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Cabinet approves setting up a Major port at Enayam near Colachel in Tamil Nadu
Jul 06,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its in-principle approval for setting up a Major port at Enayam near Colachel in Tamil Nadu.

A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) will be formed for development of this Port with initial equity investment from the three Major Ports in Tamil Nadu i.e. V.O.Chidambaranar Port Trust, Chennai Port Trust, and Kamarajar Port. The SPV will develop the port infrastructure including dredging and reclamation, construction of breakwater, ensuring connectivity links etc.

At present, there are only a few ports in India that have sufficient draft and can match global cargo handling efficiencies. Currently, all of Indias trans-shipment traffic gets handled in Colombo, Singapore and other international ports. Indian port industry loses out upto Rs 1,500 Crores of revenues each year.

Establishing this Major port at Enayam will not only act as a major gateway container port for Indian cargo that is presently trans-shipped outside the country, but also become a transn++-shipment hub for the global East-West trade route.

Enayam will also reduce the logistics cost for exporters and importers in South India who currently depend on trans-shipment in Colombo or other ports thus incurring additional port handling charges.

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Govt. focussed on harnessing strengths of ancient & traditional medicinal practices to get more export value: Y.S. Chowdary
Jul 06,2016

The government is focussed upon harnessing the strength of Indias ancient medicinal practices based on traditional health systems to get more and more export value, union minister of state for Science and Technology. Mr Y.S. Chowdary said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++The Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has been talking in a very focussed manner to harness our ancient values more and more to get more export value, this is not a new subject for India but requires us to stay focussed therefore we should start getting this to the ground level,n++ said Mr Chowdary while inaugurating ASSOCHAM National Symposium on Nutraceuticals, Herbals and Functional foods.

n++Nutraceuticals has been part of Indias ancient values and strength but unfortunately this particular industry has not been getting enough support,n++ said Mr Chowdary.

n++In our country, all these herbal and natural products need to become the first in line not for curative but for prevention purposes,n++ added the minister.

Mr Kumar Anil, advisor (standards), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said that regulations for nutraceuticals industry have reached the final notification stage.

n++We had realised the need for establishing standards earlier on and initiated the process four years ago, today I am happy to inform that these regulations have reached the final notification stage,n++ said Mr Kumar.

n++The regulations which have been framed under Section 22 of the Food Safety and Standards Act has been titled - Food Safety and Standards for food for health supplements, nutraceuticals, food for special dietary use, food for special medical purposes, functional food and normal food regulations 2016,n++ he said while addressing the event on behalf of Mr Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer (CEO), FSSAI.

Mr Kumar said that these regulations have been framed to provide a level playing field to all stakeholders in the nutraceuticals industry.

n++These regulations are very comprehensive and provide for manufacture and sale of food for special health supplements, nutraceuticals, special dietary use, special medical purposes, functional food and normal food,n++ he added.

It provides general conditions for manufacture and sale of these foods besides providing chapter-wise details regarding essential composition, requirements related to claims, labelling, permitted use of additives and limits of contaminants, toxins and residues.

n++The regulations also provide for various schedules dealing with vitamins, minerals, recommended diet, daily allowance, list of ingredients of plants, botanical storages, probiotics, prebiotics, besides it also has a comprehensive schedule of additives which is further divided into various sub-categories,n++ said Mr Kumar.

He informed that for any new ingredients, plants or botanicals to be added to the list, these schedules offer any deletion if need be. n++FSSAI intends to review these regulations on a regular basis as this exercise will help it in further evolving these regulations as per the stakeholders requirement.n++

n++These regulations offer for tremendous scope for evaluation and application for industrys benefit,n++ further said Mr Kumar.

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Cabinet approves Interest Subvention Scheme for farmers for the year 2016-17
Jul 06,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Interest Subvention Scheme for farmers for the year 2016-17. The Government has earmarked a sum of Rs. 18,276 Crore for this purpose. This will help farmers getting short term crop loan payable within one year up to Rs. 3 lakhs at only 4% per annum.

The salient features of the scheme are as follows:

a) The Central Government will provide interest subvention of 5 per cent per annum to all farmers for short term crop loan upto one year for loan upto Rs. 3 lakhs borrowed by them during the year 2016-17. Farmers will thus have to effectively pay only 4% as interest. In case farmers do not repay the short term crop loan in time they would be eligible for interest subvention of 2% as against 5% available above.

b) The Central Government will give approximately Rs 18,276 crores as interest subvention for 2016-17.

c) In order to give relief to small and marginal farmers who would have to borrow at 9% for the post harvest storage of their produce, the Central Government has approved an interest subvention of 2% i.e an effective interest rate of 7% for loans upto 6 months.

d) To provide relief to the farmers affected by Natural Calamities, the interest subvention of 2% will be provided to Banks for the first year on the restructured amount.

e) In case farmers do not repay the short term crop loan in time they would be eligible for interest subvention of 2% as against 5% available above.

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Nikkei India Services PMI eases June 2016
Jul 05,2016

Business activity in the Indian service sector increased at the second-slowest rate in the current 12-month period of growth in June. Underpinning this was a softer expansion in new work. Employment rose, but only fractionally, while outstanding business was up compared to May. A faster increase in input costs contrasted with a slowdown in charge inflation. Confidence waned, although remained positive.

The seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Services Business Activity Index recorded 50.3 in June, its second-lowest reading in the current 12-month sequence of above-50 readings. The headline index was down from 51.0 in May, pointing to a slower pace of expansion that was marginal.

In contrast, growth of manufacturing production accelerated to a three-month high, which in turn contributed to a stronger increase in private sector activity. The seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Composite PMI Output Index rose from 50.9 in May to 51.1 in June, but remained below its long-run average and pointed to a slight pace of expansion.

June saw a softer rise in services new business, with growth easing to the slowest in 11 months. Anecdotal evidence suggested that strong competitive pressures restricted new business gains. Manufacturing order books increased at the quickest pace since March, outweighing the slowdown in services and therefore contributing to a quicker expansion in private sector new business.

Outstanding business at service providers increased for the first time in five months, albeit slightly. Those survey participants reporting higher backlogs commented on delayed client payments. Goods producers also noted a slight accumulation in work-in-hand.

Indian service providers signalled an increase in staffing levels during June. That said, employment rose marginally as only 1% of panellists reported job creation. According to these respondents, additional hiring reflected greater output requirements. Factory employment was broadly unchanged on the month.

Input prices in the Indian service sector rose for the ninth consecutive month in June, with petrol and vegetables reportedly up in price. Despite accelerating since May, the rate of cost inflation was moderate and below its long-run trend. Purchase prices among manufacturers increased again, but at the weakest pace since March.

Prices charged by Indian service providers continued to rise in the latest survey period. Panellists frequently commented on the passing on of higher cost burdens. Having eased since May, the rate of inflation was modest. By comparison, factory gate charges were broadly unchanged.

Confidence among Indian service providers regarding future business activity was recorded again in June. The degree of optimism was at a four-month low however. According to respondents, activity growth over the coming year is set to be supported by aggressive marketing campaigns. Nonetheless, some panellists expressed concerns regarding competitive pressures.

Commenting on the Indian Services PMI survey data, Pollyanna De Lima, economist at Markit, which compiles the survey, said: n++The Indian service sector saw a further cooling of growth momentum in June, the third in consecutive months, with a weaker rise in new business leading to a softer expansion in activity. Moreover, future expectations dipped to the lowest since February, highlighting concerns regarding the sustainability of the economic upturn. Although manufacturing shifted into a higher gear in June, variables such as new orders, employment and production stayed below their respective long-run averages. Nonetheless, India remains a leading performer within emerging markets at a time when many of its peers are struggling.n++

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Tanzania in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy
Jul 05,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Tanzania in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy.

The MoU will provide structured frame work for the cooperation between the two countries for the promotion and propagation of Indian Traditional Systems of Medicine & Homeopathy in Tanzania.

There is no additional financial implications involved. The financial resources necessary to conduct research, training courses, conferences / meetings will be met from the existing allocated budget and existing plan schemes of Ministry of AYUSH.

Background:

India is blessed with well-developed systems of traditional medicine including medicinal plants, which hold tremendous potential in the global health scenario. Traditional Medicine is an important element of life of Tanzanian people and Traditional medicines are used as first aid or stop-gap measure before the patient is referred to modern health facilities.

Tanzania is an important East African country with historical ties with India and with substantial population of around 70 thousand Indian diaspora. Tanzania and India have traditionally enjoyed close, friendly and co-operative relations. In recent years, the relationship of the two countries has been marked by close contacts at the highest political level including cooperation in the field of Health and medicine.

The Ministry of AYUSH as a part of its mandate to propagate Indian systems of Medicine globally had signed MoUs with several other countries which include China, Malaysia, Hungary, Bangladesh, Nepal, etc.

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Cabinet approves the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme
Jul 05,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme. The Scheme has an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crore with a target of 50 lakh apprentices to be trained by 2019-20.

The Scheme would be implemented by Director General of Training (DGT) under Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE). It provides for incentivizing employers to engage apprentices. 25% of the total stipend payable to an apprentice would be shared with employers directly by Government of India. It is for the first time a scheme has been designed to offer financial incentives to employers to engage apprentices. In addition, it also supports basic training, which is an essential component of apprenticeship training. 50% of the total expenditure incurred on providing basic training would be supported by Government of India.

The Scheme will catalyze the entire apprenticeship ecosystem in the country and it will offer a win-win situation for all stakeholders. It is expected to become one of the most powerful skill-delivery vehicle in the country.

Background:

Apprenticeship Training is considered to be one of the most efficient ways to develop skilled manpower for the country. It provides for an industry led, practice oriented, effective and efficient mode of formal training. The National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015 launched by the Prime Minister focuses on apprenticeship as one of the key components for creating skilled manpower in India. The present scheme also aims to achieve the objective as stated in the National Policy, 2015. The policy proposes to work pro-actively with the industry including MSME to facilitate tenfold increase opportunities in the country by 2020-20.

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Cabinet approves creation of one post of Chief Works Manager in the Mechanical Department on Eastern Railway
Jul 05,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the creation of one revenue charged Senior Administrative Grade (SAG) post of Chief Works Manager (CWM) in the Mechanical Department of Diesel Component Factory, Dankuni on Eastern Railway.

This post forms a vital part of Diesel Component Factory, Dankuni on Eastern Railway and will strengthen the administrative frame work to ensure proper functioning of factory and to achieve the target outturn. This would cost the Railways a sum of Rs. 1679400/- per annum.

Background

The Diesel Locomotive Component Factory at Dankuni on Eastern Railway has been set up for manufacturing of 100 high horse power Diesel Locomotive under-frames per year and machining of 72 crank case per year to bridge the gap between loco production requirement and Diesel Locomotive Works/Varanasis own manufacturing and machining capacity. The factory will run as a sister organization of Diesel Locomotive Works/ Varanasi.

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Cabinet approves import of pulses through long-term contract with Mozambique
Jul 05,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a long-term contract by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mozambique for import of pulses either through the private channels or Government-to-Government (G2G) sales through State Agencies nominated by the two countries.

The MoU aims at promoting the production of Pigeon Peas/Tur and other pulses in Mozambique by encouraging progressive increase in the trading of these pulses. The MOU includes targets for exports of Tur and other pulses from Mozambique to India for five financial years and aims at doubling the trade from 100,000 tonnes in 2016-17 to 200,000 tonnes is 2020-21.

The MoU will augment domestic availability of pulses in India and thereby stabilise its prices.

The total pulses production in the country during 2015-16 is estimated to be 17 million tonnes while 5.79 million tonnes of pulses were imported to meet the domestic requirements. However, the total availability of pulses including domestic production and imports were was less than domestic requirements putting pressure on the prices of pulses during the year 2015-16 and current year.

To mitigate the shortfall in availability of pulses and supplement the existing efforts at meeting the requirements, Government has decided to enter into long term G2G arrangement with Mozambique so as to ensure assured availability of pulses. The signing of this MoU with Mozambique may also lead to similar arrangements with other countries.

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Joint issue of postage stamp between Department of Posts and Portugal Post
Jul 05,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi was apprised of a joint issue of postage stamps between Department of Posts and Portugal Post.

India and Portugal enjoy excellent bilateral relationship with each other with frequent and active interaction through different platforms that allow both countries to exchange views on many of common issues of concern. This collaboration has been fruitful and beneficial for both countries and the ties of both countries will continue to grow from strength to strength over the years. This joint issue will also help the Postal Departments of both countries in production of philately.

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Cabinet approves redevelopment of seven GPRA colonies in Delhi
Jul 05,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved redevelopment of seven General Pool Residential Accommodation (GPRA) colonies i.e. Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Nauroji Nagar through National Buildings Construction Corporation Limited (NBCC) and Kasturba Nagar, Thyagraj Nagar, Srinivaspuri and Mohammadpur through Central Public Works Department (CPWD) to replace the existing housing stock of 12,970 dwelling units of Type I to IV with Build Up Area (BUA) of approx. 7.49 lakh sqm with approx. 25,667 dwelling units of Type II to VI with BUA of approx. 29.18 lakh sqm. with supporting social infrastructure facilities.

The project will also develop Government office accommodation for nearly 2.42 lakh sqm at Netaji Nagar.

The total estimated cost of the project is Rs.32,835 crores including maintenance and operation costs for 30 years. The project shall be implemented on self-financing basis by sale of commercial BUA in Nauroji Nagar and parts of Sarojini Nagar, adjoining the Ring Road.

The project will be completed in five years in a phased manner.

Background:

At present there is shortage of Government accommodation in National Capital Region. This leads to Government officials waiting for eligible housing. Thus, Ministry of Urban Development has moved a proposal for redevelopment of existing old dilapidated housing colonies to augment the housing stock by making optimum utilization of land resources as per Master Plan Delhi (MPD) - 2021 and using modern construction technology with green building norms and in-house solid / liquid waste management facilities.

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Cabinet approves the High Courts (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016 for enabling changing the names of High Courts of Bombay and Madras
Jul 05,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to introduce The High Courts (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016 in Parliament.

The High Courts (Alteration of Names) Bill, 2016 will facilitate the changing of the names of Bombay High Court as Mumbai High Court and Madras High Court as Chennai High Court respectively.

Background:

The High Courts of Bombay and Madras were named after the cities in which they were located. Consequence to the change in the names of these cities, there has been demands for change in the names of these High Courts. At present, there is no Central Law under which the proposal for change of names of these High Courts can be addressed. This Legislation is to address this requirement.

The Bill would pave the way in changing the names of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay as High Court of Judicature at Mumbai and High Court of Judicature at Madras as High Court of Judicature at Chennai.

Since the names of these cities have been changed, it is appropriate and logical that the names of these High Courts also get changed. It will fulfill the wishes of the State Government and the people.

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Cabinet approves Revision of pension of BSNL Pensioners Removing Anomalies
Jul 05,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the revision of pension of BSNL pensioners and family pensioners, who retired prior to 10.06.2013 by allowing the benefit of merger of 50% DA/DR with Basic Pay/ Pension, effectively amounting to 78.2% DA/DR for the purpose of fitment, and (ii) Modifying the liability of BSNL towards the payment of pensionary benefits to the retired employees.

The pension of BSNL pensioners/family pensioners, who retired prior to 10 June 2013 has been revised w.e.f. 01 January 2007 notionally with actual benefit w.e.f. 10.06.2013, by allowing the benefit of merger of 50% DA/DR with Basic Pay/ Pension, effectively amounting to 78.2% DA/DR for the purpose of fitment at par with the serving employees of BSNL. However, increase in the amount of DCRG, leave encashment and commutation of pension in respect of these pensioners shall not be increased on this account.

The pension liability in respect of employees of Department of Telecommunications (DOT) / Department of Telecom Services (DTS) / Department of Telecom Operations (DTO) who retired prior to 01.10.2000 is solely borne by Government of India and the BSNL will have no liability in respect of these employees. In respect of employees who are absorbed in BSNL, the liability on account of pensionary benefits shall be fully borne by Government while BSNL will continue to discharge pension liability by way of pension contribution in accordance with FR-116 for the period they so work/worked.

The revision entails an estimated recurring annual expenditure of approximately Rs 129.63 crore for pensioners and Rs 24.93 crore for family pensioners and arrears from 2013-14 would be Rs 239.92 crore approximately for pensioners and Rs 44.62 Crore approximately for family pensioners. Approximately118500 pensioners all over India will be benefitted by this revision.

This revision will fulfill the long pending demand of revision of pension of BSNL absorbed employees who retired prior to 10.06.2013 and will bring the pensioners at par with the serving employees of BSNL by removing the anomalies. It will help in reducing the financial burden of BSNL and removing prospects of industrial unrest in BSNL while fulfilling the commitment of Government.

Background:

The decision of the Cabinet has come in the wake of an anomalous situation created in the difference of pension formula among the BSNL retirees who retired before and after 10.06.2013. Further, the decision regarding pensionary liability is on persistent demand from various quarters and a series of deliberations at different levels to fulfill the assurance given by the Government before corporatization i.e. before formation of BSNL.

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Cabinet approves MoU between India and Mauritius in the field of Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation
Jul 05,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Mauritius.

The MoU will help to establish a framework for cooperation between the National Development Unit, Prime Ministers Office of the Republic of Mauritius and the Ministry of Rural Development of the Republic of India in the sphere of rural development. The MoU will encourage cooperation in the field of rural development and capacity building on the basis of equality and mutual benefit between both countries.

Under the MoU, a Joint Committee on Cooperation on Rural Development will be established which will meet alternatively in both countries on mutually agreed dates. The MoU will come into effect from the date of its signature.

Both countries have agreed to coordinate and facilitate appropriate technical cooperation, including the access to Indian expertise institutions that can assist in fulfilling the objectives of this MoU, exchange of relevant information and documents in the sphere of rural development, including scientific and technical information together with policies and support measures adopted to foster rural development, cooperation by exchanging relevant information on issues of mutual interest, undertaking exchange visits on programmes to foster sharing of experience, collaboration to strengthen their human resource capacity through sector-specific in-country training in Mauritius and training at reputed institutions in India through customized schemes and facilitating the transfer of latest technology, state of the art equipment and materials, and share best practices.

Background: An institutional arrangement for bilateral cooperation between India and Mauritius in the field of rural development and poverty alleviation was under consideration for some time. Both countries have a large segment of their population living in rural areas and are pre-dominantly dependent on agriculture and its allied activities for their livelihoods. The Ministry of Rural Development plays a pivotal role in the overall development strategy of rural areas of the country.

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Cargo handling at Kandla port shows 6% increase during 1st quarter of 2016-17
Jul 05,2016

The Kandla Port has achieved the 6% growth in traffic during the first quarter of financial year 2016-17, as compared to the corresponding quarter of last year. A total quantity of 26.03 MMT of cargo has been handled from April 2016 to June2016, as compared to 24.62 MMT handled during the corresponding quarter of last year.

The dry cargo at Kandla has increased to 90.45 lakh MTs, as compared to 88.69 lakh MT during the same period last year. Liquid cargo during the same period has also increased to 31.55 lakh MT from 25.82 lakh MTs. The Crude and POL traffic at Vadinar has increased to 138.30 lakh MT from 131.65 lakh MT.

The Ministry of Shipping has initiated many measures to improve the performance of the ports which include mechanization of the terminals, improving the TAT (turn-around time), quick evacuation of cargo, expansion of infrastructure and skill development of employees. The slew of measures taken by the Ministry of Shipping to improve performance of Ports has started to yield positive results.

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CBEC issues a Circular on recovery of confirmed demands during the pendency of stay application of duty
Jul 05,2016

Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has issued a circular dated 04 July 2016 on the issue of Recovery of confirmed demand of tax during the pendency of stay application in relation to indirect taxes. Confirmed demand of tax arises, when after examining the submissions of a tax payer, an order is issued confirming demand of tax from a tax payer.

The Circular provides that in cases where stay application is pending before Commissioner (Appeals) or CESTAT for periods prior to 06 August 2014, no recovery shall be made during the pendency of the stay application. It may be noted that the law on the issue was amended on 06 August 2014, where after filing of appeal requires payment of 7.5 or 10 per cent of tax demand, depending on stage of appeal, obviating the need for appellate authority to hear any stay application.

The Circular further provides that in cases where demand is confirmed by Honble CESTAT or Honble High Court recovery proceeding may be initiated after a period of sixty days from the date of the order provided that no stay is in operation.

The said Circular has been issued to ensure that the assessee gets adequate opportunity to appeal before recovery proceedings are started in indirect taxes. The Circular would also bring uniformity in practice regarding recovery of confirmed demands of tax.

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