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May 2018 Economic Affairs

  • India launched its second IT corridor in China 
    India on 27th May launched its second IT corridor in China to cash in on the burgeoning Chinese software market. The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) has established one more Digital Collaborative Opportunities Plaza (SIDCOP) platform in China. The NASSCOM said, it is an effort to provide market access to Indian IT firms in the huge Chinese market. 

    A NASSCOM official said in Beijing that agreements worth about six million US Dollars were signed between Indian service providers and Chinese customers at the launch of the corridor by China's Guiyang Municipal government and the NASSCOM. 

    In a statement, it said, the pilot projects launched on the SIDCOP platform would be executed over the next year (2019). 

    Last December (2017), the NASSCOM established its first SIDCOP platform in the Chinese port city of Dalian, which is India's first IT hub in China. 

  • National Informatics Centre (NIC) launches fourth data centre in Bhubaneswar
    Bhubaneswar has become the fourth National data centre of National Informatics Centre, NIC after Delhi, Hyderabad and Pune. 

    The new cloud-enabled National Data Centre aims to offer round-the-clock operations with secure hosting for various e-governance applications of Central and State Governments and has ability to support 35,000 virtual servers. 

    Unveiling the data centre, Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said, the data centre in Bhubaneswar is of global standards. 

    Emphasizing the significance of the new national data centre, Prasad further said that Data centre is important because data sanctity is important and in the IT ecosystem, data centre adds to the digital clout of a State or location and raises its global profile. 

    NIC currently has 4,500 people across India in its various operations and will hire 800 professionals in the next one year, including for 355 cyber security experts, to tackle rising risks of cyber security. 

    The new cloud-enabled National Data Centre will provide benefits like on-demand access to ICT (Information and Communication Technology) infrastructure for easy availability and quick deployment of applications and standardized platforms of deployment. 

    In the traditional model, Departments have to budget and procure infrastructure at the commencement of the project, leading to either over provisioning of infrastructure or under-sizing of the requirements whereas the cloud service offerings of NIC would allow departments to provision infrastructure and add to the computing capacity on demand. 

  • Organic farm produce sees 38% rise in 2016-17: APEDA report
    According to the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority's report, there is a 38% increase in total certified organic produce in 2016-17 compared to 2013-14. The organic farming concept is gaining ground rapidly in India. 

  • No change in GST law and taxation relating to farmers
    The government has clarified that there has been no change in the GST law and taxation relating to farmers since its implementation. 

    The Finance Ministry in a statement said that support services to agriculture, forestry, fishing or animal husbandry are exempted from GST. 

    The exempted support services include renting or leasing of vacant land with or without a structure incidental to its use. It said, thus, renting or leasing of land by farmers for agriculture, forestry, fishing or animal husbandry on share cropping or otherwise is also exempted from GST. 

    The clarification of the Ministry came in view of the media reports that certain changes have been made in GST law. 

  • India signs Loan Agreement with the World Bank for USD 21.7 Million
    India on 29th May signed a loan agreement with the world bank for 21.7 million dollars for strengthening the public financial management in Rajasthan project. 

    The agreement was signed by the Joint Secretary (FB and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India and Acting Country Director, World Bank (India). Whereas, the implementing entity agreement was signed by the Secretary, Finance (Budget) on behalf of the Government of Rajasthan, and the Acting Country Director (India) on behalf of the World Bank. 

    The project size is approximately 31 million dollars, of which 21.7 million dollars will be financed by the World Bank, and remaining amount will be funded out of the state budget. The project duration is 5 years. 

    The project aims to contribute to improve budget execution, enhanced accountability and greater efficiency in revenue administration in Rajasthan. 

  • Moody’s cuts India's growth forecast to 7.3% from 7.5% on higher oil prices
    Moody's Investors Service on 30th May cut India's 2018 growth forecast to 7.3 per cent from the previous estimate of 7.5 per cent, saying the economy is in cyclical recovery but higher oil prices and tighter financial conditions will weigh on the pace of acceleration. Moody's, however, maintained its 2019 growth forecast at 7.5 per cent. 

    Moody's said growth should benefit from an acceleration in rural consumption, supported by higher minimum support prices and a normal monsoon. 

    Also, the ongoing transition to the new Goods and Service Tax regime could weigh on growth somewhat over the next few quarters, which poses some downside risk to the forecast, it said. 

    For the world economy, Moody's expected 2018 to be a year of robust global growth, similar to 2017. 

    The G-20 countries, it said, will grow 3.3 per cent in 2018 and 3.2 per cent in 2019. The advanced economies will grow at a moderate 2.3 per cent in 2018 and 2.0 per cent in 2019, while G-20 emerging markets will remain the growth drivers, at 5.2 per cent in both 2018 and 2019, down from 5.3 per cent in 2017. 

    Moody's said downside risks to growth stem from emerging markets turmoil, oil price increases and trade disputes. 

    The outlook for global monetary policy is broadly unchanged with the US Federal Reserve on a predictable and gradual tightening monetary policy path. Three additional increases in the US federal funds rate this year is expected to be followed by three more hikes in 2019. 

    The European Central Bank will likely stop additional asset purchases by year-end and start increasing the deposit facility rate in the first half of 2019. The Bank of Japan will maintain its current monetary policy over the next two years. 

  • PM Narendra Modi launches international Rupay Card, Bhim app and UPI in Singapore
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched international Rupay Card, Bhim app and Unified Payment Interface for international remittance in Singapore on 31st May. 

    As part of Digital India Initiative, these financial remittances are for Indian diaspora in Singapore. 

    He said, digital transactions witnessed 7000 per cent growth and 99 per cent of households in the country have bank accounts providing dignity and identity to the marginalised sections of the society. 

    Stating that GST is the biggest tax reform since independence, Mr Narendra Modi said, it created new economic opportunities by increasing the tax base in the country. 

    The Prime Minister said, the economic transformation is underway in India at such a speed and scale that was not imagined a few years ago. He said, India remains the fastest growing economy in the world with lower fiscal deficit and inflation. 

    He said, Indian currency is stable and foreign direct investments are growing. Mr Narendra Modi elaborated on the growth story of India in the field of infrastructure, development and financial inclusion and the government's commitment to realize the dream of New India by 2022. 

    The Prime Minister said, 10 green field airports, five major ports, 111 waterways, 30 logistic parks are being developed in the country. He said, the government’s goal is to ensure “ ease of living” by providing modern infrastructure to every citizen. 

  • Indian economy grows 7.7 per cent in fourth quarter of 2017-18: Central Statistics Office (CSO) 
    Indian economy grew 7.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017-18. The GDP had expanded 5.6 per cent, 6.3 per cent and 7 per cent, in the first three quarters of 2017-18. 

    According to the data released by Central Statistics Office 31st May, robust performance in manufacturing, construction and service sectors as well as good farm output contributed to the overall growth. However, the economic growth slowed to 6.7 per cent in 2017-18 compared to 7.1 per cent in 2016-17. 

    The previous high GDP growth of 8.1 per cent was recorded in first quarter of 2016-17. The GDP growth was 6.1 per cent in fourth quarter in 2016-17. 

    Meanwhile, the government said, it is keeping its forecast of GDP growth of 7.5 per cent for fiscal year 2018-19 unchanged. 

  • Tourism Minister K J Alphons launches Government guidelines on adventure tourism in India
    Tourism Minister K. J. Alphons launched the Government guidelines on adventure tourism in India. These guidelines on safety and quality norms have been formulated along with the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India in an effort to make adventure sports safer. 

    Releasing the guidelines in New Delhi on 31st May, Mr K.J.Alphons said, India has immense potential for adventure tourism ranging from the Himalayas to the coastal regions. 

    He said, these guidelines are a beginning to building adventure tourism in India. The Minister also said that for India to be a well sought after destination, the facilities and support staff should be developed to global standards. 

    The aim of this initiative is to help adventure tour operators understand and execute safety guidelines in a better manner. These guidelines cover land, air and water based activities which include mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving, river rafting and many other sports. 

    The guidelines codify the standard operating procedures and instructions for risk mitigation and emergencies as well as provide for details like safety precautions, training required and insurance. 

  • Home Minister Rajnath Singh launches online Analytical tool for monitoring foreign contributions
    Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 1st June launched an online analytical tool to facilitate closer monitoring of the flow and utilisation of foreign contributions received by various organisations registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act. 

    The web-based tool enables decision-makers in various Departments of Government to scrutinise source of foreign funds and their actual use in India. Home Ministry, in a statement said, it gives them capacity to take data-driven and evidence-based decisions regarding the compliance of the provisions of the FCRA, 2010. 

    It has analytical features to conduct big data mining and data exploration. Its dashboard will be integrated with the bank accounts of the FCRA-registered entities through the Public Financial Management System for updation of transactional data on a real-time basis. 

    Home Minister witnessed a presentation on various aspects of the Analytical Tool and appreciated the painstaking work done by all concerned officials. 

    There are approximately 25 thousand active organisations registered under the FCRA. Foreign Contributions worth 8,065 crores rupees were received by such organisations from foreign donors for various social, cultural, economic, educational and religious activities during financial year 2016-17. 

  • IT department’s new scheme “Benami Transactions Informants Reward” aims to encourage efforts to curb black money
    With an aim of getting people's participation in the effort to unearth black money and curb tax evasion, the Income Tax Department has come out with a new reward scheme titled Benami Transactions Informants Reward Scheme, 2018. 

    Under this scheme, a person can be rewarded up to Rs. 1 crore for giving specific information on such transactions and properties. Even the citizens belonging to other countries will also be eligible for such reward. 

    The government also assured that the identity of the whistleblower will be kept safe and strict confidentiality about his details would be maintained. 

  • Finance ministry ties up with 40 entities for extending loans to small entrepreneurs
    The finance ministry has tied up with 40 entities including Flipkart, Swiggy, Patanjali and Amul, which are big job creators, for extending loans to small entrepreneurs under the Mudra scheme. 

    According to the Financial Services Secretary Rajiv Kumar, in order to identify people who can be given funds under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY), the ministry will organise an event in Mumbai on 23rd May to extend loan under the scheme. He said about 40 companies have been identified as biggest job creators. 

    These companies will identify people who need loans under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, underwrite them and we will extend loans under the scheme. 

    PMMY was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 8, 2015, for providing loans of up to Rs 10 lakh to the non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises. Last fiscal the government has extended Rs 2.53 lakh crore credit under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, while Rs 5.73 lakh crore has been extended in last 3 years. 

  • Competition Commission of India (CCI) approves $66 billion Bayer-Monsanto merger
    The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the mega merger of Bayer AG with Monsanto, albeit with certain conditions. 

    CCI's approval of the $66 billion deal, proposed in September 2016, will make the merged entity the world's largest seed and pesticide player. But for that to happen, Monsanto Holdings Pvt Ltd will have to sell its 26 per cent holding in Mahyco Monsanto Biotech India Ltd. 

    According to a statement from Bayer, CCI has also stipulated that "the merged entity will have to maintain non-exclusive distribution channels and a policy of broad-based non-exclusive licensing of GM and non-GM traits currently commercialised in India or to be introduced by the combined entity in the future, on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis." 

    The Bayer-Monsanto deal will put the new agro-chemical giant that emerges in the league of top groups. The new entity would control over two-thirds of its sector globally. Other mergers that were cleared include the Dow-Dupont conglomerate and ChemChina's acquisition of Syngenta. 

    Monsanto is majorly into the business of GM cotton seeds in India, but has stopped making fresh investments in the country, after the government restricted the price of GM seeds and trait fees. 

  • India ranked 44th in IMD's competitiveness rankings
    India has moved one notch higher, to the 44th place in terms of competitiveness, in the annual rankings compiled by International Institute for Management Development IMD. 

    The US became the most competitive economy globally driven by its strength in economic performance and infrastructure, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore in the second and third place. 

    Netherlands and Switzerland were the other two nations in the top five slots. This year India ranked the 12th most competitive economy out of the 14 Asian countries on the list. 

    Regarding India, the report said some of the challenges which India has to face for the year 2018 would be skilling of manpower and employment generation, streamlining the implementation of goods and services tax and balancing high growth with sustainable development goals. 

    The report further noted that digital literacy and adequate bandwidth at rural areas and mobilisation of resources for infrastructure development needs are few more key areas where the government needs to concentrate. 

  • NITI Aayog, ABB India sign Statement of Intent for ‘Make in India’
    NITI Aayog and ABB India on 23rd May signed a Statement of Intent to support the Indian government realize its ambitious vision of ‘Make in India’ through advanced manufacturing technologies that incorporate the latest developments in robotics and artificial intelligence. 

    The agreement was signed in the presence of NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. According to an official release, NITI Aayog and ABB will work with government ministries, solicit feedback for areas critical to them and discuss solutions using industrial automation, and digitalization technologies. 

    Based on the interactions with ABB India, NITI Aayog will also make recommendations to government ministries for guidelines and policies regarding development and adoption of Artificial Intelligence technology in sectors such as power and water utilities, manufacturing, eMobility and infrastructure, with industrial automation and digitalization as the backbone. 

  • Cabinet approves promulgation of ordinance to amend Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
    The Cabinet on 23rd May approved promulgation of an ordinance to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). The code proposes to classify home buyers as financial creditors at par with lenders to help them quickly get refunds from defaulting companies. 

    The present amendment is based on recommendations of a 14-member government appointed committee that had last month suggested a slew of measures, including addressing woes of home buyers and making recoveries easier for lenders. 

    Under the code, financial creditor implies any person to whom a financial debt is owed. The financial debt can include money borrowed for interest. 

  • E-catering facility launched on 23 major stations of Western Railway
    Western Railway has launched the e-catering facility at 23 major stations on its network enabling passengers to order food of their choice from a wide range of restaurants and food chains while on move. 

    According to an official, the passengers can now avail IRCTC's e-catering services at 23 major stations of Western Railway. 

    The stations are Mumbai Central, Bandra Terminus, Andheri, Ahmedabad, Gandhidham, Surat, Nandurbar, Vasai Road, Maninagar, Mahesana, Palanpur, Anand, Bharuch, Vadodara, Rajkot, Dwarka, Vapi, Chittorgarh, Indore, Nimach, Ratlam, Ujjain and Nagda. 

  • 15th Finance Commission constitutes group headed by AIIMS Director Dr. Randeep Guleria for health sector
    The 15th Finance Commission has constituted a high level group to examine the strengths and weaknesses for enabling balanced expansion of health sector. The group headed by Director AIIMS, Dr. Randeep Guleria will have eminent experts of health sector. 

    It will evaluate the existing regulatory framework in the sector and examine its strength and weaknesses for enabling a balanced yet faster expansion of the health sector keeping in view India’s demographic profile. 

    The high level group will also suggest ways and means to optimize the use of existing financial resources and incentivize the state governments’ effort on fulfillment of well-defined health parameters. Besides, it will holistically examine best international practices and seek to benchmark the country's frameworks to these practices for optimizing benefits. 

  • SIDBI to provide financial support to Village Level Entrepreneurs
    Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) will provide financial support to Village Level Entrepreneurs who operate the Common Service Centres that act as access points for delivery of electronic services. 

    A memorandum of Understanding, MoU, was signed between SIDBI and Common Service Centres (CSCs) for providing financial support to such centres across the country in the presence of Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad in New Delhi. 

  • Govt. notifies 8.55% interest on PF for 2017-18, lowest in 5 years
    Retirement fund body has asked its field offices to credit 8.55 per cent rate of interest for 2017-18, the lowest rate since 2012-13 fiscal, into the PF accounts of around 5 crore subscribers. 

    The Labour Ministry has conveyed approval of the central government to credit 8.55 per cent rate of interest for 2017-18 into PF accounts of members, according to an order issued by the EPFO to its more than 120 field offices. 

    The finance ministry had ratified 8.55 per cent rate of interest on EPF for the last fiscal. But it could not be implemented because of model code of conduct for Karnataka elections. 

    The labour ministry had sought Election Commission's approval to notify rate of interest for crediting the same into members' accounts by the EPFO in view of model code of conduct for Karnataka elections. 

    The EPFO's Central Board of Trustees, headed by the labour minister, had decided to fix rate of interest at 8.55 per cent for the last fiscal in its meeting held on February 21, 2018. 

    The labour ministry had sent the CBT's recommendation over the rate of interest to the finance ministry for its concurrence. 

    However, it could not be implemented for want of the finance ministry's concurrence and was further delayed due to model code of conduct for Karnataka polls on May 12. 

    The EPFO had provided 8.65 per cent interest for 2016-17. The members got 8.8 per cent in 2015-16 and 8.75 per cent each in 2014-15 and 2013-14. 

    In 2012-13, EPFO had provided 8.5 per cent rate of interest on EPF. Thus, at 8.55 per cent for 2017-18, it is a five year low. 

  • India’s first IT services company Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) crossed Rs 7 lakh crore in the market capitalization
    India’s largest IT services company by turnover and market capitalization TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) achieved yet another feat just after the month when Indian IT bellwether clinched $100 billion in the market capitalization. TCS crossed Rs 7 lakh crore in the market capitalization on 25th May. With a market capitalization of Rs 7 lakh crore, TCS is the only Indian company to achieve this position. The Tata Group’s cash cow TCS breached $100 billion in market capitalization on 23rd April 2018 for the first time. 

    TCS is the most valued company on Indian bourses, though Mukesh Ambani-led RIL (Reliance Industries Ltd) have briefly pipped TCS in market capitalisation several times in the last one year. 

  • India largest remittance-receiving country in the world with 69 billion US dollars in 2017
    India has become the largest remittance-receiving country in the world, with migrant workers from the country sending home 69 billion US dollars in 2017. 

    According to the report ‘RemitSCOPE - Remittance markets and opportunities - Asia and the Pacific', remittances to the Asia-Pacific region amounted to 256 billion dollars last year (2017). 

    India with 69 billion Dollars, China with 64 billion Dollars and the Philippines with 33 billion Dollars are the three largest remittance-receiving countries in the world in 2017. 

    Worldwide, an estimated 40 percent of the total value of remittances go to rural areas. However, in the Asia-Pacific region, remittances go disproportionally to countries with a majority of rural populations such as Nepal 81 per cent, India 67 per cent, Vietnam 66 per cent, Bangladesh 65 per cent, Pakistan 61 per cent and the Philippines 56 per cent. 

    According to the report, cash-to-cash transactions remain by far the most common form of transfer. It is only recently that technology is beginning to move markets towards account-to-account transfers through digital operations. 

    There are now more than one million payment locations through the region, reflecting a greater digitalisation of transactions. 

  • Chinese state-run bank launches India-dedicated investment fund
    A state-run Chinese bank has launched the country's first India-dedicated publicly offered investment fund, saying the Indian market offers the best opportunity for Chinese investors due to the prospects of double-digit growth. 

    The fund, named the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) Credit Suisse India Market Fund, will "invest in exchange-traded funds listed on more than 20 exchanges in Europe and the US that are based on the Indian market".

    It is China's first publicly offered fund for investing in India, state-run Global Times reported. The fund will invest in the future of the Indian economy and track the distribution of the industrial structure across the Indian market, the report quoted a fund manager as saying. 

    The move, regarded as significant by observers to boost investments in India comes just about a fortnight after the first ever informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan. 

    The bank while launching the fund has given an upbeat picture of India's economic growth path. The financial industry will account for the highest proportion, followed by information technology, alternative consumption, energy, essential consumption, raw materials, medicine, healthcare and other industries

    For large investors, adding a low-relevant asset to the allocation tool can effectively improve the effective frontier of the investor's asset allocation, and help the investor to better spread risks and obtain a more stable income. 

    In terms of small and medium-sized investors, the threshold for global asset allocation and overseas investment markets is high, which makes it difficult for them to set foot in this field. Under the current institutional framework, this is a rare opportunity to invest overseas Recent research indicates that the Indian market has gradually become one of the best-performing markets in the world due to ongoing reforms, macroeconomic improvement and enhanced profitability, it said. 

  • CBI files charge sheet in Nirav Modi case, names PNB ex-chief, senior officials
    Billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, Allahabad Bank MD and CEO Usha Ananthasubramanian and 20 others have been charge-sheeted by the CBI in connection with the alleged issuance of fraudulent guarantees of Rs 6,498.20 crore to Modi's companies by the PNB. 

    These fraudulent guarantees enabled Nirav Modi to secure loans from overseas banks which he siphoned off, the CBI alleged. 

    The scam pertains to the alleged issuance of fraudulent Letters of Undertakings of more than USD 2 billion to companies of Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi by the Punjab National Bank's Brady House branch in Mumbai during 2011-17. 

    The agency will file supplementary charge sheets for the remaining amount in which it will detail the role of other accused such as Mehul Choksi, his companies, and Nirav Modi's wife Ami Modi. 

    The officials said supplementary charge sheets will have information from foreign governments, shell companies, foreign banks, and detail the role of officials posted in foreign branches of Indian banks which issued credits to Nirav Modi's firms on the basis of PNB LoUs etc. In its charge sheet filed before a special court in Mumbai, the agency alleged that PNB officials dishonestly and fraudulently issued LoUs to overseas banks for obtaining buyer's credit in favour of three accused firms Diamond R US, Solar Exports and Stellar Diamonds without any sanction limit or cash margin, they said. 

    A LoU is a guarantee given by an issuing bank to Indian banks having branches abroad to grant short-term credit to the applicant. The investigations revealed that messages for fraudulent LoUs were sent to overseas banks by misusing an international messaging system for banking called SWIFT platform and without making their subsequent entries in the PNB's internal banking software, thus bypassing scrutiny in the bank, they said. 

    The agency alleged that the proceeds of buyer's credit availed from overseas banks on the basis of LoUs of the PNB were dishonestly and fraudulently diverted to pay off the oustanding liabilities of the three accused firms, directly and indirectly controlled by Nirav Modi. 

  • India’s exports grew by 5.17 percent to USD 25.9 billion in April
    Exports grew by 5.17 percent to USD 25.91 billion in April compared to the same month last year (2017) on account of the healthy performance by engineering, chemicals and pharmaceutical segments, according to the commerce ministry data. 

    Imports too grew by 4.60 percent to USD 39.63 billion in the month on yearly basis, leaving a trade deficit of USD 13.72 billion. Oil imports during the month under review were valued at USD 10.41 billion, 41.5 percent higher than the same month of previous year. 

    Non-oil imports, however, dipped by 4.3 percent to USD 29.21 billion in April 2018. Engineering, chemicals and pharmaceutical exports recorded a growth of 17.63 percent, 38.48 percent and 13.56 percent respectively during the month. 

    However, petroleum products, carpet, gems and jewellery and iron ore recorded negative growth. Gold imports too dipped by 33 percent to USD 2.58 billion in April. Exports had dipped by 0.66 percent to USD 29.11 billion in March, even as foreign shipments increased by 9.78 percent for the full 2017-18 fiscal. 

  • India 3rd largest solar market in world in 2017 behind China and the US: Mercom Communications India
    India emerged as the third largest solar market in the world in 2017 behind China and the US, Mercom Communications India said in a report. 

    As of 2017-end, large-scale project development accounted for 92 percent of the all-time cumulative solar installations in India with 19.6 GW, and 2017 alone made up 90 percent of such installations with 8.6 GW. 

    Of the total 1.6 GW cumulative solar rooftop installations in India by 2017, 995 MW was installed last year (2017). Mercom Communications India is an arm of global clean energy consulting firm Mercom Capital Group

  • Cabinet approves extension of Delhi Metro corridor from Noida City Centre to Sector-62, Noida, Uttar Pradesh
    Cabinet approved extension of Delhi Metro corridor from Noida City Centre to Sector-62, Noida in Uttar Pradesh. This is a major boost to public transport infrastructure covering a length of 6.675 kilometres at the total completion cost of 1967 crore rupees. 

    The project will be implemented by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, the existing special purpose vehicle of the Centre and Delhi government. 

    The extension of metro corridor will result into people being assured about their mobility thus decongesting Delhi. As a result, more residential and commercial complexes are likely to be developed in this region. 

  • CCEA gives its approval for enhancement of budget by Rs 11,330 for Network for Spectrum
    The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, CCEA has given its approval for enhancement of budget by 11,330 crore rupees for Network for Spectrum, NFS project for laying of alternate communication network for Defence Services. The CCEA nod is for release of spectrum over and above 13 thousand 334 crore rupees already approved by Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure in July, 2012. 

    The project being implemented by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited will be completed in a period of 24 months. The NFS project will boost the communication capabilities of the Defence Forces in a major way leading to enhanced national operational preparedness. 

    It will also have forward linkages to other related industries such as telecom equipment manufacturing and other telecommunication related services. 

  • CCEA approves initial corpus of Rs 5000 crore rupees for Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF) with NABARD 
    Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, CCEA has approved an initial corpus of 5000 crore rupees for Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF) with NABARD under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana. 

    The allocation of 2000 crore rupees will be utilised during 2018-19 and 3000 crore will be utilised during 2019-20. NABARD will extend the loan to state governments during this period. Borrowings from NABARD shall be paid back in 7 years including the grace period of two years. The lending rate under MIF has been proposed at 3 percent lower than the cost of raising the fund by NABARD. 

  • Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation rises to 3.18 % in April
    Inflation based on Wholesale Price Index (WPI) shot up to 3.18 per cent in April due to increasing prices of petrol and diesel as well as fruits and vegetables. 

    It stood at 2.47 per cent in March and 3.85 per cent in April last year (2017). According to data released by the Commerce Ministry said, inflation in food articles was at 0.87 per cent in April 2018, as against a deflation of 0.29 per cent in the preceding month. It said deflation in vegetables was 0.89 per cent in April, while in the previous month it was 2.70 per cent. 

    The data also mentioned that Inflation in 'fuel and power' basket rose sharply to 7.85 per cent in April from 4.70 per cent in March as prices of domestic fuel increased in line with rising global crude oil rates. It said, Inflation in fruits was in double digits at 19.47 per cent in April, up from 9.26 per cent in the previous month. 

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurates 330-MW Kishenganga hydel power project in Srinagar
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 330-MW Kishenganga hydel power project in Srinagar. The project has been built by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. It has been constructed at a cost of 5200 crore rupees. 

    It is expected to generate 1,713 million units of electricity per annum. Jammu and Kashmir would get 12 percent of power from the project. PM Modi also laid the foundation stone of the ring road project in Srinagar. This will boost connectivity with Bandipora, Uri and Ganderbal. 

    In Jammu, the Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone of a 1,000 MW hydroelectric power project. Pakal Dul Hydro Electric Project is being built on the tributary of the Chenab river in far-flung Kishtwar district. It is expected to be completed in over five years at an estimated cost of 8,112 crore rupees. The project would be equipped with an underground powerhouse having 4 units of 250 MW each. 

    PM Modi will also lay the foundation stone of ring road project in Jammu. The road project is being built at an estimated cost of 2,024 crore rupees. 

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 19th May kickstarted work for Zojila tunnel, Asia's longest and strategic bi-directional tunnel, to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh. 

    The prime minister who is on a day's visit to all the three regions Leh, Kashmir and Jammu- of Jammu and Kashmir also attended the closing ceremony of the 100th birth anniversary celebrations of the 19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche (Buddhist spiritual guru). 

    The tunnel will be cutting down the time taken to cross the Zojila pass from three and a half hours presently to just fifteen minutes. Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National highway and remains closed during winters due to heavy snowfall cutting off Ladakh region from Kashmir through roads. The project aims at construction of 14.15 kilometer long two lane bi-directional single tube tunnel. 

  • India’s projected GDP growth rate of over 7 per cent amazingly fast: Asian Development Bank (ADB) 
    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said, India's projected GDP growth of over 7 percent for the current fiscal is amazingly fast and if this momentum is maintained, the size of the economy can double within a decade. 

    According to the ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada, India should not worry about not achieving 8 per cent growth but focus on increasing domestic demand by reducing the income inequality. 

    He said growth is driven more by domestic consumption than exports. Mr Yasuyuki Sawada said inequality and poverty reduction would play a very important role in achieving higher growth because consumption can stimulate more production and that can create more employment. 

    He said tapping the broadening market will be important to achieve higher growth, adding that the services sector too would play a role in pushing up economic growth. ADB has projected India to remain the fastest growing Asian nation with 7.3 percent growth in 2018-19, and 7.6 percent in 2019-20. 

  • India’s total export of finished steel exports increased by 16.7 per cent to 9.6 million tonnes in 2017-18: Joint plant Committee
    India's total export of finished steel increased by 16 point 7 percent to 9 point 6 million tonnes in 2017-18. The country had exported 8.2 million tonnes finished steel during 2016-17 fiscal, the Joint Plant Committee said in a report. Empowered by Ministry of Steel, Joint Plant Committee is the only institution which collects data on the Indian iron and steel industry

  • Centre signs $200million loan agreement with World Bank for National Nutrition Mission-POSHAN Abhiyaan
    The Centre has signed a loan agreement worth 200 million dollar with the World Bank for the National Nutrition Mission -POSHAN Abhiyaan. 

    Ministry of Women and Child Development in a release said, the loan will help in achieving its goal of reducing stunting in children upto 6 years of age from 38.4 per cent to 25 per cent by 2022. 

    The POSHAN scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March this year (2017) at Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. The POSHAN scheme aims to ensure holistic development and adequate nutrition for pregnant women, mothers and children. 

    It also targets to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia and low birth rate. The Ministry said, the loan approved will support the first phase of Abhiyan in 315 districts. 

  • President Ram Nath Kovind gives assent to Delhi's government Bill to amend Minimum Wages Act
    President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the Delhi government's Bill to amend the Minimum Wages Act. 

    Under the amended law, employers violating labour rules in the city are subject to face fine ranging from 20 thousand to 50 thousand rupees and jail term between one to three years. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, the amended law will act as a strong deterrent against the employers who do not pay full minimum wages to their employees. 

    In March last year (2017), Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal had approved the Delhi government's decision to hike by 37 per cent the minimum wages of unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled workers. 

    In August last year (2017), the Delhi Assembly had again passed The Minimum Wages (Delhi) Amendment Act, 2017, after the Centre had suggested the AAP dispensation to re-introduce the Bill with some changes in the Assembly. The first bill was tabled in 2015. 

  • 15th Finance Commission constituted an advisory council to advise on the matters related to its Terms of Reference (TOR) 
    The 15th Finance Commission has constituted an advisory council to advise and assist the commission. The six-member council will be headed by the President of Forum for Strategic Initiatives, Arvind Virmani. 

    The Finance Ministry, in a release said, the role and functions of the council will be to advise the commission on any issue or subject related to the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Commission. 

    Besides, the council will also assist the commission in the preparation of any paper or research study which will enhance the Commission's understanding on the issues containing in its ToR. 

    The advisory council will help in broadening the commission's ambit and understanding to seek best national and international practices on matters pertaining to fiscal devolution and improving the quality and reach and enforcement of its recommendations. 

  • India will be the fastest-growing major economy in 2018: International Monetary Fund (IMF) 
    The International Monetary Fund, IMF reaffirmed on 9th May that India will be the fastest-growing major economy in 2018, with a growth rate of 7(point) 4 per cent that rises to 7(point)8 per cent in 2019 with medium-term prospects remaining positive. 

    The IMF's Asia and Pacific Regional Economic Outlook report said that India was recovering from the effects of demonetisation and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax. 

    It said the recovery is expected to be underpinned by a rebound from transitory shocks as well as robust private consumption. 

    The report said, Medium-term consumer price index inflation is forecast to remain within but closer to the upper bound of the Reserve Bank of India's inflation-targeting band of four per cent with a plus or minus two per cent change. 

    It said, the consumer price increase in 2017 was 3.6 per cent and projected it to be five per cent in 2018 and 2019. Overall, the report said that Asia continues to be both the fastest-growing region in the world and the main engine of the world's economy. 

  • Central Government issues orders for extending financial assistance to sugarcane farmers
    In order to help sugar mills to clear cane dues of farmers, the Government has decided to provide financial assistance at the rate of Rs. 5.50 per quintal of cane crushed in sugar season 2017-18 to sugar mills to offset the cost of cane. 

    The said assistance shall be paid directly to the farmers on behalf of the mills and be adjusted against the cane price payable due to the farmers against Fair and Remunerative Price including arrears relating to previous years. 

    The total assistance would be about Rs 1540 crore which will directly benefit a large number of farmers and will help the sugar mills in a long way in discharging their liabilities on account of cane price dues of farmers. 

  • India’s growth to accelerate to 7.3% in next fiscal: Credit rating agency Fitch 
    Credit rating agency Fitch has said that India's economic growth will accelerate to 7.3 per cent in the current financial year and 7.5 per cent in the next fiscal. 

    In its second-quarter Sovereign Credit Overview for Asia Pacific region, Fitch said the growth rate will accelerate as money supply has recovered to its pre-demonetisation level and disruptions related to the rollout of GST have diminished. 

    It said India's ratings balance a strong medium-term growth outlook and favourable external balances against a weak fiscal position and difficult business environment. 

    But the country's business environment is likely to improve gradually with the implementation and continued broadening of the government's structural-reform agenda, the rating agency said. 

  • Industrial production slips to 5-month low of 4.4% in March 2018
    The country’s industrial output grew by 4.4 per cent in March, the slowest in five months, as manufacturing production growth halved from the month before and the capital goods segment saw contraction. 

    The manufacturing segment, which constitutes the bulk of the index at 77.6 per cent, rose 4.4 per cent in March, almost half the 8.5 per cent rise in February. As many as 12 of the sub-sectors of manufacturing, with a weight of 30.6 per cent in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), recorded a year-on-year contraction in March. 

    However, mining and electricity recorded modest improvements, driven by coal and thermal generation, respectively. While mining output rose by 2.8 per cent, reversing the 0.3 per cent contraction seen in the earlier month, electricity generation registered a higher growth rate of 5.9 per cent, up from February’s 4.5 per cent. 

    While March saw a slowdown among all use-based classification groups, a sudden contraction in capital goods output may have dragged IIP growth down. 

    The capital goods segment within the IIP, which connotes investment, contracted by 1.8 per cent, its worst performance in nine months. The segment had seen a healthy rise of 19.5 per cent in February and had been on a growth run for seven months, fuelling growth

    A sharp contraction in gold jewellery output, a possible fallout of the multi-billion-dollar Nirav Modi scam, might have contributed to the slowing growth of the consumer durables sector, experts said. 

    Also, the largest segment, primary goods, continued to be plagued by low growth, registering a 2.9 per cent rise in March. Robust growth in aggregate auto production and a sharp uptick in coal production would help the prospects of IIP growth in April, said Aditi Nayar, principal economist at ICRA. 

    Industrial production growth for the entire 2017-18 stands at 4.3 per cent, down from the 4.6 per cent seen in the year before. This is the macroeconomic data to be released before the government brings out the GDP figures for 2017-18 by the end of this month. 

  • Finance ministry clears 3 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) proposals worth Rs 3,250 crore in April 2018
    The Finance Ministry said it cleared three foreign direct investment (FDI) proposals worth Rs. 3,250 crore in April. 

    The proposals included that of Hindustan Infralog Pvt. Ltd. which sought approval for foreign investment from DP World Global Investment BV, Netherlands. The proposal of Hindustan Infralog Pvt. Ltd. will bring in FDI of Rs. 3,250 crore, the Ministry said in a statement. The other two proposals will not result in any FDI. 

  • HDFC Bank launches interactive humanoid IRA 2.0 at the Koramangala Branch in Bengaluru
    HDFC Bank launched IRA 2.0, its interactive humanoid at the Koramangala Branch in Bengaluru. 

    The interactive humanoid in its advance version is aimed to enhance user experience for customers visiting in the branch. HDFC Bank has developed IRA (Interactive Robotic Assistant) 2.0 in collaboration with its technology partners Invento Makerspaces and Senseforth Technologies. It became the first bank in India to introduce a humanoid IRA 1.0 for customer service at the Kamala Mills Branch in Mumbai. Currently, IRA 1.0 is stationed at the Palarivattom Branch in Kochi. 

  • Indian and Malaysian armies begin exercise Harimau Shakti 2018 in Kuala Lumpur
    The troops of the Indian and Malaysian armies have kick-started 'Exercise Harimau Shakti 2018' in Kuala Lumpur on 30th April. 

    The first phase of the two-week long exercise began with the formal handing over of the Regimental Flag to the Malaysian Army, signifying merging of the two contingents under one commander. 

    Both armies stand to hone their tactical and technical skills in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations under the UN mandate. 

    Due emphasis will be laid on increasing interoperability between forces which is crucial to the success of any joint operation. 

  • 4.82 % households electrified in country: Power minister R K Singh
    Power Minister R K Singh on 1st May said the government is committed to ensuring electricity to every household in the country and connections are being given to BPL houses. 
    According to Mr R K Singh…
    • 82 per cent households have been electrified in the country
    • The present government has re-electrified 90 thousand villages
    • Electrification in Uttar Pradesh is a major challenge but his ministry is trying its best to ensure complete electrification


  • GST collection in April, 2018 was Rs 1.03 lakh crore 
    The government mopped up Rs 1.03 lakh crore as GST collection in April, indicating stabilisation of the new indirect tax regime that was rolled out in July 1 last year (2017). 

    While Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection in entire 2017-18 stood Rs 7.41 lakh crore, in March the figure was Rs 89,264 crore. 

    The buoyancy in the tax revenue of GST reflects the upswing in the economy and better compliance, it said. However, it is usually noticed that in the last month of financial year, people also try to pay arrears of some of the previous months also and, therefore, April 2018 revenue cannot be taken as trend for the future

    The total revenue earned by Central Government and State Governments after settlement in April, 2018 is Rs 32,493 crore for Central GST and Rs 40,257 crore for State GST, it said. As far as total number of GSTR 3B returns for March up to April 30 was concerned, nearly 69.5 per cent filed returns. 

    As many as 60.47 lakh as against 87.12 lakh, who are eligible to file returns for March, did the needful, it said. April was also the month for filing of quarterly returns for composition dealers, it said. Out of 19.31 lakh composition dealers, 11.47 lakh have filed their quarterly return (GSTR 4) and have paid total tax of Rs 579 crore, which is included in Rs 1.03 lakh crore of total GST collection. 

  • Government releases draft new telecom policy aimed at creating 40 lakh new jobs by 2022
    Government has released the draft of the new Telecom policy - National Digital Communications Policy, 2018. The policy aims at creating 40 lakh new jobs by 2022, attracting 100 billion US dollars investment in the sector and ensuring broadband coverage at 50 mbps for every citizen. 

    The draft proposes one Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022. It also proposes to address woes of the Telecom sector by reviewing licence fees, spectrum usage charges, universal service obligation fund levy for enhancing ease of doing business in the sector. 

    The policy also aims to enhance the contribution of digital communications space to 8 per cent of the country's GDP from about 6 per cent last year. It recognises the importance of continued improvement in the regulatory framework for attracting investments and ensuring fair competition, to serve the needs of the people. 

  • Government approves sugarcane subsidy of Rs. 5.5 per quintal
    The government has approved a subsidy of Rs. 5.5 per quintal of sugarcane crushed in the 2017-18 season to help sugar mills clear more than Rs. 19,000 crore in dues to cane farmers. 

    The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on 2nd May. The assistance will be paid directly to the farmers on behalf of the mills. It will be adjusted against the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of Rs. 255 per quintal set by government as the rate that mills must pay to cane farmers, as well as the arrears of payments pending from previous years. 

    Any subsequent balance will be credited into the mill’s account, the statement said, adding that assistance will be provided to those mills which fulfil the government’s eligibility conditions. 

    The subsidy will work out to Rs. 1,550 to Rs. 1,600 crore for the current season, said Abinash Verma, director general of industry body Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA). He welcomed the decision, but added that “this can be taken as a first step towards various other initiatives and financial assistance that the Government has to take very soon” to help the mills and the farmers. 

    Sugar production has hit record highs this year (2018), crossing domestic consumption prices, and leading to a crash in prices. Industry lobbyist Indian Sugar Mills Association (ISMA) estimates that wholesale sugar prices have fallen by Rs. 9 per kg over the past five months, and the mills are now incurring a loss of Rs. 8 per kg of sugar. 

  • GST Council approves ownership change of GST Network (GSTN) structure
    The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has approved ownership change of GST Network (GSTN) structure and now it will be converted into a government holding. 

    The 27th meeting of the council through video -conferencing on 4th May, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, the government will acquire the 51 percent stake held by private entities and subsequently the central and the state governments will hold a 50 percent stake each in the entity. 

    He said, the collective share of state governments will be pro-rata divided among the states as per their GST ratios. 

    On the issue of imposition of cess on sugar, the Finance Minister said that the GST Council took note of the prevailing distress in the sector where the farmers are facing a tough situation as the cost of sugar is more than its market price. 

    He said, the Council has recommended setting up of Group of Ministers from State Governments to look into the proposal and make a recommendation within two weeks. 

    On the issue of incentive to promote digital transaction, the Council recommend setting up of a Group of Ministers from state governments to look into the issue of giving two percent incentive for digital payments. 

  • Nitin Gadkari lays foundation stone of four key road projects in Hyderabad
    Union Road Transport, Highways and River Development Minister Nitin Gadkari on 5th May asked Maharastra, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states to come forward for the development of waterways on River Godavari and sanctioned 2000 crore rupees initially. 

    He sought proposals for the development of an extension to the National Water Ways - No 4 on River Godavari from Bhadrachalam to down below and link it with River Krishna. 

    He asked these states to join hands for forming a Special Purpose Vehicle and pool up 10 percent of the total cost so that the Centre will get funding at a low-interest rate. 

    Mr Nitin Gadkari was speaking after laying the foundation stone for four road development projects in Hyderabad. He stressed the need for developing waterways for economic development of states, green fuels and new technologies to resolve transportation problems.
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