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India and Fiji Sign MoU on Defence Cooperation
May 30,2017

The Minister of Defence and National Security of Fiji, Honourable Ratu Inoke Kubuabola accompanied by his delegation met the Minister of Defence, Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley.

The Ministers discussed expanded defence partnership in maritime security between both the countries, and naval cooperation was identified as an area of promise.

An MoU on defence cooperation envisaging several areas of cooperation including in defence industry, military training and humanitarian assistance & disaster management was signed.

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Special Drive to enroll left out electors giving focus on first time electors (young Indian Citizens in age group of 18-19 (extendable to 21 years)
May 29,2017

The Election Commission of India has decided to launch a Special Drive from 1st June this year for maximization of registration of eligible electors and removing the impurities in the rolls. In tune with the theme of No voters to be left behind the ECI has decided to utilise the period of continuous updation for maximisation of enrolment of young electors particularly 18-19 age group by launching a special drive in all States.

During the campaign, which will be completed by 31st July 2017, following activities will be undertaken by election official in all States.

n++ Submission of Forms shall be available to electors in following modes:-

n++ Submission of Form 6 at EROs Office

n++ Sending of Form 6 by Post

n++ Online Submission of Form 6 at National Voters Service Portal (NVSP)

n++ Submission of online Form 6 at Common Service Centers (CSCs)

Following additional services for the purpose shall also be provided during special drive:-

n++ Door to Door visit of BLOs: BLO shall visit door to door of the households to collect Form 6 from the applicants, particularly 18-19 age group (extendable to 21years of age) from 1st July 2017 and 31st July 2017 (except the Special Campaign Dates).

n++ Mobile App.: A user can also fill the Form using mobile app The Voter Services mobile application, available only on the Commissions website.

n++ National Call Centre (NCC): The ECI has also provided facility of National Call Centre for extending Citizen Services. At the State level, CEO will provide State Call Centre (SCC) and District Contact Centre (DCC) at district level by upgrading 1950 on the same line of National Contact Centre. A citizen making a call at NCC/SCC/DCC will be informed about procedure of Form submission through the above modes. If a differently abled person making call at any of these centres, expresses his inability to utilize any of the above services, then a visit by BLO concerned will be arranged at his/her address for getting the Form filled and receiving it back from that person for further processing. This service will be provided free of cost.

n++ Paid Services: CSCs will provide services of making online filling and hard copy Form digitization on payment basis.

i. Special Campaign Dates: Special Campaigns will be organized on two dates in the month of July 2017, which will be publicised through media by the Chief Electoral Officer. On these dates, Camps will be held in each polling station where Booth Level Officer will sit with adequate number of Forms 6, to receive Forms from the applicants. On the day of camp, entire final electoral roll, 2017 along with its supplements, if any, shall be pasted on the wall of the polling stations. The roll shall also be read out publically by the BLO on that date. The left out eligible citizens will fill Forms 6 and give the same to the BLO at the polling station itself, or submit through any other available means during the Special Drive. Special camps will also be conducted in all Government and Private Educational Institutions (colleges and Schools)/Vocational Training Institutes on at least any two different days between 1st July 2017 and 31st July 2017.

ii. Removal of names of dead electors: During the Special Drive, removal of names of dead electors will also be taken up. For identification of such dead electors, data on registered deaths shall be collected from the Registrar of Deaths and all registered death entries should be removed during the Special Drive.

iii. Disposal of Forms: Disposal of Forms 6 and Forms 7 (death cases), received during Special Drive will be done by 31st August 2017. However, Forms 7 (other than death cases), Form 8 and 8A received during the period will be done only after the Special Drive.

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40 crore workers from unorganized sector to be covered under social security schemes: Shri Bandaru Dattatreya
May 29,2017

The Minister of State for Labour & Employment (IC), Shri Bandaru Dattatreya has announced that the 40 crore workers from unorganized sector will be covered under social security schemes such as ESIC & EPFO. The Minister said that the Government is committed to ensure wage, jobs and social security for all workers including unorganized sector. Shri Dattatreya was addressing a function on the 3 years achievements of the his ministry in New Delhi today. He said that the Ministry is implementing reforms and new ways and means for employment generation. India is the only country which has launched Shram Suvidha Portal for effective compliance and ease of doing business. The Ministry is implementing the National Career Service (NCS) project as a vibrant platform for transforming and strengthening the public employment services in the country.

Shri Dattatreya said that the Ministry got the following Acts passed by the Parliament during last 3 years.

1- The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 which ensures complete prohibition on employment of children below 14 years and also prohibited the adolescents (14-18 years ) to work in hazardous occupation/processes

2- The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 under which maternity benefit to woman has been increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks for two surviving children and 12 weeks for more than two children

3- The Payment of Wages(Amendment) Act,2017 enables the employers to pay the wages to their employees by cash or cheque or crediting it to their bank account.

4- The Employees Compensation (Amendment) Act, 2017 has the provision to increase the penalty for contravention of Act from present Rs.5000/- to Rs. 50,000/- extendable to Rs.1 Lakh.

5- Payment of Bonus Amendment Act, 2015 has enhanced the eligibility limit under section 2(13) from Rs. 10,000/- to Rs.21,000/- per month.

6- The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 has been amended by notification to include n++fixed term employmentn++ for textile (apparel) sector as a part of textile package to enhance employment.

The Labour & Employment Minister said that the Ministry is working on the proposed codification of existing Labour Laws into 4 Labour Codes.

(i) Labour Code on Wages

(ii) Labour Code on Industrial Relations

(iii) Labour Code on Social Security and Welfare

(iv) Labour Code on Occupational Safety and Working Conditions

The Group of Ministers has approved the Labour Code on Wages and it will be sent to cabinet for approval.

The Minister said that the Minimum wage (per day) for non-agricultural worker in the C area category increased from Rs 246 to Rs 350, Rs 437 in B Area category and Rs 523 in A area category. He also informed that the Shram Suvidha Portal is a single unified web portal for submissions of common Annual Return under 9 Central Acts and monthly common Electronic Challan Cum Return (ECR) for EPFO and ESIC. He also informed that Unique Labour Identification Number (LIN) is allotted to Units and 19,23,162 Lakhs LIN allotted as on on 22nd May, 2017. Total 2,95,423 inspections have been assigned and out of that 2,76,931 inspections have been uploaded as on 22nd May, 2017. Common registration under EPFO and ESIC has been facilitated on the Shram Suvidha Portal since 30th April, 2017.

Shri Dattatreya said that Registers/Forms to be maintained under various labour laws are simplified. 56 Registers/- Forms under 9 Central Labour Laws and Rules made thereunder have been replaced with 5 common Registers/Forms. The notification has been issued on 28th March, 2017 for reducing Forms under certain Labour Law Rules from 36 to 12. It is applicable to the establishments under the jurisdiction of Central as well as State Governments.

He said that employers can apply for EPF code number online by uploading of digitally signed documents. As on 06th December, 2016 around 1.52 Lakhs establishments have been obtained online registration on OLRE portal. Universal Account Number(UAN) has been made compulsory and online credit system introduced. Minimum pension under Employees Pension Scheme, 1995 has been revised to Rs. 1000/- in perpetuity per month w.e.f. April 2015. Time limit for claim settlement has been reduced to 10 days from 20 days. No documents required and only self-certification is necessary for withdrawal under the EPF scheme for the accounts linked with Aadhaar.

The Minister informed that ESIC is now covering complete districts instead of targeted industrial clusters. Coverage expanded to all 393 districts where these clusters are located. 301 districts have been fully covered. In the second phase, the target is to cover all the remaining districts of the country. n++One IP-Two Dispensariesn++ scheme has been launched for the benefit of migrant workers. Now Insured Persons can choose two dispensaries, one for self and another for family through an employer.

Shri Bandaru Dattatreya said that over 3.87 crore candidates, 14.8 lakh establishments are registered on the National Career Service (NCS) Portal and it has mobilized over 6 lakh vacancies. Around 540 job fair were organised in 2016-17. The NCS project also involves setting up of 100 Model Career Centre to deliver quality employment services and these centres are being set up in collaboration with States and Institutions. NCS has partnered with Department of Posts and common services centre to extend registration of job seekers through the Post Offices.

Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY) scheme has been announced to incentivize employers for new employment. Government will be paying the 8.33% EPS contribution for these new employment for the period of 3 years. For the textile (Apparel & made up) sector, Government will also pay the 3.67% EPF contribution of employers for these new employees. Till now benefit have been transferred to 1,954 establishments covering 75,848 beneficiaries under the scheme with an expenditure of Rs. 6 crores (approx.).

Rehabilitation of Bonded Labour Scheme has been revised with effect from 17th May, 2016 where financial assistance has been increased from Rs.20,000/- Rs.1,00,000/- per adult male beneficiary, Rs 2 Lakh for special category beneficiaries such as children including orphans or those rescued from organized & forced begging rings or other forms of forced child labour and women. Rs 3 Lakh in cases of bonded or forced labour involving extreme cases of deprivation or marginalization.

The Secretary, Ministry of Labour & Employment, Ms. M. Sathiyavathy in her welcoming address said that the Government is creating environment to facilitate employment with quality and fair wages. For this number of initiatives and programmes have been undertaken.

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Railway PSU RITES records 18% rise in revenue in FY 2016-17
May 29,2017

RITES, under the Ministry of Railways has recorded 18% increase in its total income in FY 2016-17 compared to 2015-16. It has for the first time crossed the Rs. 1500 crores benchmark. Despite severe competition from domestic and foreign consultancy companies, RITES recorded PAT of around Rs.330 crores on a turnover of Rs.1508 crores, according to the provisional results submitted to its Board of Directors.

The company has also issued 2 bonus issues during the year, increasing its paid-up capital from Rs. 100 crores to Rs. 200 crores.

During the year, the company completed the supply of 120 coaches to Bangladesh Railways and has signed two new contracts with Sri Lanka Railways for the supply of Indian Railways produced locos (DLW, Varanasi) and DMU train sets (ICF, Chennai) which will be exported in the coming year by RITES to Sri Lanka Railways.

In India, RITES is also involved in mega transportation projects like dedicated freight corridors, metros, high speed rail studies, logistics parks, rail infrastructure and green energy etc.

With positive scenario for investments in railways and other infrastructure sectors, the company sees high growth in the coming years. In India, RITES is working on two major turnkey projects from the Ministry of Railways, for the third line in Pendra Road- Anuppur section of Bilaspur division of South East Central Railway and Gooty- Dharmavaram doubling works for South Central Railway.

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GST is an efficient tax system which not only checks tax evasion but also helps evolving India to become very strong society
May 29,2017

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said that Indirect Taxation regime in the country will play a key role and is undergoing a vital change. He said that the present multiple taxation system is transformed into the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and all the taxes are amalgamated. The Finance Minister said that the new GST regime will come into effect from 01 July 2017. GST is an efficient tax system which not only checks tax evasion but it also help evolving India to become very strong society.

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley said that the new Indirect Tax is a product of federal India. He added that the Centre and the States will jointly administer and decide the taxes. Coordination between taxation authority of Centre and States is also important. He said that the tax training academy-National Academy of Customs, Indirect Taxes and Narcotics (NACIN), which has come-up in Bengaluru to impart training to officers of Central and State Governments and PSUs has to play a vital role.

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Bihar is the top litchi producing State, about 300 thousand metric tonnes of litchi is being produced from 32 thousand hectare areas: Shri Radha Mohan
May 29,2017

Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that the main objective of the Central Government is focused on research to develop new varieties and techniques of litchi farming to increase its production and to share information with the Extension Division.

Union Minister said that Bihar is the top litchi producing State in the country. In Bihar, about 300 thousand metric tonnes of litchi is being produced from 32 thousand hectares of area. Bihars contribution in the production of litchi is about 40 percent. Considering the importance of litchi, National Research Centre on Litchi was established on June 6, 2001.

Shri Singh said that the contribution of Muzaffarpur district in litchis production is impressive, but there is a need to increase the productivity of litchi, which is currently 8.0 tonne. For this, all the government institutions, cooperatives and farmers will have to come forward. Union Agriculture Minister said that it is a matter of immense pride that scientists at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and National Research Centre on Litchi have succeeded in treating litchi and preserving it for 60 days at low temperature. One of its processing plants has also been developed. Shri Singh said that this technique will be useful for the litchi producers and businessmen. Shri Singh also said that to make this technique effective, litchi producers will have to produce superior quality fruits for which National Research Centre on Litchi has developed several techniques. The National Research Centre on Litchi is providing about 35-40 thousand plants every year to various institutions/states in the country. Union Agriculture Minister said that the National Research Centre on Litchi is working closely with other institutions of ICAR and agricultural universities of the state and the development centres of the Central and State Governments like National Horticulture Board, APEDA, National Horticulture Mission etc.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that our scientists are working day and night to develop advanced varieties and agricultural activities and that State Governments, KVKs and other institutions should take it to the masses. Through its limited resources, the centre has implemented ICARs Farmers First project in East Champaran district. As many as 1,000 families from 8 villages (Mehsi Block-Uzhilpur, Bakri Najir, Damodarpur Village, Chakia Block- Khairwa, Ramgarha, Jishnupura, Ojha Tola- Vaishah and Chintanpur-Malahi Tola village) are reaping the benefits of several new techniques. And the unique initiative by the council allows farmers to test advanced technology themselves. And now there is a need to create awareness about it. Through Mera Gaon- Mera Gaurav program, scientists have been successful in taking new techniques to some villages. The Centre has initiated Health Card scheme through which orchards are being examined and farmers are being sensitised. Not just Bihar, litchi fruit farming can be successfully done in other parts of the country too. Therefore, there is a need to promote research in these areas too.

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CSCs To Function As GST Suvidha Providers
May 29,2017

A workshop on n++CSCs as GST Suvidha Providern++ to train the top performing VLEs and the State level representatives of CSC SPV for enabling implementation of GST scheme especially in rural India through CSC was organized here today. Common Services Centers are proposed to act as a GST Suvidha Provider. CSCs have been identified to facilitate the roll out of GST especially in rural India. CSCs will help merchants registration, filing returns and support them in fulfilling various requirements under GST. They will mobilize, conduct training and create advocacy of GST implementation across the country.

The Union Minister for Electronics & IT and Law Justice, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad inaugurated the event, appreciated the efforts of the enterprising VLEs in providing key services to the grassroots. He Said the Village Level Entrepreneurs are Rapid Action Force for Digital India and hoped they will truly be the harbingers of digital revolution in India and enable us to create digitally and financially inclusive society. India does not want to miss the digital revolution and, in fact, aims to become the leader of the revolution and CSCs will lead us in this endeavor.

He said VLEs are important component of Governments strategy to provide all services at village level and the day is not far off when even private entrepreneurs would approach CSCs for reaching the unreached customers. Talking about employment potential of the initiative he said at present 2,50,000 CSCs are employing nearly 10 lac persons. The number is likely to touch 25 lac mark in the near future as more services from both private and public sectors are put in their basket.

The Hon Minister said, n++GST means one nation, one tax. He said that GST Suvidha Provider service that is being rolled out today is a big opportunity for VLEs.n++ He hoped that the VLEs would rise to the occasion and help the government in reaching out to the merchants.

He said, n++CSC is a big army in this country. In Prime Minister housing scheme, Government has received 4.5 lakh applications for housing through CSC. I have suggested to Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Honble Minister of External Affairs that CSCs should do the work of verification of e-Sanad certificates. Apart from this, CSCs will help to provide legal services to the poor.n++ He added, n++I always say that companies should use the vast network of CSCs. In the Digital era, the role of CSCs is tremendous. Today, 2 crore people have downloaded BHIM App. CSCs should make it popular in their community. In the digital economy, the demand of CSCs services will become tremendous. Every VLEs should train one woman from tribal and backward communities.n++

Honble Minister also inaugurated the Bharat Bill Payment Operating Unit service through CSCs. Bharat Bill Payment Operating Unit is an authorized operational unit working as per the standards set by BBPS. BBPOUs will onboard billers, aggregators and payment gateways to handle bill payments through different delivery channels.

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DGT announces Introduction of Diploma Courses
May 29,2017

The Directorate General of Training (DGT), Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has announced the launch of five high end diploma courses in the skill ecosystem for the academic year 2017. The five courses in Welding Technology, Industrial Electronics and Automation, Manufacturing Technology, Automotive Technology and IT, Networking and Cloud Computing were cleared today at the Sub-Committee meeting of NCVT .The need for advance level courses/ specialized courses has been long felt in the vocational training landscape in the country.

The courses are of two years duration and will be introduced from August/September 2017 at Advanced Training Institutes (ATIs). These courses would enable trainees to acquire cutting edge training by providing an opportunity to sharpen their n++hands-on skillsn++ in specialized areas such as computerized pneumatic control (CNC) machining, automotive technology, welding, mechatronics, industrial electronics and automation. This would also extend the skill pyramid beyond current vocational training set up. Over and above this, one fourth of the training period is dedicated for on-the-job training in the form of an industrial attachment.

Commenting on the development, Minister of State (I/C) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy has said, n++Inclusion of five high end diploma courses in the skill ecosystem is our reaction to the great demand created by the industry, which says we do not have the workforce of what is required. Industries are demanding skilled workforce in specialized areas. With this development, Advanced Training Institutes will narrow the gap between demand and supply in the industry. These steps will take us close to our vision of making India the skill capital of the world.n++

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Psyche reward plays crucial role in total rewards strategy; need to customize rewards in line with employees need and organizations culture
May 29,2017

The biggest challenge for human resource professionals is to motivate, engage and encourage employees to deliver their best as the intellectual capital of an organization is the differentiating factor, said Mr. P. Dwarakanath, Director, Group Human Capital, Max India Limited.

Mr. Dwarakanath said that besides monetary rewards it is the psyche reward, which plays a crucial role in total rewards strategy. As the person goes higher up in the hierarchy, customizing rewards becomes essential, keeping in view the organizations culture, level of employee and the capacity of the organization to pay. He added that rewards cannot be looked at in isolation.

Mr. Dwarakanath said that networking was an important activity for HR professionals. To be a leader, the HR professional had to cope up with technological advances and networking was essential in this process to understand the aspirations of the employees. He added that HR should be flexible and design total rewards strategy in line with employees need and organizations culture.

Dr. A Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, said that with the advent of Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence and 3D printing, skills, people and human resource had been affected greatly. With increased automation, human interface was reducing resulting in loss of jobs. Therefore, the need was to develop a creative human resource which was productive and competitive. He added that workforce needed multiple skills and creativity to survive the advancement of technology and this called for a different matrix of reward strategy, which could remain sustainable in the changing scenario.

During the session, a survey report on Reward Philosophies India - 2017 & Beyond prepared by FICCI in collaboration with Strat-Board was unveiled. The study reflects on core HR dilemmas with a view to share collective insights and trigger change for long lasting impact for organizations and individuals. It touches variety of niche aspects of total rewards including structure & philosophy, performance pay, frontline compensation, gender pay parity, executive compensation, employee wellness, ESOPs, compensation benchmarking and key priorities for 2017 & beyond.

The results of the survey are a clear representation of the realities we face today and the evolution from here. Some key outcomes to note and act upon are as follows:

n++ Hierarchy/Levels still form the foundation for Total Reward structures however the new world of work may challenge the status quo - Organisations with pure dependence on Hierarchy/Grades may need to reconsider their Rewards framework and align it either to a standard/equal benefits philosophy across the organisation and/or a role based approach.

n++ Compensation remains a closely handled and individually delivered mandate (even for organisations with open cultures) - Individuals have little to no-clarity about where they stand commercially as compared to others in similar roles. It is pertinent to note that individuals now have access to a growing number of alternative market sources for comparison.

n++ Majority of the Organisations do not deploy reward-led long-term retention measures across the board - The focus remains largely limited to people in leadership/critical roles. With growing choices in the hands of the employee and a growing back-lash of attrition in most sectors, this may emerge as an important yet under-utilised aspect of retaining high performing employees across the organisation.

n++ Variable pay and creating an inclusive Rewards culture remains an element of focus for most organisations - While majority of organisations yet struggling to find the right balance of variable pay opportunities specially for support staff, there is a clear indication to move towards a larger inclusive reward structure across the organization.

n++ The Bell-Curve divide continues to grow - A significant segment of the industry is looking for proven alternate methods and some are even experimenting with hybrid of existing methods.

n++ GPP (Gender Pay Parity) is yet to become a reality in most of the organizations - While a lot of conversations are happening on Gender Diversity & equality, majority of organisations are yet to start measuring it from the Total Rewards context.

n++ Most Corporates seem to not yet have a Joining/Committed Bonus policy - While most mentioned need to resort to the practice, organizations continue to deal with this in a controlled but ad hoc manner, more driven by approvals than policy.

n++ Hiring freshers at higher salary than to existing employees continues to be a challenge - Organizations are adopting various measures to address this concern.

n++ Organisations are now beginning to realise that salary reductions are a reality for continued Non-performance across the Board- Though a large segment yet ascribe it as more of a frontline suitable alternative, some organizations seem to realise it as a cultural notion which needs to be challenged, but a nearly equal number would not prefer to resort to this.

n++ There is dichotomy in approach when it comes to dealing with false tax claims - Most organisations tend to not deploy punitive/disciplinary measures to counter the same (unlike false reimbursement claims). Tax friendly pay structures continue to trigger this concern, and organisations and employees may face larger risks due to inadequacy of right measures.

n++ While all organisations seem to be aligned on driving Employee Wellness - This is yet an ad hoc aspect for many and remains a good to do vs. really a need to do element - The ROI or direct impact of wellness on Business and /or People strategy yet remains unknown to most.

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Developed states not adding to skill sets; face big gaps: Study
May 29,2017

The most economically developed states are not adequately adding to skill sets, which may result in the severe shortages of skilled manpower in the coming years, with Maharashtra leading the table followed by Tamil Nadu, according to an ASSOCHAM-Thought Arbitrage Paper.

Other states which lack in creating skilled manpower include Haryana, Gujarat, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, said the paper.

By 2022, the biggest deficit in supply of skilled labour force is expected to be faced by Maharashtra, with the number pegged at 48.9 lakh persons, according to the paper. Tamil Nadu comes close second with shortage of 46.3 lakh.

These two states together account for more than 70 per cent of the skills deficit in these seven states (mapped by the paper) with highest per capita NSDP and large skill gaps. Haryana and Gujarat are expected to face shortage of approximately 13 lakhs and 11 lakhs persons respectively by 2022. Kerala, Himachal Pradesh. and Punjab are likely to witness skills shortage of about five lakhs each by 2022,, it said.

In terms of verticals, construction, building and real estate would have incremental human resource requirement of 31 million in the next five years, while retail sector would need about 17 million additional work force. Other sectors generating employment opportunities through skill up- gradation include beauty and wellness (10 million), transportation and logistics (12 million), furniture and furnishing (7.2 million) and handloom, handicrafts (6 million). Textiles and clothing would require additional 6.3 million people and tourism and hospitality 6.5 million.

Our mapping of the skills shortages suggest that committing resources to training and skill upgradation would serve the twin purpose of employment creation as also helping the industries to grow in a cost effective manner, said ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat.

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813 crore person days of job generated in last 3 years in Rural Schemes-Tomar
May 29,2017

The Ministry of Rural Development has created employment opportunities of more than 813 crore person days during the last three years (2014-17) in the schemes of MGNREGA, Pradhan Mantri AawasYojna, Grameen (PMAY-G) and in Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY). Briefing the media here, Union Minister for Rural Development, Drinking Water & Sanitation and Panchayati Raj, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar said that during the last three years while 636.78 crore person days were generated under MGNEREGA, about 78 crore person days under PMGSY and 99 crore person days under PMAY. Apart from this, under Deen Dayal Upadhyay-Grameen Kaushal Yojana (DDY-GKY), 86,120 candidates were trained in the year 2014-15 and 54,196 got jobs. Similarly, in 2015-16, about one lakh thirty-five thousand candidates were placed after the skill training, while in 2016-17, the number of candidates getting placement is 84,900.

Shri Tomar said that in the current year, the Ministry of Rural Development proposes to train 5 lakh candidates with an assured placement of over 70 percent of these youth in Wage and Self Help employment programmes. He said that Rural Self Employment Training Institute (RSETIs) trained 4 lakh rural youth in 2016-17 for Self Employment.

Shri Tomar said that under MGNREGA during FY 2016-17, more than 1.23 crore assets have been geo tagged and placed in public domain and about 96% of wage payments were electronically credited into the accounts of the workers through DBT system. So far, 8.73 crore Aadhar number of workers have been seeded in NREGASoft (MIS) and 4.73 have been enabled for Aadhar Based Payment with their consent. He added that Job Card verification/updation was taken on priority basis during FY 2016-17 and more than 1 crore Job Cards have been deleted after verification.

On the subject of PMAY-G, Shri Tomar said that in line with the governments stated objective of n++Housing for Alln++ by 2022, the Government intends to provide houses to 1 crore poor people by 2019 in rural areas. A total of 34.82 lakh houses have been constructed during 2014-15 to 2015-16, against a target of 45.98 lakh houses under the erstwhile scheme of Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY). During 2016-17, a total of 32.14 lakh houses have been completed with an expenditure of Rs. 16,074 crore under the revamped scheme PMAY-G.

On PMGSY, the Minister said that the pace of construction of road has reached a record of 130 kms. per day, which is the highest average annual construction rate, in the last 7 years, with a record 47,447 kms of PMGSY roads constructed during 2016-17 thereby connecting 11,641 habitations, which implies providing connectivity of an average of 32 habitations every day, the highest ever in the last 7 years. He said, during 2016-17, n++Road Connectivity project in LWE Affected Areasn++ has been launched for construction of all-weather roads in 9 LWE states in 44 worst affected LWE districts and adjoining districts with estimated cost of Rs 11,725 crore. This would be completed by March, 2020.

Dwelling on the issues of drinking water and sanitation, Shri Tomar said that providing safe drinking water is one of the top most priority of the government and the Government is committed to providing tap water on a sustained basis in every household by 2030 as per the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for which Rs 23,000 crore of central fund will be required annually till the target is achieved. The Minister said that the dream of Har Ghar Jal cannot be realized without the involvement of the citizens. Referring to the launch of National Water Quality Sub Mission on Arsenic and Fluoride to provide safe drinking water to about 28,000 affected habitations in the country by March 2021 with an outlay of Rs 25,000 crore, he said that there will be no discrimination of funds against any state to address the twin challenges of drinking water and sanitation. He said that sanitation coverage has increased from 42 percent 2014 to 64 percent in the current year and more that 4 crore toilets were constructed.

Shri Tomar said that under the 14th Finance Commission, Centre will be releasing more than 2 lakh crore rupees to Gram Panchayats for 5 years to undertake physical and social infrastructure projects in the villages. The Minister said that earlier about Rs 30,000 crore was allocated to the Panchayats in the 13th Finance commission, wherein Panchayats found it difficult to execute developmental projects in a holistic fashion. So far, Rs 51,234 crore were allocated to the states and 44 lakh panchayat functionaries were provided training.

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By 2022 the Government of India is committed to Double Farmers Income
May 29,2017

Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that the Government of India has undertaken several new initiatives in the field of animal husbandry in Gujarat. Under Rashtriya Gokul Mission, on the lines of Gokul Gram Gir, Cow Sanctuary has been approved. This will be established in Dharampur, Porbandar under Livestock insurance coverage. Earlier only two milk animals were included , now 5 milk animals and 50 small animals are included. This scheme has been implemented in all the districts of the state, whereas earlier only 15 districts were included. During the year 2014-16, about 26,000 animals have been insured in the state. To fulfil the shortage of veterinarians, a veterinary college has been established in Junagadh. The Agriculture Minister was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of polytechnic at Kamdhenu University, Sabarkantha.

The Agriculture Minister said that it is a matter of immense pride that our country is number one in milk production in the world. In the year 2015-16, the growth rate of milk production has been 6.28 per cent due to which total production has reached 156 million tonnes. And now, per person milk availability is 337 gram on an average, while on the world level it is 229 gram. It is worth mentioning that in comparison to the years 2011-14, the growth in milk production during the years 2014-17 has been 16.9 per cent.

He said that the standard of living of urban and rural families is rising, therefore, the demand for the animal protein is increasing. So, it is necessary that we constantly make effort to increase the production of our livestock, poultry and fish so that the countrys citizens are well-nourished and healthy. That is why it is the responsibility of veterinarians to contribute in keeping the nation healthy by increasing availability of animal protein.

He said that the Government is committed to double farmers income by 2022 and veterinaries play a significant role in fulfilling the Governments resolution to double the farmers income. A healthy animal will result in greater production which will automatically enhance the farmers income and the country will proceed on the path of economic prosperity.

Agriculture Minister said that India is worlds highest livestock owner at about 512.05 million out of which 199.1 million are bovines, 105.3 million buffaloes, 71.6 million sheep and 140.5 million goats. In the case of goats, India is at the second position in the world and it is approximately 25 % of the livestock. India is second largest poultry market in the world and it includes the production of 63 billion eggs and 649 million poultry meat. Indias marine and fish industry are growing at around 7 percent compound annual growth rate. Overall, Indias livestock sector is growing fast and emerging as a major contributor in the global market.

The Agriculture Minister said that the Government of India is ensuring the quality of education in universities is of international standards. In this direction, ICARs Fifth Deans Committee Report has been approved. Schemes like Student and Arya have been started with scholarships. Students scholarship amount has been increased.

In the end, the Minister said that to see our nation prosper and agriculture sector and farmers flourish, we need to work together. When the agriculture will grow, the farmer will be happy and the country will move forward.

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Water level of 91 major Reservoirs of the Country goes down by One per cent
May 26,2017

The water storage available in 91 major reservoirs of the country for the week ending on May 25, 2017 was 35.053 BCM, which is 22% of total storage capacity of these reservoirs. This percentage was at 23 for the week ending on May 18, 2017. The level of May 25, 2017 was 127% of the storage of corresponding period of last year and 104% of storage of average of last ten years.

The total storage capacity of these 91 reservoirs is 157.799 BCM which is about 62% of the total storage capacity of 253.388 BCM which is estimated to have been created in the country. 37 Reservoirs out of these 91 have hydropower benefit with installed capacity of more than 60 MW.

REGION WISE STORAGE STATUS:-

NORTHERN REGION:-

The northern region includes States of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. There are six reservoirs under Central Water Commission (CWC) monitoring having total live storage capacity of 18.01 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 4.36 BCM which is 24% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 22% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 28% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is better than the corresponding period of last year but is less than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

EASTERN REGION:-

The Eastern region includes States of Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Tripura. There are 15 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 18.83 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 5.66 BCM which is 30% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 23% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 19% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is better than the corresponding period of last year and is also better than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

WESTERN REGION:-

The Western region includes States of Gujarat and Maharashtra. There are 27 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 27.07 BCM. The total live storage available in these reservoirs is 6.87 BCM which is 25% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 14% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 25% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is better than the storage of last year and is equal to the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

CENTRAL REGION:-

The Central region includes States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. There are 12 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 42.30 BCM. As per Reservoir Storage Bulletin dated 25.05.2017, the total live storage available in these reservoirs is 14.25 BCM which is 34% of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 23% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 18% of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is better than the storage of last year and is also better than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

SOUTHERN REGION:-

The Southern region includes States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, AP&TG (Two combined projects in both states) Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. There are 31 reservoirs under CWC monitoring having total live storage capacity of 51.59 BCM. As per Reservoir Storage Bulletin dated 25.05.2017, the total live storage available in these reservoirs is 3.92 BCM which is 8 % of total live storage capacity of these reservoirs. The storage during corresponding period of last year was 11% and average storage of last ten years during corresponding period was 170/o of live storage capacity of these reservoirs. Thus, storage during current year is less than the corresponding period of last year and is also less than the average storage of last ten years during the corresponding period.

States having better storage than last year for corresponding period are Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Tripura, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana. States having equal storage than last year for corresponding period are AP&TG (Two combined projects in both states). States having lesser storage than last year for corresponding period are Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

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After GST regime, telecom companies would be required to re-work their costing and credits availability and re-jig their prices
May 26,2017

Telecommunication services presently attract Service Tax of 14% along with Swachh Bharat Cess (SBC) of 0.5% and Krishi Kalyan Cess (KKC) of 0.5%. While Service Tax is a pure value added tax, the above mentioned cesses are not. This is the reason that while no ITC (Input Tax Credit) of SBC is available, the ITC of KKC is allowed to be set-off only against KKC. Therefore, both the cesses are turn-over tax.

As against the above, the Telecommunication Services will attract GST of 18% in the GST regime, which is a pure Value Added Tax because full ITC of Inputs and Input Services used in the course or furtherance of business by the telecommunication service providers would be available.

Moreover, presently Telecom Service providers are neither eligible for credit of VAT paid on goods nor of Special Additional Duty (SAD) paid on imported goods/equipments. However, under GST, Telecom Service Providers would avail credit of IGST paid on domestically procured goods as also imported goods. As per some estimates, this additional Input Tax Credit would be as much as 2% of the turnover of the telecom industry. Further, ITC of Service Tax paid on assignment of spectrum by the Government in 2016 is presently allowed to be availed of by the telecommunication companies over a period of 3 years. In the GST regime, the entire credit can be taken in the same year. Resultantly, the balance two-third credit of the previous year would be admissible in the Current Financial Year itself. All of these would reduce the telecom companies liability to pay GST through cash to about 87% of what they paid in the last fiscal.

Thus, the telecom companies are required to re-work their costing and credits availability and re-jig their prices and ensure that the increased availability of credit is passed on to the customers by lowering their costs.

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One time exemption given to NGOs to file missing Annual Returns to close on 14th June
May 26,2017

The Government has given one final opportunity to all associations/organizations which have applied for renewal of their registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (FCRA) but not uploaded their Annual Returns from Financial Year 2010-11 to 2014-15. All such NGOs can upload their missing Annual Returns along with the requisite documents within a period of 30 days, starting from May 15, 2017 to June 14, 2017. Further no compounding fee will be imposed on them for late filing of Annual Returns during this period.

This exemption is one time measure and available to those associations who upload their missing Annual Returns from FY 2010-11 to FY 2014-15 within this period. The renewal of registration under FCRA cannot be granted unless the Annual Returns are uploaded by the organization.

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