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February 2018 Economic Affairs

  • PM launches slew of projects in Mumbai, addresses Investors Summit
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a galaxy of industrialists and entrepreneurs, highlights the need of fulfilling dreams of New India to fulfill aspirations of youth, underlines his govt's commitment for infrastructure and ease of doing business at global investors summit - Magnetic Maharashtra, lays foundation stone of the Navi Mumbai International Airport and inaugurates the country's 4th largest container terminal at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust. 

    Costing 16,700 Cr rupees, the Navi Mumbai International Airport will have two parallel runways, unlike the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport which has only one runway. 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Magnetic Maharashtra Convergence 2018" Global Investors Summit In Mumbai. Through the summit "Magnetic Maharashtra", the state government is seeking to attract investors to explore business opportunities in the state of Maharashtra. 

    Addressing the Global Investors' Summit - "Magnetic Maharashtra: Convergence 2018", Prime Minister said that India believes in potential, policy, planning and performance leads to progress. 

    Later, Prime Minister also inaugurated the Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence at the University of Mumbai. The Wadhwani Institute aims to develop Artificial Intelligence-based solutions across areas of societal significance. 

    The Wadhwani for Artificial Intelligence institute will create a curriculum for artificial intelligence to train skilled Indian workforce coming not only out of Mumbai or Maharashtra but the entire nation. The research institute will have Artificial Intelligence and research experts from Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute Of Technology, and few other leading world universities to come and teach at Wadhwani. 

  • SEBI eases access norms for investment by foreign portfolio investors
    The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has opened up the Indian capital markets to clients of global private banks, which can invest in stocks without having to go through registration or compliance requirements. 

    Until now, foreign banks were allowed to do propriety trades only. However, now they have been allowed to invest in domestic securities on behalf of their clients. 

    Also, this route will provide more flexibility to investors compared to p-notes, as they will be able to take unhedged exposure to Indian derivatives market. 

    SEBI’s latest move is a departure from the regulator’s efforts in the past few years to encourage direct participation. All big-ticket p-note issuing entities are owned by banks such as Citi, JPMorgan, BNP Paribas, and Credit Suisse. 

    These banks can now direct their clients to invest through their wealth management arms rather than taking the p-note route. 

  • CBI files case against Rotomac pens owner 
    The CBI has registered a case against Rotomac pen promoter Vikram Kothari and his family in connection with a case related to the alleged swindling of 3,695 crore rupees of bank loan. 

    The case against three directors of the company including Kothari and others was filed on a complaint received from Bank of Baroda. 

    It is alleged that Directors in criminal conspiracy with themselves and other unknown bank officials, cheated the bank to the tune of over 616 crore rupees. 

    The Agency said, the total outstanding amount of the members of consortium of seven banks including Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank and Allahabad Bank has come to 3695 crore rupees including unapplied interest by siphoning off bank loans disbursed to that company. 

    Searches were conducted at the residential and official premises of the accused at Kanpur and a residential apartment and office premises of the accused at Delhi has been sealed. 

    Kothari, his wife and son were questioned by the CBI in connection with the case. 

  • UP signs 900 MoUs before Investors summit
    Uttar Pradesh government has so far signed 900 Memorandum of Understanding, MoUs with different industrial groups for the investment in the ahead of the two day mega event 'UP investment summit' starting in Lucknow from 21st February

    The amount of investment involved in 900 MoUs is likely to be known after the two day summit. The sectors for which MoUs have been signed are agriculture and food processing sector, tourism, dairy industry, information technology and MSME sector. 

    The Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the event while the President Ram Nath Kovind will be the chief guest on the concluding day. As many as 16 Union Ministers will participate in the two day event. 

  • Government clears opening up of commercial coal mining to Private firms
    In a major reform in the coal sector since its nationalisation in 1973, the government on20th February allowed private companies to mine the fossil fuel for commercial use, ending the monopoly of state-owned Coal India Ltd. The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

    According to the Coal Minister Piyush Goyal, the opening up of commercial coal mining for the private sector is the most ambitious coal sector reform. Currently, the private sector is allowed coal mining for captive use only. 

    Mr Goyal said, the reform is likely to bring efficiency into the coal sector by moving away from the era of monopoly to competition and lower power tariffs. 

    He said the move will lead to higher investments and create lakhs of direct and indirect jobs. He said, apart from increasing competitiveness it will allow the use of best possible technology into the sector. 

    The CCEA has also approved the methodology for the auction of coal mines or blocks for sale of coal under the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. 

    Piyush Goyal said big, medium as well as small mines would be offered to private companies for mining. He said, opening up the sector will also lead to energy security through assured coal supply, accountable allocation and affordability. 

    The methodology gives the highest priority to transparency, ease of doing business, and ensuring that natural resources are used for national development. 

  • Creation of National Urban Housing Fund of Rs 60000 crore approved
    The Cabinet has given its approval for creation of National Urban Housing Fund of 60 thousand crore rupees. The fund will be situated in Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. 

    It will facilitate raising requisite funds in the next four years so that flow of Central Assistance under different verticals is sustained and construction of houses to address the gap in Urban Sector progresses smoothly. The Ministry has so far sanctioned 39.4 lakh houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban). 

    There is a very good response from the States and nearly 2-3 lakh houses are being sanctioned every month. More than 17 lakh houses have been grounded and about 5 lakh houses have been completed. 

  • NMCG approves Ganga cleaning projects worth Rs 4,000 crore
    The National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) - key central body which takes decision on the government’s ambitious Ganga rejuvenation programme - has approved a number of projects worth nearly Rs 4,000 crore for various cities/towns of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. 

    The projects, approved in the last executive committee meeting of the NMCG, include two big ones worth nearly Rs 1,600 crore for Kanpur city - origin of the most polluted stretch of Ganga in UP due to presence of hundreds of polluting tanneries which have been discharging untreated water into the river for years. 

    These projects are in addition to the total 187 projects - sanctioned under the ‘Namami Gange’ programme in past two years - for various activities such as treatment of municipal sewage, treatment of industrial effluent, river surface cleaning, rural sanitation, ghats and crematoria works, afforestation, biodiversity, awareness creation and public outreach. While 47 of these projects - mainly the smaller ones - have been completed, the works on remaining projects have been going on. The government expects all the works to be completed in nearly three years. 

  • NITI Aayog to launch women entrepreneurs’ cell 
    Encouraged by an increase in the number of women entrepreneurs in India, NITI Aayog will launch a special cell to provide them a platform where stakeholders can converge to give a boost to their initiatives, a top member of the government’s think-tank NITI Aayog has said. Women entrepreneurs in India are bringing about a lot of development in the public and private sectors. More than two dozen Indian women entrepreneurs are currently in the US on a business trip. 

    The dedicated women cell will handhold and facilitate promotion of women entrepreneurs in India, Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) had said. The women delegation will also travel to Boston, Pittsburg and San Francisco. 

    The cell, to be called Women Entrepreneurial and Innovation Cell of Niti Aayog, will be headed by Niti Aayog advisor Anna Roy, and will offer women financial support through the Rs 10,000 crore Fund of Funds and Mudra micro-loan scheme apart from mentorship in scaling up, Kant told ET on the sidelines of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Hyderabad on 22nd February. 

  • Exim Bank, UNDP ink pact to extend financial support to MSMEs in North East India
    Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) on 23rd February said it has signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for financing a project on ‘Capacity Building of MSMEs in North East India for Export Competitiveness’. 

    The agreement was signed by David Rasquinha, Managing Director, Exim Bank, and Marina Walter, Country Director, UNDP. The project, according to an Exim Bank statement, looks at creating stronger MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in the North-East region to boost exports, generate employment and provide livelihood opportunities to the youth and women. The key strategy would be to take advantage of the emerging opportunities under the Government of India’s ‘Act East Policy’ that recognises the potential of the region in terms of natural resources, hydropower, close proximity to East-Asian countries, among others

    The key activities of the project include cluster-based support to grassroots MSMEs in North-East India in improving their export competitiveness through Exim Bank’s GRID (Grass Roots Initiative and Development) Initiative. 

    Through GRID, Exim Bank extends financial support to promote grassroots initiatives/ technologies, particularly the ones with export potential and help the artisans/ producer groups/ clusters/ small enterprises/ NGOs realise remunerative return on their produce and facilitate exports from these units. 

  • GoM recommends implementation of E-way bill from 1 April
    Group of Ministers on GST implementation recommends E-way bill to be made mandatory from 1st April this year; GST council to take final decision on bill to ensure seamless inter-state movement of goods and services. 

    Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and GST Convenor, Sushil Kumar Modi, said that 26 to 30 Lakh E-Way bills are expected to be generated when E-Way bills will be implemented by 1st April 2018. 

    According to Sushil Kumar Modi, 9.5 Lakh taxpayers are registered on E-Way bills portal, and 6.5 Lakh E-Way bills are generated per day. 

  • PM Modi inaugurates projects worth 1000 crores in Daman
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid foundation stones for projects worth 1000 crore rupees in Daman in union territory of Daman and Diu. 

    Prime Minster distributed keys for scooters to differently-abled beneficiaries, 'SWABHIMAN' cards to pregnant and Lactating Women, 'Badhai Kit' to the newly born girl children under 'beti Bachao, Beti padhao'. 

    PM also distributed cycles to school going girls under Saraswati Cycle Yojna, extended loans under 'Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojna and Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana to beneficiaries. The PM also distributed permits for CNG driven public transport vehicles for a cleaner environment in Daman. 

    Besides, Prime Minister also flagged off of Pawan Hans Helicopter services from Daman to Diu through a video link. PM flagged off of 'Pehli Savari' and Ambulances to take patients to hospitals in emergency like situations. 

  • PM Modi inaugurates UP Investors Summit
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 21st February inaugurated the two-day ‘UP Investors Summit in Lucknow and said that Uttar Pradesh can become the growth engine of country. 

    He launched single window system NIVESH MITRA and said that Defence Industrial Corridor will be expanded in Agra-Lucknow, Kanpur, Jhansi, Aligarh and Chitrakoot with an estimated investment of 20 thousand crore rupees to ensure development of Bundelkhand. 

    Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told that MoUs worth of total 4 lakh 28 thousand crore rupees were signed on 21st February

    On the first day of the summit several Union Ministers attended various sessions and MoUs worth crores were signed. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari announced to start work of Lucknow-Kanpur expressway in April which will reduce the travel time between two cities to only 45 minutes. 

    Union Ministers like Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Giriraj Singh also attended sessions related to Food processing Industry and MSME sector respectively. 

    Along with various leaders from the government, industry biggies like Mukesh Ambani, Anand Mahindra, Gautam Adani, announced to invest in state. 

  • Govt to save Rs 1,600 crore every year in foodgrain procurement post GST
    The Government is estimated to save 1,600 crore rupees annually in procurement of foodgrains as its tax expenses have reduced after the introduction of GST. 

    According to the Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, only GST is being levied on procurement and not state taxes, resulting in 18 per cent reduction in taxes on foodgrain procurement. He added that the Centre is expected to save 1,600 crore rupees annually. 

    On capital restructuring in Food Corporation of India (FCI) as announced in the Union Budget 2018-19, Mr Paswan said, the government will infuse equity in the FCI next fiscal to reduce interest burden. FCI will also issue long-term bonds. 

  • 2.45 lakh people got assistance under DAY-NULM till December 2017
    Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said that over 2(point)45 lakh beneficiaries have been assisted till December last year under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana- National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY- NULAM) for setting up individual and group micro enterprises. 

    An official release said, since 2014-15, the States have so far utilised funds worth around 2150 crore rupees. In the first phase 790 cities were covered under the mission, while in the second phase from 2016, the coverage was expanded to include 4041 cities. 

    More than 3.48 lakh self help group (SHGs) were disbursed loans under SHG-Bank linkage programme so far under the mission. 

    It said, Social Mobilisation and Institutional Development, Employment through Skill Training and Placement and Scheme for Urban Street Vendors are the key components of DAY-NULM. 

  • Retail inflation eases to 5.07% in January; Industrial Production expands 7.1%
    Retail inflation fell to 5(point)07 per cent in January this year due to easing prices of vegetables, fruits and fuel components compared to last month. 

    According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, the inflation, based on Consumer Price Index (CPI), was at 5.21 per cent in December. It was at lower level at 3.17 per cent in January last year. The base year for the calculation of CPI is 2012. 

    The ministry said that Industrial production expanded 7.1 per cent in December last year, compared to 2.4 per cent a year ago. 

    Industrial output maintained the recovery momentum, on the back of robust performance by manufacturing as well as higher offtake of capital goods and non-durable consumer goods. 

    The Industrial production had grown 3.7 per cent in April-December last year, down from 5.1 per cent in the corresponding period a year ago. The base for IIP calculation is 2011-12. 

  • RBI issues revised guidelines for expeditious resolution of bad loans
    Reserve Bank of India has issued a revised framework for expeditious resolution of bad loans, harmonising the existing guidelines with the norms specified in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). The new guidelines have specified framework for early identification and reporting of stressed assets. 

    In a notification issued in Mumbai, RBI said, in view of the enactment of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, it has been decided to substitute the existing guidelines with a harmonised and simplified generic framework for resolution of stressed assets. 

    Among other things, the RBI has decided to do away with the Joint Lenders' Forum (JLF) as an institutional mechanism for resolution of stressed accounts also stands discontinued. 

    The notification further said, all accounts, including those where any of the schemes have been invoked but not yet implemented, will be governed by the revised framework. 

  • Defence Acquisition Council clears Rs 16,000 cr proposal to procure weapons for operational requirement of troops
    The Defence Acquisition Council, DAC, has cleared proposal worth 15 thousand 935 Crore rupees. The council met under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi on 13th February and accorded approval to Capital Acquisition Proposals of the Services. 

    The council cleared the proposal for procurement of essential quantity of Light Machine Guns for the three Services through the fast track procedure at an estimated cost of over one thousand 819 crore rupees. It said, this procurement will meet the operational requirement of the troops deployed on the borders. 

    The DAC also accorded approval for procurement of 7.4 lakh Assault Rifles for the three Services. These Rifles will be made in India under the categorisation of Buy and Make, through both Ordnance Factory Board and Private Industry at an estimated cost of 12 thousand 280 crore rupees. 

    Besides, procurement of 5,719 Sniper Rifles for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force at an estimated cost of 982 crore rupees was also approved. 

    To enhance the anti-submarine warfare capabilities of Indian Naval Ships, the DAC also accorded approval for the procurement of Advanced Torpedo Decoy Systems. 

    The Ministry said, the Mareech system has been developed indigenously by DRDO and has successfully completed extensive trial evaluations. The Mareech systems will be produced by Bharat Electronics Limited, Bengaluru at an estimated cost of 850 crore rupees. 

  • Over 8% growth in foreign tourist arrivals in January: Govt
    More than 10 lakh foreign tourists visited India in January, 2018 around eight per cent higher than the corresponding month last year. 

    According to the tourism ministry, the number of foreign tourist arrivals in January, 2018 was 10.66 lakh as compared to 9.83 lakh in January, 2017, and 8.45 lakh in January, 2016. 

    The highest percentage of tourists came from Bangladesh (16.36 per cent) followed by the US (14.10 per cent), the UK (10.81 per cent), Canada (4.63 per cent) and the Russian Federation (4.49 per cent). 

    The ministry compiles monthly estimates of foreign tourists arrivals including those with e-tourist visas, on the basis of their nationality and the port. The estimates are based on data received from the Bureau of Immigration. 

  • Number of rich Indians up 12% but collective wealth is up only 5%: Report
    Amid concerns on inequality that has been on a steady climb across the globe in general and particularly in India, a study has said the number of the rich has grown at a faster clip than their collective networth in the country in 2017. 

    The number of ultra-high networth households in the country, which represents those with a networth of over Rs 250 million or more, has grown 12 per cent to over 16 million in 2017, while their collective networth grew only 5 per cent at Rs 153 trillion, said the study. 

    Findings of the study, commissioned by Kotak Wealth Management, come even as there are increased concerns on rising inequality, especially after a 2017 paper by economists Thomas Piketty and Lucas Chancel, and also a report by the non-profit Oxfam ahead of the World Economic Forum earlier this year.When asked about the divergence, Kotak's Wealth Management chief executive Jaideep Hansraj said their study had not gone into the inequality aspect. 

    The study sees over the next five years, the number of such households will double to 33 million and their networth will grow to Rs 352 trillion. 

    He claimed that despite negative events like the note-ban which has pulled down GDP growth, one of the most important factors determining wealth for the category, its estimates have come out true in the last seven years since it has been coming out with the such reports. 

    A part from GDP growth, the survey done by global consultancy EY uses data points on savings, and investments in asset classes like mutual funds, realty, gold and equities, and also bank deposit growth to come at its estimates. 

  • Rs. 11,500 crore unauthorised transactions at Punjab National Bank branch in south Mumbai
    In what could be one of the biggest frauds in the Indian banking system, state-run lender Punjab National Bank (PNB) reported unauthorised transactions worth Rs. 11,500 crore in one of its branches in south Mumbai. 

    The Enforcement Directorate has registered a money laundering case in the matter, which involves Mumbai-based billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi. A case has been registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation against him and his business associates as well as a serving PNB official and a retired deputy manager of the bank. 

    In a communication to the stock exchanges on 14th February, the country’s second largest lender said it had detected some unauthorised transactions in one of its branches for the benefit of a few select account holders with their apparent ‘connivance’. 

    The bank’s stock plunged almost 10% through the day and its market capitalisation eroded by nearly Rs. 3,900 crore by the end of trading on the Bombay Stock Exchange. 

    The government also swung into action with the Finance Ministry asking all the banks to carry out a clean-up exercise. Financial Services Secretary Rajeev Kumar said the government will not tolerate ‘unclean banks’ while adding that the case dates back to 2011, when a fraudulent Letter of Undertaking (LoU) was submitted to PNB. 

  • RIL to set up electronic park in Tirupati
    Reliance Industries (RIL) will be setting up a 150-acre electronics park in Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. The park will have a capacity to produce 10 lakh Jio phones and other electronic equipment. RIL will also handhold the government by providing training to young people of the state in the manufacture of electronic goods. 

  • Paperless drive: Railways to do away with reservation charts from March 1
    The railway ministry has directed its zones to discontinue pasting reservation charts on reserved coaches of all trains at A1, A and B category stations as a pilot project for six months from March 1, an official statement said on 16th February. 

    However, physical and digital display of charts will continue at the platforms, the ministry statement said. 

    Based on the income from passengers, the railways classifies its stations into seven categories A1, A, B, C, D, E and F. 

    Earlier, pasting of reservation charts on reserved coaches of all trains was discontinued at New Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Mumbai Central, Chennai Central, Howrah and Sealdah stations. 

    The aim behind the move to go paperless is the green initiative by South Western Railways Bengaluru Division (SBC) which discontinued pasting charts on reserved coaches of all trains from Bengaluru City and Yeshwantpur stations from November 2016.The move helped save over Rs 60,00,000 spent on paper by the division. 

  • India at 78th position on globalisation index 
    India dropped 16 spots to 78 from 62 among 140 countries in 11 years to 2015 on a globalisation index brought out by international logistics company DHL. 

    The Global Connectedness Index 2016, the fourth since it was first released in 2011, prepared by Pankaj Ghemawat and Steven A. Altman (both teach management at New York University Stern School of Business, US), was released on November 15, 2016. 

    Measured by international flows of trade, capital, information and people, the index ranked India poorly among a group of comparable countries that included its neighbours in central and south Asia, and BRICS members (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa). 

    The authors slotted India in the central and south Asia group along with Georgia, Turkey, Nepal, Pakistan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyz Republic and Sri Lanka. 

    India’s 16-place drop over 11 years to 2015 was the second-worst change among these 16 countries. 

    Georgia fared the best by moving up 43 spots to 56 from 99 between 2005 and 2015, while Sri Lanka was the worst, dropping 19 spots to 86 from 67. 

  • Govt to change base year for GDP, IIP to 2017-18
    The government will change the base year to 2017-18 for the calculation of GDP and IIP numbers, while for retail inflation the year will be revised to 2018, according to the Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said on 15th February. 

    During 2018-19, the Ministry is proposing to initiate steps to revise the base years of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and Consumer Price Index (CPI) to accommodate and factor the changes that take place in the economic scenario of the country. The Statistics Ministry has proposed the new base year for GDP and IIP as 2017-18 while for CPI it will be 2018. 

    Gowda said the ministry will undertake various steps in the next fiscal beginning April that will improve the statistical system that will help meet the data requirements in the emerging socio-economic scenario. 

    The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) has been allocated Rs 4,859 crore in the Union Budget 2018-19. 

  • Centre targets procurement of 320 lakh tonnes of rabi wheat and 55 lakh tonnes of paddy
    The Centre will procure 320 lakh tonnes (lt) of wheat during the rabi marketing season (starting April 1) 2018-19 — 10 lt lower than the previous season’s 330 lt, according to the Food Ministry. 

    A decision on rabi procurement targets was taken at a meeting of State Food Secretaries, chaired by the Department of Food and Public Distribution Secretary Ravi Kant. 

    The overall wheat procurement in the previous season was at 308 lt. The reduction in wheat procurement target is despite the government’s expectations of a bumper crop in 2017-18 (July-June). 

    The sowing of rabi crops this year is reported to be 4.27 per cent lower than last year. As per the Agriculture Ministry data, for the week ended February 9, wheat had been sown on 304.29 lakh hectares (lh) as compared to an acreage of 317.88 lh covered for the corresponding week last year. 

    The Centre will procure an estimated 119 lt of wheat from Punjab, 74 lt from Haryana, 67 lh from Madhya Pradesh, 40 lt from Uttar Pradesh, 16 lt from Rajasthan, 5 lt from Bihar and the rest from other States including Uttrakahand and Gujarat

    The Centre has also decided to procure an estimated 55 lt paddy grown in rabi season of the kharif marketing season (KMS) 2017-18, which is 5 lt more than the previous rabi season. 

    Of the total 55 lt, 19 lt of paddy will be procured from Telangana, 18 lt from Andhra Pradesh, 7 lt from Odisha, 5 from Tamil Nadu, 4 lt from West Bengal and the rest from other States including Kerala, Assam and Maharashtra. This is over and above the estimate of 375 lt set for kharif crop paddy for KMS 2017-18. 

  • Seafood exports to cross $6 bn in current fiscal: MPEDA
    Stakeholders from across the Indian seafood industry were optimistic that marine products exprots would reach Rs 50,000 crore in the next few years given the current growth curve and strides made in aquaculture production. 

    They were talking at the 21st edition of the three-day biennial India International Seafood Show (IISS) which opened in Margao on 28th January. 

    Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who inaugurated the event, said that while the east coast, especially Andhra Pradesh, was surging ahead in culture fisheries, the west coast could enhance their contribution to exports in coordination with organisations like the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA). 

    He added that the country should do more to make use of the fishing potential along the underutilized but large Andaman and Nicobar coastline. 

    He said that sustainable deep sea fishing should be explored and issues like seawater pollution from chemical fertilizer wash-off, over exploitation of existing fishing zones and damage to breeding grounds should be tackled. 

    In 2016-17, India exported 11,34,948 million tonnes (MT) of seafood, principally frozen shrimp and frozen fish, worth 37,870.90 crore and provisional export figures for April-November 2017 have shown an increase of 18.72 per cent and 15.16 per cent respectively in quantity and value (in terms of US dollars) of seafood exports. 

    The export earnings are expected to cross a high of US 6 billion dollars during the current fiscal, buoyed by aquaculture growth, enhanced processing capacity and favourable market conditions, MPEDA chairman A Jayathilak noted. 

  • Indian economy to grow in the range of 7-7.5% in 2018-19: Economic Survey 2017
    The Economic Survey says the worst is over and the Indian economy is poised to rebound to grow in the range of 7-7.5% in 2018-19. 

    It credits this recovery to structural policy fixes, including the decision to put in place a bankruptcy code to deal with the bad debt problem—which it believes had become a binding constraint on economic growth. 

    According to the survey, demonetization of high-value currencies, together with the rollout of the goods and services tax (GST), has led to more people being brought under the tax net and the formal economy is much bigger than what it is estimated at. 

    Optimistic while the survey is, it makes a case for policy vigilance to deal with downside risks stemming from rising crude oil prices and any setback to the ongoing recovery of the global economy. 

    The survey, authored by a team led by chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian and presented in Parliament by finance minister Arun Jaitley on the first day of the budget session, cites high-frequency data such as exports, factory output and non-food credit growth to up the growth estimate for 2017-18 to 6.75% from 6.5% projected by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). 

    Given real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6% in the first half (April-September) of 2017-18, this implies that growth in the second half (October-March) would rebound to 7.5% in the fourth quarter (January-March). 

    The statistics department will release the third quarter GDP data on 28 February. 

    Setting the reform agenda for the next financial year, the Survey makes a case for shrinking unviable public sector banks, privatizing Air India, facilitating easier GST compliance and decisively resolving bankruptcy cases. 

    The survey acknowledged the electoral pressures on a government in the final year of its term, and batted for less aggressive fiscal consolidation. 

    It said setting overly ambitious targets for consolidation—especially in a pre-election year—based on optimistic forecasts that carry a high risk of not being realized will not garner credibility. 

    Jaitley has set a fiscal deficit target of 3.2% of GDP for 2017-18 and aims to lower it to 3% in 2018-19. However, less-than-expected revenue collections, especially after implementation of GST, and higher expenditure could generate fiscal pressures. 

    The survey foresees higher-than-expected inflation in the second half of the current fiscal and projects a nominal GDP growth rate of 10.5% against 9.5% estimated by CSO. This could help the finance minister contain the fiscal slippage in 2017-18. 

  • Implementing GST helped: Arvind Subramanian
    Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian 29th January said implementing GST and responding quickly to transitional challenges are among the major achievements of the government in the past year. 

    He said there has been an increase in new tax filers of about 18 lakh and some boost to individual income tax collections post-demonetization and GST. 

    The Chief Economic Adviser listed providing support to agriculture, stabilizing GST, privatizing Air-India among the policy agenda for the coming year. 

    The Survey also expressed concern over air pollution in Delhi with the onset of winter due to various factors and suggested coordination between agencies and Central and State Governments to address each source problem systematically. 

    The pink cover of this year's Economic Survey was chosen as a symbol of support for ending violence against women. 

    It recommended that India must confront the societal meta-preference for a son, and observed that the adverse sex ratio of females to males has led to 63 million 'missing' women. 

    Low tax collection at panchayats: 
    Tax collections at panchayat level are extremely low, which is posing a challenge to fiscal federalism and accountability, the Economic Survey said. 

    Low level of tax collections by local governments in rural areas is posing challenge in reconciling fiscal federalism and accountability, the Economic Survey 2017-18 tabled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament said. 

    Panchayats received 95 per cent of their revenues from the devolved funds from the centre/state, while generating only 5 per cent from own resources, it said. 

  • India ranks sixth in the list of wealthiest countries
    India has been ranked sixth in the list of wealthiest countries with total wealth of 8,230 billion US dollars, while the United States topped the chart. According to a report by New World Wealth, India was the best performing wealth market globally in 2017 as its total wealth swelled from 6,584 billion dollars in 2016 to 8,230 billion dollars in 2017, registering a 25 per cent growth. 

    The report noted that the United States is the wealthiest country in the world as the total wealth held in 2017 amounted to 64,584 billion dollars, followed by China at the second place with 24,803 billion dollars and Japan with 19,522 billion dollars at third. 

    Total wealth, refers to the private wealth held by all the individuals living in each country. It includes all their assets. The report, however, excludes government funds from its figures. 

  • Govt signs $250mn Loan Agreement with ADB to improve rural connectivity under PMGSY
    The Asian Development Bank and the Centre on 30th January signed a 250 million dollar loan to finance the construction of over 6 thousand 2 hundred kilometres all-weather rural roads in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, PMGSY. 

    The program is aimed at improving rural connectivity, facilitating safer and more efficient access to livelihood and socio-economic opportunities for rural communities through improvements to about 12 thousand kilometres Rural Roads across the 5 States. 

  • India-US trade estimated to touch $140 bn in 2017, says USISPF survey
    Trade between India and the US is estimated to have jumped substantially from $118 billion in 2016 to $140 billion in 2017, according to an advocacy group that aims to promote bilateral trade. In 2016, India was the ninth largest trading partner of the US and one of the major countries with which America has had trade deficit of more than $30 billion. 

    This is expected to continue in 2017 as well, an issue which has repeatedly been raised by President Donald Trump and his top officials in their interaction with their Indian counterpart. 

    According to US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF) in 2017 India's trade (with the US) has gone up from $118 billion (the previous year) to $140

    Official figures of annual bilateral trade are yet to come, but the USISPF estimates are based on its own research and surveys. 

    India, last year bought $2 billion worth of energy from the US. India spends roughly $80 billion dollars acquiring energy.


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