market manipulation scam in 1999-2001. He is stated to have engaged in circular trading in stocks of a number of companies. Currently, he is barred by the capital markets regulator from trading in the stock market. 

  • April-June fiscal deficit hits 82% of FY target
    The Centre’s fiscal deficit for the April-June quarter was Rs 4.42 lakh crore, or 81.8 per cent of the full-year target of Rs 5.46 lakh crore. This compares with 61.1 per cent for the year-ago period. 

    The jump in fiscal deficit is primarily a result of massive front-loading of expenditure due to the advancement of the Budget from March 28 to February 1. 

    Additionally, revenue deficit for April-June 2017-18 was Rs 3.83 lakh crore, about 119 per cent of the full year target of Rs 3.22 lakh crore, and compared with 79.6 per cent for the corresponding period last year, according to official data released on 31st July. This shows that the Centre’s revenue expenditure grew at a faster click than capital spending. 

    For the April-June, tax revenue was Rs 1.77 lakh crore or 14.5 per cent of the full-year estimate. Total receipts, including from revenue and non-debt capital receipts, was Rs 2.09 lakh crore or 13.1 per cent of the full-year target. 

    Total expenditure during April-June was Rs 6.51 lakh crore or 30.3 per cent of the budgeted estimates. Capital expenditure was Rs 68,328 crore or 22 per cent of the full-year target, while revenue spending was Rs 5.82 lakh crore or 31.7 per cent of the full-year target. 

    As a percentage of gross domestic product, the Centre aims to limit fiscal deficit to 3.2 per cent of gross domestic product, compared with 3.5 per cent for 2016-17. 

  • Centre financed 60% of Jammu and Kashmir govt expenditure in FY16: CAG
    The central government has financed 60 per cent of total expenditure of the Jammu and Kashmir government through non-debt resources during 2015-16, a jump of 3 per cent from 2013-14, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said. 

    The non-debt resources transferred by the central government, financed 60 per cent of the total expenditure of the state government during 2015-16 stated the CAG report for the year to March 2016. The CAG also highlighted the state's increasing dependence on transfer of resources from the Centre. 

    The financing pattern shows an increase of 3 per cent to 60 per cent each in 2015-16 and 2014-15, from 57 per cent in2013-14. However, it stood at 63 per cent during 2011-12, showing a decline in the state's dependence ontransfer of central resources. 

    The state could not maintain its revenue surplus that fell from Rs 2,103 crore in 2011-12 to a deficit of Rs 640 crore in 2015-16 due to a shortfall in its own non-tax revenue and grant-in-aid vis-a-vis projected receipts, the CAG said. 

  • RBI cuts repo rate by 25 bps to 6%
    In line with market expectations, the Reserve Bank of India on 2nd August in its 3rd bi-monthly monetary policy decision of FY 2017-18 reduced the Repo Rate under the Liquidity Adjustment Facility by 25 basis points from 6.25 percent to 6.0 percent. 

    The reverse repo rate under the LAF stands adjusted to 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 6.25 per cent. 

    In the wake of record low retail inflation, the monetary policy committee (MPC) headed by RBI Governor Mr. Urjit Patel slashed policy repo rate by 25 basis points to 6 per cent and reverse repo by a similar proportion to 5.75 per cent in its third Monetary policy review in Mumbai on 2nd August. 

    The MPC also decided to keep the policy stance neutral in consonance with the objective of achieving the medium-term target for consumer price index inflation of 4 per cent. Despite a cut in the benchmark lending rate, RBI retained its GDP forecast to 7.3 per cent. 

    According to RBI governor, the MPC observed that while inflation has fallen to a historic low, a decisive segregation of transitory and structural factors driving the disinflation is still elusive. 

    He emphasized that he MPC remains focused on its commitment to keep headline inflation close to 4 per cent on a durable basis. 

  • Government announces new exchange traded fund, Bharat-22
    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 4th August announced a new Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) named BHARAT 22 which consists of 22 scrips including ONGC, IOC, SBI and Axis Bank. 

    ICICI Prudential AMC will be the ETF Manager and Asia Index Private Limited will be the Index Provider. The index will be rebalanced annually. ETF functions like a mutual fund scheme and is bought by investors as units. 

    According to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Bharat-22 will have a diversified portfolio of six sectors, including energy, FMCG, finance, basic material and industrial and utilities. 

    The government had raised about eight thousand 500 crore rupees through the three tranches of CPSE Exchange Traded Fund last fiscal. In his Budget Speech, Mr Jaitley had promised to use ETF as a vehicle for further disinvestment of shares. 

    The target for central public sector enterprises disinvestment in 2017-18 was set at 72,500 crore rupees. During the current Financial Year, the government has realised approx 9,300 crore rupees through nine disinvestment transactions so far. 

  • FCI could have saved over Rs 35,000 crore if subsidy came on time: CAG
    The CAG on 4th August said that the Food Corporation of India, FCI would have saved over 35 thousand 700 crore rupees interest burden during 2011 to 2016 if the government released food subsidy on time. 

    In its report tabled in Parliament, the CAG said, only 67 per cent of subsidy claimed was released by the Centre over the last five years because of which FCI had to borrow from other costlier means of finance resulting in heavy interest burden. 

    The federal auditor has suggested that full allocation be made to the agency. It has also suggested the FCI to approach a consortium through the Food Ministry for allowing it to utilise short-term loan before exhausting the cash credit limit. 

    In the report, the CAG said the FCI had to resort to costlier source of financing due to restrictions imposed by consortium of banks for utilising short term loans and lack of permission by the government to raise bonds. 

    The CAG also noted that the risk management policy of FCI also did not sufficiently address the complex financial needs of the corporation. 

  • Centre proposes to set up 14 new AIIMS hospitals in the country
    Government proposes to establish an additional 14 new AIIMS under various phases of Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana in different parts of the country, Lok Sabha was informed on 4th August. 

    On AIIMS and related healthcare system in India, Union Health Minister JP Nadda said government is working on enhancing the capacity of national capital's medical institutes, which receive a large number of patients from across the country. 

    He said an additional 1,563 new beds will be added in the existing capacity of AIIMS at Delhi and 73 existing medical institutions are being upgraded by setting up of super specialty blocks, trauma centres in the country. 

    Under the national programme for prevention and control of cancer, diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases and strokes, the health minister said Center to support the establishment of 20 state cancer institutions and 50 tertiary care cancer centres in different parts of the country. 

    He said AIIMS institutes in Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur and Raipur have been almost operational and a large number of patients these institutions receive not only from states but also from neighbouring regions. 

  • Lok Sabha passes bill to raise NABARD’s Capital to Rs 30,000 crores
    The Lok Sabha passes a bill to enable exit of Reserve Bank of India from National Bank For Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and increase authorized capital of the development institution six times to Rs 30,000 crores. The Bill substitutes references to provisions of the Companies Act, 1956 under the NABARD Act, 1981, with references to the Companies Act, 2013. 

    The Bill replaces the terms ‘small-scale industry’ and ‘industry in the tiny and decentralized sector’ with the terms ‘micro enterprise’, ‘small enterprise’ and ‘medium enterprise’ as defined in the MSME Development Act, 2006. 

  • Hyderabad airport becomes India's first to provide express security check
    Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL), which operates Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), said it has become the first airport in the country to provide a pre-embarkation security check right at the terminal's entry gate. This will serve as 'Express Security Check' facility for domestic passengers travelling without any check-in baggage. 

    OP Singh, DG, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) inaugurated this facility on 4th August in presence of SGK Kishore, CEO, GHIAL and other dignitaries from CISF and GHIAL

    The domestic passengers, after printing their boarding pass from the newly installed 'self-service kiosks' located conveniently at the departures forecourt area outside the terminal building, can now enter the Express Security Check lane without getting into the check-in area and head straight towards the boarding area. 

    Currently, Hyderabad Airport handles more than 18,000 domestic departure passengers on daily basis, of which close to 40 per cent travel without any checked-in baggage, and carry at most only hand baggage. 

    The new process will also benefit the airlines by reducing the queues at the check-in counters and improving their on-time performance (OTP). Further, the facility will also help in reducing the anxiety levels of passengers travelling through a busy airport. 

  • GST Council gives in-principle approval to E-Way bill rules
    The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has given in principle approval to E Way bill rules on 5th August. 
    According to the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley:
    • Pre-registration requirement under GST e-way bill is not mandatory for exempted goods and E-way Bills will be required for packages worth over 50 thousand rupees.
    • There will be no check posts and the process will be technology driven.
    • E way bill will be implemented across the country
    • GST Council has cut tax on textile work to 5 percent from 18 percent.
    • The GST rate on few tractor components have been reduced to 18 percent from 28 per cent.
    • Work contracts under GST will be taxed at 12 percent with input tax credit
    • More than 71 lakh taxpayers have migrated to GST and 15.67 lakh new applications have been received.
    • The next meeting of GST will be held on the 9th of September in Hyderabad.

  • India signs USD 329 million loan pact with AIIB for Gujarat road project
    India has signed a loan agreement with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for financing of 329 million US dollar for Gujarat Rural Roads Project. The agreement was signed on 4th August by Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Sameer Kumar Khare and Vice President and Chief Investment Officer, AIIB, D J Pandian. 

    The objective of the project is to improve the rural road connectivity and accessibility to more than one thousand villages in all the 33 districts of the state benefiting about 80 lakh people. 

    The Ministry said, the project will also benefit the service providers such as public transport operators, educational institutions, hospitals, local markets and traders. 

  • Indian Railways signs first EPC contract with L&T to speed up electrification
    The Indian Railways signed its first EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) contract with Larsen and Turbo (L&T) for electrification of railways. The contract valuing Rs 1,050 crore was awarded by Central Organisation for Railway Electrification (CORE) and Konkan Railways. The EPC contracts were awarded as part of a strategy to speed up the electrification of railway lines under ‘Mission Electrification’ plan. 

  • Farmers in Andhra Pradesh get pattadar passbook through MeeSeva in Andhra Pradesh
    For the first time in the country, the farmers in Andhra Pradesh will get their pattadar passbooks within fifteen minutes through MeeSeva centres by paying a nominal fee of Rs 25, informed Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. 

    Inaugurating the distribution of electronic pattadar passbooks, Chandrababu Naidu said that the State is ahead in introducing online and e-Pragati services. 

    Chief Commissioner of Land Administration (CCLA) Anil Chandra Puneta explained that pattadar authentication, land record validation through webland, Mee-Seva operator authentication, unique e-pattadar passbook number, QR code, tahsildar digital signature, IP address, date and time will be taken into consideration before printing pattdar passbook. 

    He said another app Bhusodak is being developed to verify the land records and the owners identity. Distributing the electronic pattadar pass book to a young farmer who studied B.Tech, the Chief Minister asked him to bring awareness among villagers on the new system.


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